location: United Skates of America – 75 New Road, Rumford, RI 02916
cost: Price varies depending on activity. Check website for details and coupons.
good for: Ages 5 and up
Realizing that a home birthday party for third grade boys was a horrible idea destined to end in wrestling and flying plasticware, I insisted my son have his ninth birthday party elsewhere. He decided quickly–roller skating and laser tag at United Skates of America (USA) in Rumford. I confess that it wasn’t my first choice, but he made a great selection.
Two aspects of the experience sold it for me: the kids were active the entire time with several distractions to choose from, and USA handled the entire thing. All I did was bring the cake and try to keep an eye on everyone.
United Skates of America offers several different birthday party packages that include combinations of roller skating, laser tag, and rock climbing. We chose the roller skating and laser tag party at a cost of $15.99 per child. This included roller skates (additional charge for roller blades), one game of laser tag, ten video game tokens, one slice of pizza, and drinks for each child. For an additional charge, USA would have provided the cake, and we chose to order an extra pizza. USA offers only fountain sodas and pink lemonade. We served pink lemonade but requested additional pitchers of water for our thirsty skaters.
USA assigns a staff member to your party. When we arrived, she provided me a written schedule detailing the times when the kids would be called in from skating for pizza, cake, and laser tag. She took our cake into the back to keep it safe and brought it back out at the scheduled time with a knife to cut it and a lighter for the candles. She even led us in “Happy Birthday.”
- Inquire which party time slots are likely to be least crowded. My kids have attended USA parties on busy party days when the schedule flowed less well. This makes it harder to transition the kids between events. We had our party 12-2:30 p.m. on a Sunday in early March–still peak time for lousy weather and an indoor party–but it was not at all overcrowded and quite pleasant.
- Be advised that you cannot bring in outside food, except a cake. You may choose to serve hot dogs instead of pizza, but the selection applies to all guests.
- Check the USA website for coupons.
- Request that parents who are dropping off their children stick around long enough to get their child into his skates.
- If your child is a guest and you’re a child of the 80s, tell the front desk you are with the party, rent skates for $6 (additional charge for roller blades), and join the fun.
- If you have a beginning skater, rent a skate trainer (like a walker on wheels) for $5. USA offers them in two heights. Rent one as soon as you arrive and don’t let it out of your sight, because it can be a hot commodity.
- Do not hand out the video game tokens at the beginning. Save them for when the kids tire of skating or are transitioning between events. The tokens don’t last long, and you will be asked for more.
- If you plan to corral children as the host and also supervise any younger children, be sure to bring an additional adult or babysitter with you. I hired a sitter to skate with my six-year-old while I managed the party, and it made the event a breeze.
If you need a birthday party venue, consider United Skates of America where the entertainment, food, and service for an active, fun-filled party are all part of the package.