A member of a previously undiscovered species known as skateasaurus stakes its territory, tracing figure eights along the rink's hardwood floor. Dressed in blue-and-white shorts and a red trucker hat, the plush, green-and-yellow dinosaur—otherwise known as Skato—eschews eating children, and instead prompts them to shake it all about in rounds of Hokey Pokey. This fun ambiance extends to the rest of United Skates of America's roller rink, surrounded by lime-green walls and manned by a smiling staff. Inside the laser-tag arena, the outline of an asteroid belt and nearby planets pulsates under the glow of a black light as gunners duck behind posts and arches before homing in on their enemies or attempting to scan their allies' groceries. Around the rink, tables buckle under hot pizzas at bright-yellow booths, and gamers hone their skills at the nearby arcade in exchange for prizes such as backpacks, stuffed toys, and glow necklaces.
The City of Mentor fills three aquatic basins to cool off revelers' sun-soaked skin and float fun-seeking families. Visitors can enter any of the heated pools via diving platforms, drop water slides, or VIP access when accompanied by a performing dolphin. Baby pools present a pond that's more manageable for little ones, and stomachs waiting 45 minutes to swim after visiting the on-site snack bar can amuse themselves by watching bouts of tetherball, water basketball, and sonar-equipped Marco Polo. Further amenities include showers, lockers, changing rooms, and restrooms, so guests can easily change into business swimsuits before attending water-based company meetings.
During the day, huge skylights cast a glow over Zelma Watson-George Roller Skating Facility's big, bright, festive rink; in the evenings, glow sticks and other fun accessories light up the crowd as kids and families roll by. Most days, contemporary hip hop and R&B provide the soundtrack, although occasional themed skates turn over the sound system to the likes of Michael Jackson. The center's cafe helps skaters recharge with wings, pizza, hotdogs, and cotton candy, and the arcade bleeps and buzzes with both video games and redemption games spooling out tickets that can be exchanged for prizes or added to an investment portfolio.
For more than 35 years, skaters of all ages and experience levels have strapped on wheels and traversed Chagrin Valley Roller Rink. Private and group skating lessons prevent mobile 10-person pileups, and nights designated for teens, tots, or families feature music tailored to each audience. When the school bell rings, the center opens its doors to after-school skaters, blasting song requests entered on the rink's online song-request module. Skating experts at the pro shop sell and rent in-line and roller-skating equipment, and match feet with compatible wheels. A snack bar refuels participants and furnishes eats for private parties, and the arcade's pinball machines and vintage games slurp up quarters and exercise thumbs.
Ice Land USA's rinks cater to skaters of all experience levels, offering lessons and league opportunities at their two locations. The instructors at Hoover Arena and Serpentini Arena teach skaters how to improve their on-ice finesse, and youth and adult hockey leagues allow players to compete against rival teams or take shots on a zamboni posing as a goalie. At other times, the Colorado Avalanche-affiliated Lake Erie Monsters take the ice to practice for bouts against American Hockey League opponents.
Making its home at Michael A. Ries Ice Rink, the nonprofit Forestwood Figure Skating Club connects young skaters with goal-oriented coaching. Once beginners pick up the fundamentals in the Learn to Skate program, they can move on to private instruction with the club's coaching staff, which combines for more than 25 years of experience. These sessions prepare each student for serious competition, affording access to sanctioned competitions and private ice time on a rink uncluttered by fellow skaters or rush hour Zamboni traffic. The organization is certified by the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the governing body that oversees testing and competitions for all Olympic hopefuls.