GeekMom Holiday Traditions: Gaylord Palms ICE!

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"Frosty the Snowman was a holly jolly soul."  Image: Dakster Sullivan
“Frosty the Snowman was a holly jolly soul.” Image: Dakster Sullivan

For the past four years, my family has kicked off our holiday season by visiting ICE! at Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. This year’s icy theme is Frosty the Snowman and once again the 40 master ice carvers from Harbin, China do a wonderful job of bringing the story to life.

With a name like ICE!, you know it’s going to be cold inside and this attraction is a chilly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t worry about the cold though, because Gaylord Palms provides over-sized parkas for every guest. My advice is to dress like you are preparing to play in the snow and wear jeans, jacket, scarfs, hats, and gloves while inside. Closed-toed shoes are required.

Of all the past years’ themes including Shrek the Halls, Merry Madagascar, and The Twelve Days of Christmas, I think this year’s theme is my favorite so far because of the animated feel the artists gave each of the sculptures. The colors and the artistry of the exhibit made me feel like I was walking through the story and not just another attraction.

There are several surprises inside ICE!, including four ice slides, live sculpture carving, and some magical effects in one of the scenes.

Don’t let the cold force you to rush through and miss some really cool effects including music, lighting, rotating tables, and a “dream like” effect in one of the scenes. There’s one scene in particular with a really cool effect that you’ll miss if you don’t stop and take a moment to listen to the audio (hint: it’s where Santa is talking to Sally at the greenhouse).

Gaylord Palms also introduced a new live ice carving area in ICE! this year, properly named “The Frostbite Factory”, where you can watch skilled ice artists from Harbin, China carve and build ice sculptures before your eyes. Kids can see first hand the value of proper measuring and following directions as they watch the Harbin artists cut, measure, and follow plans for the ice sculpture they’re working on.

Before you go, make sure you put your smartphone in a protective case, such as an Otterbox, because the chilly weather inside ICE! can affect your device. To keep my iPhone warm, I kept it in my Griffin Survivor case and it handled ICE! pretty well. My picture taking finger on the other hand was numb by the time we left. Be careful with your other digital devices as well, because  I remember my digital camera having issues one year including freezing up (no pun intended) and having a slower response time.

Thank goodness they sell hot cocoa at the exit to help you thaw out.

Tickets start at $16.99 and can be purchased online in advance (recommended) or at the door. Be prepared for a wait to get in because they only open the doors so many times an hour to keep the inside temperature cold.

Strollers are welcome inside ICE! and can get through the attraction pretty easily from what I could tell. Make sure you pack some blankets for the little passenger(s) to prevent them turning into little icicles by the end of exhibit.

ICE! is only around until January 5th, 2014 so if you’re in the Orlando, Florida area make sure you stop by Gaylord Palms and check it out.

GeekMom attended a media event for review purposes. 

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