A Day of Play at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California

A  Day of Play at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California

By Donna Biroczky

Last week, I got to fulfill a dream for my kids: visit Great Wolf Lodge here in Southern California! The state’s largest indoor water park, Great Wolf is a resort like no other. Fitting for kids of all ages, including us adults that love water slides, once you park your car – or leave it with the valet – you’re good to go for your entire stay, without ever leaving the property!

Great Wolf Lodge opened in Anaheim in February 2016, joining a double-digit list of other GWL water parks scattered throughout the United States and Canada. Once you walk through the distinctive entry, you’re in a new world. The entire property is themed after an enormous lodge, from the massive fireplace to your left when you enter the lobby to the decor in the rooms. And then the rooms themselves have to be seen to be believed. Rooms are designed with families in mind, and with the latest addition of 18 new Deluxe Wolf Den King Suites, larger families can now all stay in one suite together.

Great Wolf Lodge SoCal

Deluxe Wolf Den King Suites include a built-in wolf’s den with bunk beds for the kids and special animations that respond to MagiQuest wands (available downstairs for purchase when you enroll in a game of MagiQuest), a king-size bed in a private room for mom and dad, and a queen-size bed and sofa sleeper in the main suite area. Each of the two rooms has its own full bathroom, so no sharing or going between rooms in the middle of the night. There are also other levels of rooms available, extending your lodge experience all the way through your visit. Bunk beds, in-room refrigerators, wi-fi, murals, TVs and more, it’s no wonder this is a very popular family destination!

Speaking of middle of the night — Great Wolf Lodge is like a city in itself, with activities and things to do 24/7. The Northern Lights Arcade is open overnight. Another fun activity to play during the day is MagiQuest. It’s an interactive role-playing game, where players assign themselves a name, pick a wand and topper, and head off around the property to fulfill certain tasks. If you’ve never played the game, you’re in for a treat. A full game can take 6-8 hours to complete, but it’s a fun game even if you don’t complete all the levels. Great Wolf Lodge has added on a new knighting ceremony that takes place twice a day (2pm and 7pm) for those who have defeated Charlock, the evil dragon, so be sure to keep room in your schedule to attend if you do play all the way through!

New to Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim is the Wine Down Service, designed solely for the adults in the group. The signature wine, cheese and dessert pairing program allows parents to “wine down” after a full day of busy activities once the children are asleep. Pairings include Kids Snoring, More Pinot Noir-ing (chocolate truffles and a velvety Pinor Noir) and Rekindle the Bonfire (dark chocolate-covered strawberries with a bottle of Chloe Prosecco) are sure to make your night more special once you’re in your room for the night. Even better, they don’t knock on your door so the kiddos aren’t woken up; you will receive a text to your phone announcing its delivery, so you can sneak out and grab it without any surprise visitors for your “wine down” enjoyment!

General Manager Phil Cunningham has listened to guest feedback throughout his tenure at the lodge to provide guest enhancements and new activities. The day we visited was his last day at the Anaheim lodge, but he leaves the location in good hands. My son went over to thank him for all he did, and he had an engaging conversation for several minutes. My heart always melts a little when an adult, particularly one so busy and in-demand, takes the time to speak to a child or teen and listen to his or her gratitude and joy. Thank you, Mr. Cunningham! You left an impression on my son!

Chef Hany Ali also does an amazing job of ensuring all guests do not go hungry. The Lodge Grill restaurant served us all lunch during our visit and wow, did we all eat well. The children had a buffet available, including everyone’s favorite, gourmet mac and cheese, finishing off with small jars full of candy, like gummy bears and mini M & M’s. My son ate off the adult menu but he’s still a kid inside and that jar of candy was the perfect end to his meal.

The adult food was beyond compare. We started with a butternut squash soup served inside of an acorn squash. Seasoned perfectly, with a velvety consistency, this soup was a wonderful way to start our five-course meal. Next on the menu was an arugula salad with a bread stick, goat cheese, roasted peach slices and a small personal jar of salad dressing. We were all ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the presentation of all the courses — every piece of serving ware seems purposeful yet appealing to the eye.

Our main course was grilled sea bass, which literally melted in my mouth, over risotto, and veal with microgreen topping served over buttery grits. An array of roasted vegetables, such as heirloom carrots and shiseito peppers, sat in between the two protein courses. It got really quiet for a while as everyone enjoyed the food. Dessert was a beautifully plated roasted apple tart and house-made strawberry ice cream. We were so full by then but who wants to send back a dessert plate with anything on it?

One very big deal to know about meals at the Great Wolf Lodge is that they keep everyone’s dietary and medical needs in mind. If you have a child with food allergies, please advise the staff when you book. You will be provided your own special chef to ensure all your child’s food is completely safe and meets their needs and preferences. Isn’t that amazing?

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Cars 3 Review

Cars 3 Review

By Devon Biroczky

“Focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner, forty-two losers.”

Cars 3 comes out to theaters today, June 16th, and if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you need to. This movie is the third installment in the Cars series, focused especially around a steadfast racecar named Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). Throughout the series, we’ve seen Lightning grow and associate with his friends down in Radiator Springs; now, in this third movie, we meet several more new characters.

