Back when we were in college and living in Orlando, my friends and I used to look forward to attending ICE! at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee every year. We eventually moved back to South Florida and hadn't been able to attend for a few years now so I was really excited to be able to have the opportunity to return to ICE! -- and this time with Ethan in tow! ICE was always incredible, but I knew that it would be even more magical to experience it through Ethan's eyes. In the years since we attended, I had heard that ICE! had expanded and was even larger and more incredible than before. This year, they even offered snow tubing as an add-on!
The theme changes each year and this year was The Nutcracker. I was really excited about this because Ethan is obsessed with all things Nutcracker this year. He carries around his toy nutcracker, Fresh Fish (don't ask), wherever he goes -- even to bed.
Before entering ICE! -- where the temperature drops to 9 degrees -- you're given the opportunity to purchase some mittens and also borrow a thick parka free of charge. Ethan must have been wearing about 5 layers as it was, but we couldn't pass up the parka. We're Floridians so nine degrees is totally insane to us -- and, in a good way. It's sort of a thrill being able to experience such cold temperatures we otherwise would never get! (Also, Ethan looked beyond adorable in the massive parka. Let's not forget that part.)
Once inside, you get to make your way through the six rooms that tell the story of The Nutcracker with the help of over 2 million pounds of hand carved ice. No, you didn't read that wrong: over 2 million pounds! Every piece of ice is hand carved and the details are absolutely breathtaking.
Ethan was completely in awe with every step he took. By the time we reached the end, his cheeks were all rosy but he wasn't ready to leave just yet without one more walk through the beautiful ice display. It's hard to believe that every piece of ice was completely handcarved! Throughout the display, there are several signs with facts about the ice and the process that went into creating the entire display. To read up on how it's all done, check this out!
One of Ethan's favorite parts was the ice slide! There are four incredible ice slides and I loved that ICE! had one especially for the little kids. Ethan was able to slide down himself which made him feel really cool -- figuratively and literally, of course. He went on the slide four times before he was ready to head on to the next area!
This year, we got to walk through The Frostbite Factory -- a live carving area -- to watch how the ice is carved!
ICE! is a definite must-visit for all ages. It was something we enjoyed as college kids, as adults, as parents and now it's something Ethan will look forward to every year as well! I saw that ICE! now offers special proposal planning for those looking to pop the big question in a special way. I was hoping we would catch a proposal in action but we didn't. Still, ICE! is a wonderful exhibit for all ages and a true taste of Christmas magic!
For the adult crowd, ICE! also offers a new ICE Bar. Admission to the ICE Bar, On The Blocks, is $15.95 (inclusive of gratuity).
For us, we picked up some popcorn and cups of cocoa in the cafe upon exiting the ICE! display and spent some time together warming up! There is also a beautiful gift shop to exit through after the display to pick up some souvenirs or just check out all of the beautiful ornaments. Of course, the entire hotel is filled with beautiful Christmas trees and holiday decor that is worth checking out -- so we made sure to walk around the lobby admiring it all as well.
We had a great time at ICE! and look forward to making next year another #gaylordpalmschristmas. I can't wait to see next year's theme!
For more information on ICE, visit the Gaylord Palms website.
ICE runs from November 15, 2014 until January 4, 2015. Tickets begin $28.99 for adults, $26.99 for seniors and $14.99 for children 4-12. Children 4 and under are free. There are many discounts available -- including military personnel and Florida residents -- so be sure to check out the ticketing information!