I'll never forget the year I tried to do an ice-skating birthday party on the cheap by taking a bunch of kids to the rink at Bryant Park and then herding them over to a diner afterward for dessert. How did it go? Let's just say if I had known we could have a regular ice skating party for under $250 I probably wouldn't have this nervous tic whenever I hear a Zamboni.
Read on for the real deals on ice skating parties all over New York City. We've even dug up all the hidden fees you might not have calculated in so you can truly compare the costs:
Winter Village at Bryant Park – Midtown, Manhattan
What you get: VIP Admission, skate rentals, The Parka Lounge for two hours, food and beverage for each child and one accompanying adult per child, goodie bags, balloons and tableware.
How far in advance: One week
Hidden costs: Adult skating fee is $15 per. $75 clean up fee, and gratuity added. This is in the contract and on the website. No tips are necessary, but the skating coach usually gets tipped, and some folks tip the party host, too.
Chelsea Piers Sky Rink – Chelsea, Manhattan
What you get: Admission and skate rental for kids, admission for adults (skate rental $8), birthday cake, pizza and beverages, paper goods and balloons, waitress to serve and clean-up and invitations. For some more cash (call for exact pricing), you can have a magician and face painting, kosher services, or a skating instructor.
How far in advance: Fall and Winter is their busy season, so the earlier the better. They will try to accommodate though, even on late notice.
Hidden costs: There is no clean-up fee, but there is a host, and although tipping is not expected, it is nice.
Riverbank State Park – Harlem, Manhattan
What you get: Rentals, admission, access to the party room (BYO food, drinks, cake, etc.)
How far in advance: 2 weeks
Hidden costs: No clean-up fee and people usually don't tip. However, adults are $5 each (for the cost of skating). Say you have 15 kids though, and 5 wristbands for skating leftover, they usually let you just use those.
Lasker Rink – Harlem, Manhattan
What you get: Admission for children and one accompanying adult per child, skate rental for children ($7.50/adult), sitting area, paper goods, food and beverage, and party host to set up, serve food, etc.
How far in advance: Especially for weekends, the earlier the better
Hidden costs: There is no clean-up fee, but there is a host, and although not expected, it is nice to tip them.
World Ice Arena – Flushing, Queens
What you get: skate rentals, admission, private party locker room for 1.5 hours, pizza or hot dogs, beverage of your choice. BYO paper goods.
Hidden costs: All additional guests pay $8.50 on weekdays and $10.50 on weekends. No clean up service; you clean up afterwards. Usually tip $20 to the host.
City Ice Pavillion – Long Island City, Queens
What you get: admission, skate rental, private party locker room, pizza or hot dog, 20 oz bottled drink per child, and invitations. They also offer three more packages with additional add ons.
How far in advance: At least a week
Hidden costs: Skating parents pay $8.50 on weekdays, $10.50 on weekends. No clean up fee and tipping is up to the customer. Maybe $10 or $20 to the host, but nothing is expected at all.
Read more about each of these rinks in our favorite NYC Ice Skating Rinks post.
And find more birthday party ideas in our Party Guide.