A Charlie Brown Christmas at ICE!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a Charlie Brown Christmas story. It’s one of those TV shows that, if you’re my age, you watched every year without fail. ICE! at Gaylord Palms has a Charlie Brown Christmas as its theme, and the bucktoothed, blonde-haired little girl still inside of me couldn’t be happier.

ice-charlieThe magic begins even before you get to Charlie and his friends. In the beautiful glass atrium, Cirque Dreams puts on “Christmas Unwrapped.” I’ve seen the show a couple of times, and the talented performers never fail to impress!

ice-aerialistsFrom the exquisite violin player who lures you into the magical dream, to the aerialists, jugglers, and all the other mind-boggling performers, the people at cirque dreams will inspire you with every fiber of their well-trained bodies.

After the free lobby show (yes I said free), make your way to the Alpine Village and all that is ICE!

Walk through millions of pounds of ice carved by artisans from Harbin China. If you’ve never seen larger than life-sized characters carved in this way, you will be utterly amazed, not to mention you will be cold! Your journey begins when you put on your parka. I highly recommend you bring gloves, earmuffs, and a hat in addition to the cold weather gear that is provided with your ticket. The warmer you are, the longer you can withstand the 9° temperatures and enjoy inspecting every creative and thoughtful detail.

Just as in years previous, the tour through ICE! concludes with a winter white crystal-looking nativity. The ice is carved in such a way that they look likice-nativitye glass. It is something to behold.

After you are frozen, well nearly so, there are some fun things to thaw you out in the Alpine Village. My nine-year-old is especially fond of snow tubing. He also had to be pulled away from the snow throwing booth. Where else can a Florida boy throw snowballs? It is on the pricey side, but I’m guessing it takes special equipment to make those sticky Florida snowballs from scratch. (Mother Nature nature makes it look so easy!)

My best tip, since there is a parking fee when you go to ICE! or even to the Cirque Dreams show, is to factor in dining at the hotel so you can get your parking validated. We are particularly fond of MOOR and try to eat first before heading over to the winter wonderland.

When you work in time to eat, it also gives you a chance to perhaps check out the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt. For a nominal fee you get a booklet with all the details plus some fun activities. When you have successfully found all those sneaky elves, there is a prize at the end. We’ve gone on many a scavenger hunt at that hotel and it never gets old.

villa-flora-christmasAnother meal option is the character breakfast. I was hosted* to preview ICE! and treated to an incredible buffet breakfast at Villa de Flora where we met Charlie and Lucy.

Ice runs through the first weekend in January. For a fun family outing, I recommend you visit.

*Disclosure: As an ICE-pert ambassador I have been visiting Gaylord Palms on and off for months as part of a press group to watch the transformation from blocks of ice to well-loved characters. For opening weekend, my family was hosted to stay the night at Gaylord Palms in addition to receiving vouchers for food and admission to ICE! and accompanying holiday activities. I have attended as both a guest and  “regular” attendee. All opinions are 100% my own.

 

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Summer Fest Continues at Gaylord Palms Resort

Last month our family had the pleasure of being hosted for a night at Gaylord Palms Resort as part of the #GPSummerFest (we stayed another night as “regular” folk, as we wanted to make a weekend of it). We’re frequent visitors whether there’s a media event or not, so it’s no surprise we had a great time. The surprising part is that we got to play with pirates and princesses, and I got to be a mermaid! (No, really! Keep reading!)

skull crossbones braceletIf you’ve read my blog at all, you know how much I love a good theme, and Summer Fest has swashbuckling style from stem to stern! From Princess Priscilla’s Coronation Character Breakfast to Y’aaard Games, there’s something from sun up to sundown to enjoy.

