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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Gaylord Palms ICE! Welcomes Gigi’s Cupcakes Founder

Gigi with Nutmeg Photo courtesy Gigi Butler

Gigi with Nutmeg
Photo courtesy Gigi Butler

Gigi’s Cupcakes founder and culinary creator, Gigi Butler, will be on hand for a special appearance at ICE! at Gaylord Palms on Monday, December 7, 2015 from 6– 8 p.m. Patrons can meet Gigi herself, and enjoy the festivities before or after visiting this years’ ICE! featuring ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The first 50 people to enter will receive a complimentary Gigi’s Cupcakes Sugar Vanilla candle, and everyone attending will be entered to win a pink Kitchen-Aid mixer valued at $369.00. Patrons will also be able to purchase Gigi’s original gourmet cupcakes and enjoy Gigi’s holiday themed desserts including mini cupcakes and stuffed cookies from Gigi’s cupcakes of Orlando. Twenty percent of cupcake sales during the evening will be donated to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, the local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

2015-11-24 10.27.43“I am thrilled to join Gaylord Palms Christmas tradition,” said Gigi Butler. “Christmas is absolutely my favorite time of year and Gaylord Palms does such an incredible job with lights, decorations and music. It’s a privilege to be at ICE! because it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring families together to do something fun with their kids and celebrate the season.  I hope the community will come join us for this magical event.”

ICE! at Gaylord Palms featuring ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a walk-through holiday attraction that is kept at a chilly 9 degrees. Attendees will experience two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, four slides, six individual rooms depicting the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Frostbite Factory – a live carving zone and a full Nativity in stunning, crystal clear ice.

ICE! tickets can be purchased online, by phone or at the box office.  For more information about the event, call 1-407-586-4423 or visit www.ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com

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).