We had heard so much about the Ice at Gaylord Palms experience in Orlando that we took a drive to experience it for ourselves this year! We wanted to see the ice sculptures, ride the ice slides, and see how cold it actually was. We were excited to experience a real Christmas Winter Wonderland, right here in Florida! Read on to learn all about the holiday family fun at Gaylord Palms and the Ice exhibit and prepare for your own family fun!
What to Expect
When we left for Orlando from Jacksonville in 75 degree weather in December, we had no idea what to expect other than that it would be cold. We brought pants, socks, closed toed shoes, and had hoods on our jackets. We entered the huge hotel and enjoyed the large Christmas tree and the kids of course took a ride up and down the escalators. We checked in at the ticket booth and had to decide whether or not to purchase ice slide tickets. We opted to wait until we explored to see what the kids wanted to do.
We immediately went to the entry to the ice exhibit. The path to the entrance had more Christmas trees and plenty of space for people to get in line. Being that it was December 27, there were no lines at all! We reached the jacket booth and they gave us kids blue winter jackets and the same for adults. We couldn't talk my son into wearing one! We kept going to the entrance of the ice exhibit and we stepped in.....
Boy was it cold!!! If you're a Floridian and curious about what it is like to be in 9 degree weather, this is the place! We couldn't believe how cold it was! We immediately talked about what it was like to be Eskimos in Alaska, which was perfect because the displays talk about Christmas in countries all around the world! There were large displays with Santa, reindeer, people from all over the world and ice lined the walls and created the display structures.
The next room had 5 slides and our kids got really excited! you just climb the stairs and the slides are completely made of ice so you sit down on your jacket and slide down. My daughter went down a gazillion times and just giggled the whole way! By that time, my son, who we had talked into putting his jacket on, decided he was just too cold with his short sleeved shirt and shorts (of course!) so he and my husband left the exhibit. This left my daughter and I to explore more ice and find our way to the to the ice sculpture of the nativity scene. We enjoyed the darkness and peacefulness of the sculpture, then made our way back to the entrance/exit.
After the ice exhibit, we made a beeline for the hot chocolate and coffee stand! The smooth chocolate was warm and cozy. We set off to explore the gifts area, and saw the other fun areas like the Gingerbread Decorating Corner, Build a Bear Workshop, and more. We especially loved the Snow Tubing - that looked really fun! With tubes going down 8 lanes on a ice tubing hill, the slides were pretty fast!
After exploring the Christmas on Ice Exhibit, we found the second set of escalators and headed off to see the rest of the hotel. Let me tell you, Gaylord Palms is massive! We crossed the walkway over to the lobby and hotel atrium. There were shops, restaurants, and more along the way! We reached the lobby just in time for the end of Cirque Dreams Unwrapped. The hotel reserves some seats for FREE, guests staying in the hotel and overlooking the atrium can watch the show, and reserved, guaranteed seating tickets are available.
We walked on through the rain forest area of the hotel, walked past the open air Old Hickory Restaurant, and exited near the St. Augustine segment of the hotel. If we didn't have a dinner date, we could have stayed a couple more hours just exploring the hotel.
Tips and Tricks
Ice at Gaylord Palms featuring Christmas Around the World is from November 21 - January 7, 2018!
-If you're visiting for the first time, there is a lot to do! I'd recommend getting the Platinum Pass if you have kids at least 36 inches tall so they can try snow tubing and also enjoy the Build a Bear Workshop Scavenger Hunt along with the Ice exhibit entry. The bundle pass gets you discounts versus purchasing individually.
-Florida residents save $4 on entry to Ice when purchased in advance online with code FLR17, $3 on the phone or at the box office.
What to Bring:
-If you're a Floridian, or even if you are from cold weather climates, the Ice exhibit is cold! To better enjoy the exhibit, bring a beanie hat, gloves, scarves, and a warm jacket. They will provide heavy blue jackets that will keep you warm, but you need the above items as well.
-The ice attraction lasts 15 - 30 minutes so you might want to try the exhibit first to get in line early and then enjoy the fun in the Alpine Village and around the hotel afterwards.
-The Cirque Dreams Holidaze shows are Sundays - Thursdays at 1:00pm and 6:30pm and Saturdays at 1:00pm, 6:30pm and 8:00pm. Try to get to the hotel to catch a show and early enough to enjoy FREE reserved seating tickets, or to purchase tickets in time to see the show. You can also stand in the back and sides to see the show for free, from a distance.
What to See:
Be sure to grab a map of the hotel to be sure you enjoy the entire grounds! The lobby has the Cirque Dreams show, restaurants, and plenty of areas to explore. The Alpine Village has the Ice! at Gaylord Palms exhibit Featuring Christmas Around the World. Here is a list of more attractions and each has their own entry fee, or your can bundle passes. You can find tickets, here.
Ice! at Gaylord Palms Featuring Christmas Around the World
Gingerbread Decorating Corner
Build A Bear Workshop
Snow Tubing and Holiday Games
Cirque Dreams Unwrapped
Breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends
Mrs. Claus' Christmas Traditions
Build A Bear Workshop Scavenger Hunt
Thank you to Gaylord Palms for providing media passes for this visit! The free passes did not influence my opinion in this blog in any way.