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“There appears to be very little friction underfoot”

O'Brien Group Arena
Ranked #112 of 454 things to do in Melbourne
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Located in the heart of the Docklands, O'Brien Group Arena is Australia's premier ice experience. Come ice skating, 7 days a week, 364 days a year! Adults $28 (including skate hire) Concession/Student $26 (including skate hire) Child 6-14 years $24 (including skate hire) Child 3-5 years $15 (including skate hire) Family (2 Adults + 2 Children) $85 (including skate hire) Single Family (1 Adult + 2 Children) $66.50 (including skate hire)
Reviewed July 26, 2013

An obvious title, but what does one say. The ICEHOUSE is really the only Ice Skating Ring (rink) in Melbourne. It features 2 large rinks (??) in a large venue. One thing I found interesting was that it wasn't cold inside. From memories as a youngster you had to rug up and could see puffy breath, here there was none. It may be because it was only 10 degrees C outside but the fact that you didn't have to rug up made it very family friendly. It is quite expensive for a family costing a bit over $100 for 2 adults, 3 kids with skate hire.
There is no time limit so stay as long or as short as you like. When we went it was moderately busy, but not too bad. It only really got squashy when they closed one rink to smooth over, but this was only about 15mins or so.
Like any venue that hires shoes, the skates are rubbish and will hurt your feet, but this is unavoidable unless you buy your own. Didn't buy food so can't comment on prices, but expect them to be highish.
One cool thing is the skating 'seals'... I think they were seals.... Anyway you stand behind them and can push little ones on them or let the little ones push them around. It is great for their confidence or if they decide they don;t like skating, you push them around and you have not wasted >$100. These seals cost extra and are available in 30min blocks. Helmets are available for free which is excellent for the young, the not so young and everyone in between.
Overall, it is not something I would rush back to, but for something different and can be enjoyed all year round, it is worth going and having a go. If you like it, excellent, if you don;t, then you have had a go.
Maybe when Docklands really takes off there will be more stuff to do. When the ferris wheel gets re built, I can imagine it will get busier and other options to look at should you not like skating.
One very good thing was parking was easy and affordable in the multi level car park opposite. Only $6, which is unusual for Melbourne
My view would be go along, have a go and see if you like it.
Overall I would rate this venue/experience a 3.5/5 (rounded up to 4*)

Thank btandrmb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"ice skating"
in 48 reviews
"skate hire"
in 12 reviews
"school holidays"
in 14 reviews
"public session"
in 5 reviews
"speed skating"
in 5 reviews
"public skating"
in 4 reviews
"ice hockey game"
in 3 reviews
"coffee club"
in 2 reviews
"disco lights"
in 2 reviews
"bring a jacket"
in 2 reviews
"facilities are great"
in 3 reviews
"great fun"
in 8 reviews
"melbourne star"
in 2 reviews
in 28 reviews
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135 - 139 of 189 reviews

Reviewed July 20, 2013

I have been skating at the Icehouse about two or three times a month over the past six months and I thought it was time to write another review. For those of us that like to skate, there really isn’t another venue around Melbourne that offers the same hours as the Icehouse and I guess this could be why the experience is not as good as it could be.

I will start with some thoughts on the Ice Ambassadors

They do not appear to make any effort to fix major flaws in the ice. Yet the Icehouse management has responded to other reviews with statements about the ice ambassadors’ role in ensuring that the ice is safe to skate on. There are times when large chunks of ice are chipped out leaving a large hole in the ice that can easily trip over an unwary skater. I will admit that they can be hard to see at times, but if this is a key part of the job, then why don’t I ever see the ice ambassadors skating around slowly looking at the ice for damage? Why don’t I see them on the ice with a bucket of slush and a trowel to make these simple repairs?

Every Friday and Saturday evening, there is a gang of what I call the “hockey gangs”. These are groups of males in their late teens and early twenties that hang around on one corner of the rink, blocking access to the barrier for new skaters and skate around at speed, weaving in and out between skaters, often startling them. I have yet to see any ice ambassador curb their behaviour in any way. I will talk more about this later on.

The ice ambassadors rarely come to the aid of skaters that fall heavily. On one evening back when it was still warm at night I saw a group of around 10 middle aged adults comparing their wounds. Most of them were bleeding from their elbows. This is a disgrace. The ice ambassadors should have been all over this and offered elbow protection as well as providing proper first aid. Not only that, the ice ambassadors should be asking why so many people were getting cut on the ice.

Now I will give you some feedback on the ice. On this particular night, I arrived at 7:30pm and the ice was already in very poor condition. It was badly cut and there was a lot of “snow” on the ice. The ice was not resurfaced until about 9:20pm and by this time, it was in even worse condition.

