ICE! at Gaylord Palms

I was pretty sure Little Jack Frost moved out of Florida because we’ve just left what I call “fummer” (fall + a heavy dose of summer). It may be winter on the meteorological calendar, but I haven’t believed it because it hasn’t yet feel like it… UNTIL…

Until a visit to ICE! featuring ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas At Gaylord Palms!

Twas the night Gaylord Palms

From the moment you arrive at Gaylord Palms you know you’re in for a holiday treat. The building is draped in gorgeous lights and the sights and sounds on every corner welcome you to the season.

Glorious Tree at Gaylord PalmsThe atrium in Gaylord Palms is spectacular year-round, but for the holidays it literally drips with lights (over 2 million of them!). Guests enjoy a feast of festiveness centered around their glorious 54-foot tree.

Cascading white lights seem like snow falling all around it and, with a dose of holiday magic, the atrium really does “snow” nightly, turning the atrium into one gigantic snow globe!

More holiday magic unfolds with Cirque Dreams UnWrapped.” This fantastical nightly performance (free to the public) blends artistry, acrobatics, gymnastics, theatrics and a whole lot of holiday fun. Because of the performers rotate, each night the show is different, showcasing various incredible skills and feats.

trio of ICE performers Cirque Dreams sm

 

All around the resort, guests can participate in the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt. Kids (and big kids!) will delight seeing just where the mischievous little guy is perched. Get your “I Spy” skills working as you discover all of his spots.

The main attraction is ICE!

blocks of ice

Blocks of ice waiting to be carved into holiday creations. Frozen “diamonds in the rough.”

The first time I saw ICE! years ago, it almost didn’t seem real. Artisans carve towering blocks of ice into every imaginable shape. This year I was invited to be an “ice-pert” and enjoyed watching the spectacle progress from the day the team from Harbin China arrived through to the grand opening for the season.

The "blank canvas" blocks of ice are now ice slides and a tree with presents.

The blank canvas blocks of ice are now ice slides and a tree with presents.

For 2015, the theme is ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. The classic story unfolds room by room.

Guests will marvel at the incredible detail of each piece, from reindeer horns to a plate of milk and cookies for Santa.

Not only are there amazing sights at every turn, but ice slides and even an ice bar!

My 8-year-old is particularly fond of one of the add-on activities: Alpine Rush Snow Tubing, an eight lane tubing hill that’s covered in REAL SNOW! While I enjoyed going down a few times, he’s been down probably 75 times now (we keep coming back!).

There’s no shortage of holiday happenings at Gaylord Palms Resort for the holidays, and since the days leading up to Christmas are forecast for upper 80s, a trip to Gaylord Palms Resort will give you a chance to not only delight in some of the most magical holiday events of the season, but will give you a wintry chill too!

Disclosure: Our family was invited to preview ICE! featuring ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas and received a night’s stay plus admission to holiday activities and food. All opinions are my own.

 

 

ICE! at Gaylord Palms

Who says we can’t sustain a freeze in Florida?! Gaylord Palms defies that myth with a magical winter wonderland called ICE! November 15, 2014 – January 4, 2015.

ICE backgroundThe lavish holiday displays includes more than 2 million twinkling lights and acres of festive décor.

Our family loves going to ICE! Last year we marveled at the Frosty the Snowman theme. It reimagined a childhood Christmas favorite and we were in awe at how many scenes from a beloved show came to “life.” This year the theme is The Nutcracker, and I can’t wait to see all they have in store! How will they portray Clara and all her many friends? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.

In addition to the wintery extravaganza, guests can enjoy heartwarming visits with Santa and NEW for 2014 are experiences such as Alpine Rush Snow Tubing, Milk & Cookies with Mrs. Claus, and other exclusive holiday events to get you in the spirit of the season!

Ticket prices are as follows*:

Online & Advance                                                Box Office
$28.99 Adults                                                       $29.99 Adults
$26.99 Seniors (ages 55+)                                  $28.99 Seniors (ages 55+)
$14.99 Children (ages 4 – 12)                             $16.99 Children (ages 4 – 12)

ICE collage Kelly GreenDeals and Offers

  • Florida Residents, use code FLR14 when you book to save $3 per ticket.
  • Charity Day** (for attendance only on 11/23/14) use code GKTW to get adult tickets for $18 and Children’s tickets (ages 4-12) for $8.99. ICE! and Snow Tubing Combo Ticket: adults, $35.95; children $25.94.
  • Marriott Rewards Members, use code MRICE14 when you book your tickets. Discount varies by date selected.
  • Cyber Monday Deal, Tickets valid for purchase Monday, Dec. 1 – Wednesday Dec. 3 ONLY; Adult   $19.00*; Senior (ages 55+)  $19.00*; Child (ages 4 – 12)  $9.00*
    Click this link for deal.

To purchase tickets, visit: ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com or call
(407) 586-4423

Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of the event.

