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Great Wolf opens in the 209

The coolest place on a 105-degree day in the 209 will soon be the same place it will be the warmest on the drabbest day of lingering Tule fog that keeps the temperatures in the 40s round the clock.

The place is the Great Wolf Lodge Resort opening October 28.

Describing Great Wolf as “just a water park” is about as accurate as describing the imposing El Capitan overlooking Yosemite Valley a “just a rock.”

The river canyon is one of 13 indoor water park attractions.

Everything about the Great Wolf in Manteca from the 95,000-square-foot indoor waterpark — the second largest in the 17-location operation being the Anaheim Great Wolf — is tailored so both parents and kids can enjoy their stay at true resort location.

Unlike with an outdoor water park where you have to deal with wind, scorching sun, chilly weather, oppressive heat or rain and have a limited mid-spring to late summer window to enjoy, it’s always a pleasant 82 degrees with the water two degrees warmer. Extensive skylights keep the water park bright without having to worry about sun burn.

But if you want to work on your tan there is a massive outdoor guest pool complete with shelves you can partially submerse yourself in water on a lounge.

If you opt to eschew the outdoor pool to cram in a much slide and water play time as possible, Great Wolf will more than accommodate you. They use a green/red light system that allows personnel to move guests quickly — and safely — onto the slides. Conveyors take the tubes to the start of the slides.

A visit to Great Wolf is designed as a staycation. Accessing the 13 indoor waterpark attractions that are open 24/7, 365 days a year from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily comes with the booking of a room overnight that gives guests two full days of waterpark access.

If you opt to access every possible hour you can in the water park, there is a guest luggage storage area and locker rooms so before and after your check in and out times you can splash around without packing up your vehicle.

And these are just your average hotel rooms. For starters there are 500 rooms making the Great Wolf located along the 120 Bypass on Manteca and accessed by the Airport Way exit the largest hotel ever built in the Great Central Valley stretching from Bakersfield to Redding. Many of the rooms are theme suites with “Wolf Dens” and “Kids Cabins” for children with their own bunk beds and TVs. That way mom and dad can watch Netflix and even opt for in-room alcoholic beverages while the kids can watch cartoons and such in their own suite in a suite.

The Great Wolf experience starts when you drive up to the resort that features a northern lodge design. The lobby has a grand fireplace that also serves as the backdrop for the nightly story time featuring Great Wolf characters such as Wiley the Wolf.

To minimize check in time to avoid having antsy kids, Great Wolf “pack members” — the moniker given to resort staff — armed with devices greet and process guests if lines start to form to make sure check in time is minimized.

There are also eight dining options ranging from traditional sit down and casual dining to fast food as well grab and go opens.

The 55,000-square-foot family entertainment center features eight attractions including a ropes course, candy store, miniature golf, bowling, an arcade and second most popular Great Wolf attraction for kids — MagiQuest.

Great Wolf can teach Harry Potter a thing or two about magical fun thanks to MagiQuest.

Young and old can use ‘magical wands’ to embark on a magical quest throughout the lodge. You determine the play time that can range from 30 minutes to three hours. You can take a break and come back hours later or the next day. You can even return with your wand months later to finish games or purchase new ones.

The dining options and games area are open to the general public meaning you do not need to be resort guests to access them. Once Great Wolf Manteca is up and running for a number of months, one-day water park passes will be available based on occupancy and will feature demand pricing. Great Wolf caps water park access to guarantee a true resort experience and avoid having guests spending time in lines.

Besides story time kids that are hotel guests can access yoga classes, interactive science experiments, a high energy dance party and a crafts area dubbed “Paw Projects” and more at no additional charge.

For those seeking to spend more time in the water park or at the outdoor pool and want a bit of privacy, Great Wolf rents cabanas. They come with two lounge-style chairs, a 20-inch flat screen TV, mini-fridge with non-alcoholic beverages, plus plenty of towels as well as Great Wolf Lodge playing cards for a mini retreat of sorts for families.

Part of the safety and convenience of the resort stay are wristbands that have chips. Guests can have specific wristbands activated so they can be scanned to allow for the purchase of food, drink and items in the gift shop that are charged to your room without having to worry about lugging around a wallet and purse and worrying about keeping them secure when accessing the water park and other attractions.

The Barnwood sit-down restaurant is one of eight dining options.
The Manteca resort also has a 12,000-square-foot conference center. That makes it the second largest conference center in terms of available space in the same location in the Northern San Joaquin Valley after the Modesto Centre Plaza.

It includes a main ballroom that can be split in thirds or used as one giant venue that has a capacity of 360 people in a classroom setting, 450 people in a banquet configuration, and 600 for theater-style seating. Additional smaller spaces means Great Wolf, with the right mixture of booked events, can accommodate over 900 people at the same time. 

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