Kristen Manieri is travel and lifestyle writer living in Orlando, FL with her husband and two little girls. Her work has appeared in such publications as Air Tran’s GO Magazine, Dreamscapes, Florida Guides, Costco Connection and Orlando Magazine. Living in the Sunshine State has given Kristen endless adventures and writing material as she’s explored Florida from Amelia Island all the way down to Key West.

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ICE! Returns to Gaylord Palms

IMG_9698Every family has their holiday traditions. For some it might be seeing The Nutcracker. For others it’s a visit to Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest. But for us, it’s Christmas at Gaylord Palms. Let me paint the scene.

We wander through every inch of this sprawling Kissimmee resort now decked out in holiday décor and set aglow with more than 2 million twinkling lights. A 54-foot Christmas tree sits at the center of Gaylord’s 4-acre atrium and at its foot stands a stage where singers and aerialists put on live holiday shows a few times each day.

We snag our clues for The Great Reindeer Roundup from the concierge desk and use them to help us find the 10 elusive reindeer hidden throughout the hotel’s atrium.

IMG_9606Then of course there’s ICE!, the frozen attraction that descends on Gaylord’s Holiday Hall with more than 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice. Even bundled in the blue parkas provided we still shiver as we walk through the icy story of Frosty the Snowman, retold through the colorful ice sculptures that are perfectly frozen in place thanks to the 9-degree temperatures inside.

Afterward, we sip hot cocoa, whisper our Christmas wish lists into Santa’s ear, and head over to Gingy’s house to decorate a gingerbread house. For us, this visit is our official kick-off to the holiday season. Give it a try; maybe it could be yours too.

Planning Your Visit

  • Christmas at Gaylord Palms takes place from November 23, 2013 – January 5, 2014. A schedule of events and access to the ICE! attraction can be found here.
  • You can pre-purchase and print your ICE! tickets online ($14.99 for kids 4-12, $28.99 for adults, kids three and under are free) ahead of time, which not only saves you a few bucks but also time spent in the long ticket long onsite.
  • Florida Residents can save up to $4 per ticket when you enter Promotional Code FLR13.
  • Tickets to Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating ($14.95-$29.95) can also be pre-purchased online.
  • Self-parking at Gaylord during the holidays is $18 and valet parking is $24 per day.
  • For those families considering a staying at the hotel, Gaylord is offering overnight packages including ICE! tickets starting at $229/night.
  • Gaylord is also offering a bevy of holiday dining offerings including ShrekFeast, a bunch attended by Shrek, Princess Fiona and Puss in Boots. This buffet style spread is served on Saturday and Sunday mornings (8am – 10am) at Villa de Flora. Price is $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids 4-12.
  • The live shows, Reindeer Roundup, Santa visits are all free.

Character meet and greets during ShrekFeast might make finishing your meal a little difficult. LOL


This year’s live shows are the best I’ve ever seen. Your brood will be mesmerized.


Frosty the Snowman is this year’s ICE! theme but the ice slides are truly the real highlight for kids.


Gingerbread decorating with Gingy is a fun way to spend an hour warming up after ICE!.


More than 2 million twinkling lights set the atrium aglow. This scene alone is worth a visit.

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