*Tickets are subject to taxes and $2.00 facility fee per ticket. ICE! TICKET PAYMENT IS NON-REFUNDABLE. Children ages 3 and under are free.

**Prices exclusive of sales tax and processing fees. $5 from each adult ticket for 11/23 ONLY with the GKTW promo code will be donated to Give Kids The World Village.

Get in The Nutcracker mood
with these activities for kids/kids at heart/families/educators/homeschoolers:

Read about the three types of ice at ICE! (click here).

Read all about the ballet, The Nutcracker, from the San Fransisco Ballet (click here).

Become a puppeteer (click here).

Do your homework (click here).

Enjoy this free tune to get you in The Nutcracker mood (click here).

Get crafty (click here).

Get cooking some sugarplums (click here).

I Danced with a Snowman at SeaWorld

I’m thinking about the last few weeks and pondering which things specifically have brought me the most joy. I have to say, without a doubt, that our family has enjoyed our time at SeaWorld the most. It’s quality time together where we wonder at the miracle of life, are wowed at the beauty of nature and all of God’s creatures, and sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.

As season pass holders we try to visit every weekend during December. There is so much to do and see that you can’t see it all in one trip! Yes I enjoy the “big” things (O Wondrous Night is glorious, Shamu Christmas Miracles is breathtaking, The Polar Express is a wild ride, and the Ice Skating show “Winter Wonderland on Ice” is top notch), but my favorite moments are the small, simple pleasures.

My son is particularly fond of the elves who play with children near the dolphin nursery on your way to the waterfront and Seafire Inn. All children are invited to participate in their shenanigans that vary throughout the day. I’m always a little sad, though, when I hear someone rushing their child past them when the child SO wants to play for a moment. (And isn’t that the reason for visiting a theme park?) Those who do participate, get lots of giggles, a few tee hees, and an occasional oh-gee-shucks. I thought it was hilarious when Flaky tried to tell my little guy about mistletoe kisses. He wasn’t having any of that nonsense!

He also laughed at the toy soldiers who march back and forth by Christmas Village. You never know if their going to follow you, encircle you, or try to swipe a sip of your hot chocolate. If you see them, try to march along. They don’t mind. It’s actually encouraged!

After the Sea of Trees lighting, it’s a great time to stroll by the water to see what holiday baubles and goodies are available in the village, but it’s also a good spot for character spotting (and photographing!). While my husband and son took off to buy an ornament, I saw the snowman at water’s edge, just watching all the children. Gallantly he accepted my request for a dance, and we swayed to holiday music for a bit. What Christmas is complete without a dance with a snowman?!

Sure there a lot of people enjoying the parks, too, but it doesn’t seem crowded. The lines are not excessive, the shows are spectacular, and all the “little touches” SeaWorld has added this year make it even more special for us.

Come on down for a leisurely day of holiday fun. You may go inside a snowglobe, or be snowed ON along the shore. And if you’re luck, you too might get to dance with a Frosty Friend.

 

Starting tonight SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration takes place nightly through Dec. 31!  Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration. With everything from elves to Elmo, and Santa to Shamu, lifelong memories are made in a watery, wintery wonderland that only SeaWorld could create. Don’t miss out on the spectacular holiday shows, including: Winter Wonderland on Ice, Shamu Christmas – Miracles, Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, A Sesame Street Christmas, and the all-new “O Wondrous Night – the Greatest Story Never Told”, as well as the festive holiday décor and amazing Sea of Trees.

25 Days of Giveaways at SeaWorld

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment is celebrating joy of giving by giving away prizes each day during their “25 Days of Giveaways”! A different prize will be awarded each day. Maybe you’ll win the Serengeti Safari ride with Jack Hanna! Or be lucky enough to win the day for 4 at Discovery Cove.

Other prizes include:

  • a set of Panama Jack beach bicycles
  • a home and garden makeover from Costa Farms
  • VIP tickets to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game
  • VIP tickets to a high-profile concert in San Diego (artist TBD)
  • and seats to the “Live On Letterman” concert series held in New York City.

The grand prize, to be awarded on Christmas Day, is $25000.

Good luck and don’t forget to enter daily!

To enter, participants must fill out the online entry form at www.seaworldpromotions.com, www.seaworld.com or www.buschgardens.com. There is a limit of one online entry per valid e-mail address per day. The consumer promotion officially begins December 1 at 9 a.m. EST and concludes December 25 at 5 p.m. EST.

SeaWorld is one of 10 parks owned by The Blackstone Group. Other parks include SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorldSan Antonio; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg.

A Winter Wonderland at SeaWorld

I think a lot of people get depressed right after the holidays. No more presents to open. No more lights twinkling all around. No cheery holiday songs to mangle. (My favorites are a friend’s daughter, Rachel, singing “Giddy up jingle horse, look at your feet” and my son’s classic misunderstanding of a certain snowman’s anthem. He kept asking what kind of cakes he bakes. We were confused until we realized he thought the words were “Frosting the Snowman!”) Thankfully, SeaWorld keeps the holidays going just a little bit longer… until January 2 at least.

