Dear Party Parent,
To facilitate a smooth party experience for both the children and parents, the party staff of Union Sports Arena has created this list of answers and explanations to often asked questions or concerns about upcoming parties.
Should we eat first or play/skate first?
The option is yours. Typically in a daytime skating party, the party will skate first, then eat. This enables latecomers to still be part of the meal and the ever-important birthday cake celebration. For an evening party, often the eating comes first, which enables younger, tired guests to leave the ice early and depart, without disrupting the festivities. For field sports parties, it is strongly advisable to play the sport first, and then eat. Eating pizza and cake and then running around will sometimes cause a child to get nausea. There is nothing worse than a child vomiting in the middle of a party, in the middle of the field. Aside from embarrassing the child in front of his/her friends, valuable field time will be lost while cleaning the mess before play can resume.
Why do we charge a fee for non-skating/non-playing guests?
Basically, it's to cover the cost of pizza, drinks, cake and paper goods for non-skating/non-playing guests. When we started running parties, we planned on a certain amount of pizza, soda, cake and paper goods for each paying guest. We quickly found that some parties would have many parents and siblings also attending and these parents would eat some of the food so there would not be enough for the kids who had paid. We also needed to provide plates, cups, drinks, cake, etc. for these extra people and then also had to clean up after them. They were really participating in the party, but just not skating/playing.
Do I tip the hosts/hostesses?
Tips for parties under 16 skating or playing guests are not included in the final bill. If you feel that the service you received is good, you should tip as you would at any restaurant. Also remember that unlike a restaurant, these hosts & hostesses have undergone special training on the ice to be able to assist your guests. In addition, they must clean up after your group.
Parties of 16 or more will be charged a 15% gratuity. Larger groups require an added level of work for the host or hostess. They often require additional staff, especially on the ice and for serving food. The rink does not keep any portion of the tip. 100% of the tip goes to your servers. Please feel free to give them more for exceptional service. If you have any difficulties with the service, please raise your concerns to the Manager.
What if I have unexpected guests?
Extra food, such as cake and/or pizza, may be ordered. Please remember that we do not cook the food here, so the order must be place about 1 hour prior to eating. In addition, once an order is placed, it cannot be downsized. If uneaten, the food is yours to bring home, or we will dispose of it for you. However, you are responsible for paying for extra food.
Can I bring in some food from the outside?
Unlike most other similar establishments, Union Sports Arena does not prohibit outside food. Please feel free to bring in whatever additional food you desire. However, the same rates will apply for the party. You will still get the pizza, drinks and cake. People often bring in regional or ethnic foods, additional cakes, subs, chips or finger-foods to compliment their party.
Can I bring balloons or other decorations?
You may bring in balloons. However, please be careful not to release any in the arena area. They are difficult to retrieve from our high ceilings and could cause damage in some of our equipment or a tripping injury if they fall down onto the ice surface. Other decorations, such as table decorations and party favors are nice additions that you may wish to provide for your guests. Please do not put tape on our walls. Please ask the staff for assistance with wall decorations.
What skills and training do the Party Hosts/Hostesses have?
All of our staff undergoes a period of internship under a trained party hostess before they are allowed to run a party on their own. For skating parties, all of our instructors are USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association) registered for teaching Basic Skills. The party hosts and hostesses are all trained skaters and are all registered USFSA instructors, or are in training to be instructors. All of our hosts play High School Varsity, or College Hockey and travel hockey. Some of our hostesses are competitive figure skaters and others are recreational skaters who have had additional training to become instructors.
For Soccer parties, our Hostesses / Hosts are all, at minimum, High School Varsity level Soccer players. Some play College Soccer and some have coaching licenses. All have had experience in working with younger children either in summer camps or clinics.
What will happen on the ice for a skating party?
Your party hostesses / hosts will accompany the children onto the ice as an extra set of hands and eyes on the party group. They will aid inexperienced skaters as needed. As they must watch over the group as a whole, they are unable to give extensive individual lessons to guests. If you desire an instructor to give your group (or a portion of the group) lessons, you must arrange for an instructor in advance of the party. There is an added charge for this. The instructor will give a ˝ hour lesson to the group on the far side of the ice. The party hostesses / hosts will aid in the lesson as needed.
About five minutes prior to the end of the session, your hostess/host will need to leave the ice, take off her/his skates and prepare the drinks, cake and pizza in the party room. He/she will ask another staff member on the ice to monitor the children in his/her absence. The party parents are informed at this time of the status of the party and that it is almost time to leave the ice and return the skates. Please note: absolutely no skaters wearing skates are allowed on the stairs to the party rooms at any time, for any reason.
Please note that during busy times of the year, we may section off part of the ice surface for part of the session for Learn To Skate classes.
What will happen on the playing field for a soccer/field sports party?
The host/hostess will accompany the group to the soccer field. A second host, or other staff member, will wait in the lobby to greet party guests that arrive late and direct them where to go. In the meantime, the first host/ hostess will begin the field activities. This will vary depending upon the age of the children, the number of children and dynamics of the group. Party parents will need to communicate to the party host/hostess any particular program desires. Please speak with your child in advance to decide the type of activity he/she desires. Many parties like to have ˝ hour of skills and drills and ˝ hour of scrimmage. Other, more experienced soccer playing guests may just want to scrimmage. The party host/hostess will lead basic shooting and passing drills and will referee a scrimmage. Many young children just like to shoot a ball back and forth with their friends and do not want an organized activity. In this case, the host/hostess will monitor for safety and aid individuals as needed. Remember: sometimes forcing children into an organized set of drills, or into a structured game within a party atmosphere may backfire with children refusing to cooperate. If you, as a parent, feel the skills are too elementary for your group, or that your group is not following the drills, you should communicate this with the host/hostess. Remember, you know the dynamics of your party group and children better than anyone else.
Where is the second host/hostess during a soccer/field sports party?
During the first few minutes he/she is greeting latecomers. Within about 10 minutes, or when most of the guests have arrived, he/she will come back down to the field to assist in the running of the activities. The second host/hostess will often be the “gofer” - get a band-aid, ice pack, extra balls, direct children and parents to the bathrooms, or whatever else needs to be done, while the rest of the guests are busy playing. She/he will also need to leave about 10 minutes prior to the end of field activities to prepare the soda, pizza and cake for the arrival of the guests into the party room.
How to divide the party for a scrimmage during a soccer/field sports party?
Often ALL of the children want to be on the same team as the Birthday child and do not want to play against him / her. There are many ways to divide children, but if you know of a special way that will facilitate this within your party group, please suggest this to the party host/hostess prior to scrimmage time.
May I bring in my own coach or run my own field sports for my child’s party?
Yes, as long as play meets all of our safety guidelines. Your party hostess/host will assist you as needed. There is no discount for bringing in your own coach.
If you have any questions or concerns about your party, either before or after the party, please feel free to discuss them with the Program Director in person or at 908-687-8610.
We Thank You for choosing Union Sports Arena for your child’s special day.