It’s no secret that A Christmas Story is my #1 most favorite Christmas movie of all time. We watch the movie every year (usually more than once), we’ve been to A Christmas Story House in Cleveland (where they filmed a lot of the outdoor scenes), we have a Christmas tree dedicated to only A Christmas Story ornaments and I even have every single piece that Department 56 ever made for their A Christmas Story village. So when I found out that the theme this year for ICE! at the Gaylord Palms was A Christmas Story, I was more than a little excited.
ICE!’s opening day was November 16th and Joe was scheduled to be off from work (HAPPY DANCE!), so we went. Here’s what we saw…
But first, some background…
What is ICE!?
Starting in 2001, ICE! began as an annual themed attraction at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN. The version at Gaylord Palms, in Kissimmee, FL, debuted in 2003. The attraction, which is made almost entirely out of ice (literally tons of it), is carved by a team of 40 artisans from Harbin, China. The talented artists spend nearly an entire month in Kissimmee creating this one-of-a-kind attraction, the theme of which changes annually. Harbin is best known for its annual International Ice and Snow Festival. Each year more than 2,000 sculptors carve a 100-acre walk-through Ice Park from blocks of ice taken from the Songhua River.
What is A Christmas Story?
A Christmas Story is a 1983 film presented in a series of vignettes, with narration provided by the adult Ralphie Parker reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. Ralphie wanted only one thing for that Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.” A seasonal classic in North America, it is shown numerous times on television, usually on the networks owned by the Turner Broadcasting System. Since 1997, a marathon of the film titled “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” has aired annually on TNT and/or TBS, comprising twelve consecutive airings of the film on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each year.
The annual ICE! exhibit is housed in the convention center of the Gaylord Palms, along with some large tents they set up annually.
We had gotten our tickets through Groupon because they are historically the cheapest discount tickets to see ICE! and were certainly MUCH less than the nearly $30 per person they charge on their own website. Parking was another $22; we grumble about that every single year, but there is NOWHERE else in that area to park and walk over (not that we condone such behavior, of course. Just sayin’…)
Because it was the first day and we got there so early (around 12:30ish – the attraction opened at 10am), ours were some of the first Groupons they had to deal with at Will Call and they didn’t seem super sure of what to do…but they eventually figured it out.
Once it was decided our Groupons were good for admission ;-), a Gaylord Palms worker escorted us to the next step (they weren’t busy yet – I don’t suspect this will be the norm), so we could get our coats. ICE! issues you a parka to go through the exhibit because it’s kept at a steady 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius). But I hate, HATE, HATE the cold, so I came prepared wearing long johns and had a hat and gloves ready. Joe just wore gloves (and eventually got cold).
And then we were inside!
The exhibit was amazing – they had about a dozen or so scenes from the movie, made almost entirely of ice! Take a look…
The attraction has an ice slide every year but this year they designed it to look like the slide Randy and Ralphie went down, after meeting Santa at Higbee’s.
Most of ICE!’s themes have been pretty generic…The Nutcracker, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, etc. ICE! has only recently started to feature themes from Christmas shows and movies – for example, they did A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2016, Frosty The Snowman in 2013 and Shrek The Halls in 2011. This was the first year they did a theme based on a live action movie, which, in turn, meant there needed to be significantly more attention to detail to emulate what happened in the film. Let me tell you – these designers and artisans did NOT disappoint. From plaid on jackets to scarfs blowing in the wind to the turkey the Bumpus’ dogs stole (spoiler – the turkey wasn’t made of ice), everywhere you turned, there were minute details where you saw them and just smiled.
We went through the exhibit twice – once to take pictures and once to study every little thing, like you would at a museum. By the time we were done, even with the coats and gloves and hats and long underwear, we were cold. Like, really, REALLY COLD! I’d say that’s my biggest “complaint” about ICE! – it’s FREEZING in there! Which, I know, is the point LOLOL! But 9 degrees…UGH, that’s SO FRICKIN’ COLD!
Once done, we dropped off our coats and, after being offered a $40 photo package (no thanks), we walked around to see the ICE!, A Christmas Story, and general Christmas merchandise they were selling. There was also a booth to get Cinnabons, hot chocolate, etc.
Gaylord Palms also has some pay-as-you-go attractions, such as snow tubing, meet and greets with Santa, a special breakfast with Mrs. Claus, etc. We normally don’t do any of those and this year was no exception.
But the A Christmas Story exhibit? It was stellar. Top notch. Two thumbs up. And we DEFINITELY recommend it. But get the 40% off Groupon for it. And dress warmly. Very, very warmly.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary