ICE! at Gaylord National

We had the pleasure to experience ICE! at Gaylord National on November 21. This year's theme was "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". It was opening week, and tons of press, media, and bloggers like myself were given a complimentary visit.

Excuse the lack of excitement. We were caught off guard.
What is ICE!?
This 15,000-square-foot attraction--a unique, interactive indoor wonderland created entirely of ice--is the crowning jewel of Christmas on the Potomac, Gaylord National's more than 50-day-long celebration of the holidays. Visitors will marvel at the striking detail and beautiful, theatrical renderings of beloved Christmas icons and memorable holiday scenes, all housed in a custom-built structure maintained at a temperature of nine degrees… Winter coats will be provided!
 The National Harbor is just under 20 miles from home. It makes for a perfect getaway for locals like myself. We got in the car, heading down the beltway, and arrived filled with excitement.

The day was perfect for strolling.
Kaden and Mariah holding hands. Rare moment.
When we arrived, Kaden (8), Mariah (3), Ian (older), and I (old) enjoyed walking through the National harbor. There are a lot of places to eat, a few shops, and the scenery is great as well. Even with the water close by, the weather was perfect for a fall day — not too cold, not too windy.

The hotel lobby at the Gaylord National.
It was our first time visiting ICE!, so we had no clue where to go. We walked into the hotel by mistake, but to our surprise we stumbled upon a magical lobby. The hotel was adorned with beautiful Christmas trees, lights, and festive decor. We could have played in the lobby all day and still have been excited.

Looks like an igloo. Feels like one too!
The trees were shaped like the letter G for Gaylord.
We walked a little more to the tent area where ICE! was taking place. There is a garage near the tent if you want to park close. We parked at a garage farther away without knowing. It worked out perfectly because we were able to enjoy the scenery and get a bit of exercise. There is a fee for parking, so be sure you add that to your total cost. We were there for a little over an hour maybe and had to pay $4. Not bad.

Once inside, there is a lot going on. Here are a few other things you can do while visiting ICE! Pavilion (visit the website for detailed information on additional pricing and descriptions):
  • “The Art of Seuss: A Retrospective” 
  • “From Harbin to WHO-ville”ICE! Family Photo 
  • Merry’s Christmas Treasures
  • Green Ice Skating
  • Meet the Grinch
  • Mrs. Claus’ Crafts Corner
We only participated in the ICE! experience. Before going into the main attraction, everyone is handed a parka to help shield them from the 9 degree temperature. MAKE SURE YOU BRING GLOVES. We forgot ours, but the children didn't complain too much.

The rules were, "No licking, no biting, no sitting, no touching." They were pretty much the same rules as the rules of life. It was tempting to feel the nicely sculptured artwork, but we resisted.

We visited on a Sunday. The total cost for our party of 4 would have been $76 (2 adults, 1 child, 1 Free child) plus $4 for parking, bringing our total to $80. I think this is the biggest negative aspect of ICE! Sure the attraction is unbelievable and amazing, but when you think about the size of the average family, costs can add up fast.

If there were other activities included in the cost, like free ice skating, or a free picture, I would find the price suitable. However, you have to pay additional money for each activity you choose to participate in. With it being the holidays, every penny counts.

I guess if you want your money's worth, you could stay for as long as you wanted. It gets pretty cold inside, so you would definitely need a break. It didn't take long for us to walk the entire attraction.

The best part of ICE! has to be the ice slide. Kaden and I chose to ride. Mariah was not having it though.  I tried and tried, even begged her to give it a go. She would not budge. It is a little scary for a child her age, and you have to go alone. I can understand her fear. Still, that didn't stop me from taking a spin at it.

I'm still amazed at how beautiful the ice was. I kept looking at it closely to see if it was real. I can't imagine how much work it took to create this beautiful display, but I admire those who did.

The last day for ICE! is January 9, 2011. It is strongly advised that you purchase your ticket in advance.

Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets to attend this event thanks to the Gaylord National. There was no monetary compensation. The opinions and views expressed are mine and do not reflect those of the sponsor. 

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