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Father of fiberglass waterslide
Budge Brown inducted into Waterpark Hall of Fame
A boy drops out of a waterslide at Manteca Waterslides in 2000. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

Budge Brown — the father of the fiberglass waterpark slide — along with his wife Arlene have been inducted into the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame.

The couple operated the Manteca Waterslides at Oakwood Lake  for 30 years at the western end of Woodward Avenue where the gated community of Oakwood Shores is now located.

The Browns, who have since passed away, were inducted posthumously during the WWA convention at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.

Budge Brown is widely regarded as the inventor of the use of fiberglass tubes for waterparks. The WWA noted that waterparks around the world have some variation of his original design. Brown also built a number of waterparks for clients in California, Australia, and New Zealand with a side business known as the Happy Slides of Life.

The Browns married in 1957 and bought a farm just southwest of Manteca.

It was there that they started a sand mining operation. When the pits they created mining sand filled with water seeping from beneath the nearby San Joaquin River, they opened the Oakwood Lake Resort camp grounds.

While on a trip to Hawaii, Brown became fascinated with a natural water slide.

Returning to Manteca he set about replicating the slide he saw in Hawaii.

The result was a 720-foot long concrete waterslide coated with epoxy that they opened at Oakwood Lake. They charged $1 for an hour’s use of the slide.

Brown was frustrated with design limitations of concrete waterslides that often caused riders to fall off mats and sometimes come to a standstill.

He set about designing waterslides out of fiberglass fashioned in five-foot in diameter tubes. He also manufactured the waterslide tubes.

The result was a faster journey down the slide with three times as many people using it during the same time period as an old-fashioned concrete slide. Representatives for WWA indicate that the slides Brown created still rate as some of the fastest ever built.

Brown ran the sand mining and waterpark while his wife handled the books.

For 30 years until its closure in 2004 the Manteca a Waterslides was a popular stopping point for travelers from the Bay Area heading to and from Yosemite in the summer heat.

Manteca was synonymous with waterslides for three decades in many people’s minds. Even with the waterslides closed now for 10 years businesses will get inquiries from people passing through that ask where the waterslides are located.

The Browns opted to close in 2004 due to rising worker’s compensation costs and other business regulations. There also ware new waterparks in the East Bay and Sacramento area competing for customers.

Today, just under 1.5 miles to the northeast of the former Manteca Waterslides, McWhinney Development is  hoping to build a 70,000-square-foot indoor waterslide park complete with a 500-room resort hotel complete with a 30,000-square-foot convention center on 30 acres owned by the City of Manteca directly west of Costco..

Unlike the Waterslides that were open from May to early September, Great Wolf Resorts are year-round waterslides.

Environmental studies are expected to be done in early 2015 with a final decision by the Manteca City Council expected later next year whether to proceed with the project.