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Skating at Rockefeller Center Ice Rink: Is it Worth It?

Updated on November 14, 2011

Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

At holiday time, skaters  at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink in Manhattan glide by a golden statue and a towering Christmas tree.
At holiday time, skaters at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink in Manhattan glide by a golden statue and a towering Christmas tree.

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

Train tickets to NY: $90. 3 admissions and 2 skate rentals at Rockefeller Center Skate Rink $65. Hot chocolate at Starbucks $15. Skating outdoors with my kids against the backdrop of an iconic Art Deco Building, a 75-foot sparkling Christmas tree, a gilded statue, and hundreds of onlookers: priceless.

Gorgeous Setting for an Urban Rink

Rockefeller’s rink is small, its admission is high (and jumps higher during the holidays), and the wait can be more than hour. But if you are looking for moments to make memories, then this magical setting in the midst of Manhattan’s skyscrapers is worth it.

Colorful flags surround the intimate rink, and a statue of Prometheus gilded in gold glistens in front of a water fountain. Tourists and locals alike take in the view and snap photos of a spot that has become a NY winter icon.

The rink’s web page (link below) gives the lowdown on hours and prices (which vary between $9 and $19 for admission depending upon age and season), but here’s some tips on how to make the most of your visit to the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink.

Crowds at Holiday Time

Both the price of admission and the size of the crowd jump at the holiday season when the Christmas decorations are up. For a shorter wait, go early. If possible, go on a week day. Accept that you are going to have to wait in line and just enjoy the city scene. Getting impatient will ruin your experience.

If you have to wait in line, be sure to have your group all together as you approach the front of the line. They do not allow you to save spots!

If you do not like waiting, come before or after the peak season is over. There are no lines during October, January, February, March and April.

Equipment and Ice

You can bring your own skates, but the rentals (about $9 to rent) are just fine. The skate shop has an adequate supply of sizes up to mens 14. The locker room is extremely tiny and gets crowded. The floor gets damp, so be careful not to get your socks wet (bring an extra pair) and not to leave behind gloves or other small items. You can check your shoes and other belongings at the booth. Bring a couple bucks for a tip.

If you want to buy your own skates, check out deals on eBay (see below) We got my daughter $800 skates for about $100. Ebay also has good deals on skate tights and skate dresses. So if you want to look your best on Rockefeller Ice, shop ahead of time. See below for a link to my tips on how to buy used skates and skate dresses.

The Ice
Although the rink is small, the ice itself is not too bad, and between skating sessions a Zamboni smooths it out.

How Long Can You Skate?

The Session
Each session lasts an hour and a half. If you can, time it so you come at the start of a session to you get the most ice time. Times are posted at the rink and on the Web site. Once you make it to the ice, you can skate until the end of the session. Then the ice is cleared so the Zamboni can come on. Tip: If you come at the end of a session, ask if they will let you come to the next session so you get your money’s worth. When we went they allowed this.

The official rules state that once you stop skating, you cannot come back on. However, this does not mean you cannot stop at all. There is a small area off to one side with benches where you can take a short break. You just cannot remove skates, leave, and come back in a different session.

Skaters take turns posing in front of the golden statue of Prometheus.
Skaters take turns posing in front of the golden statue of Prometheus.

Capture the Moment

Take a Camera or at Least Your Phone
You’ve paid a premium for the location, capture the moment. Rink employees patrolling the ice are happy to snap your photo. Rockefeller Center’s beautiful ice rink has been used as a location in movies such as Elf, Home Alone 2 and A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Switch to video mode, and capture a few seconds of yourself skating on the most famous urban rink in the world. We did.

My Daughter Doing a Spin at Rockefeller Rink

Remember Your Skating Experience with a Gift

What Do You Think?

Is skating at Rockefeller Center worth it?

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The Rockefeller rink has been used as a setting in movies, especially those with a holiday theme.

A markerrockefeller center ny -
Rockefeller Center, Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020, USA
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Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

Did You Skate at Rockefeller Center? Share your experience.

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      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      This is a useful and fun hub. I've always wanted to go to Rockerfeller but have just not been able to. We have an outdoor rink at an area mall each winter and it gets so crowded. Also, the ice gets choppy very quickly and is about as fast as skating on my living room carpet. This year I'm going to reserve it at least once for myself, family, and a couple of friends. There is nothing like doing a layback or inverted camel and looking at the stars!