What to Know If You’re Going to Gaylord’s Ice

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This weekend we met some good friends at the Gaylord Texan and visited their annual Ice event! We’ve gone a few times over the years, and one thing that’s for certain is that Ice has certainly evolved and changed. It’s become a bigger and bigger event year over year. Although we live close to a Gaylord property, we do not go every year.  We pick and choose when we go based off the theme, and this year’s theme was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

When we first visited Ice eight years ago, it was just simply the Ice display. It has now become something you legitimately could spend an entire weekend at. Ice tickets can now be upgraded to include ice skating, snow tubing, photos with Santa, snowball throwing, a merry-go-round, Reindeer games, an escape room, making gingerbread houses, a character breakfast, or a story with Mrs. Claus. Here is what we learned from our experiences this weekend.

Breakfast with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

We selected the basic Ice tickets with the Breakfast with Rudolph (we always love a good character breakfast) and thought that would be plenty of activity, or we could add other options later if we wanted to. Our friends were staying at the hotel, but since we live so close, we opted to stay home and just visit the event for the day.

Breakfast with Rudolph
Breakfast with Rudolph

Our breakfast reservation was at 9:30, and we arrived at the hotel around 9:00. All traffic in for Ice is directed into one parking garage, then you’re directed toward the area where most of the day’s events occur. Unfortunately, this area is not where the breakfast is. We asked an attendant where to go for the breakfast, and she directed us towards the main lobby for them to tell us where to go.

If you’ve ever been to a Gaylord Property, you know that this can be quite the hike! After walking in circles around the atrium for a while, which is at least very nicely decorated, we finally arrived at the ballroom where breakfast was being held (15 minutes late).

Breakfast tickets ran $24.99 for kids and $39.99 for adults, which is expensive but pretty par for the course with their Easter breakfast reservations, and other special events. Because we had been to the Gaylord many times for Easter Breakfast, I had pretty high expectations for what we would get for the price, and came in a little disappointed. While the breakfast pretty good, it was not nearly to the scale in terms of variety and quality as their Easter breakfast. It did have waffles, plenty of bacon, and an omelet bar, so it covered all our favorites at least.

Bumble the Snow Monster

Rudolph and his girlfriend Clarice wander around the tables while you eat and take photos which thrilled the kiddos. We missed our picture opportunity with Clarice but we did get to see the Abominable Snow Monster, Bumble. He’s too big to walk around the tables so we were greeted by him by the door. The characters were a bit hit with the boys!

You Will be COLD!

The Ice exhibit is kept at 9 degrees, and while you are provided with a super fashionable, big blue parka, it’s definitely not enough to keep away the chill. The parkas have seen better days, and a couple of us in our group received ones that had buttons ripped off. I couldn’t imagine how cold we would be if we only had those. 

We all wore warm clothes & our winter coats under the parka, plus had gloves and were still shivering. 

Landry was soooooo cold!

I couldn’t believe how many families I saw getting in line with just pajamas on. It’s not the Polar Express people!!! If you’re going to Ice, be sure you have on layers, and lots of them! If you happen to get hot, you can take layers off, but you can’t add any if you don’t have them!

This is how you need to dress for Ice!

The Ice Exhibit

As I said, we pick and choose when we visit based on the theme for that year, and they love the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The exhibit takes you through a display for just about every scene in the movie!

Rudolph meets Hermey the Elf

It really is impressive how the Ice Sculptors really nailed every single detail of the characters and the scenes. 

Ice Bar Upgrade

About a third of the way through the story there is an Ice Bar! While you’re in line (more in lines in a minute) you have the opportunity to upgrade your ticket (many many upgrade options) to take advantage of the Ice Bar. We went ahead and added it. The experience was an additional $15 for the adults and included 2 samples of drinks and then one full sized drink.  The alcohol did help to warm us up just a bit! LOL!

The northern lights

You exit the bar and reach the northern lights scene, which happened to be the boys favorite! The love the Abominable Snow Monster! 

Once you make it past Bumble, you arrive at the Island of Misfit Toys, which is a big ice slide! This is where I realized I should have double layered their pants because Luke’s little tushy was cold and wet when he was finished sliding and we still had a ways to go before we could warm up! Once he felt the cold on his rear, he was done with Ice! But he did love the slide, lol!

Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Finally, the end shows Rudolph leading Santa’s Sleigh! Yeay! They sit on top of clear ice poles to make it look like they’re flying and it is a really cool effect! 

Ice Nativity

The final scene before you can finally step out into the warmth shows the true meaning of the season, the nativity. It is a breath taking scene in all clear ice on both sides with the Christ Child illuminated beautifully. 

All the Lines, Lines, Lines, Lines!

