My ICE! at Gaylord Palms Experience

Growing up in Florida, I’ve always had an interesting perception of winter. Lights on palm trees and ugly sweaters with flip flops fill my Christmas memories. But a few weeks ago, I experienced something that really put me in the holiday spirit: ICE! At Gaylord Palms. This is a collection of ice sculptures created by talented artists that you can walk through at your leisure. This year was A Christmas Story-themed, and since that’s one of my favorite Christmas movies, it really added to the magic.

On November 17, we pulled up to Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center with child-like excitement. My boyfriend and I decided to go during opening weekend. I had been once when I was around eight years old, but this was his first time. We were so excited because we both love the holidays. Plus, we got to wear cute sweaters, hats, and gloves underneath our giant blue parkas. Oh yeah—did I mention it’s FOUR DEGREES?

Walking into the first room was like walking into one of our favorite Christmas films. The first thing we saw was a giant ice replica of the house from A Christmas Story, complete with the leg lamp in the window. Of course, we immediately ran up the stairs and looked around. Every detail was immaculate. As we continued to walk around, we saw all of the iconic scenes from the movie: the department store window, Ralphie with soap in his mouth, and of course, the pink bunny suit.

“Over the years, I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor.”

My favorite display had to be the ice slide. As soon as I walked into the room, my frozen jaw dropped. From the abundance of Christmas trees to the giant sassy elves and the sparkling tinsel hanging from the ceiling, this room had so much detail put into it. It was the department store Santa scene come to life, complete with screaming kids and a giant ice Santa. And yes—Santa has his foot raised and ready to kick you down. Drew and I got to race down the slide, and it was a magical time. I couldn’t find an actual photo that does this room justice, so you’ll just have to go see it for yourself.

“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

But the coolest thing we saw was one of the ice sculptors in action! He was carving the huge, colored blocks of ice into present boxes inside of a half-formed display. It was really exciting to see the process in action. It also reminded me that these are created by actual people who worked for months and months to build them. The displays were all absolutely spectacular and life-like. It’s crazy how a block of ice can turn into your favorite characters with the help of a talented artist.

After defrosting, we had the chance to reflect on our experience. The ICE! experience is something I would recommend to anyone, and it's a great way to bond with friends or family. This is a work of art unlike anything else I have ever seen. It's especially cool this year if you’re familiar with the classic film. I was personally living out my Christmas nostalgia. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year!

Images: 1, 2, 5, 7. All other images taken by the author.