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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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.

 

 

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).

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…