If you have never been to one of the Gaylord Hotels during the holidays to see ICE! you must go! We have gone almost every year and love this tradition. It is really amazing what these artists can do with blocks of ice. Each year they have a theme, and this year’s theme is The Nutcracker. I am really happy about this because the last few years, the theme’s had nothing to do with Christmas or the holidays.
The admission prices are: Online in Advance $ 28.99 for adults, $ 26.99 for Seniors (55+) and $ 14.99 for kids up to 12. Kids 3 and under are free. If you buy tickets at the hotel, adults are $ 1 more and seniors and kids are $ 2 more (There are discount offers available. Check the website). You are provided a heavy parka so you can deal with the 9 degree temperature in the exhibit. There are no pockets in these coats and gloves are not provided. If you are in Orlando, you can purchase tickets here http://www.marriott.com/hotel-info/mcogp-gaylord-palms-resort-and-convention-center/christmas-at-gaylord-palms/csyr9pd/ice.mi
I really loved the theme and their choice of scenes. Throughout the exhibit they are also playing the music from The Nutcracker which I thought just made it more enjoyable.
New this year is the addition of an ice bar called On The Blocks. Adults 21 and over can upgrade their ICE! experience to enjoy a sampling of Johnny Appleseed sweet, intense and gluten-free cider poured through an ice luge, and a choice of our Maker’s Mark specialty drink, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio or Rutherford Hill Merlot served in a souvenir glass—yours to keep! Ambient lighting, music and fun photo opportunities set the mood for this unique VIP experience. It costs $ 15.99 per person but you get 2 drinks and tip is included. Is it worth it? If you haven’t been to an ice bar, I would say yes. The downside to this experience was the placement of the bar at the very beginning of the exhibit. Improvements that I would make would be to keep the bar separated from the rest of the exhibit and to offer a place to warm up. Drinking two drinks in there without gloves made it a bit uncomfortable. But we enjoyed the experience. On a side note, we felt bad for our bartender. He had lost his voice due to being in the cold for long periods of time.
One thing that ICE! offers each year is the ice slide. We didn’t choose to go on it this year, but it is definitely a different experience. Kids really enjoy it.
Not the best picture of the slides, but we were frozen at this point.
Another new feature this year is the Frostbite Factory. There is an ice sculptor working on an ice statue so you can see it first hand. It also has many displays showing you how they make all the sculptures and how they add color to the ice. It was very interesting and I think it is an awesome addition.
Here are some more pics from the exhibit:
This really is an amazing exhibit, which is why we love to go each year. And of course, the grand finale each year is the larger than life size nativity scene. Always beautiful and always amazing.
There are other attractions you can add to this experience. They offer snow tubing and a gingerbread decorating bakery for the kids. We did not choose to do these this year. In the past we did do the snow tubing which was actually quite fun. They make a bunch of snow and form hills for you to slide down in a tube. In the past, they also had a snowball area. Not sure if they still offer that or not though.
While we had a great time freezing our buns off, there was one thing that we were very disappointed with. We stayed for about 1.5-2 hours and we were charged $19.26 for parking! This is insanity! So, here is the tip we learned too late. If you eat at one of the restaurants while you are there, they will validate your parking. Do take advantage of this. Paying that much for parking for a short time is crazy. Yes, we will go again, and we will be eating a meal there too.
And the restaurants there are very good. We happened to go on Thanksgiving night so we were not even close to hungry.
If you decide to go, let me know what you think. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I cannot wait to share more holiday posts with you!