Great Wolf Lodge SoCal – Tips for Special Needs or Disability

Written by Lucy K.

Growing up, I remember summer vacation as being the one time during the year when my parents would take my brother and I on long road trips. We would go up and down the California Coast, and on occasion, go out of state to places like the Grand Canyon. Now that I have two young children of my own, I am grateful that there are so many vacation destinations located right in my own back yard.

Great Wolf Lodge (the indoor water attraction) located in Garden Grove, California. For most families, navigating such a resort can be a fun and adventurous experience; however, for families like mine, having a child with special needs means that our satisfaction depends largely on the accommodations put into place by the resort to make disability access a pleasant and enjoyable experience for our son. I can’t speak on behalf of all guests with special needs since each person has unique needs, but I can share some tips and suggestions that I feel could have helped my son, who has autism, apraxia of speech, and sensory integration issues.

Water Park Tips

  • Bring a swimsuit cover up. For those who are easily overwhelmed with loud noises, smells, and sights, you may have to leave the water park area. The temperature inside the hotel is considerably cooler than the water park area.
  • Bring water shoes. The ground in the water park area is slippery. Please take more caution if you or your child has balance or other mobility issues.
  • No outside food is allowed inside the waterpark. Pizza can be purchased at the pizza parlor; however, be sure to take a look at the menu to check for allergen friendly options if anyone in your family has dietary restrictions.
  • The lines for the bigger slides can get pretty long, so plan accordingly.

My Suggestions for Great Wolf Lodge:

  1. Disability access on water slides for guests with limited mobility.
  2. More attention to the slip of the floors and walkways.
  3. A reserved seating area for guests with special needs and their families.
  4. Informational literature regarding disability access, accommodations, and dietary modifications within the hotel and waterpark area.
  5. An enclosed and sensory-friendly (quiet and dimmed) family lounge area within the waterpark where children and their caregivers can recoup and recover without having to go all the way to their rooms.
  6. For children with mobility issues, possibly allow a parent to ride with a child on the lap or having some type of system in place to allow the child or adult to slide alone.

Our neurotypical daughter had a blast during our stay, and we think that with improvements in disability access, our son with special needs could have had a better time too. We look forward to returning to Great Wolf, but hope that some changes to disability services and access are made first to ensure a fun time for everyone.

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California is located at 12681 Harbor Blvd in Garden Grove, CA. For more information please call (888) 960-9653 or visit their website


Written by Lucy K. Lucy resides in Orange County with her husband and two beautiful children. She is a dedicated advocate for her son with Autism, and loves anything related to health, personal fitness, beauty, art, literature, and Disney.

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