By Peter Covino
The ice is frozen and you will be too, as Gaylord Palms presents the 2017 version of its celebrated ICE! attraction, through Jan. 7.
There are more ways to celebrate the holidays than ever at the Gaylord resort this year. And with many events, such as the Trail of Trees and the Cirque Dreams Unwrapped free, a day at Gaylord Palms is an affordable alternative to the theme parks.
As usual, ICE!, the nine-degree frozen world of ice sculptures will be the centerpiece of the holiday fun at the resort. This year’s theme is Christmas Around the World and reflects the diversity of how the holidays are celebrated with ice.
Once again, artisans from Harbin, China, home of the world’s largest ice and snow sculpture festival, traveled more than 6,000 miles to hand-carve more than two million pounds of colorful ice into larger-than-life sculptures.
If you have never been, it is still a chilling experience for Central Floridians to feel what sub-freezing temperatures are like. Hint: Keep that cell phone in your pocket when you are not taking pictures. The battery can run down really quickly in the cold.
When guests enter the nine-degree attraction this year, they will discover holiday scenes from various nations and two-story ice slides surrounded by sculptures and international tidings, all before ending with a trip to the North Pole to experience Santa’s toy workshop. The ICE! experience ends with the Frostbite Factory live ice carving showcase and the traditional Nativity created with crystal clear ice.
Want to experience ICE! and some holiday music?
Newly added to the Gaylord Palms holiday experience this year is the Sounds of the Season Concert Series featuring a capella concerts on select nights in December. Local performance groups appearing include Voctave, Gaylord Palms STARS (resort staff) and the Orlando Gay Chorus, along with a very special collaboration between Opera Orlando, Orlando Philharmonic and the Orlando Ballet. All performances will be onstage in the St. Augustine Atrium and include a special concert patron-exclusive visit to the resort’s popular ICE! attraction following the performance.
Back with a whole new show this season is Cirque Dreams Unwrapped – reimagined by Broadway director and renowned Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg. If you have been to Cirque Dreams before, the 2017 version features new acts, artistry and costumes.. This latest Cirque Dreams Unwrapped spectacle is a fun 25-minute show. Complimentary seats will be available on a first come-first seated basis, while guaranteed seating may be purchased in advance.
Another option for the Cirque Dreams show is the dessert party. Available each Saturday in December, the party features great views of the show from a private fourth-floor patio, as guests enjoy a special buffet of holiday sweets from the Gaylord Palms culinary team paired with beverages to please all ages.
A few of the temptations include:
• Eggnog Crème Brulée
• Gingerbread Macarons
• Pumpkin Cheesecake
• ecan Tarts
• Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake
• Assorted Holiday Cookies
• Pot Chocolate
• Apple Juice
• Iced Tea
The party also includes two drink tickets for adult beverages including beer, a specialty themed cocktail, the signature sangria, wine and more.
Tickets are $53.75 plus tax. Parking at Gaylord Palms also is not included.
There is more information at the Gaylord Palms website, www.gaylordpalms
Also new (and free) this year is the Christmas Tree Trail. Inside the Everglades Atrium, the trail offers a display of nine trees, adorned with decorations honoring the culture and traditions of various countries including Brazil, China, Italy and more. Guests can explore the trail at their leisure, admiring the décor while learning about international holiday celebrations.
The nightly atrium tree show, Joyful, also has been enhanced this year. Joyful is now a multisensory experience surrounding the six-story Christmas tree with a holiday music score in a 12-minute nightly show.
If you are looking for some holiday dining, Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends returns to Villa de Flora restaurant. The buffet gives guests the opportunity to pose with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang and features themed-dishes such as Charlie Brown’s Build-Your-Own-French-Toast Station with Snoopy’s Maple Syrup, Pig Pen’s Dirty Hash Browns, Lucy’s Flap Jacks and Woodstock’s Granola.
Over at the Alpine Village (where ICE! is located) there is shopping, seasonal food and beverage, snow tubing, an interactive show with Mrs. Claus, Photos with Santa, snowtubing and more.
Christmas at Gaylord Palms is open daily through Jan. 7. For additional information and to book packages or tickets, visit ChristmasAt GaylordPalms.com.
Gaylord Palms Resort offers a mix of entertainment year-round, creating a superior guest experience in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Guests are welcomed into the resort’s 4.5-acre soaring glass atrium featuring winding waterways, lush gardens and animal habitats. Our extraordinary amenities include fine and casual dining, spa and shopping all conveniently located within minutes of the Orlando area’s theme parks.
Learn more about the resort at GaylordPalms.com and stay connected with all the resort happenings by following @GaylordPalms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.