My family and I had the chance to visit Sahara Sams Oasis Indoor & Outdoor Water park this past weekend. Yes, we went to a water park in New Jersey in late January. I have to admit, it took a lot of courage to utter the words “Do you want to go swimming” to my 6 year old and 2 year old, knowing the answer would undoubtedly be “YEAH!”. The thought of entering a swimming pool when it is under 40 degrees outside was scary, but I am so glad we did it.
The drive there from my hometown, which is just off of exit 10 via the turnpike was an hour and 15 minutes. It was an easy drive, and the kids kept occupied in the back the entire time with the exception of a few “Are we almost there?”s thrown in. Sahara Sams is located in West Berlin, NJ right off of exit 4 on the NJ Turnpike. Had I known there was this amazing family retreat so close to home, I would’ve gone a lot sooner!
When we went, Sunday January 25th, it was a perfect day out. 44 degrees, and blue-grayish skies above. We were bundled up tight with our winter coats and hats on and our bathing suits on underneath, with our beach bags by our sides carrying beach towels and changes of clothes. I know… it felt just as silly as it sounds. We arrived at just about noon and there was ample parking throughout. Parking is free, first come first serve.
When we entered into the place through the front doors, our whole atmosphere totally changed. You can feel the slight burst of heat hit your face, and see all the fun games ahead of you with bright colored lights and sounds. There is a worker at a table directly in front of the door waiting to check through ALL of your bags to ensure you aren’t carrying any weapons, or any outside food or drink because it is not permitted in the park. He did let us keep 1 bottle of unopened water, and the “check in” went pretty quick as there wasn’t a long line at this time. Be prepared – you need to bring an ID card to the check in counter. There are signs stating this prior to reaching the check-in desk as well.
Another ‘know before you go’. My youngest son is only 2 years old, and children under 2 are FREE. If you have a child under the age of 3, make sure to bring proof of age if you do not want to pay for them. Yes, they said they needed a birth certificate or anything proving age. I do understand this because of the issue of people trying to get over and pass their older children off as 2 or under, but I believe it should be stated somewhere in the ticket purchasing section or online somewhere “Children 2 and under FREE with proof of age”. The gentleman at the counter was nice about it though. He also explained they may go to a height restriction instead for the free ticket – such as any children under 34″ free” or something along those lines. To be safe, just make a copy of the child’s birth certificate and bring it with you prepared to show it if younger then 3 for free entry.
They have the option of purchasing a locker for a fee, or you can rent a private Cabana which looked really cool for $85. Cabanas must be reserved in advance which can be done over the internet.
OK, so onto whats INSIDE! It is an understatement for me to say that once we walked into the actual Indoor water park section, I immediately felt like I was on vacation somewhere beautiful and definitely NOT in NJ in January. Did I mention it is a steady 84 Degrees in there? It was so great to be so relaxed and WARM! My 2 year old was initially scared of the giant bucket that dumps tons of water down, but eventually he forgot about it. My 6 year old, on the other hand, was ecstatic to see that giant bucket!
One thing I must note, is that for ALL of the attractions, the life guards were on their “A” game. They were extremely attentive, and did their jobs well. It made me feel so comfortable with my 2 young children there and other children all over as that can sometimes feel overwhelming.
The first thing we did is head over to the CONGO BONGO which is essentially a lazy river. They provide tubes for you to use and float around a winding path filled with tropical surroundings and fun sporadic sprays of water and waterfalls. It was not crowded at all when we were in it, although later in the day it did get a bit more crowded. We went on this 3 times. Once, and then another 2 times consecutively around. That is one of the great things. It is a “free for all”. You can go around as many times as you’d like without being kicked out. I’d imagine there would have to be some type of limit if it was overly crowded, but that wasn’t the case this day.
Then, we headed over to the LIZARD LAGOON which is an area geared toward toddlers. My 2 year old had so much fun going down the water slide, and on the tiny bungee swings. My 6 year old even had a blast in this area going down the water slides helping his brother. It was such a safe area and so cute. You have to just watch the stairs, because they are wet, and there are many toddlers trying to get up them at once. There is a lifeguard at the top of the stairs, and the bottom of the slides as well.
Onto the SAMS SLAM DUNKER pool! The boys, including my husband, had a blast shooting some hoops in the pool. The pool was 3-4ft deep and it was so warm. We actually kept coming back to this throughout the day to just hang out. It did get crowded at times, but still fun. The only concern I had with this, is they use REAL basketballs. 3 of them.They are heavy in my opinion to be tossed around above heads of others including young children held by their parents. It would be much better if the used pool balls or something lighter like a small beach ball. They had a blast in here though.
My 6 year old couldn’t get enough of going on a real, big water slide by himself in the TIM-BUK-TU area. It is the same area with the giant bucket. It has a smaller park like slide for younger children, and some do-it-yourself spray sections that kids can control the spray bursts on each side. I got hit a few times with water unknowingly, but it was all in fun.
The CROCODILE FLATS is an area sectioned off from the slam dunk pool that has lily pads for kids to try to walk across while holding onto a net above. Unfortunately, my 6 year old isn’t a great swimmer yet, and wasn’t tall enough to really reach the net yet, so he couldn’t try it but it looked really fun!
My favorite part, the ADULT ONLY Warming pool. Hubby and I had to take turns going to this because it’s 18+. That is what makes it so great. A little retreat to what feels like a giant tub. You have a view of the Congo Bongo, and can just kick back and relax with no kids splashing around. It isn’t a Jacuzzi, because the water is the same temperature as the rest of the pools, but because it is much smaller, it feels a lot warmer, hence the name “Warming pool”.
Across from this is the adult pool-side bar on one side, or the doors to the food court on the other side.
The FLO-RIDA section looked really cool. It is a simulation of surfing, but we didn’t get a chance to try it this visit because the kids are too small and wanted to keep busy with other attractions. I definitely plan on trying this one out my next visit!
There are some additional attractions we did not try out due to once again, the kids wanting to be on the other attractions, but they’re geared more towards older kids and adults. There are also outdoor attractions including a splash area, some more giant water slides, and a RIP-N-ROLL wave pool I can’t wait to try!
After the water attractions, we wanted to dry off a bit and let our hair dry before going back out into the cold so we got dressed and hit up the Arcade. The arcade is all digital. You load money onto a card, and then use that for the price of each game. The tokens also load onto the card as well and can be redeemed at the reward counter which is much easier then carrying around a handful of tickets.
I am definitely planning to visit again this Summer so I can check out the outdoor section and their neighboring Diggerland (a construction site with sand for kids!) My 6 year old already proclaimed that he is having one of his birthday parties there in the future.They have a great birthday party package that include an annual full year membership for the birthday child! We had such a blast and miss it already. I highly recommend it to everyone!
DO Bring your own towels
DO NOT BRING floatation devices or pool toys
LIFE VESTS ARE PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE
Check out their website to see details about each attraction and more pictures and videos – SaharaSams.com including their current SALE on annual membership for ONLY $69.95! You can even decide to upgrade your day pass to membership by paying the difference that day.