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.
Skaters of all ages and experience levels glide across Universal Skating Center's gleaming maple floors. Friends and families can don pairs of four-wheeled skates and spend a Saturday or Sunday in the indoor rink perfecting twirls, working on crossover turns, or training for an upcoming race against the speed of light while grooving to the buoyant beats of top hits and classic pop music. Pairs can hold hands, romantically circling the expansive rink—which can hold 1,800 patrons or 530 adult walruses—or see who can skate backward the longest without crashing into any walls. After an afternoon of wheel-powered revelry, skaters refuel with the salty sustenance of unlimited popcorn.
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.
Helmed by the brother-sister duo of Chanel Bellotto and John Dedes, Skate World's funcentric rollo-dome and family-focused atmosphere have garnered the attention of Lakeland patrons and NBC's Channel 8 News alike. Roller-aficionados and timid trundlers glide along the rink with the zeal of a businessman diving across a conference-room table made of slip 'n slides. Freewheelers can practice time-honored moves, such as shoot-the-duck and the two-arm flail, under the dance-inducing disco ball, flashing colored lights, and pumping tunes. Between rounds of going around, reenergize with a snow cone ($1.25), cotton candy ($2), nachos ($2.50), and more from the fully stocked snack bar (not included in this Groupon).
Even though flakes rarely brave the Florida sun and Jack Frost will never be grand marshal of the Citrus Bowl parade, some winter traditions are the same no matter where you live. One look at Winter in the Park confirms that. Spanning the holiday-packed days from November 14 to January 11, the festival decks out a portion of Central Park with frosty fun for the entire family. The centerpiece is a chilly ice rink, where skaters loop through delicate figure-8s and wreaths and other decorations help visitors capture the end-of-year spirit without having to find a local polar-bear adoption center. Additional events in Winter Park range from a harvest festival and holiday pops concert to a pancake breakfast, a Christmas parade, and a Hanukkah celebration.
A few minutes from the sun-kissed sands of Cocoa Beach, things get a little colder. At Space Coast Iceplex, a 20,000 square foot International Ice Surface provides a fun place to cool off, offering public skating hours, hockey programs, and classes that help skating newbies acquire their ice legs. On Saturday nights, skaters glide to tunes spun by a live DJ as special effects lights illuminate the rink, and snack and sports bars continue to fuel the fun for skaters who need a break between laps.