Trips on a Tank - ICE! at Gaylord Palms

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house;
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

As we walked into the ICE! attraction and read those words on the wall, it was easy to feel like we had walked right into a Christmas storybook. The expert craftsmanship and detail that goes into creating the ICE! exhibit was evident from the very first scene, where the mice are nestled snugly into their teacup beds waiting for St. Nicholas to arrive.

As we progressed through the self-guided tour, we found the stockings hung by the chimney (next to the cookies and milk for Santa), the children with their visions of sugarplums, and the festive yard where all the clatter arose. From there, we progressed up to the rooftop to see where Santa and his eight not-so-tiny reindeer landed before moving into the Grand Hall where four two-story ice slides were the highlight of the attraction for the kids. In the Grand Hall, we also saw Santa filling the stockings from his bundle of toys and a larger than life frozen Christmas tree. Finally, it was back to the rooftops where St. Nicholas flew out of sight, wishing a Merry Christmas to all.

The final stop on the tour is a beautiful, life-size nativity scene carved out of crystal-clear ice. This is the ICE! attraction’s signature scene, giving guests an opportunity to reflect on the story behind the season.

The ICE! attraction is kept at a frigid 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Calf-length parkas are available before you enter, and are available in all sizes, including children’s. And complimentary hot chocolate is also available at the exit to warm your frozen insides.

It is difficult to describe just what 2 million pounds of carved ice looks like – in fact, I’m not sure you can fully appreciate it unless you experience it for yourself. If you can find time during the busy Christmas season to make the trip over to Orlando to see this breathtaking exhibit, you will certainly not be disappointed.

ICE! by the Numbers

2,000,000 – the total pounds of ice used to create ICE! It is created to the artisans exact standards at a factory in Georgia.

5,000 - the number of blocks of ice that are hand craved and transformed into the winter wonderland. The blocks arrive in dozens of special colors, created with special food coloring.

16,500 – is the total square footage of space covered by the ICE! attraction. It is also often known as the “Florida Freezer.”

9 degrees – the average temperature inside the “Florida Freezer.”

16 degrees – the average temperature in Anchorage, Alaska

Four Days – the number of days it takes to cool the ICE! tent down to a chilly 9 degrees.

10,000 – The approximate number of hours it takes to carve the entire ICE! attraction.

40 – Number of artisans that come to Gaylord Palms Resort from Harbin, China’s International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

12 – Colors used throughout the ICE! attraction, including lavender, Christmas Green, flesh, orange, red and blue.

1,500 - number of specially designed LED tube lights that are frozen within the ice.

One – Coca-Cola fuzzy polar bear that is frozen inside one of the blocks of ice, hidden for the Best of Florida Christmas Polar Bear Pursuit.

Frequently Asked Questions

I understand ICE! is 9 degrees… what should I wear?

All guests are provided calf-length, hooded winter coats to keep them warm. They are not exactly the most fashionable coats, but there is safety in numbers -- nearly every visitor borrows one. Coats are available in all sizes, including children and infants and they are made from a special material that ensures a “friction-free” trip down the ICE! Slides.

Do I need boots?

All pathways through the ICE! exhibit are carpeted, and boots are not required. We do, however, recommend wearing comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes.

Is ICE! wheel-chair and stroller accessible?

ICE! is accessible by both wheel chairs and strollers.

May I take photos?

Guests are welcome to bring cameras and take photos of the ICE! attraction. Many of our guests experience a “fogging” of the lens when exiting into warmer temperatures. This, however, usually goes away once the camera warms up. Please check the manufacturer information regarding the cold tolerance of your camera equipment. But let’s face it, our northern cousins have been taking winter photos outdoors for decades.

Can I lick the ice?

Come on...what kind of question is that? Of course you CANNOT lick the ice.

What else is there to do at Gaylord Palms?

ICE! is just one component of our Best of Florida Christmas celebration, kicking off Nov. 20 and running through Jan. 2! Other highlights include:

The Majestic Christmas Tree, perched atop Castillo de San Marcos Fort, towering more than 70 feet above Emerald Plaza.

Four Holiday Shows, including our marquee performance: “Luminescence - A Deeper Meaning”

The Polar Bear Pursuit, a festive family hunt throughout the atriums to spot cleverly hidden polar bears.

Santa Visits, in person or via email.

Sunday Brunch with Mrs. Claus.

• SNOW!, a North Pole Carnival, come play in your personal snow playground - complete with carnival games, and a snow play area where guests can build their own snowman!

In addition, guests can enjoy themed decor and holiday lights throughout each of the resort’s three atriums.

Ready, Set, SNOW!

Our Florida kids sometimes feel like they really miss out on winter since they live in a city where the thermometer seldom dips below 40 degrees, even in the coldest part of the winter. So when they found out that they would get to play in the snow after ICE!, they were ecstatic.

As we walked into the large, snow-filled tent, we donned our scarves, hats and mittens. But no bulky winter coats were necessary, since the air in the SNOW! Exhibit was a reasonable 45 to 50 degrees. The kids headed straight for the snow play area to build a snowman, make bricks for a snow fort, and of course, throw snow balls at one another! 3-year-old Haylee spent most of her time just playing in the snow for the first time in her life!

After a while, the older kids ventured out of the play area to try their hands at some of the snow-themed carnival games. Winners of the games receive raffle tickets, and 13-year-old David was thrilled at the end of the session when one of his ticket numbers was called and he got to pick out a raffle prize!

The two middle kids, 9-year-old Daniel and 6-year-old Hanna, found the greatest thrills on the snow tube run. The kid-sized “hill” was busy the entire time as guests toted inner tubes up to the top for the exciting slide back down to the bottom (by the way, grown up “kids” are allowed to ride the snow tubes too).

If you have kids like ours who have lived in a warm climate their whole lives, then SNOW! provides the perfect opportunity for them to experience winter fun for a little while. Southern kids can enjoy playing in the snow, and their parents can enjoy the fact that, since it only lasts for a day, they won’t have soggy mittens and hats to contend with for an entire winter!

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