Tag Archives: ICE

Don’t Miss Frosty in ICE at Gaylord Palms

Back in the days before  On Demand viewing or even VCR recorders, Christmas specials came on one of three national television stations once a year.  We waited for Charlie Brown, the Grinch and Frosty almost as much as we waited for Santa. TV watching in December was really special.

Frosty-&-Gang-in-ICE
Frosty-&-Gang-in-ICE

 

So, I have fond memories of Frosty and my children do, too. Today, my grandchildren know him well because they grew up watching the video over and over.

 

Debi and Frosty
Debi and Frosty

I live in Florida and there is no chance that Frosty or snowmen making is going to happen around here. And, don’t even think about those big inflatable creatures!

 

However, lucky for me, I was invited to Florida’s Gaylord Palms and ICE : a frozen fantasy within the hotel’s convention center.  Every year 40 Chinese artisans from Harbin, China are brought to Kissimmee (near Orlando) to create ice sculptures. They make an entire village and huge ice slides.  I have visited the attraction each year for the past three years and each time I grow fonder. It’s just plain cool.

 

ICE is a temperature controlled spectacle for kids and grown-ups. The attraction provides visitors with parkas, but remember to bring your own hats and gloves.  The frosty air hovers  around 10 degrees.

The hotel is a fabulous place for a multi-generational weekend or in my case, a girlfriend getaway. My girlfriend and I sat out by the pool to warm up after our tour through the frozen world of ICE. We ended up staying for lunch.

 

 

Gaylord Palms 2013-10When we had enough sun, we headed back inside for the fun of decorating a gingerbread house.  At ICE, you get a pre-built house and a container with all sorts of candy adornments.  Simply apply frosting as glue and create your own masterpiece. We sang along with a rendition of “Gingy Bells”  as we worked.  Gingy is one of my favorite characters from the Shrek movies. She pops into the gingerbread decorating area from time to time.

 

Gaylord Palms Holiday Show
Gaylord Palms Holiday Show

Gaylord Palms 2013-12 Gaylord Palms 2013Before dinner we enjoyed the musical and light spectacular performed at  Gaylord a few times each day. The presentation includes stunning acrobatic routines and a drummer who plays music while suspended over the stage. If you like Mannheim Steamroller type of music, you will love this show. Best of all, it’s free.

That evening, we holed up in our wonderful room and sipped wine.  That’s just what girls do on a girlfriend getaway!

Next morning, we ate breakfast with Shrek and his pals and went on a scavenger hunt trying to locate all the hidden reindeer with the immense Gaylord Palms interior.  Immense is an understatement; the giant indoor arena feels like a botanical garden on steroids.  I’ve written before that the hotel atrium reminds me of a biosphere; a place one could live inside of for days and never miss the outdoors. There’s even a pool of alligators in the atrium.

Breakfast with Shrek
The girls enjoyed Breakfast with Shrek

 

Hidden Reindeer Scavenger Hunt
Hidden Reindeer Scavenger Hunt

Gaylord Palms also has a fabulous top of the line spa. I toured the facility and wanted to try the “Fire and Ice “facial but unfortunately ran out of time.  Guess I’m just going to have to return again!

 

If you are looking for a holiday treat that you’ll talk about for years to come, visit Florida’s Frosty and ICE or better yet stay overnight and take in all that Gaylord Palms has to offer.

 

 

Disclosure:  I attended an event for media sponsored by Gaylord Palms.

Ice Men Cometh to Gaylord Palms

Chinese artisan carves Santa
A Chinese artisan carves Santa At Gaylord Palms

For the past ten years, Gaylord Palms Resort near Orlando has turned their convention center into the ‘Florida Fridge’. The event begins to take shape in October, when 40 Chinese artisans and their cook arrive from Harbin, China. The ice men cometh to carve two million pounds of frozen water into a frosty fantasyland. The job takes approximately one month to complete.

Originally only crystal-clear ice was used, created by filtering de-ionized water for three days. Then, colored ice blocks were developed by adding food coloring. The process is not as easy as it sounds; the mixture must be stirred constantly to obtain consistent color. Making white ice is easiest, just freeze quickly for a cloudy look.

In previously years, I’ve walked through the finished attraction and highly recommend it get into a holiday mood. However, this year I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see ICE under construction.

Sawing ice blocks
Sawing ice blocks
Working on ICE
Working on ICE

 

The themed project starts with detailed architectural blueprints. Measurements are transferred and marked off on the floor, like a home building site. Ice blocks start arriving from the factory at a rate of two truck loads a day for 15 days. Each block weighs 400 pounds, so must be moved around by a forklift.

 

 

 

 

Workers begin to assemble the blocks, adding special fluorescent lights between some of the pieces and cutting others with chain saws. I saw a small square block placed on a larger rectangular piece, which would eventually become a head on a body. The sculptors denote points to guide them as they work like Michelangelo. Each artist brings his own set of tools, akin to a chef and his knives, including a variety of rakes, chisels, picks and trowels.

ICE under construction at Gaylord Palms
ICE under construction at Gaylord Palms

The temperature in the room hovers around nine-degrees, so carvers wear warm boots, coats, hats and gloves. (You should, too, although Gaylord provides oversized parkas.) They grapple through four-hour shifts with a warm-up break outside. I was cold after half an hour, but the Chinese are rugged. Harbin temperatures’ average only two degrees in the winter and sometimes plummet to -36. No wonder these men enjoy Florida’s balmy weather.

This year’s theme is Merry Madagascar taken from the Dreamworks’ movie. All scenes and characters are constructed entirely from ice, even the popular interactive slides. No wooden supports or iron beams are used.

ICE! featuring DreamWorks' Merry Madagascar at Gaylord Palms Resort
ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar at Gaylord Palms Resort

The only scene to be repeated, since this event began, remains the magnificent life-size nativity, created from sparkling crystal-clear cubes. One artist, chosen by fellow sculptors, receives the honor of carving the largest angel.

If you haven’t seen ICE, make the drive to Orlando and treat yourselves and the kids to one ‘cool’ outing.

Crystal clear nativity figures at ICE
Crystal clear nativity figures at ICE

 

For further information and tickets: www.gaylordhotels.com

Read about my previous visit to ICE: Delicious Fun with Gingy at Gaylord Palms