For the first time in Gaylord Palms history, ICE! in Orlando, Florida presents The Polar Express in all the cold and icy glory. Over 40 artists from Harbin, China came to carve out two million pounds of ice to tell the story of a young boy who isn’t sure he believes in Santa anymore.
This isn’t my first time visiting ICE! I’ve attended the past few years and I have to say, next to 2016 when they did Charlie Brown, this one was one of my favorites so far.
From the moment you walk in, you are hit right away with a massive ice sculpture of a train and the young boy’s house with a snowman in front, literally waving at you as you pass by. You can tell right away by the music that this exhibit follows the movie more so than the book.
As you venture further in, you get to sit on the Polar Express itself, pull the beard of one of the conductors, and slide down two stories of ice in the ice slide room.
Continue on and you will find yourself in Santa’s workshop complete with a frozen bag for you to take your picture in. By the time I got to this point, I could barely feel my fingers (and that’s with gloves on) but thankfully, I was still able to capture all the magic within. It’s only nine degrees in there after all!
Santa is larger than life and makes you feel as small as the young boy in the story as he holds the bell out for you to take.
My favorite part of the exhibit is getting to sit in the Polar Express like a real passenger. There are about three or four seats available so you should never be standing around long to grab a photo.
There’s even a place to see a real ice carver doing his work on a piece for the exhibit.
What else is there?
ICE! isn’t the only thing for you to catch at Gaylord Palms this holiday season. Make your $24 parking fee worth it by splurging on the snow tubing ($18.99) and snowball throw games ($9 per bucket). To make it a little extra special, stop into the Elf Academy and build a real wooden toy that you can take home (extra fee). Ms. Clause is also baking up a storm and you can too in her spot at the Alpine Village (extra fee). And of course, no winter village would be complete without a place to see the big man himself, Santa Clause!
And don’t miss the #Lit holiday tree show or the Cirque Dreams Unwrapped variety act show. There are two casts for Cirque Dreams Unwrapped so you never know what you might see when you visit.
Safety and FAQs
- Parking is $24 each entry (if you leave and go back you have to pay again).
- You are not permitted to touch the sculptures but there is a place right outside the exhibit that lets you touch real ice and see how it feels.
- Strollers are welcome and there’s plenty of room for moving around. I would bring a blanket (or six) for whoever may be riding (and something to protect their little ears as well).
- Closed-toed shoes are required.
- Parkas are provided but you may want to bring along a jacket, some gloves, scarf, hat, and other winter wear you’d never need in Florida otherwise.
- It’s not unusual for electronic devices to have a big drain on battery power, freeze up, or even power off but don’t freak. Just take your device outside of ICE! and it will thaw out. Take precautions by charging your phone all the way and take an extra camera so you don’t miss any photo ops due to a frozen camera.
- There’s no real good time to go to avoid the wait. Generally right when it opens is a safe bet but even that might not hold true the closer we get to Christmas. Take along something to keep the anxious little ones busy while you wait for your experience to start.
- Sometimes you can get special discounts online if you purchase before you go.
ICE! runs from November 25th through January 5th at Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida and is open Monday through Friday. Tickets start at $14.99 for children and $28.99 for adults. For tickets or more information, check out their website.
Disclaimer: GeekMom attended a press event for this exhibit