Reason Closed: Escalating costs of business, state reclamation requirements
Current Use: New housing development with artificial lake
Situated just south of Highway 120, with easy access from Interstates 5 and 580, the Manteca Waterslides opened their gates for the first time in the summer of 1974.
Built by R.H. “Budge” Brown, a local farmer, it was the first waterpark on the West Coast and holds an important place in history – the distinction of being the first waterpark to feature fiberglass slides – now a staple of the industry.
But arguably, the most recognizable and feared feature of the park was the massive, dominating, 80 foot behemoth known as V-Max – which still holds the record as the tallest waterslide in California.
Unfortunately for the park, those same freeways that made the park so convenient were also good at providing long distance commute options for Bay Area drivers. Suddenly, Manteca was more known for affordable housing than waterslides.
Coupled with skyrocketing workers’ compensation, health care costs and sheer red tape, the park announced 2004 as it’s final season. The Manteca Waterslides closed forever on September 26th, 2004.
By 2006, all traces of the park were removed, leveled and submerged under an expansion of Oakwood Lake. In 2013, work continues on the re-development of the site, in the form of suburban style, upscale housing.
Many of the slides never left Manteca. The two that revolutionized the waterpark industry still sit off Highway 120 on a private lot.
But to truly experiences the waterslides, simply visit California’s Great America, and their Boomerang Bay Waterpark. That’s where you’ll find Screamin’ Wombat & Ripsnort Ridge, or if you were a fan of them at Manteca – two thirds of “Thunder Falls.”
Even Great Wolf Lodge is looking into opening one of their indoor waterpark resorts…you guessed…in Manteca in the coming years – we may just see the waterslides return to Manteca after all.
We camped there all the time. It was great, all the campsites were grassy and had electrical outlets as well as barbeque pits. It was only an hour away from home (San Lorenzo) which was perfect. You felt like you went on a mini vacation, and the water slides were awesome. Thanks for bringing back some great memories, I hadn’t thought about Oakwood Lake for a long time.
March 5, 2014 at 2:20 am
I think it the out door experiance of camping and waterslides should came back that families be able to have that experiance nothing like it. We went there every summer I am from San Francisco so many found memories so sad that my children and grandchildren cant have that experiance
February 23, 2018 at 7:51 am
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I used to live in Manteca and when I was ten, which was 1974, I remember going down the water slide with my Great Uncle on a dare! It is a very dear memory for me and we had a ball. When you were at the top before going down you could see mostly just cattle and small ranches all around and all that is gone now but I will never forget the day a 60 yr old man beat me up the hill to go down the slide again!! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
September 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm
It’s our pleasure, Cindy. Be sure to share the video with others’ who may enjoy it as much as you!
September 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm
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I recently came across my families vacation pictures from the summer of 1977, the year the Manteca Water Slide (singular) opened. The original slide actually dumped into the lake. My Grandparents extended our vacation so we could be the first kids to ride it. Talk about a trip down memory lane. Many loved summers followed.
February 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm
The two slides that had been sitting on Highway 120 have since been removed as of earlier this year. What happened to them? Were they scrapped or salvaged? What happened to v-max? Was is it ever relocated? Where?
July 5, 2015 at 5:33 pm
What a great place that was. I miss listening to Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away” over and over and over again. Whenever I hear that song, I always think of that happy place, and I don’t have any bad memories from there that I can recall.
Reason Closed: Escalating costs of business, state reclamation requirements.
Current Use: New housing development with artificial lake
Thank you, CA big government oligarchs and fascists masquerading as “liberals”, for driving my happy place out of business.
“It’s about the bottom line, the bottom line!”
March 12, 2016 at 10:21 am
That would be awesome to bring back the water slides, as a child we had a vacation cabin near by and every summer we spent slot of time there as t the water park.
March 15, 2016 at 11:56 am
This is the worst thing that could have ever been allowed to happen to a park so original, fun, historical, and irreplaceable. What a crying shame this has been to have let something so grand be demolished and taken away from us all. This is such an enormous loss and can only hope to see a possibility of ever being able to have it brought back. :,(( great memories. Great site and campgrounds.
May 5, 2016 at 10:37 pm
We first went to Oakwood Lake in the summer of 1978 in our first Motorhome (1974 24′ Titan). We spent many a 3 Day Week-End there and the memories are still with my children. Just another fun place lost to the rising cost of CA Land. Very sad to see it go.
September 2, 2016 at 12:24 pm
I met two girls from Manteca at a summer camp at Mount Hermon (Santa Cruz Mountains) in the summer of 1974. They convinced me to make a trek to their little town. So one summer day me and my friend Jon Huddleston drove to their house, only to be told that they could not have boys are their house until their mom came home from work. Jon asked if there was a nearby lake, and we were told about Oakwood Lake. So Jon and I drove to nearby Oakwood Lake where I discovered a flock of young kids having the time of their lives on this water slide. There was just this ONE water slide that seems like the same stuff that a swimming pool was made from (white plaster?) At 18 I was truly one the older “kids” there, but I could have cared less. I paid the modest fee and took to the slide. It was a ball. Obviously, the Manteca Waterslides evolved into quite the water park, especially for its era. I was truly saddened to see its demise. Thank you for the video and all the information. Much appreciated!
May 4, 2017 at 8:02 pm
I spent my childhood in the 90’s at Manteca waterslides. (I can actually still recall the song from their commercials) All of us locals are VERY excited about the proposition of a resort being built in town with an indoor water park. Keep your fingers crossed!
P.S. MAKE MANTECA WATERSLIDES GREAT AGAIN
June 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm
I first took my family to Oakwood Lake in 1978. We went there in our first motorhome, a 1974 24′ Titan. We spent a 3 day week-end there. My children still have fond memories of our times there and their trips down the Water Slides. I remember one week-end in particular, it was when Parents Without Partners was there, but that’s another story. ‘Nuff said!
November 19, 2017 at 7:21 am
“Manteca water slides was the best place in the world” my whole family would say! We couldn’t wait for summer as a kid, just so we could vacation there. Dad would take us there for our camping trips from Alameda and with Mom from Concord. That was the best place around, almost better then (Mariott’s) Great America! It was great being a kid growing up in the Bay Area,so sad to hear it was gone.
April 22, 2018 at 11:23 pm