Jealous of my sister and her husband taking a 10-day cruise to the Bahamas and reeling a little from dealing with the whole of 2023, I desperately wanted to take a trip for Thanksgiving instead of slave over a hot stove. My 6-year-old had never seen snow and was begging us to take him somewhere he could throw a snowball. So, I did a little research, and we decided to travel south to visit the Gaylord ICE! in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms Resort.
Gaylord ICE! runs now through January 3, 2024, and its key attraction is a 9-degree walkthrough of carved and colored ice sculptures. This year’s theme featured the iconic characters from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
ICE! is just one of many attractions in Gaylord’s Alpine Village, where activities include snowball throwing, downhill snow tubing, gingerbread house decorating, and more.
Do I recommend it? Yes! With some caveats.
Overall, we liked it. The ICE! experience itself was incredible in its craftsmanship. Once you check in, you are given a parka and get to walk through the one-of-a-kind holiday experience. There are interactive displays, lots of great picture spots, and ice slides. My 6-year-old LOVED it.
However, 9 degrees is really cold. My youngest, who has experienced a low of 35 at most, did not love it and panicked the second the cold air hit his face. He and I ended up walking back out after a few seconds. Sobbing, he could only be comforted once he realized we were not going back in and that we were instead eating Cinnabon.
Everyone at ICE was so kind — I told the workers what had happened and they let me child swap with my husband and 6-year-old once they were done. I was a little disappointed that I had spent $37 on a ticket for a child who spent 0.5 seconds in the exhibit, but we later were given free buckets of snowballs for the snowball throwing so it worked out.
So, if your child is neurodivergent or you don’t know if they’ll like being cold, maybe skip a ticket for them for the ICE! portion. He loved the rest of the Alpine Village!
ICE! is pretty pricey, but depending on the day and time you go, and how many activities you want to do, there are discount codes and special offers. The Gaylord will let you bundle activities for 20% or 30% off. There are also discounts for first responders and military. I used the code for Marriott Bonvoy members, “BONVOY” for 20% off.
With the exception of ICE!, the only other ticket I pre-purchased was one ticket for my 6-year-old to go snow tubing. Since they have to be able to independently carry their tube and slide down on their own, it didn’t make sense to me to buy additional tickets since he was the only one sliding.
I was glad I didn’t pay for additional experiences, since after the snowball throwing both kids were ready to go eat lunch. We could have stayed there for a few more hours to complete all the activities and peruse the Snoopy gift shop. Food in the Alpine Village was limited to Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, and Christmas-themed cocktails that would have been very tempting if we weren’t there at 10 a.m.
Would I go again? Yes! Outside of the adorable Alpine Village, the Gaylord was decorated so festively. We stayed at a different hotel that had two-room suites so we could spread out and save a little money. But staying in one of the Atrium rooms at the Gaylord would be pretty awesome since you can see the light show from your room and balcony.
My tips: Bring a warm coat, hat, and gloves. Look at the list of activities ahead of time to see if you can bundle your must-see items. Aside from ICE!, tickets for individual activities were not sold out and could easily have been purchased there. If you can swing a stay at the resort itself, it would definitely be worth it to spend time doing all of the many activities!
Have you ever been to Gaylord ICE! — if so, what tips do you have for the rest of us?