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Spend the day at Great Wolf

Great Wolf is arguably the coolest place to be in the Northern San Joaquin Valley to enjoy fun in the water on a 105-degree summer day as well as the same place where it is the warmest on the drabbest January day of lingering tule fog that keeps the temperature in the 40s around the clock.

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

Everything about the Great Wolf in Manteca from how the 95,000-square-foot indoor waterpark — the second largest in the 19-location operation behind the Anaheim Great Wolf — is designed and operated, so both parents and kids can enjoy their stay in a true resort setting.

Unlike with an outdoor water park where you have to deal with wind, scorching sun, chilly weather, oppressive heat or even rain, it’s always a pleasant 82 degrees with the water two degrees warmer. Extensive skylights keep the waterpark 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 where you can partially submerse yourself in water on a lounger.

If you opt to eschew the outdoor pool to squeeze in as 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 operating slides to move guests quickly — and safely — onto the slides. Conveyors take tubes to the starting points of slides.

At the heart of the indoor waterpark is Great Wolf’s signature attraction — Fort McKenzie. The multi-level water plays structure features suspension bridges, slides and spray stations. Atop of Fort Mackenzie sits a massive, 1,000-gallon tipping bucket that pours out every three-to-four minutes, to the glee of children waiting below. Attached to the play structure are six water slides, including four twisting body slides that originate from the top of the structure and two at a lower level designed for toddlers.

Fort McKenzie and the other 10 water park attractions are carefully planned so sight lines maximize safety and security.

Manteca is the first Great Wolf featuring the Sequoia Splash. It’s a multi-person raft slide starts by sending riders down a steep drop into a giant funnel, where the raft’s momentum sends it careening up one side of the funnel to the next. Upon exiting the funnel, the raft encounters a 360-degree loop before gaining speed as it approaches a giant saucer. In the saucer, the raft twists and turns its way round and round, before finally plunging into a catch pool at the bottom of the slide. 

 For those seeking to spend more time in the waterpark or at the outdoor pool and want a bit of privacy Great Wolf also rents cabanas. They come with tables and chairs, two lounge chairs, a 20-inch flat screen satellite TV, mini-fridge with non-alcoholic beverages, plenty of towels plus 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 that they can be scanned to allow 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 waterpark or other attractions.

Day passes are now available to the Manteca Great Wolf Indoor Water Park.

The one-day passes start at $64 per person for a half day (four hours) on midweek days and $100 for weekends. Full-day passes start at $80 on weekends and $125 on weekends.

But as locals have discovered if you get four to eight people together and book a room it is a lot less money with more hours. 

By booking a room you get waterpark access the day you arrive and up until closing the next day.  Besides having someone else make your bed isn’t all that bad as an added bonus.

To understand the value, as of July 8 the cheapest room option for Saturday, Aug. 13, for up to six people was $446 ($500 with room tax). For Tuesday, Aug. 16, for up to six people was $249 ($290 with room tax).

It is important to note prices vary on demand and the number of vacant rooms. So as dates approach prices can drop or increase. That said, Great Wolf offers lower prices in most cases the farther out you book.

The rates mentioned above if you are reading this the first week of August could be higher or lower per room.

Assuming you have four people all day passes if available on the weekend would cost you $500 for all day use (11 hours) or $400 for half day (4 to 8 p.m.)

The lowest priced room, based on the July 8 prices, would cost $500 for four people for upwards of 16 hours of waterpark play over two days.

The midweek all-day passes for four people comes to $320 versus a room for $20 that gives you more hours over two days.

Once you add a fifth and sixth person to a room stay, you start saving significant money while enjoying more time at the resort.

The way to keep it affordable is to skip the restaurants at Great Wolf and opt to dine at a nearby restaurants ranging from Five Guys Burgers and Subway to Chili’s, Panda Express, and La Estrella Mexican Restaurant, Round Table Pizza, Sizzler’s, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, as well as Jamba Juice.

You can also take a break and enjoy a packed picnic lunch at the grassy area outside the nearby Big League Dreams sports complex given you can’t bring food and beverages into the resort.

That said the dining options at Great Wolf are top notch and offer a wide array of options. They also offer the most decadent milkshakes you’ll ever enjoy among their various ice cream treats.

There are Manteca residents who — when they book a room — go home for lunch or dinner.

The number of waterpark day passes are monitored each day to ensure the number of visitors at the waterpark is actively managed. The quantity of water park day passes available on a given day is based on the projected number of rooms occupied at the resort on that day. This controlled approach allows Great Wolf Lodge to maintain a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable waterpark experience for all guests.

To check the availability and pricing of waterpark day passes for a particular day, guests can visit Waterpark day passes are only available online and cannot be purchased at the resort. Passes are not required for toddlers two or under when accompanied by an adult pass holder.

Passes, once they are paid for, are nonrefundable and must be used on the date reserved.