Orlando is a "spectacle" kind of town year-round, but let's face it, when the holidays roll around, you can see us from space. Christmas parades abound, snow machines kick into overdrive, beloved characters don their best seasonal finery and twinkling lights? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Frozen fun on the ICE! slide. Funky blue coats come free with admission. — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Palms Resort
The Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center and its ICE! exhibit is an annual must-see for many locals and their children, many of whom haven't experienced temperatures below 50 degrees, let alone the Arctic blast of nine. Now celebrating its 10th year, this season's ICE! features a tribute to the DreamWorks' modern classic "Merry Madagascar" along with Santas, a nativity and other wondrous sculptures – not to mention a three-chute ice slide – carved by a team of artisans from Harbin, China, a city known for its International Ice and Snow Festival and 100-acre ice park.
ICE! Madagascar meets the North Pole in the American subtropics. — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Palms Resort
Also on tap: the Luminescence Christmas Show, featuring holiday music with a pop twist by the six-man vocal group, Edge Effect, an aerialist and other surprises, all set beneath a towering tree and resplendent lights inside the soaring atrium. And with their Christmassy DreamWorks Experience package (select dates through Jan. 1, 2013; rates from $189/night), you'll get all of the above and more.
Oh, Chrismas Tree! This one towers at 54 feet. — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Palms Resort
Included with accommodations: unlimited visits and front-of-the-line access to ICE!, DreamWorks character meet-and-greets (and even wake-up calls), the ShrekFeast Interactive Character Meal, a DreamWorks welcome amenity, souvenir family photo and a "Rise of the Guardians"-themed scavenger hunt where kids will solve puzzles, crack codes and save the world!
All a'twinkle: the grand and gorgeous Gaylord Palms. — Photo courtesy of Gaylord Palms Resort
There's plenty of cocoa and marshmallows on hand to warm your hands along with your heart, or you can just go with another time-tested Orlando tradition: lose the coat, don your suit and warm up by the pool while your kids hit the slides at the Gaylord Palms' on-site water park.