An Ice Palace Maze containing more than 1,500 blocks of ice surrounded by 8-foot tall frozen walls opened in downtown Stillwater Friday, Jan. 22, at the Zephyr Theatre.

The theatre was looking for a way to continue entertainment options during winter when the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the theater’s ability to host inside entertainment options, Bil MacLeslie, the theatre’s managing Director said.

“We were trying to figure out how to keep going,” MacLeslie said. “We’ve done all of our concerts. We did ‘Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.’ We’ve done everything outside this year.”

But all those events were in the summer, and shows generally move inside during winter. The Zephyr Theatre focuses more on live performance than taping shows so hosting plays online wasn’t the way to go.

“We’re not a video production house … so filming stuff for Zoom is not our forte,” MacLeslie said. “So we’re trying to figure out how do we get people to come back and hang with us?”

The first thought staff came up with was building an ice rink, but they decided to expand on that idea.

“If we’re going to put ice out there, why don’t we do something more interactive?” MacLeslie said. “A palace is cool, but you just kind of look at it. So we wanted something that was more interactive, which was the maze.”

The Ice Palace Maze cost the theatre approximately $150,000, which is more than half of its annual operating budget.

“So we’re all in,” MacLeslie said.

So far spending a majority of the theatre’s operating budget has worked as more than 2,500 people visited the maze on opening weekend. They wandered through the maze getting lost in the icy passageways while navigating tricky turns and dead ends.

Once maze-goers conquered the labyrinth of interior 5-foot-tall ice walls, they finished by sliding down one of two 36-foot-long ice slides.

Weather permitting, the Ice Palace Maze will remain open into March. The theatre is limiting the maze to 100 people in an hour as a way to comply with social distance guidelines.

Hours are 5 to 10 p.m.

Tuesday through Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are free for kids 4 and younger; $10 for ages 5-12; $15 for ages 13 and older. To order tickets, visit www.icepalacemaze.com. Masks are required.

Contact Matt DeBow at Matt.DeBow@apgecm.com

“We were trying to figure out how to keep going,” MacLeslie said. “We’ve done all of our concerts. We did ‘Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.’ We’ve done everything outside this year.”

But all those events were in the summer, and shows generally move inside during winter. The Zephyr Theatre focuses more on live performance than taping shows so hosting plays online wasn’t the way to go. 

“We’re not a video production house … so filming stuff for Zoom is not our forte,” MacLeslie said. “So we’re trying to figure out how do we get people to come back and hang with us?”

The first thought staff came up with was building an ice rink, but they decided to expand on that idea.

“If we’re going to put ice out there why don’t we do something more interactive?” MacLeslie said. “A palace is cool, but you just kind of look at it. So we wanted something that was more interactive, which was the maze.”

The Ice Palace Maze cost the theater approximately $150,000, which is more than half of its annual operating budget.

“So we’re all in,” MacLeslie said.

So far spending a majority of the theater’s operating budget has worked as more than 2,500 people visited the maze on opening weekend. They wandered through the maze getting lost in the icy passageways while navigating tricky turns and dead ends.

Once maze-goers conquered the labyrinth of interior 5-foot-tall ice walls, they finished by sliding down one of two 36-foot-long ice slides.

Weather permitting, the Ice Palace Maze will remain open into March. The theatre is limiting the maze to 100 people in an hour as a way to comply with social distance guidelines.

Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are free for kids 4 and younger; $10 for ages 5-12; $15 for ages 13 and older. To order tickets, visit www.icepalacemaze.com

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