An indoor water park in South New Jersey makes a perfect escape for a day trip.
When I took the kids and a friend of Nick’s to Dorney Park in September, it was an overcast and dreary day. Luckily, all was ok in terms of riding the rides and doing sightseeing, but it was too iffy for the water park, so we skipped it.
And the kids were majorly disappointed, because they are all about water. Like they would seriously spend all day, every day at the lake, the beach, or any other small or large body of water if I let them.
So I promised them a consolation prize.
That I would plan a trip to Sahara Sam’s for the next month (October), and we would make a day out of it.
Little did they know, I already had free passes to Sahara Sam’s, tucked away for just the right time.
‘Cause I’m sneaky like that.
(And although people might think I’m silly for collecting Coke rewards, I’ve been doing it for about three years now, and that’s exactly how I got the free passes. So there.)
The indoor water park is open from 10 am until 7 pm, and our goal was to leave in the morning, when everyone was up, and be down there by lunch. It’s about an hour and a half away from us, but a pretty easy, mostly highway drive.
Which was totally narrated by two eleven year old boys in the back seat and their video game sound effects.
When you arrive, your bags are checked. I’m not exactly sure what they’re looking for, but I know you are not allowed to bring in your own food or drink.
We paid $6.50 for a large locker, which was the perfect size to store all our bags, clothes, shoes, and other unnecessary items. Lockers are accessed with special wrist bands, and it was kind of awesome not to have to keep track of a locker key.
And then the kids were off.
There are many different areas to explore, but the focus is on water slides, a lazy river, and a few obstacle course-type areas. The inside is similar to Great Wolf Lodge and CoCo Key, an expansive space with ample seating for parents to hold down a home base.
At Great Wolf Lodge, you can’t pay for the day (the indoor water park is only for overnight hotel guests) and the inside temperature takes your breath away when you first walk in. At Sahara Sam’s (and likewise, Coco Key), the temperature was warm, but mild, and you can come and visit for the day.
There are life vests available for littler (and non-swimming) kids to use, and lifeguards stationed all over the place. The lifeguards do an excellent job, are definitely on high alert the whole entire time, and take their job very seriously. One kid slipped while we were there and went under water for a moment, and the lifeguard was in the water helping him with seconds, with back-up right behind him.
There is a bar for parents to indulge in adult beverages, a large restroom and locker area, and a cafe. Lunch choices are your typical highway robbery priced fare of chicken fingers, salads, burgers, pizzas, and the like. Avoid eating there, if you can. The prices are just, honestly, ridiculous. You also need an ID for all credit card purchases, even at the snack stand, and even though you had to show ID upon admission. Which means don’t just stick your wallet in your locker and grab a credit card without grabbing your license too.
With your day pass, each visitor also gets $2 on an arcade card. Most games are 0.50-$2 a play, so, of course, the $2 is gone before you can blink. The games can only be played by loading more money (minimum of $5) onto the card (no coin play). When you win tickets, you swipe your card into a separate machine, and feed the tickets into it, and it adds the value to your card, which makes it easy when you go to cash in your points for ridiculous pieces of plastic junk nobody needs.
Although the allure of the arcade is tempting, that wasn’t what we were there for, so we kept our playing to the $2 that came with our admission. Ok, and, of course, if you know me, you know we also did the photo booth.
Because I never skip a photo booth.
The only drawback to Sahara Sam’s is that they really don’t have any open pool areas if kids just want to swim or wade (they *do* outside, just not in the indoor portion). CoCo Key definitely does. They also do not provide towels (the other indoor water parks do). Luckily I saw this mentioned on their web site, so we brought our own beach towels with us.
If you’re not going with free passes, do buy your tickets online. You’ll save a few dollars on each ticket that way (just pay and print), and Sahara Sam’s runs frequent specials (on the weekend we went, admission was “buy one, get one 50% off,” for example). Even without discounts, the daily passes are very reasonably priced.
All in all, the kids had a great afternoon, and it was the perfect way to escape a little cold weather.
535 N Route 73
West Berlin, NJ 08091
Telephone: (856) 767-7580