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What to expect: Gaylord Palms' ICE is a glittery Christmas wonderland

22

November

Here's a little secret: I've never seen snow.

I don't think I've ever experienced weather colder than 33 degrees.

*pauses for dramatic gasping*

So this Florida girl couldn't wrap her mind around Gaylord Palms Resort's annual ICE exhibit boasting a chilly 9 degrees  until I experienced it.

This year, the hotel in Kissimmee turned its ICE sculptures over to the Peanuts with A Charlie Brown Christmas theme.

The beloved story of Charlie Brown discovering the true meaning of Christmas unfolds in an interactive maze packed with 2 million pounds of ice.

Iconic scenes from the movie  the gang's holiday play rehearsal, Snoopy's decorated doghouse, Charlie Brown choosing a Christmas tree  are presented in bright-colored ice that's reminiscent of rock candy and lollipops.

I wouldn't lick it, though.

Before heading inside ICE, guests are handed thick, heavy coats to keep warm. Attendees are required to wear closed-toe shoes, but we also recommend long-sleeved shirts, jeans, gloves and scarves.

It may feel bearable when you first walk in and snap a photo in front of Charlie Brown with the ICE plaque, but after 20 minutes you won't feel your fingers or nose.

Outside the wintry wonderland is the Alpine Village, home to Alpine Rush snow tubing and a holiday marketplace.

Guests can cozy up around Mrs. Claus for Christmas Traditions, a half-hour interactive show and reading of classic holiday stories and carols. The experience is made complete by cookies and milk. For the more rambunctious guests there's Santa's Snow Throw, a carnival-style game where you can chuck real snowballs at targets.

Rounding out the new holiday offerings this year is A Christmas Wish light show, Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends and an expanded cast for the return of Cirque Dreams Unwrapped.

A Christmas Wish is a six-minute light show that fills up the resort's atrium with classic holiday music, visual effects and a towering 60-foot LED Christmas tree.

The Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends is a morning buffet for overnight guests at the resort with build-your-own French toast, Pig Pen's Dirty Hash Browns, Lucy's Flap Jacks and Woodstock's Granola.

For its second year, creator Neil Goldberg brings his cast of Cirque dreams Unwrapped to Gaylord Palms. Full of glittery jugglers, aerialists and a Mad Hatter-esque ringleader, Cirque Dreams Unwrapped has something for everyone to enjoy.

Because of the popularity of last year's show, the show's cast has doubled this year with five different iterations of the 25-minutes show.

If sparkly entertainers, thrilling ice slides and a literal freezing wonderland doesn't pack enough Christmas spirit for you, there's also an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, a Build-A-Bear Workshop and Christmas decorations in the atrium's gardens.

If all this holiday cheer is overwhelming, adults 21 and older can upgrade their ICE experience and literally chill out at On The Blocks ice bar. Guests inside the intimate and chilly bar can enjoy three samplings: The Jolly Mint with Jackson Morgan Southern Cream and Hangar One Vodka; Goose Island Beer; and a Merry Margarita with Milagro Tequila.

It looks like Christmas at Gaylord Palms has all the trappings of a fabulous holiday getaway.

Tips

Wear winter attire: This might mean you Floridians will have to purchase gloves. But trust us, it's worth it. Long-sleeved shirts, thick socks and scarves are also recommended. Don't be a hero, it's very cold in there.

Bring a backpack: It's much easier to enjoy the Alpine Rush snow tubing without having to to cling to the inner tube and also your purse. I learned this from experience.

Charge your phone: ICE is beautiful and you'll want to snap photos of every sculpture. But the extreme cold drains your phone's battery.

Stay overnight: Christmas packages start at $219, but the price tag is worth it when you realize how much there is to see and experience. The packages include tickets to ICE with unlimited access, which can be worth it considering you can only stay in there for about 30 minutes because of the cold.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at ctatham@tampabay.com. Follow @chelseatatham.


If you go

Christmas at Gaylord Palms and the ICE exhibit runs through Jan. 1, 2017. Tickets start at $28.99, $26.99 seniors, $14.99 kids 4-12, children under 3 are free.

6000 West Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee.

christmasatgaylordpalms.com.

 

[Last modified: Monday, November 21, 2016 6:23pm]

    

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