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Winter Wonderland in Orlando

ICE! at Gaylord Palms is a Must-See Holiday Experience 

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During the holiday season, Orlando offers a different kind of Winter Wonderland that transports visitors to a frozen world cocooned inside the Gaylord Palms hotel, in Kississimme, Florida. The annual ICE! exhibit brings ice carvers from the city of Harbin in Northeast China to sculpt more than 2 million pounds of ice into whimsical designs, each year set to a different theme.

Each year, the final scene at ICE! depicts a glowing nativity scene.
Each year, the final scene at ICE! depicts a glowing nativity scene.

Our yearly visit to ICE! is a family tradition in my household that began more than ten years ago when the exhibit first came to the Gaylord Palms. My children were ages 4 and 7 during our first visit.

My family appearing in a 2012 commercial for ICE! Gaylord Palms. (Over the years we've often worked doing TV and print commercials for Orlando area resorts and attractions.) Although this particular visit was "work," we've attended every ICE! exhibit since it began more than 10 years ago.
My family appearing in a 2012 commercial for ICE! Gaylord Palms. (Over the years we’ve often worked doing TV and print commercials for Orlando area resorts and attractions.) Although this particular visit was “work,” we’ve attended every ICE! exhibit since it began more than 10 years ago.

We were mesmerized by this frozen world where the temperature is a constant 9 degrees, while just outside, temperatures hovered in the 70s, a typical Florida Fall.  ICE! was a foreign land, an exotic place and my children were spellbound. 

Ralphie dressed in his pink bunny pjs in the scene "Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare" from the movie, A Christmas Story
Ralphie dressed in his pink bunny pjs in the scene “Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare” from the movie, A Christmas Story

In 2018 ICE! is back at Gaylord Palms featuring vignettes from the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story. Before you head in, the event provides each visitor with a warm blue parka that you return upon exiting. 

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The ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole scene from the movie, A Christmas Story at ICE!
The ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole scene from the movie, A Christmas Story at ICE!

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The holiday movie has an almost cult following thanks to nearly three generations who have grown up watching it, including the 24-hour Christmas day marathon showing.

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My family can recite almost every scene of this beloved holiday film, many which come to life through iconic scenes. 

The Old Man’s Major Award scene in the movie, A Christmas Story at ICE!
The Old Man’s Major Award scene in the movie, A Christmas Story at ICE!

 

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Each time we visit ICE! and I watch the ice carvers at work, I wonder how they can take the 9-degree temperatures, working for hours in those conditions.

 

I learned from Gaylord Palms that the ice carvers are right at home in this frozen world because temperatures in Harbin, which is next to Siberia, stay below freezing for half the year, averaging only two degrees and sometimes plummeting to -36 degrees.

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Each year, the ice carvers construct an ice slide in its own room for visitors to enjoy. This ice slide recreates the scene in A Christmas Story where Santa pushes Ralphie down the slide with his foot as the laughing elf looks on.

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For more colorful ice sculptures, here’s a look at 2017 theme of ICE! Christmas Around the World:

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ICE! runs through January 6, 2019

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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