I’m pretty sure we’ve enjoyed the festivities at least 10 times this year, with another one or two on the horizon. Can you blame us?

A few weeks ago we sat front and center for the Winter Wonderland on Ice show. Before the skaters dazzled us with their fancy footwork, a quartet of Polar Express engineers serenaded us barber-shop style with all the favorites. You should have seen my son’s eyes get big and his mouth drop as they crooned away. You’re never too young for music appreciation, and my 3-year-old is certainly a fan! His eyes went from singer to singer. “It sounds just like a radio!”

Skates then sliced through the ice when a troupe of dancers performed effortlessly on the stage at Bayside Stadium. Parka-clad beauties in ice-blue dresses “shooshed” and swayed with their all-in-white partners appropriately to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” followed by a high-energy solo for “Frosty the Snowman.” We especially enjoyed the graceful and elegant “Christmas Waltz” (just picture the flowing white gowns billowing in the breeze as the skaters glide past you!).  We then got jazzed up by a really top-notch soloist performing to “Cool Yule,” one of my favorite holiday songs. Big band Christmas music just does it for me and the skater nailed it! My son’s favorite number, though, was “Hot Chocolate!” And yes, we enjoyed the drink at the same time we were listening to the song! Dancing penguins?! Skating chefs with huge whisks?! AND singing about his favorite beverage. Well, as you can imagine… it was fabulous!Skaters performing to "Hot Chocolate" at SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

Hot chocolate, the drink!, has been a fun treat this year. All through the Christmas Market, and throughout the park, there are drink stations! We purchased the insulated mugs that allow you to get inexpensive refills. I have at least a pound or two of holiday weight gain thanks to these little babies, but OH has it been fun! (My favorite photos are of my little guy with a chocolate mustache curled up his cheeks while he hugs Santa Shamu!)

Warm insides, chilly (chilly!) temperatures outside have made for a wintery wonderland this year. Sigh. It’ll be over in a few days. OK, now I’m getting depressed. Better go make some cocoa…

Firefly Moments at SeaWorld

Little boys are more like fireflies than kittens… lightening in a bottle, elusive to catch, a joy to behold, and radiating with a glow from within. Kittens are also a blur of motion, and tough to pin down, but sometimes, just sometimes they slow down enough to be held. I had that joy the other morning when my usually wiggly 3 1/2-year-old snuggled up with me in my bed and let me rub down his back, his arm draped over my neck.

Moments of pure unadulterated warmth and joy are ones to cherish. I’ve been thinking about special times like that a lot lately with the holidays fast approaching. We’ve had many of our special memories of the season at SeaWorld.

I think we’ve either spent Christmas day, or the day before or after, at SeaWorld my son’s entire life. (Not to mention at least two or three times during the month of December!) The crowds are not bad, and everyone is in a good mood. Holiday sounds and music echo through the air. And most importantly, I have beside me the most amazing little boy, holding my hand, curling up next to me as we watch the dolphins from the underwater viewing area, or giggling like mad at the cold, cold riders of Journey to Atlantis as they get soaking wet from the splash at the end. It’s especially magical to romp through the Polar Express.

At my son’s age trains, as you can imagine, are of paramount importance. (A certain little blue cheeky engine and his friends take center stage, um, I mean floor, at our house.) Christmas trains, however, hold a special fascination. Unlike the warm climate our mild winter offers trains and their passengers, the winter wonderland of the Polar Express Experience allows that train to chug chug through ice and snow in a place so cold you need hot chocolate to warm your insides. I smile watching my son’s chubby red cheeks try to grin and drink at the same time, his jacket now dribbled and dotted with cocoa.

Of course the train isn’t real, and you can’t actually ride on it except through either the visual and physical sensations of the simulator ride (this is, mind you, my son’s only complaint about SeaWorld: no “real” train), or by watching the movie in the non-motion version. It is, nonetheless, a place to imagine Chris Van Allsburg’s vision… followed by a chance to meet Santa Clause, adorned in the glorious costume depicted in the Caldecott  Award-winning book and Oscar-nominated film.

I look forward to the new wonders SeaWorld’s dreamed up this year. The Sea of Trees, 74 in all, will be lighted within and without, synchronized waters arcing over and through them as the seas around them come alive as they “dance” to the holiday music.

There will be an ice skating show, which I’m anxious to see, and fireworks to cap off the evening. My little guy will be, no doubt, snuggled up on my lap as we watch. I’ll rub his back and as he drapes his little arms around me and his dad. We’ll drink in the magic and enjoy every blessed minute. I’ll bet the sparkles and flashes above our heads look like fireflies in the sky….