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.
The 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!
From 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 like 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.
Another 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.