The shaped, cut, illuminated and often colored ice takes over a large portion of the Gaylord Palms exhibition center as you walk through the chilly 9 degrees environment in the winter parkas provided by the Gaylord Palms. (Although the parkas are provided, close toed shoes are a must and warm jackets, sweaters and gloves/mittens are highly recommended so you can enjoy the experience.) To give you an idea of the size and scope of the attraction, it boasts 1,500 fluorescent tubing lights frozen within the ice and uses three different types of ice: clear "glass-like" crystal ice; white "snow-pack-like" ice and colored ice.
During your walking tour, you are literally surrounded with ice created sculptures depicting characters and scenes from the holiday season crafted into a series of themed areas. For example, “Victorian Fantasy” is an elaborately set dining room table scene made completely of ice, with no detail spared, including the family cat made of ice.
Another of the more memorable sculptures was the ice bridge. That's right, a bridge that is large enough to hold five to 10 ten people. You actually walk on and over the bridge, made again completely of ice.
The entire ICE attraction is carved by a team of 40 artisans from Harbin, China. If you are lucky, you will be able to see one of the artisans working on a sculpture during your tour. Harbin is best known for its annual Ice Park and International Ice Festival.
The tour of Ice begins with a very short five minute video that explains how the ICE show came to America and how it is assembled each year; what it takes to make these intricate creations and what it takes to preserve them in Florida's temperate climate.
Back to the actual tour, besides the opportunity to have their photo with a 10-foot tall ice sculpture Santa Claus, complete with red suit made of ice, the highlight for kids will be the slides made of ice. That's right, for youngsters, or the young at heart; ice has been crafted into a large ice slide. There is no sled required; you just glide down sitting on your parka. You can spend as much time as you want on the slides, but the 9 degree temperature will catch up to you very quickly.
Finally, the most dramatic and powerful ice sculpture is the crystal-clear life sized replica of the Nativity scene, which depicts the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger.
Note: Purchase tickets in advance, especially if attending on weekends, to avoid lengthy lines. Special ICE weekend packages are also available. Call 407.586.4423 for more information.