July 2018: Walking into Wheels and Thrills in Owasso for the first time, it’s hard not to be impressed.
The 26,000 square foot facility boasts a massive skating rink -- 150’ by 75’ -- with a hardwood maple floor, state-of-the-art lighting, sound, and special effects, but there’s so much more to Wheels and Thrills than skating.
“We did plenty of planning and research before building this place -- we traveled all over and collected several ideas for this facility to make it a success, something very special,” said owner Tammy Johnson.
Johnson and her husband, Robert opened Wheels and Thrills in 2017 after purchasing property at 10637 North Garnett Road in 2014 with plans to open a skating rink -- and more -- with something for everyone.
“Response (to the skating rink) has been just awesome,” she said, smiling. “People are so thankful that we brought a skating rink back to the area. We used to work at Rick’s Rollarena, but that closed several years back, and after that, we started doing research to decide what we would want to bring to our skating rink and we bought as much as we could to Wheels and Thrills -- customers really enjoy themselves here, and it’s not just the kind of place where, in the old days, the parents would drop the kids off and pick them up later. Instead, it’s the kind of place where the parents will come with the kids and stay.”
Built from the ground up, Wheels and Thrills incorporated numerous elements Johnson and her husband felt would make the facility appealing and entertaining to a broader age range.
“One thing we added here is the Kid’s Play Zone -- a 20-foot soft play, indoor playground, with more than 16 different activities -- and our Laser Tag, which is open during public sessions and available for private parties, birthday parties, and leagues.”
Much of the décor is the result of local artist Kristen Davis, who painted the wall of the actual skating rink itself to look like a storyboard depicting a roller skate factory.
Additionally, Wheels and Thrills boasts several arcade and electronic games, on which, customers can earn points on their Wheels and Thrills Fun Card and be redeemed for prizes in the Arcade Stuff Shop, featuring a huge selection of toys and prizes for all ages.
Hungry? Look no further than the Food Factory Café, which serves up hot pizzas, served fresh out of the oven, corndogs, burgers, and other favorites, with daily specials.
For the younger skaters, Wheels and Thrills has regular “themed events,” with Paw Patrol, Trolls, and other themes, and the Tiny Tot events for children six and under.
“I love the Tiny Tot events, those are some of my favorites -- we do those every Thursday morning,” she said. “We’ll bring out little tykes cars, pony cycles, onto the (skating) rink, we’ll include a bounce house and play games with the children every 20 minutes -- hokey pokey, happy and you know it, a costume character will come out -- the little ones have so much fun.”
Wheels and Thrills also offers Sensory Skates events for those who are sensitive to the lights, sounds, and other activity at a skating rink.
“Some kids don’t like crowds or loud sounds or bright, flashing lights, so for these events, the music will be on very low, we won’t have any flashing lights, the arcade games aren’t on -- it creates a much calmer, quieter environment for those who might have sensitivities to light and sound stimulation,” she said. “We do that once a month.”
A lifelong Owasso resident, Johnson said she feels its important for communities to have their own skating rinks.
“Skating rinks are an important part of any community,” she said. “For one thing, it’s exercise -- everything is exercise -- laser tag, the play zone, skating, it’s all exercise and people need that.
“Skating rinks are also important because they’re a place where people can come together and share experiences, make memories together,” she continued. “Older people come in here and enjoy the nostalgia of visiting a skating rink when they were younger, and young people come in -- some of them for the first time -- and discover how much fun a place like this is. The fun and the music and the memories ..they bring people back.”
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