The storyline of the movie begins in a celebrated montage of Lightning winning between first and second place repeatedly alongside his friends Bobby Swift and Cal Weathers. During one particular race, a new, never-before-seen car whizzes past them, taking first place without even blinking. This new high-tech car is introduced to us as condescending Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), who is part of the next generation of racers. Lightning quickly learns that with this new generation of racers, he is slowly having a harder and harder time keeping up, let alone winning races against Storm, and the growing number of new-gen rookies joining the competitions.

Fast forward through a few months, more losses on the racetrack, and an accident that left him less motivated than ever. Lightning has now regained his ambition through the help and pep talks from his friends in Radiator Springs. Now, we’re also introduced to his new sponsor and superfan, Sterling (Nathan Fillion), along with his new trainer with racing dreams of her own, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).

Cars 3 is definitely my favorite out of the series, especially seeing it go back to the roots of what really set this series apart, but delving into a deeper, more Pixar-like meaning to the story. We watch as Lightning struggles to learn the new, high-tech ways of preparing for a race, and understanding just why it’s not necessarily for him. Instead, he goes back to some of the racers of the generations to learn their secrets of the trade. While he’s learning and trying out all of these techniques for himself, he’s also getting to know Cruz more as she’s learning all of this herself. Cruz ends up revealing to Lightning that her dream is to be a racer, and she looked up to Lightning as she was growing up.

Not to mention, the Fabulous Doc Hudson is often referenced to throughout the movie, being Lightning’s biggest mentor for his entire racing career. Even though Doc is gone, Lightning meets other racers from the generations of racing before him, including Smokey, who was once Doc’s trainer. Lightning talks to him about what’s going on and Smokey agrees to help. Side by side, Lightning and Cruz both learn ways of practicing for a race, including driving within a herd of “cow-cars.” They both struggle at first, but with some practice and learning to work together, they both end up more ready than ever. That’s one of the most important themes within this movie, is that by working together, you can succeed more than you’d ever dreamed.

The movie is animated as beautifully as always – bright, awe-inspiring colors, relatable plotlines, and a fitting soundtrack that gets you in the mood for wherever the movie is about to take you. Cars 3 is a wonderful movie that will have people of all ages intrigued, so even if you don’t have children, this is definitely another one of the many amazing Pixar movies you will want to see.

In addition to all that, there is also a short film placed at the beginning of the movie called Lou. This is easily one of my favorite Pixar shorts that have been released thus far. Lou explains the story of a young bully named J.J. on a school playground who likes to take toys away from the other kids on the playground. While he has been taking toys, the lost and found box has been gradually filling up. Slowly, all of the items in the box have begun producing a creature named Lou, built up of items such as a jacket for a body, baseballs as eyes, among other odd items. Lou’s goal is to persuade J.J. to return every lost and stolen item in return for something J.J. wants as well. The short film is absolutely adorable and especially relatable when you think of how prominent bullying is in today’s times; it’s definitely a must-see, and I’m looking forward to owning it one day.

Again, Cars 3 along with Lou both release in theaters today, June 16th and it’s a wonderful way to go spend some time this Father’s Day weekend! Watch the trailer below and have a wonderful weekend!

CARS 3 is OUT in Theaters NOW! 🙂

Knott’s Ghost Town Alive!

Knott’s Ghost Town Alive!

By Kirstin

*We attended as media for purposes of this post. All thoughts and opinions remain our own.*

 

It’s Summer Time and for my family, that means making the rounds to our favorite theme parks!  Thanks to my friend, Erin at Horsing Around in L.A. and Knott’s Berry Farm, my family was able to go earlier than planned.

What’s new at Knott’s?  My family was invited to find out.  Ghost Town Alive turns Calico Ghost Town into a lively party!  Be careful though, there are shady horse rustlers ready to lead you astray!  Through September 4th, Ghost Town Alive! returns to Knott’s Berry Farm for another action-packed summer complete with bandits, cowboys, robberies, judges, a good ol’ western hoedown, and much more! You can visit the beloved town of Calico and experience an authentic western adventure by becoming a star in this summer’s story of the Wild West, where the power to unlock adventures is in the hands of every guest.

My children were excited to see the characters in Ghost Town however, there was a stop that is a must in our family.  One of their teachers instilled the love of Knott’s Berry Farm into them in preschool and she often spends her days in the Fossil and Mineral Store as you walk in.  The geodes are stunning and can be cut right in front of your eyes.

If you have never been in this store, make it a point.  The staff is knowledgeable and LOVE teaching their love of rocks and minerals.  We had learned about the Magic Rock today!  What is the Magic Rock?  This boulder has a high magnetic content in it which causes metal to stand on end!  Check this out!

My son had recently attended a field trip to Ghost Town with his 4th grade class and I was really impressed by how much he learned!  We had our own tour and history guide with us.

My family moseyed along down the street and discovered that the Wild West Stunt Show was about to start,  Knott’s Berry Farm’s stunt shows are so much fun!  The story-line keeps the audience interested while the stunts take your breath away.  You never know what will happen next!  The characters may fall from a balcony or get shot with a Gatlin Gun, you never know!

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