Shivering in 9-degree temperatures while sliding down slippery chutes of ice is every Florida kid’s winter dream.
The 15-year-old ICE! show at Gaylord Palms Resort makes it happen each winter in Central Florida, attracting nearly 1,000 visitors per hour at the peak of the holiday season.
“It’s incredible to see the sculptures and what they’ve created from blocks of ice,” said Ana Rodriguez, a Maitland resident who has bundled up her family to visit the show four times. “It’s not just sculptures, it’s an ice world, but it’s very pricy and very cold — even though they give you coats to wear.”
Ice tickets are $29.99 for adults and $16.99 for children under 12. Children three and under are free.
Artisan ice carvers from Harbin, China spend seven weeks at the Kissimmee hotel chipping, shaving and carving the ice into a Charlie Brown Christmas theme. Visitors can watch the team of 35 master carvers, ice builders, and apprentices use their talents to create art from giant blocks of ice at the Frostbite Factory.
The craftsmen practice the art of sculpting passed down from their ancestors and displayed each year at the Harbin Ice Festival, which features full-sized ice buildings and snow sculptures. The big difference is the ice, according to Xi Rui, head carver, who added it often takes dozens of blocks of ice to make a single sculpture.
“In the U.S., we use color ice — the application and connection of colors is the most complicated process, said Rui. “In Harbin, the ice is natural; we use a whole big block of ice for carving that turns out to be so clear and transparent, while in the U.S., we use man-made ice blocks.”
For an extra charge, visitors can zoom down the eight-lane Alpine Rush Snow Tubing hill or wait until nightfall when the tubing turns cosmic with LED lighting.
The show is open through Jan. 1. For details, go to marriott.com.