Between bridge trolls, Archie McPhee, the Pike Place Market gum wall and a playground centered around a larger-than-life cowboy hat and boots, Seattle has its share of quirky family attractions. And now, you can add one more item to your family’s unique adventures—ice bumper cars! It’s Tacoma’s latest family attraction and one of just 14 places in the world where you can ride them. Scroll down to learn more about this one-of-a-kind experience.
A New Kind of Ride
If ice bumper cars conjure images of ice hockey, curling or traditional bumper cars—you’re right! They’re quite a mix. They look like colorful oversized hockey pucks with LED lights. And the way they glide, so smoothly across the ice, is similar to a curling stone. Like traditional bumper cars, a driver controls them, although their cushioned bump is less aggressive than a carnival ride. In short, they’re an easy way for families to have fun on the ice with little skill involved. Each car is controlled by two joysticks that are so easy to use even toddlers and preschoolers can get in on the fun. They help you move forward and spin in either direction, in your pursuit of (or escape from) bumps. It doesn’t get easier than that!
Let’s Go for a Spin!
A lot of planning went into bringing the ice bumper cars to Sprinker Recreation Center. One of the priorities was making it a logistically painless experience for families. So rather than waiting around in long lines, riders will reserve time slots so they know exactly when it’s their turn. For their Grand Opening Weekend (May 25-27) reservations for a spot can be made online through Brown Paper Tickets. After opening weekend, families can call in to reserve a session (253-798-4030). Each session is 15 minutes of ride time ($12). But you can add a skate session to your bumper car ride ($19) to give the kids something else to do before and after their slippery adventure. Once you’ve reserved your slot, it’s time to plan the rest of your South Sound adventure!
Beyond the Bumper Cars
After you’ve checked out the bumper cars, and skated a few laps around the ice rink, you can keep the good times rolling at Spanaway Park. The same spot you’ve taken the kids to see Fantasy Lights during the winter holidays looks quite a bit different on a sunny day. And it’s just a quick hop over Military Road to get there (psst…keep your car parked at Sprinker to avoid the parking fee here). The 135-acre park has lots of paved walking trails that run along the lake, perfect for toddlers and strollers. There’s a new playground there, as well, with equipment that will keep both Littles and Bigs busy burning off any leftover energy they have after bumper cars. If the boathouse is open, you can rent paddleboats, rowboats and canoes to take out on the lake for just $10 per hour. Adding a stop here onto your South Sound trip means you can make a full day out of this adventure!
There are a few ways to “food” after you’ve had your fill of bumper cars. You can grab concessions at the rink’s concession stand, which will be open whenever the bumper cars are bumping. Eats from home are also allowed, although food in the rink isn’t. You’ll find plenty of picnic benches or grassy fields to throw down a blanket and enjoy the sunshine around the rec center. And Spanaway Park, just across the road, has even more seating if a change of scenery is what your kiddos need.
Perfect Party Packages
If your kiddo is always on the lookout for an unusual birthday experience, the ice bumper cars certainly fit the bill. Add the ice bumper car experience to either of the existing skate party packages for an easy win. Fully-hosted party packages that include a party room or rinkside seating, food, décor and a special announcement for the birthday kid and 10 friends runs $200. If DIY is more your speed, you can rent a party room and host 10 friends at the skate rink for $150. Ice bumper cars can be added to either of these packages for $12 per person for 15-minutes. It puts a whole new spin on a typical party package.
Good to Know
1. Opening Weekend has extended hours. Riders can book times online for sessions at these dates and times: May 25, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; May 26, 2 p.m.–8:30 p.m.; May 27 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
2. Kids ages 3-5 ride for free, but they must ride with an adult. Kids who are 6 years old and 42” tall can ride by themselves.
3. Closed toes shoes are a must, so leave your flip-flops at home.
4. It’s an ice rink, so even if the sun is shining, be sure to wear layers to keep you and the kiddos warm.
5. It’s best to arrive 10-15 minutes before load time to make sure you don’t miss your window.
6. Although specific time frames are still TBD, the ice bumper cars will only run for public sessions on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Sprinker Recreation Center
14824 C St. South
Tacoma, WA 98444
Cost: $12/15-minute session; $19 bump/skate combo
Ages: 3 & up
—Allison Sutcliffe (all photos courtesy of the writer)