In March of 2009, Sahara Sam’s Oasis opened its doors in the community of West Berlin as New Jersey’s first free-standing, indoor water park with 58,000 square feet of aquatic and arcade attractions. Each year since its inception, Sahara Sam’s has managed to increase the value of their guest experience by making capital investments in attractions, expansions, and new programs.
The water park is owned and operated by the Girlya family. President Ilya Girlya is quick to note that the success of the water park can be attributed to its staff and the hard work of his family. The Girlya’s business is diversified in various holdings; however a strong emphasis is placed on the local development and management of entertainment venues such as Sahara Sam’s Oasis.
In October of 2010, Sahara Sam’s Oasis opened SAMAZON, a four story tall ropes course, the tallest in the world – the ropes course moved over to Diggerland USA, the first ever construction-themed adventure park, which opened in West Berlin on June 14, 2014. The following year, in 2011, the SAMBULANCE Educational Safety Program was launched. This program is provided by the SAMBULANCE Safety Squad, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, primarily supported financially by Sahara Sam’s Oasis. The program’s mission is to foster the independence of individuals with special needs through educational programming and safety alliances. The Squad travels to special needs schools and organizations to offer complimentary, hands-on programming designed to educate individuals about first responders, 9-1-1 emergencies and basic first aid. The same year, Sahara Sam’s Oasis was awarded the prestigious Silver International Aquatic Safety Award by Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc., International Aquatic Safety & Risk Management Consultants.
Sahara Sam’s Oasis continues to grow both economically and as a beacon of community involvement. The introduction of S.E.A.S. evenings, also known as “Special Needs Events at Sam’s” gives families and individuals with special needs the opportunity to share in a pleasant, judgment-free experience at the water park. The events include limited ticket sales to restrict crowding, modified lighting and sounds, quiet rooms, extra seating, and the ability for families to network and make new friends.
In 2012, Sahara Sam’s announced its next expansion project and construction began on a 2-acre, $6.5 million dollar outdoor facility. This latest expansion includes a 25 meter leisure pool, a children’s splash park, full service bar, sand volleyball courts, and a 12,000 square foot wave pool. In conjunction with the outdoor facilities, the park also added another tube slide: The Nile Mile. At 350 feet, this super-fast body slide starts inside the building and snakes around the exterior, eventually reemerging with 50 feet of runway for the guest. The project also includes an 8,000 square foot addition to the current building and features new kitchen facilities, additional restrooms, and expanded party facilities. Construction of the project completed in May of 2013.
Today, the facility offers families of the greater Tri-State community affordable, high-value entertainment year-round with 90% of its 68-thousand square feet under a one-of-a-kind retractable roof system. Park features include a 3,000 square foot arcade with the newest gaming systems, the famous FlowRider surfing simulator, numerous water attractions, slides, and more.
What’s next for the Oasis? Even with a bleak economic forecast across the nation, President Ilya Girlya takes an optimistic position: “Sahara Sam’s Oasis is an escape, an experience. I can’t let things like the economy effect how we run the park; people visit us to have fun and forget these things. This is my family’s home and we are committed to the success of Sahara Sam’s. When we do well, that means a little more of my community is smiling.”