After using the ice machine to resurface the ice, it looked pretty good. However once the skaters were allowed back onto the ice, it became evident that the new surface had not been given enough time to harden, so all of the old grooves were back in less than 5 minutes.

After doing a few circuits admiring just how bad the ice was, I failed to see a major divot missing in the ice and it tripped me up. This time I managed to skate away with only a couple of bruises rather than a broken bone which is what happened to me in January when the ice was also really bad.

What would I consider to be the best practice in ice maintenance? At one rink that I skate on overseas, they break the day into fixed sessions. There is 90 minutes of skating, followed by a 30 minute break to resurface the ice. This break of 30 minutes allows the resurfaced ice to set properly so once you are allowed back onto the ice, it is absolutely smooth, hard and a delight to skate on.

But what about the atmosphere at the Icehouse on a Friday evening? Friday nights is advertised as the top 40 countdown from 7pm until midnight. Yet where was the DJ to count down the hits? He could not be seen. Where were the music videos on the big screen? It only works part time it seems. Also the screen is faulty in a couple of places.

Then there is the sound system. It looks like the main speakers are not being used anymore and they are now using a small PA system mounted in the DJ box so you get a system that is loud as you skate past the DJ box and softer in the rest of the rink.

What about places to sit? In the past, the box seats were distributed nicely through the area between the rinks making it easy for people to put their skates on and off and just to sit and rest. Nowadays, they seem to be pushed into corners and generally made harder to access. What is the reason for this?

But is it safe you ask? While the Icehouse ensures that they print their terms and conditions in several places warning patrons of the inherent risks associated with ice skating, consumers are still protected by the Trade Practices Act and the Icehouse is obliged to provide a safe environment for its patrons as well as its staff. Based on what I have seen week after week, I would suggest that the management of the Icehouse is taking a calculated risk to trim costs as much as possible while still maintaining enough customer volume to keep the site profitable.

Their rules are rarely enforced. Hockey skaters are allowed to skate in the wrong direction and cut indiscriminately through the skaters creating a high risk situation for newer skaters. When I look at a lot of the general skaters that hire their skates, I can see why they struggle to skate. The basic boots provide no ankle support and this makes it much harder for them to keep their feet flat. It is only a matter of time before someone breaks an ankle in these substandard boots and sues the Icehouse for gross negligence.

My final thought about the Icehouse. The Icehouse has two ice rinks. One appears to be devoted almost exclusively to ice hockey and while I have no objections to that, I wonder if hockey is the primary revenue earner for the Icehouse. Is this why little if any action is taken against people who clearly have the look of a hockey player with the way that they skate and move on the ice as they terrorise other patrons?

8  Thank Peter F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2013

We were actually at the rink for a skate camp, and I have to say the facilities are miles ahead of those at our own rink. Our son had a great time, and we're pleased the rink was made available for training. Just wish we had bought our daughters skates for the drop in figure sessions - the ice quality at the rink is excellent.

Thank Sandra A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 13, 2013

Today was our second visit to the ice house, definitely won't be the last. We all really enjoyed ourselves. It got busy towards the early afternoon, but having 2 rinks means there is always space for skating.

2  Thank Lowak25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gltgroup_georgina, Manager at O'Brien Group Arena, responded to this reviewResponded July 15, 2013

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience! We are so glad to hear you enjoyed your time skating. We look forward to seeing you out on the ice again soon and maybe even taking the next step into a skate or hockey school program. See you soon.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 6, 2013

I went to a birthday party today at the ice house and i thought the lessons and food were amazing!! But when i got onto the actual ice rink everyone was going crazy!! There isn't enough space to skate , my friend nearly broke her neck! i know you might not care , but i reckon that the skaters that can skate really fast should go on one rink , and the people who are having trouble or learning still should go on another rink so they don't clash into each other. Also the seals and bars are a great idea but i reckon that they can be really dangerous at times. I thought the D.J. was great , he was funny. We got to see Rachel ( Ariel ) do a performance and she was amazing! Also the guy in the sparkly blue jacket is really funny! But the skates really do hurt your feet, but i guess they have to be tight to be safe!

1  Thank dancerjsd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gltgroup_georgina, Manager at O'Brien Group Arena, responded to this reviewResponded July 15, 2013

Hi, thank you for taking the time to share your experience at the birthday party. We are glad you enjoyed the lesson and food. Free lessons, similar to what you received are regularly available for the public. We even offer Learn to Skate Backwards lessons to take the next step. We understand your concern regarding the number of people on the rink to combat this during school holidays and other busy periods (weekends) we open up the second rink for public skating, dedicated to beginners and families. Keep your eye out for the Family Rink on the online schedule. We look forward to seeing you back at the Medibank Icehouse again soon.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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