Imagine finding a winter wonderland smack dab in the heart of Texas — ice slides, snow tubing, ice skating, snowball throwing — the works. Sounds too good to be true, right? Nope! The ICE! exhibit at Gaylord Texan has all that and more!
Visiting ICE! at the Gaylord Texan had been on our family’s travel wishlist for years so we were super happy to have the chance to go! If you’ve never been, no worries — we’ve done all the recognizance for you. Here is everything you need to know about ICE! at the Gaylord Texan.
[Sidenote: it took everything in me not to start this post with Vanilla Ice lyrics. Like everything. Also, our tickets to the ICE! exhibit were graciously provided by Marriott but all opinions are, of course, my own.]
WHAT IS ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN?
With 2 million pounds of ice, 5 ice slides, a life sized nativity scene, 2 million pounds of snow, and a 6,000 square foot ice skating rink, ICE! is a walk through Christmas themed exhibit in the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX that runs from early November to January 1st. It part of the Gaylord Texan’s larger event called the Lone Star Christmas. Every year a classic Christmas story is selected and then narrated through elaborately designed ice sculptures.
- 2018: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
- 2017: Twas the Night Before Christmas
- 2016: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
You walk through the attraction being serenaded with jovial Christmas music while seeing the stories come to life through the sculptures. Each part of the exhibit is like a page in the book so you go from sculpture to sculpture following the tale.
You’ve probably already guessed this by now but KIDS LOVE ICE! What’s not to love about a frozen wonderland filled with a larger than life [for a kid anyway] statues made of ice that they can reach out to touch? Not to mention the extra effort put into keeping everything light, bright and happy.
But the surprise [for me anyway] was that I loved it too! I would have happily gone back without the kiddos but I’m glad we all got the chance to experience it together.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO AT ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN?
So what is there to do at ICE at the Gaylord Texan? Short answer: PLENTY. For the long answer, going to employ a handy dandy list.
- Walk through the Christmas story featuring 2 million pounds of colorful ice sculptures.
- Slide down one [or two] of five 2-story ice slides [there’s also a smaller one for the younger kiddos].
- Pose with Baby Jesus and crew at the life sized Nativity scene made entirely of clear ice.
- Snow tube down a 12 lane tubing hill covered in real snow.
- Channel your inner winter Olympian at the 6,000 square foot ice skating rink.
- Decorate your very own gingerbread house and meet the Gingerbread man.
- Eat a delicious buffet breakfast with Rudolph and the abominable snowman while playing Christmas games and singing to your favorite Christmas songs.
- Engage in a [safe, family friendly] snow ball fight at the snow throw created by Santa’s elves.
- Listen to stories and songs from none other than Mrs. Clause herself all while enjoying cookies and milk.
- Build a new friend at the one of a kind Build a Bear Workshop booth.
- Meet Santa, tell him your wish list [hope you’ve been nice!], and take a photo to mark the occasion.
- Engage in a top secret mission with Santa’s elves to solve their puzzles and escape the room.
- Sip a cold adult [alcoholic] beverage in a bar made of ice.
- Peruse the gift shop for exclusive ICE! souvenirs including everything from shirts to Christmas ornaments.
HOW MUCH DOES ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN COST?
The Gaylord provides a variety of different packages with everything from just basic admission to a “Stay and Play” package. General admission starts at $29.99 for adults [$17.99 for kids 4-11], peak days start at $32.99 for adults [$19.99 for kids 4-11], and value days are as low as $22.99 for adults [$13.99 for kids 4-11]. Kids 3 and under are free [YAY for free!].
Fast passes, hotel stays, additional Christmas activities, and other purchases are extra. You can get a detailed breakdown of the combos available and purchase your tickets here.
Don’t forget parking! Parking for ICE! is $15.
If you’re looking to save money on tickets to Gaylord Texan ICE! also check Groupon and LivingSocial.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN?
Yes, everything is made of real ice and yes, it is really cold in there so dress appropriately! For the safety of the sculptures, the entire attraction is kept at a bone chilling 9 degrees. I wish I could tell you that you’ll be having so much fun that you nor the kiddos will notice the cold. But no such luck! It’s cold and if you’re unprepared you will feel it.
An insulated parka is given to guests free of charge before entering ICE! They offer a pretty wide variety of sizes with sizes from about 2T to an adult 5X. If you or your kids are beyond that range, bring your own jacket!
Gloves for your hands, thick socks for your feet, a warm hat for your head and a scarf for your neck and mouth are also a must bring. Just trust me on this. If you have thermal underwear, wear those too. Layers, layers, and more layers. You can always peel those off as needed after the attractions but you will appreciate having them while you’re inside.
HOW LONG DOES ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN TAKE?
The answer for this varies widely. We visited on New Year’s Eve [the day before the last day] around 2:45 PM and the line was wrapped all the way down the exhibit hall. It was at least a 2 hour wait. But I’ve also heard of others getting in with hardly any wait [10-15 minutes]. It will vary depending on the day you visit and the time but generally speaking, earlier in the season and earlier in the morning means less of a wait.
Parking is across the resort as well and requires a shuttle to the attraction so factor that into your time.
If you don’t want to chance it all, there are two ways to get faster access:
- Stay at the Gaylord Texan – guests of the hotel have access to a shorter line that bypasses the first part of the line. You still queue to enter the actual exhibit.
- Purchase a Fast Pass – HIGHLY recommend this. It allowed us to skip all portions of the line and go directly to the door of the exhibit itself. There was literally no wait at all. [Check out the video at the bottom of the post to see the fast pass in action.]
Once you’re inside, the ICE! attraction itself takes 15-30 minutes depending on your pace [and how many pictures you stop to take]. It’s the perfect length of time to engage the kids without causing them to get listless.
Immediately following the exhibit is a small food court with snacks, treats, hot cocoa, and other refreshments for the family. There is also a station to pick up and purchase your group portrait, a gift shop [that is 75% off the last few days of the season], and all of the snow tubing, snow throwing, etc. activities.
Overall, if you participate in all activities it should take about 1-2 hours.
IS ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN HANDICAPPABLE FRIENDLY/ACCESSIBLE?
YES! The slides require climbing stairs [and I believe same with the snow tubing] so are not accessible but the rest of the exhibit is. Extra jackets are given to those in wheelchairs to help cover their legs and protect them from the cold. The cold temperatures can be killer for batteries on electronic wheelchairs and scooters though. Thankfully, the Gaylord will provide manual wheelchairs if needed free of charge.
Parking for the event is halfway across the resort so please be mindful of the distance. If you need closer parking, inquire with the hotel about options or utilize valet parking [$42] at the front of the hotel.
CAN YOU SHOW US AROUND ICE! AT THE GAYLORD TEXAN?
Abso-tooting-lutely! A picture is worth a thousand words but a video is worth even more. Hit play below for a video tour of our experience at ICE! at the Gaylord Texan.
Have you been to the ICE! at the Gaylord Texan? Leave a comment below!
Lastly, Ice, ice, baby! Too cold! Too cold!
[Sorry, couldn’t help myself :)]