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ICE - Gaylord Palms (Seasonal Exhibition)
2008 is the sixth year of the ICE exhibition at the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando and its biggest to date. This is also our first visit to the exhibition. The exhibition is a walk-through celebration of ice carvings, and this year included nearly two million pounds of ice. The carving is expertly done by a team of some thirty artists, who have been coming from China to create this exhibition each year.
To organise going to ICE, a little pre-planning would be recommended. You can either call in advance, or book online through the hotel’s website. There is a discount for advanced bookings and tickets are cheaper Monday through Thursday. When booking you choose an hour long slot in which you can arrive, and in the online booking system you can also get an indication as to how busy each slot is. There may be discounts available, for example, if you have an annual pass for any of the parks you can receive a discount off of the adult ticket price (50%! ! ).
When you arrive at the hotel, there is another queue to wait in while for entry. At our visit we queued for 45 minutes to get in, so please be prepared. It is also well worth remembering that the whole exhibition is kept at a very chilly 9 degrees Fahrenheit / -12 degrees Celsius; so please bring appropriate clothing. You will receive a long parka to wear, which keeps you warm, but gloves, long trousers, socks and closed shoes are definitely recommended.
When you get in to the exhibition you will be totally amazed at the beauty and detail in the ice sculptures. As you move from room to room, each room has a different feel and atmosphere due to the theme in the room. Some a colourful and whimsical, some are very elegant and arty, all are beautiful. Who would have thought that frozen water could be so amazing, not me!
The climax of the exhibition is the ice slide. Themed around Santa’s Reindeer, this slide has four different options with different levels for young and not so young, there is a lot of icy, slipping and sliding fun to be had in this room.
After walking through ICE you are glad that this exhibition is set in Florida, as the bits of you exposed to the temperature definitely get chilly. We then wandered through to the atrium of the Gaylord Palms hotel, where there is an ongoing series of Christmas events and a selection of restaurants and shops. This is quite a spectacular hotel, so well worth a visit while you are there, and not just for the complimentary warm cocoa!
I have to admit to being quite surprised by how spectacular this exhibit is and how much we enjoyed it. Well worth a visit, if you are there at the right time.
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