Photos & Article by: Kelsey Walters
While the weather outside may not be frightful this winter here in Florida, it sure is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee.
The Gaylord Palms has long been known for celebrating the holidays in a big way each year, but this year is especially exciting as ICE! makes its big comeback. Talented ice carving artists travel from overseas to create stunning crafted displays, but have been unable to return since the winter of 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This year, ICE! is back featuring a beloved holiday classic – “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The Dr. Seuss seasonal tale is presented in over two million pounds of hand-carved colorful ice. The 20,000-square-foot walk-through experience guides you through the titular Grinch’s attempt to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville – all in a frosty 9 degree atmosphere.
Don’t fret if you don’t have your winter wear prepared (we Floridians don’t tend to have snowsuits at the ready). The resort provides warm parkas to bundle up in and brave the cold. You should still dress in warm layers, including long pants and sweaters or jackets. Hats and gloves are definitely advised as well. You won’t be allowed to touch the ice, except for one spot upon entering, but your frozen fingertips will thank you later.
Most people spend between 20 and 40 minutes walking through the scenes, exploring giant igloos and taking advantage of plenty of photo stops along the way. We stayed in for just over an hour, as Avery didn’t want to leave the fan-favorite famous ice slide with the Grinch and his trusty sidekick, Max, soaring overhead from Mount Crumpit with a sleigh full of loot.
She got in line to go down a total of 10 times, until she couldn’t feel her nose and rosy red cheeks any longer. The slide is included in admission and available for kids and adults of all ages to zip down, including a smaller kid version for those under 40 inches. There are no time limits for the experience, and as long as you stay within the “cold zone” you can explore as long as you please.
At the end of the walk-through you’ll find the Grinch, after his heart has grown three sizes with holiday cheer, feasting on roast beast with the Whos at Christmas dinner. You’ll also have the chance to watch some ice carving live. The master carvers travel over 7,000 miles to the resort from Harbin, China and work tirelessly over several weeks to build the enormous ice scenes.
If you have visited ICE! in years past, keep in mind that the resort chooses from a rotation of holiday classics to feature each year, so you may just find something new. While the biting cold wonderland of Whoville is the centerpiece of the Gaylord Palms’ holiday celebration, there is still plenty more to do during your visit to the resort’s Alpine Village. Decorate gingerbread cookies in the Alpine Sweet Shop, enroll in Elf Training Academy or meet Santa and Mrs. Claus.
If you just can’t get enough of the winter weather, try out the Snow Factory. In this chilly wonderland, you can slip and slide down Snow Flow Mountain or try your hand at Snowball Build and Blast. If you time your visit to Gaylord accordingly, the resort’s atrium is filled with millions of dazzling lights for evening light shows, plus other theatrical seasonal performances and events. There are also acres of festive decorations and upscale dining options on-site, plus snacks, drinks and a bar available in the Alpine Village.
Additional fees apply for activities, but packages are available to bundle and save if you plan to experience it all. If you can’t make it out of town to see real snow and ice this year, let Gaylord Palms do it for you and have a holly, jolly Christmas right here in Florida!
ICE! AT GAYLORD PALMS
6000 W Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee 34746
Tickets available daily from 10 a.m. – 7:45 p.m. now through January 1, 2023
Adults: $29.99 – $39.99; Children 4 – 11: $19.99 – $26.99
(pricing dependent on peak times) $30 parking fee
Packages including shows, activities and snow experiences available online.