Until this year, I have never actually gone to Ice (or many other events for that matter) on a weekend. My previous work schedule had me working all weekend and off during two week days. Since it was next to impossible for me to take a weekend day off, we always planned as much as we could during the week. I have to think that has something to do with the ABSOLUTELY INSANE LINES but I’m also left to wonder if the addition of so many upgrade options just creates more confusion.

We stood in the Will-Call line just to get our Ice tickets, that had already been paid for, for well over an hour. Try getting 3 kids (my boys and our friends’ little girl) to behave that long. Our poor friends! They only have the one, angelic, sweet heart little girl, who is totally content with her doll. They just didn’t know what to do with themselves when the two boys just kept picking at each other, over and over and over again. If they were considering a #2, we changed their minds real fast in that line! 

I do have to note that the employee at the Will-Call line must have realized the ridiculousness of the wait, because before I could even say anything she offered us 4 free snow tubing passes. I couldn’t imagine being in her position that day! I always appreciate when someone in Customer Service takes the time to set a bad situation back onto the right track, because so many times you’re met with someone cranky and rude on the other end.

More lines mom? Seriously?

After finally getting our tickets, we found ourselves in another hour long line just to get into Ice. It actually became really funny. First there was the line to get into the holding area. At this point we noticed there was a Fast Pass line but we could not for the life of us figure out how you could get one of those! I’m a firm believer that Fast Passes are ALWAYS worth the upgrade when you have kids in the group!

We were corralled into a large, dark room where a guy told a bunch of cheesy, dad jokes, then showed the safety video. Then we left the holding area, and got into another line for the blue coats, again for the pictures, then AGAIN to actually get into Ice. 

Or main complaint, aside from the obvious, was that we all got really hot while we were in line! With that many bodies crammed into a small space, the temperature will naturally climb. The kids kept trying to take off their layers, and we kept fighting them to put them back on because we had no idea how long we actually would be standing there before we’d finally be in the cold area. The last thing we wanted to be doing was trying to wrap them back up at the entry and hold up the entire line behind us. 

Snow Tubing Hills

If I thought I was excited about the nice Customer Service lady giving us the snow tubing tickets in the moment, I was THRILLED when I noticed how they were conveniently placed where you could gaze at the while waiting in line to get into Ice. If I heard once, I heard 1000 from Luke “Mommy, can we go snow tubing???” If we hadn’t gotten the passes when we did, we would have had to go all the way back out to purchase and come all the way back into the Ice area. After standing in line for as long as we had, I really had no intention on hiking all over the hotel to buy more passes, but there was no way we were going to get to leave without tubing!

Snow Tubing. Photo Credit: Marriott

The price to add the tubing is $19.99 but, from what we could tell, the wrist band gets you multiple rides. Landry would not go, which meant it was just me and Luke, so back in line we went! 

Luke on the far right, me next to him, & our friend Jeff with Sadie on the Left.

One turn gets you the chance to tube down 3 separate hills. Luke, with no fear at all, ran up the stairs and was all the way down the first hill before I had put my tube down (why did he need me there again?).

I felt a little like Ralphie on Christmas Story when he went to visit Santa. The workers were not in the mood for me to lolly gag around. They grabbed the tube, told me to sit, and had pushed me down before I’d even had a chance to adjust how I was sitting! I went down every time backwards, which was not fun for me. If I were Luke’s age, it would be a blast to fly down a snow hill backwards, but I’m an old lady now! I cannot afford to not know where I’m headed at a high rate of speed. 

Upgrade “Opportunities” at Every Corner

Everywhere you look there is something else you can upgrade your ticket to. Ice dumps out into a gift shop and confectionery (we HAD to buy the hot cocoa because everyone was freezing). While you’re in line for Ice you see the snow tubes. Then from the snow tube lines there is a Snow Ball Toss and other Reindeer Games that can be paid for! 

Warming up with Cocoa while in line for the snow tubes.

There is absolutely nothing you can do in the Ice area for free which made me a little sad. I know of families who save all year to make this their Christmas Vacation, and while it’s a fun experience, just the little we did cost us well over $300! I can’t imagine how anyone makes a weekend of it without completely breaking the bank. 

Just my perspective, but if I’m hitting that $1000 mark or even higher, I’m looking to really get out of town, hit the All-Inclusive Bar in Mexico, or really go all out and pay for Disney World. But that’s just me!

Time to Welcome Santa

If you can afford the experience, Ice really is a fun way to welcome in the Christmas Season. It’s never going to be an every year thing for us, but every few years, it is fun to go see what the talented Ice Sculptors can do, and to play in the winter wonderland that they create. Next time, I’ll know to upgrade to the Fast Pass and budget for a few more activities like the snowball toss and a story with Mrs. Claus.

Have you ever visited a Gaylord Property at Christmas time or have a favorite experience like Ice? Let me know what you love to do! 

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