Chill Out for the Holidays at the Gaylord Palms

When it comes to the winter holidays (particularly Christmas), many of the hotels in Orlando, Florida go all out. The Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee is no exception. The hotel itself is decked out all over with classic white lights decorating the exterior of the hotel and Christmas decorations throughout the lobby and some of the lower level hallways. In the main atrium area of the hotel, they set up a stage and do live shows at 2PM and 6PM. (This year it’s a brand new show called Cirque Dreams Unwrapped that’s absolutely amazing… if you are able to get a good view of the stage, that is.) They also feature a Grand Snowfall and the Christmas Tree Lighting in the atrium area of the hotel.

Gaylord Palms’ big holiday event is ICE! (yes, all caps with an exclamation point.) For many Floridians, this is as close as we get to winter. There are ice sculptures, snow-tubing, ice slides, and even an opportunity to visit with Santa Claus!

How to Snow Tube
Yes, they have to teach Floridian kids how to snow tube.

The ice slides are a must. They are so much fun! These are included with admission, so make sure you take advantage of it. When going down the slides, lift your feet to make yourself slide nearly on your back and make sure you just have the jacket provided to you underneath you – your normal clothing WILL slow you down.

Ice Slides

The ice sculptures are always marvelous. I am amazed every year by some of the designs they are able to make! They have a new theme every year; this year’s theme is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

'Twas the Night Before Christmas Ice Chimney SANTA! I KNOW HIM!

Sleeping kid
Seriously, how is it possible that someone can do such amazing things with just ice? I can barely color within the lines in a kids coloring book.

Things you should know before visiting: It’s EXTREMELY cold at ICE! Even coming from up north, I never feel prepared when I walk into that 9 degree room (or in this case – 5 degree room.) Make sure you wear appropriate footwear (no sandals or flip flops!), a hat, gloves, and a scarf. The Gaylord Palms provides jackets as well, but they are a little worn and work best if you have your own warmer clothing on underneath.

imageAlso, be aware that your smartphone is not designed for these temperatures. If you don’t keep your phone warm, it will freeze up about halfway through the experience. (LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!) It took about 45 minutes to an hour after leaving before I could get my phone to turn on. My phone kept flashing the low battery sign when I tried to turn it on before that. When it finally came on, it said I had 52% battery when I started the experience at 79%. They warn you ahead of time but I thought putting it between my gloved hands or in my pockets beneath all of the layers would be enough (it wasn’t.) Melissa put hers under her arm though and that seemed to work well.

Keep an eye on Groupon for ticket specials. ICE! is pricey (and understandably so – I’m sure the operating budget on the event is through the roof.) However, I’m a girl on a budget. While I enjoy going, I’m not sure I would go if I had to pay the full cost for the event. Sometimes you can find discount tickets online in various places such as Groupon or Living Social. Make sure to factor in parking when you’re making your budget for the event – it’s $20 to park at the hotel and there aren’t any free/cheap places to park within walking distance.

Feeling brave? Try their annual polar bear plunge event! Go through the exhibit in your bathing suit, enjoy some tasty drinks, and raise money for charity all at the same time! This event takes place once a year and is often announced last minute, so keep an eye on the hotel’s Facebook page or ticket sales page for further details throughout the winter holiday season.

Heather doing Gaylord's Polar Bear Plunge in 2011
They have you do warm-ups ahead of time so you don’t feel the cold as much as you would normally. I was more comfortable doing this at the Polar Bear Plunge in my swimsuit than I was the normal way in my full winter wear! Plus they let you go back through afterwards in your winter clothing just in case you get too cold in your bathing suit and don’t get to fully experience the event.

ICE! takes place at the Gaylord Palms hotel in Kissimmee, Florida every November and December. The last day to enjoy the attraction for this year is January 3rd. For further information, check out the website and Christmas Calendar of Events.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s