Character Breakfast**

Princess Priscilla’s Coronation Character Breakfast is the ultimate matey’s morning meal. Held not-too-MOOR breakfastcoincidentally at MOOR, Gaylord Palms’ very own ship in a bottle (a restaurant that’s a ship in the atrium), this character breakfast is like “walking theater.” We met Captain Blackheart and his daughter, Princess Priscilla, who is to be the new ruler of the Pirate Kingdom. Along with their friend, Jonny Stranger their cabin boy, the pirates make their way to each table, granting guests their own pirate names, should they wish to join the crew. (I’m “Kill ‘Em All Kelly.” EEK!)

 

Some of my favorite items on the buffet include Steak and Eggs (NY strip, scrambled eggs, and salsa verde), and Shrimp and Grits that is made OH so good with andouille sausage and brown butter. (Yes. I ate more than one serving!) Also on deck are Treasure Chest Potatoes and Princess Toast (which is French toast with sprinkles).

Gluten Free Friends: There are items on the buffet that
can be made GF, no problem. Just ask your server.

There are assorted baked breads, fruits, cereal, oatmeal, granola, pastries, danishes (you MUST try the blueberry muffins!), and Creativity Stations where you can Build Your Own Waffle or decorate your dessert.

Be prepared to learn the Pirate Oath, or you may have to walk the plank. It’s much more fun, though, to walk to the next activity, or march.

Pirate Parade and Yaaard Games!

Pirate Parade and Yaaard Games!

Pirate Invasion Parade*

Thursday through Sunday at 5:00pm, march through the atrium in all your pirate finery. (What?! Don’t YOU have pirate attire?) Follow the flag and discover pieces from the Captain’s treasure hoard from Blackheart’s Treasure Hunt* along the route. Catch (by spying, that is) the gators along 15 juvenile alligators and 30 species of native turtles in a habitat reminiscent of Florida’s natural springs.***

Pirate Stories & Chanties Under the Stars**

Climb upon the Siren’s Song and listen to the tall tales of the seven seas. Join Princess Priscilla as she embarks upon the perils and smorespleasures of becoming the first female Pirate captain. This high energy show involves theatrics, chanties and s’mores under the stars. Times are Thursday through Saturday at 6:00pm, 6:45pm, 7:30pm. In case of inclement weather, the tales are taken indoors to the atrium fort. Shiver me timbers, it’s fun either way.

Did You Know: A chantey is a song sung by sailors,
usually while they did hard physical work.

AAArts and Crafts** are always fun, and kids can make their own sword or princess tiara Times: Thursday-Sunday 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Kids enjoy getting crafty, and they can bring their creations along for the next parade!

Merfolk Academy**

Here’s where things get “fishy.” If you’ve ever dreamed of swapping your feet for a fabulous mermaid shotfin and swimming beneath the sea, your dreams can (sort of) come true. At Merfolk Academy, guests of all ages can wear swimmable mermaid/merman tails and participate in an hour-long class and swimming experience. Shark fins are available, too.

My son and I took part in the experience: He wore the shark fin, while I got to be a mermaid! I thought Merfolk Academy was just for kids, but was happy to learn that I, too, could check off my bucket list item of playing Madison (the mermaid from Splash). Darryl Hannah, I’m not. But it was lots of fun pretending!

If you find yourself singing Under The Sea and would like to do this yourself or would like to give your kid(s) an underwater experience they’ll remember, call 844-308-5056 for reservations. Don’t forget your underwater camera.

  • Times: Select times on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays
  • Price: $30.00 for one-hour mermaid class | $20.00 for one-hour shark class
  • Location: Cypress Springs Family Waterpark

Gaylord Palms is a resort that’s great for a summer vacation, staycation, or corporate event (they have ample convention space!). Check out the Orlando resort, or their other locations. Summer Fest is happening through August 21, 2016. You can read more about the events here. Make reservations by calling 407-586-0000 or clicking this link.

If we have some free time this next month, I know I can yell “All hands on deck” and my crew will follow me back to the land of pirates, princesses… and mermaids.

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Events with a * are free while ** items are an added cost.

***Thanks Gatorland. They’re awesome!

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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.