Tons of Fun to be Had at Oasis Fun Center
By Richard DuPertuis
Story and Photos by Richard DuPertuis
WHEN TREVOR SMITH left his hometown of Shasta Lake to pursue a career in the California Highway Patrol, he had no idea how short a pursuit that would be. Nor could you have convinced him seven years ago that he would abandon law enforcement to return to the family business, which has for decades been known to locals and visitors alike as the place to go for fun.
Today, Smith is the hands-on owner of Oasis Fun Center, just west of Interstate 5 between Oasis Road and Pine Grove Avenue. You might see him spraying weeds along the fairway at the miniature golf course. You might see him checking in at the go-cart track, where racers of all ages fight for the lead on each 800-foot lap. Or his might be the smiling face behind the counter as he sells you an ice cream or soft drink.
He knows this place well. “I grew up working here,” he says. “Pulling the weeds, sweeping the golf course. Little kid’s stuff. Working alongside my dad.”
His father, Terry Smith, looks back on those years fondly. “He’s probably the best employee the Oasis Fun Center ever had,” he declares. “He didn’t complain. And he got exposed to an awful lot.”
“It was about more than fun,” Trevor explains. “I appreciated the ability to work and learn. I did concrete work, basic electrical and tons of painting. He trusted me with a backhoe. How many 16-year-olds get to do that?”
The younger Smith says property has been renovated, the features updated on an ongoing basis, keeping up with new trends. “The only thing original is the light poles,” he says. “Our newest attractions are the escape rooms.”
Between the race track and the golf course and adjoining bumper boat pool, the indoor portion of Oasis Fun Center is housed in a two-story building. The upper story is dedicated to a seven-hole miniature golf course, a contrast to the intertwined 18-holer outside, laced with lawn, fountains, streams and bridges.
Downstairs, a bustling crowd finds fun in all directions. Dead center, they can choose between arcade games and booths with the tempting hooks to snag prizes. Over there, they line up for a 3D ride simulator. And behind that door over there lies the laser tag arena, a darkened, black-lighted maze where combating teams blast each other with glee.
“There’s lots of stuff to do here,” says 11-year-old Samuel Schmidt, fresh off the air hockey table with his older brother. “It’s super fun.” He says for the last five years, laser tag was his favorite attraction, but now it’s the go carts. Mother Jennifer agrees: “There nothing more fun than racing your family.”
The Schmidts had just celebrated a birthday in one of the two party rooms for rent. The other room looks recently abandoned as well, with half a Pizza Factory pepperoni pizza – which Oasis Fun Center supplies – left behind. With food and drink and a handful of tickets, visitors can enjoy hours of challenge and excitement here.
Smith says that by the time he graduated from Central Valley High School in 2004, he was ready to leave. “I served a mission for my church in Brazil,” he recalls. “I came home and got married. I joined the CHP because of the lack of knowing what I wanted to do with myself. I hated college, and I looked for a way out.”
His time with the CHP included seven years in Santa Cruz. During this time, his father began to grow weary from the rigors of running an amusement park and thought about retiring and selling it. His first choice for buyer was his son.
“I declined and stayed in the CHP,” says Trevor. “But a few months passed, and I could not get the idea out of my head. I really didn’t want this place to leave the family, because it was my life while I was growing up, and I thought I would like my children to have the same opportunity.”
He finally decided to make the purchase because he saw Oasis Fun Center as a better way of life for his family – his wife and four kids, ages 6 and younger. He took ownership in January.
Terry Smith, who now helps with the bookkeeping, says he had mixed feelings about the sale. “I was both very pleased and concerned at the same time,” he recalls. “I didn’t want him to step down in terms of his life quality. The CHP has job security, benefits.”
“I don’t feel like it’s a risky venture,” assures the younger Smith. “It’s very well established. It’s been here a long time.”
“It’s been good to our family,” nods his father.
Trevor says the size of his daily crowds depends heavily on the weather. “I’m kind of like a reverse farmer,” he says with a laugh. “I pray for drought.”•
Oasis Fun Center • 3330 Cascade Blvd. • Shasta Lake
(530) 275-3042 • www.oasisfuncenter.com
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 am to midnight, Sunday noon to midnight