Parent-chaperoned youngsters take their first, wobbling steps on ice skates while the hockey stars they may one day become whiz around the rink, perfecting their technique. Skaters of all skill levels practice side by side during open skates at Rocket Ice Arena. Their nonskating supporters can look on from the Lake Placid Lodge, sipping drinks from the onsite café and using the lodge’s free Wi-Fi to check an app that tells them whether their glass is half empty or half full.
Home to the Sabres Youth Hockey Club, the rink also offers instruction in icebound sports. Their hockey instructors can introduce novices to the sport or train more experienced skaters how to compete on high-resistance synthetic ice. A separate team of instructors specializes in figure skating and synchronized skating, which is the art of synchronizing your feet to go in a single direction. Youngsters can also explore the rink during skate parties, which come with an on-ice instructor, decorations, and balloons.
At any moment, visitors to Wilderness Falls might run into the resident moose. He isn’t grazing: Maddux the Moose, the family fun center’s fuzzy mascot, spends his time playing its two 18-hole, outdoor mini-golf courses and accepting high-fives and hugs from enthusiastic guests. Maddux isn’t the only fixture that may make guests feel as though they’ve wandered into the woods¬; the two mini-golf courses are pretty rugged themselves. The Bear Course, which hosts the annual Chicago Mini-Golf Championship, leads putters past a 35-foot waterfall, into a dark cave, and across creaking wooden walkways, just like the race all of Harrison Ford’s clones run to determine which one will get to play Indiana Jones. Alternatively, the Eagle Course leads players around winding rivers and on a climb to the top of a 40-foot mountain of rock.
Of course, it’s not all roughing it. In the middle of the greens sits the tented arena that holds Wilderness Falls’ batting cages, including six baseball cages and three softball cages. An arcade lights up the indoor space with the glowing screens of video games, and party rooms hold birthday and team celebrations.
Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.