The pristine sheet of ice at Ice Palace’s outpost in Lake Forest serves as well-kept tundras ideal for diversions such as hockey, figure-skating, and public-skating sessions. Future NHL stars and misinformed basketball players can both sharpen their stick-handling skills in the facility's Learn to Play Hockey programs, whereas Learn to Figure Skate sessions teach beginners everything from forward and backward moves to entry-level jumps and spins. Held throughout the week, open-skating sessions allow the general public to let loose as couples slip on their skates, hold hands, and fearlessly tie each other's laces.
While seated in a boat on Laguna Niguel Lake, visitors feast their eyes on the surrounding rolling hills and lush forestry while taking advantage of 44 acres of fishing spots. The staff constantly stocks the waters with new fish, sending thousands of pounds of rainbow trout, catfish, and other species to swim amid the watery depths. With the fishing arena prepared, they then repel down on fishing lines to awaiting customers to supply permits, poles, and live bait, which they use to entice bluegill and other aquatic passersby.
Though all share the same lake, visitors can embark on fishing adventures in multiple ways. They can wrestle with carp from the lakeside, steer a rented boat, or bob across the water in float tubes, a single-person watercraft reminiscent of the floating easy chairs used by retired penguins.
The experienced instructors at Leslie Thomson Training forge respectful bonds between humans and horses while cultivating basic riding and Western show skills in both parties. Across rollicking fields of grass, teachers demonstrate how to navigate trail patterns and control the steed's stride and speed. Students also learn proper stallion care, as well as how to use tongue clicks to signal sightings of the ice-cream truck.
Boy-band juggernaut and Nickelodeon sensation Big Time Rush shines like the sun’s sons as its hotly anticipated Big Time Summer Tour enraptures flocks of fans with pop bliss. The fab foursome, known as BTR to fans and preteen stenographers, first snatched the hearts of millions with its eponymous TV show, recognized as the most-watched live-action series in Nickelodeon’s history. On the group's choreographed carnival of a tour, expert hoofer and crooner Kendall Schmidt leads the affable cast of personalities, which includes James (the ladies' man), Carlos (the joker), and Logan (the smarty warty), through hits from its gold debut, BTR. Their chart-topping sophomore album, Elevate, will also see its hooky anthems represented, such as “Music Sounds Better With U” and “All Over Again.” Expect elastic dance moves from the dapper quadratic and possible numbers from the just-released Big Time Movie, in which BTR covers tunes by obscure boy band The Beatles. Wunderkind Rachel Crow of The X-Factor fame and Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson start the show with peppy rallies and aural morality plays about how love can be tough and why stealing your dad’s head to sneak into R-rated movies isn’t cool.
Faces literally glow at Gamer Realm. That’s because they’re in front of luminescent screens playing more than a dozen PC and Xbox games such as Halo 4, FIFA 13, and World of Warcraft. The crew there also hosts LAN parties and tournaments for games such as StarCraft II, pitting seasoned and novice RTS player against each other and awarding prizes to winners.
Cherylin Von Aldenbruck has no treadmills or weights at her outdoor "gym." The equipment is leather instead of lead, and your workout partner isn't a beefy personal trainer—it's a horse. After realizing that sitting atop a horse requires muscles to continually stabilize and balance the body, Cherylin founded Equestricise as an alternative fitness venue for anyone who's curious about horseback-riding. Each of her lessons now serve as a strengthening workout for the core and limbs.
Cherylin and her team of certified instructors aren't only concerned with toning physiques, though. They also teach groups how to care for the horses, tack, and stables. Classes cover disciplines from basic equitation to hunt seat skills, and accommodate riders of all experience levels, from beginners to those who can steer a horse blindfolded, even when the horse is also blindfolded.
For 30 years, Zoomars' fuzzy and feathered fleet has tickled the fancy of more than 3 million tykes and critter enthusiasts with 16 varieties of animals on hand, ready for petting, riding, and cavorting. The USDA–approved, clean farm facility houses a host of friendly species suited to affectionate coddling, such as sheep, bunnies, and guinea pigs. Zoo staffers supervise kids as they climb into goat pens, or drop snacks into the mouths of zedonks, zebus, and staff members working through lunch.
Additionally, a child-size miniature train chugs a whistling ride around a circular track, and gentle ponies trot along on hand-led trail rides as parents canter along behind. At a re-created Gold Rush–era mine, staffers help small visitors to pan and sift for gemstones, arrowheads, dinosaur fossils, fool’s gold, and long-lost arcade tokens.
Park staff can also connect visitors to the earth and American history through camps led by the camp director, a member of California’s Acjachemen tribe who grew up on the grounds. Campers explore the grounds and Pioneer Town through crafts, free creative play, storytelling, and special activities ranging from Native American dances to soapstone carving to reading excerpts from Lewis and Clark’s middle-school diaries.