ICE, ICE BABY: I was living in New Mexico when Feld Entertainment, which produces Ringling Bros. and other big shows, was moving its ice department's maintenance facility there. Feld creates the stages for "Disney on Ice" on the road, and they were looking to hire. Randomly, an executive walked into my dad's convenience store and started talking to him, asking if he knew of anyone who'd be interested. My dad told him I was looking for a job. The travel sounded awesome. When I heard about it, I thought to myself, "I can do this for two or three years." Fifteen years later, here I am.
LIKE WALT: No, the ice for "Disney on Ice" is not cryogenically frozen. We begin by laying a sub-core of aluminum panels flat on the floor, then pumping anywhere from 800 to 1,600 gallons of antifreeze through them to chill them. Once the panels are cold, we flood over them with water, which freezes. The secret to getting the smooth, hard ice needed for the performers to skate is layering. That makes our ice stronger than, say, the one that covers a pond. The layers are generally about a sixteenth of an inch -- ultimately, we want 1.5 to 2 inches of ice. From start to finish, the process takes 36 to 48 hours and uses 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of water.
CUBES VS. CRUSHED: I definitely prefer crushed ice to cubes. Crushed ice is great. It's easier to deal with and we can put it down in areas that need patching. It's also better in your soda.
ZAMBONI!: Ours is called an ice resurfacer. It's a little different than a traditional Zamboni because it's battery operated and doesn't recycle the ice. I don't know what it is about the resurfacer, but kids and adults alike love it! Even it gets a round of applause when it comes out.
PROFESSIONAL HAZARDS: It's amazing what we'll find in the ice when we inspect it before showtime. Sometimes it's money. One time we even found a gecko. When we were doing a show in Cairo, we found a bunch of cockroaches frozen throughout the floor -- we had to dig them out and patch up those spots before the skaters got to the arena.
CHILLED OUT: We keep the ice at about 24 degrees Fahrenheit. I manually control the temperature, so we can always adjust it if the building's warm. Sometimes, in the show, they'll use soapsuds to create a snow effect and this'll cause the ice to melt on us. It's a scramble to get it back to perfection. But hey, when you're the ice guy, you always stay cool.
As told to Karen Moore