Classic and colorful avant-garde imagery abound in Orlando at this year’s Christmas at the Gaylord Palms. Its stage show gets a juggling, somersaulting, high-flying makeover and its star attraction, ICE! goes old-school with a sculptural retelling of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
The slide room: a glacial playground for adventurous guests of all ages — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
In the biosphere
The soaring, lushly landscaped 4.5-acre-atrium is the signature of Gaylord’s opulent properties and come the holiday season, the glass halls are decked with millions of twinkling lights and a towering tree some five stories high. It’s here where the stage shows traditionally take place with pomp and music and an appropriate level of festivity.
This year’s offering ups the stage-spectacle ante from recent years past, adding to the roster a dreamy cast of brilliantly bendy performers in Cirque Dreams UnWrapped. Stunning costumes and even more impressive showmanship – juggling, tumbling, and aerial acrobatics add a sugarplum-infused dollop of comedic whimsy.
Playful stints allow for audience participation and a chance to see some of the magnificent wardrobe up close. Performers leap and contort, amuse and amaze in a delightful 25-minute show beneath the property’s monarch of a tree.
A wintry wonderland of words: the familiar phrasing of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" is a breadcrumb trail to follow — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
In the cooler
Sure, Orlando is home to some Florida natives and acclimated transplants who throw on the woolly hats and North Face gear the moment the thermometer dips below 75, but nine degrees? That’s pretty brutal, even for a hardcore Minnesotan tourist.
It’s easier, of course, when you can enjoy the “weather” amid a purpose-built winter wonderland of towering, colorful ice sculptures that bring a Christmas classic to life.
This year’s ICE! – a captivating walk-through world crafted by expert artisans who return to Orlando each year from China – pulls its imagery from the stanzas of the Christmas season’s most famous poem. Mice (not stirring, mind you!) tucked cozily into teacup beds, St. Nick and his formidable reindeer, colorfully decorated trees with gifts stacked neatly beneath are all crafted from solid ice.
A classic and beautiful Nativity closes out the walk-through — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
How long can you stay inside as your fingers frost up around your phone camera (which, take note, may have an adverse reaction to the extreme cold if you keep it out too long!)? The exhibit’s On The Blocks ice bar – featuring a selection of seasonal adult beverages – may give you extra staying power.
As always, the center of the walk-through features a gorgeous slide room where guests can pretend they’re the vodka in that neat luge the grownups enjoyed at their cousin’s Sweet 16 back in the ‘80s. Coats provided at the outset give one the necessary tools for a spin down the icy ramp without ending up with an icy rump.
Also on tap this year are snow tubing, pics with Santa, cookie decorating, indoor snowfalls and more. Oh, and on your way out, be sure to grab a tissue and prepare for fogged glasses!
ICE! runs through January 3rd.. Check out the resort website for pricing, combination tickets, specific dates for select activities and more information.