Awash in lighting effects, an 8,000-square-foot rink accommodates roller skaters as they circle the facility to the thumping beat of contemporary pop music. Overhead, a disco ball 3 feet in diameter—featured in the remake of Footloose—further illumines the rink with its sparkling effervescence.
Meanwhile, participants clad in 78 Skate's velcro suit leap toward the velcro wall to see if they'll stick, and more than 30 arcade and redemption games challenge prize-seeking players. Gamesmanship continues at a pair of billiards tables nestled beneath two large screen televisions in the snack bar, which reenergizes customers with tasty treats and beverages. Elsewhere, a full-service skate shop equips patrons with new wheels for blading sessions in their bathtub, and twice weekly Zumba classes, led by a certified instructor, burn calories with exercise moves modeled after salsa dancing.
Roller skating often evokes images of ‘50s-era teens clad in poodle skirts and the black-and-white makeup that was customary at the time. But at both freshly renovated Sparkles Family Fun Centers, roller-skating proves itself as a 21st-century pastime by incorporating contemporary technology. From a DJ who spins family-friendly beats at both locations to the laser-tag zone and black lights that set the Gwinnett rink aglow, modern-day touches pervade each space. The arcades are stuffed with extra helpings of bells and whistles; skee-ball and electronically scored basketball compete for attention with racing video games that re-create famous auto duels or the 1954 Drake Relays. At nearby multistory indoor playgrounds, kids get back to physical recreation, scurrying across bridges and whipping down slick slides.
Together, the Snellville indoor field and the Conyers outdoor field make up the paintballer’s paradise known as Wildfire Paintball Games. Within Snellville’s warehouse-like space, gunrunners dive behind walls of corrugated pipes. Overhead netting prevents errant paintballs from splattering the ceiling, and large bunkers akin to oversized beanbags offer temporary cover to players who need to tie their shoes or quickly finish a book report. At Conyers, ramshackle huts and fort-like edifices give snipers a spot to target their opponents. A forested area provides camouflage, and the speedball arena’s regulation-style obstacles stand tall on the grass field as players duck and run.
At Rainforest Golf, mini golfers tackle two 18-hole courses that snake through lush foliage and running waterfalls. On hot days, visitors can cool down with Edy's ice cream and milkshakes, relax on a bench in the shade, or huddle under the belly of an elephant statue. Indoors, a private party room accommodates birthdays and events.
A member of the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Program, IceForum employs a team of ice-wise professional instructors who train students in the graceful art of skating on a regulation NHL-size rink. The team conducts classes for both groups and individuals, geared toward everyone from tentative beginners to competitive ice skimmers. While family members and bored imaginary friends look on from the stands, students can practice new techniques and tricks during public-skating sessions held each day of the week. In addition to figure skating, IceForum also hosts hockey leagues for both youth and adult teams.
Multicolored globes illuminate the wood skating floor of Skate Along USA, along with the skaters strolling rhythmically to high-energy dance tunes. Throughout the week the Skate Along USA DJs look over the floor from the elevated sound booth, where they select songs for skating sessions and sound effects for the rocket-skating mishaps of cartoon coyotes. On certain nights the DJs will host themed playlists including Top 40 tracks from the realms of hip-hop and R & B, kid-friendly afternoon playlists, and late-night tunes for adults age 18 and older. An onsite pro shop vends skating accessories, including glowing items for black-light skating, and the facility's internet café and arcade gives skaters a break from the arena's centripetal force.