Monday, December 7, 2015

Sunshine State's Annual Winter Wonderland Getaway

As a native Floridian, it is not very often that I get to experience a white Christmas, but thanks to the
Gaylord Palms in Orlando, we get to drive about one hour to visit their annual winter wonderland known as ICE! And there is so much to see and do, that we always make it a two-night stay.

ICE! is a 9-degree, indoor holiday event.  It features a walkable attraction that with two million pounds of ice, four 2-story ice slides, six rooms depicting the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (this year’s theme), The Frostbite Factory with live carving zone, and a breath-taking Nativity scene carved from crystal clear ice.

Between my two brothers and I, we have six kids under the age of 7, and they all look forward to going to ICE! each year.  Our annual Gaylord Palms visit is highly anticipated not just because the kids love the ICE! experience, but they also love spending time together and ‘sleeping in a nice

Upon arrival, our first stop was breakfast with Mr. Claus at the Villa de Flora restaurant (voted Critic's Choice for Best Brunch by the Orlando Sentinel), which provides an incredible breakfast buffet, as well as visits from some of Santa’s top elves who visited our table.  We all ate until we could pop, and the kids all took turns on Mrs. Claus’ lap letting her know what they’d like for Christmas.

After we ate breakfast, we walked to the Convention side of the resort where most of the ICE!
festivities take place in the Alpine Village.  We had 11:00 AM reservations for the Gingerbread Decorating.  The kids (and adults) got into the holiday spirit decorating their gingerbread cookies, which then went straight into their bellies. We even enjoyed a visit from Gingy.

The Alpine Village also features an eight-lane tubing hill that’s fun for all ages and covered in REAL SNOW, visits and photos with Santa, hot chocolate and holiday shopping.  Other activities include the hotels Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt, which make strolling through the resort a ton of fun.

After cookie decorating, we made our way into ICE! with its various rooms filled with beautiful ice sculptures and several depicting scenes from the popular story ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The boys had a blast on the 2-story ice slides, and
we are always mesmerized by the talented ice carvers.  Next stop: hot chocolate and photos with Santa.

We ate an early dinner at the hotel’s revamped and renamed seafood restaurant, MOOR, which provides fresh seafood caught nearby for freshness and prepared just the way you like it.  The adults had a great meal, and the kids had fun eating dinner on the large ship placed inside the resort.

In the evening, we enjoyed Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Live Stage Show and the hotel’s amazing 54-foot Christmas tree with more than 2 million twinkle lights.  The 25-minute show features an array of seasonal characters brought to life in a dreamscape of imaginative costumes and creativity, while stunning feats of showmanship are unwrapped, performed on stage and in the air.

Many thanks to the Gaylord Palms Resort for their amazing hospitality and for providing a white
Christmas for those of us who call the Sunshine State home.  

We cannot wait to come back next year!

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