Delayed by COVID, the opening of the brand-new indoor waterpark Great Wolf Lodge in Manteca has been eagerly awaited by families all around the Bay Area. Just an hour’s drive from the Bay Area, Great Wolf Lodge is the ultimate water park experience that families have been looking for. For the month of October, a Howl-O-Ween celebration with trick-or-treating, a monster dance bash, arts and crafts and more will get the kids in the Halloween spirit. With 500 hotel rooms and suites, your family can wake up and be on a water slide in no time! We explored it all to give you the inside scoop and (spoiler) the only negative was having to pry the kids away to go home!
The Water Park
Great Wolf Lodge’s main attraction is their indoor water park that is heated to a balmy 84F year-round. Admission is included in your hotel stay with access beginning at 1 p.m. the day of check-in. Fort Mackenzie, the multi-level water play structure, greets your family at the entrance with its multiple slides: toddler-appropriate slides on the lower levels and higher, longer slides for the more adventurous up top. A 1,000-gallon tipping bucket dumps its contents every three to four minutes so be sure the kids stand right underneath for the full effect!
The multi-rider raft slide River Canyon Run bonds the entire family in a thrilling and twisting wet journey while Wolf’s Tail plummets its riders down a vertical 20-foot free fall when the floor drops out from underneath. Once your heart rate returns to normal, relax in the lazy river, wave pool, activity pool, zero-depth toddler splash area, oversized resort-style outdoor pool (can we say ‘pool’ one more time?) or one of the many other water/tube slides.
Things to know:
- Towels and locker rentals are available
- The Watering Hole, with its strategic location, serves adult beverages and slushies. If you’re like me, you will cycle between here and Dunkin’.
- Lifejackets are available and highly recommended for children 42” and below
- The water park was least crowded about one hour before closing (at 7 p.m.)
The Adventure Park
If your crew is ready for a break from the water park, fun is also to be had on dry land! Great Wolf Lodge boasts an exclusive, live-action-adventure game called MagiQuest in which participants wander the lodge using a wand to join tribes, befriend magical creatures and defeat the enemy. A mini version is also available for younger players five and under.
At the center of the adventure park is a multi-level rope course that is suspended above a mini-golf course because...why not? The Ten Paw Bowling alley with its shorter lanes and smaller balls means even the shortest of bowlers can get in on the action after they mine for gemstones at Oliver’s Mining Co. Add a visit to the arcade and Build-A-Bear workshop to complete an epic day any kid will rave about.
Things to know:
- Attraction passes bundle the activities to save money
- Free activities also abound! Story time, mural shows, family yoga, late-night dance parties, arts and crafts and character appearances by (friendly) wolves Wiley and Violet occur throughout the day. Check the daily schedule for times/locations
- It takes on average three hours to play one game of MagicQuest but can be continued at a later time
- Camp Howl is located inside Build-A-Bear and offers a quiet respite for coloring and reading from the hubbub
- We found the Adventure Park to be the least crowded between the hours of 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Time to Eat
All this activity will surely work up an appetite and Great Wolf Lodge has options galore with nine different eateries. Feed your pack pizza from Hungry as a Wolf or stop by Freshwoods Market for grab ‘n go premade meals. Conveniently located within the water park, Timbers (burgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders) and Buckets the Taco Bus means you can order and eat while still swimsuit-clad.
Barnwood serves up locally sourced craft cocktails and shareable plates and your pack’s sweet tooth can be satisfied at either the Great Wolf Candy Company or Wood’s End Creamery where your hardest choice (after which flavor) is a cup or a cone?
Things to know:
- Pre-purchasing a dining package will help with savings
- Use their mobile app to order for contactless dining
- There is a Costco next door. Just sayin’.
Time to Sleep
When it's time for the pack to curl up for the day, Great Wolf Lodge offers a variety of lodging arrangements that can be divided into three main categories. The standard Family Suite sleeps between four and five with two queen beds and a pull-out couch. Themed suites provide a separate sleeping area for kids complete with wall paintings, murals and bunk beds. Premium suites offer the most spacious accommodations with at least two bedrooms or adjoining rooms sleeping between eight and 13 guests. Any of the accommodations will guarantee that your family will awaken refreshed, ebullient and ready to do it all over again!
Great Wolf Lodge
2500 Daniels St, Manteca
Editor’s note: This trip was sponsored by Great Wolf Lodge, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.
Featured photo by Great Wolf Lodge