On March 21, 2009 what’s believed to be the continental United State’s first stand-alone indoor waterpark opened its doors. For Sahara Sam’s Oasis Indoor Waterpark, the goal was to deliver a state-of-the-art facility appealing to all age groups, especially the demanding 15- to 25-year-old demographic.

In developing the project, the big challenge became fitting enough revenue-generating attractions into the space to support the business model. Designers tackled this issue by placing structures more generally targeted at specific age demographics (toddlers, pre-teens, teens, twenty-something’s) in direct support of the multi-generational attractions such as the slides, play structure and lazy river. The end result is a fusion of water activities, interactive entertainment and skills-based water attractions.

Overall, Sahara Sam’s features an open plan design with a themed interactive play structure at the center of the park. Next to the play structure is a themed lazy river surrounded by a sculpted concrete rockscape, complete with zero-depth entry, water geysers, swirling vortexes and water cannons.

For the little ones there’s the “Lizard Lagoon” splash zone, which incorporates zero-depth entry, minislides, water geysers and even a baby bungee swing.

Additional amenities include an activity pool, featuring an integrated, lily-pad walk and water basketball; several water slides, such as a family raft slide, two tube slides and two body slides; and a stationary wave machine.

The walls of the facility feature floor-to-ceiling murals created and painted by local artists, depicting the oasis theme. The colors of the murals and themed attractions all convey a light-colored beach/oasis theme, creating the perfect beach feel inside the structure.

Located in the greater metropolitan New York area, Sahara Sam’s is not attached to any hotel. The $23 million, 58,000-square-foot facility is built predominantly out of concrete and constructed to last. Operationally, one thing that ties the entire project together is the number of environmentally friendly features, and state-of-the-art ticketing and concessions.

The waterpark is heated and powered by combined cogeneration units that keep the building at a steady 84 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 percent humidity. To maximize year-round comfort and seasonal enjoyment, Sahara Sam’s also boasts a transparent retractable roof, which capitalizes on daylight and natural ventilation while providing more energy savings.

Additionally, the slides all loop outside the internal structure rather than inside, saving space and helping enhance the efficiency of HVAC equipment. Also, all pools include UV filtration and water-saving sand filter systems.

Along with cost-saving, environmentally friendly pool equipment, Sahara Sam’s also operates with a state-of-the-art ticketing system. It features Internet ticket purchasing capabilities and RFID patron management. In the future, wrist bands will allow patrons to pre-load a determined amount of money assigned to individual “day accounts,” freeing guests from having to carry personal items such as wallets or handbags into a crowded water activity environment.

By utilizing the best technologies the 21st century has to offer, Sahara Sam’s delivers to its patrons cost-effective interactive entertainment attractions predominately supported by the local population. Sahara Sam’s success is ultimately derived from a superb water attractions experience — and, coupled with the stunning pseudo-Egyptian visual landscape — the technology driven park ties the whole family together.


Opened: 2009

Cost: $23 million

Aquatic space: 57,500 square feet

Dream amenities: Adventure River; shallow activity pool; multilevel play structure; stationary wave machine; basketball / crossing pool; warming tub


  • Dream Designer: Aquatic Development Group
  • Architect: Ronald Laporte
  • Engineering: Engineering Ventures; Libert Engineering


  • Acutrol:Chemical controllers
  • Empex; Playtime; SCS Interactive;
  • Water Odyssey: Water-play equipment
  • ETS:UV
  • Hayward: Lighting
  • Marlow: Pumps
  • Patterson-Kelley Boilers: Heaters
  • ProSlide Technology: Water slides
  • Whitten: Filters