Up to 22 gas-powered go-karts at a time can hug the twists and turns of Skate Station Funworks' more than 800-foot track. While the go-kart course is the park's longest attraction, it's not the tallest?that honor goes to the indoor rock-climbing wall. Besides climbing and driving, fun at Skate Station ranges from hitting homers in batting cages to putting balls past a landlocked airboat on the swamp-themed mini-golf course. Children aged 10 or younger can explore the three levels of the Kid's Adventure soft play space, whereas guests of all ages can compete in classic games such as air hockey at the arcade. All these attractions share a home with Skate Station's namesake, an indoor roller-skating rink where visitors can groove to Top 40 hits or learn skating fundamentals during lessons.
When things get going at Let's Skate Orlando, it feels like one giant party. Up to 300 people can circle the skating rink at once, fueled by the beats and melodies of bumping tunes. Lights turn the 25,000-square-foot facility into a mosaic of dancing colors, like what happens when you microwave a bunch of markers. In between laps, guests can unwind over hot dogs, pizza, and other snacks at the concession stand. All this makes the rink a go-to spot for birthday celebrations, so unsurprisingly, five party rooms surround the rink, each one done up in a fun, kid-friendly theme such as pirates, princesses, and rock stars.
Daytona Ice Arena sends skaters glissading across an ultra-smooth, NHL regulation-size sheet of ice. Bleacher seating with room for more than 300 spectators looms behind the glass on one side of the rink, and above, a snack bar overlooking the facility doles out refreshments. While escaping Florida's heat and the panhandling paddleboards that come with it, visitors to the frosty, 35,000-square-foot arena can soak up extra relaxation at the Penalty Box Sports Pub, which accompanies elevated views of the ice with an arsenal of big-screen TVs. The building—located just minutes from the beach—buzzes daily during public skating sessions but also plays host to a medley of other ice-tied triumphs including learn-to-skate programs, birthday parties, and youth and adult hockey leagues.
A snowball’s throw away from the Disney World and Universal Studio theme parks, The Ice Factory of Central Florida extends the season of winter sports to a year-round festival of open-skate sessions and pickup or youth-league hockey matches. During public-skate hours, patrons lace up hockey or figure skates before hitting the NHL- and studio-size rinks to learn the ropes or gracefully carve the name of their favorite zamboni driver into the ice. Weekend DJ skates enliven outings with interactive games and prizes on Saturday afternoons and musical stylings on Saturday nights. After a fun-filled workout on the rink, grownup guests can unwind with a frosty beverage at the rinkside bar and lounge, and kids pass the time at the pool table or ring in birthdays with sodas, pizzas, and bouquets of balloons.
Novice skaters of all ages can master the skills and techniques of icemanship with beginners’ lessons or mock nature’s clearly defined seasons with ice-skating summer camps.
Someone's little brother shrieks, mournful at being too small to play laser tag with his cousins. Another youngster wants to bowl, but can’t pick up the ball. To Terrace Sports's manager, John McMillan, these are simple problems. A crew member scurries through the laser-tag arena, holding the toy gun for the little boy who would otherwise be too small to play. Another sets up a ramp at the top of a bowling lane, helping the toddler to push the ball into the pins with a satisfying clatter.
Smiling on as his staff solves such crises, McMillan strolls through Terrace Sports, which he remodeled after taking the reins from his father. Leading the way to the laser-tag arena, skating-rink, indoor-climbing wall, bowling alley, and arcade, murals stretch down the entryway, saluting the nearby Hillsborough River with more than 85 depictions of the waterway’s inhabitants, dynamic ecosystem, and naturally occurring steamboats. The entryway leads to the snack bar, where a full menu of gator tail, buffalo burgers, and sweet-potato fries glide down countertops handcrafted from teak and embellished by solid-brass elephant heads.
Entering the laser-tag arena gives one the sensation of delving into the interior of a complex machine, with mechanical parts strung with LED lights lining the walls and generating an eerie glow. Imaginations run wild as players choose to take on roles as monarchy loyalists or rebel forces, with both sides fighting for command of the heart of the machine and firing at one another's bases. The guns, powered by unlimited ammo, unleash streams of crimson and emerald light, and fiber-optic aiming ensures pinpoint accuracy. Vests beep when another player is taking aim, giving warriors a moment to find obstacles to hide behind or nearby portraits of themselves to hide in front of. On an observation deck, cheers rise from friends and chaperones as a 32-inch monitor displays scoring and live footage from six in-arena cameras.
Since the Maganias family opened the first Astro Skate Family Fun Center in Tarpon Springs more than 32 years ago, customers have flocked to the skate rinks for birthday parties, summer camps, and family-friendly fun. At each location, a live DJ cranks out danceable tunes as skaters wheel and glide across a huge lacquered wood floor. Off-rink, kids compete for redemption prizes at a host of arcade games, or take flight in the safe confines of a cushy inflatable bounce house. Astro Skate Family Fun Center keeps things fresh with a schedule of special events, including jump-rope contests, foam parties, and roller-derby matches.