Ice bumer car fun. Courtesy Sprinker Recreation Center
Looking for a cool and unusual activity to do with the kids? We have the scoop on the Ice Bumper Cars at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma. My husband and I brought our 12-year-old son and his friend to try it out. This newer activity, which is open year-round, is a great addition to the skating rink's offerings.
We signed up online in advance for a session (required, and be sure to do it early as they seem to sell out fast). After checking in, we were directed to a large TV set to watch a short instructional video about how to operate the bumper cars. To get to the cars, you have to walk on the ice while holding onto the rail — making it easy to see why close-toed, flat shoes are a requirement to ride.
Driving and spinning
We each sat down in a car and started driving. The lights on the rink were dim so the color-changing lights on the bumper cars and ice looked really cool. There were just as many adults and teens as kids playing in the bumper cars, driving around, bumping and spinning their cars on the ice. Everyone I talked to, kids and adults alike, said that they had a lot of fun.
The cars feature deep seats with high backs and this makes it easy for an adult to ride with a smaller child. There is an observation area upstairs with stadium seating that looks down on the rink for parents to watch, or you can stand rinkside. The bumper-car session lasts 15 minutes, which for my son, who spun around perhaps a little too much, was plenty!
Ice skating is an additional fee ($7 per person, skates included. This deal is only available the day of your ice bumper car reservation), but worth it to make the most of your outing! The skating area is just at the other end of the rink and we stopped at one of the many vending machines to get a drink before picking up rental skates. The ice rink was really big, even with half the space being used by the bumper cars.
Staff told me that there is a concession stand open at the rink occasionally, usually in winter, but it was not open when we were there. When the stand is open, outside food is not allowed. But most of the time, you can bring in your own snacks (remember, food and beverages are not allowed on the ice). Or take advantage of the many vending machines that offer a variety of drinks, snacks, and even Seattle’s Best Coffee. There are also many fast-food restaurants within a short drive if you're looking for something more substantial.
Good value for families?
Initially, when I saw the price of the bumper car session ($12 for 15 minutes) I thought it sounded expensive. I made some price comparisons and found that at another local ice rink, for kids up to age 12, a skate session costs $13.41, and walkers (frames for skaters who are still learning) are an additional $5.
With that information, Sprinker's bumper cars for $12 seemed like a reasonably good value. Seeing how nice the rink is and how much fun the kids had confirmed this thought. If you'd like your fun to last more than 15 minutes, consider adding ice skating to your experience as well! I highly recommend this activity for family fun.
If you go...
Ice Bumper Car session times (subject to change):
Bumper car age requirements: To ride alone, kids must be age 6 or older and at least 42 inches tall. Riders ages 3 and older but under 42 inches tall can ride in a bumper car for free with a paying adult.
Cost: $12 for 15 minutes in a bumper car
Tips for families