I received a hotel stay and complimentary tickets to ICE for the purpose of review, but all words and opinions are my own.
Stepping into the grand atrium of the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL. is like stepping into another world. One that is teaming with jungle foliage, hidden Koi ponds, remnants of stone forts, alligator breeding grounds and crystal clear Caribbean waters. Gaylord Palms has succeeded in blending the old charm of St. Augustine, the colorful atmosphere of Key West and the mysterious beauty of the Everglades seamlessly into one breathtaking area of wonder for guest to explore. This time of year, the Gaylord Palms Resort comes alive with more than just the bounty Florida has to offer though, it bursts into a winter wonderland with millions of twinkling lights, a sky scraping Christmas tree, thrilling live stage shows and one of the most spectacular displays of ice you will ever see.
The boys and I had the pleasure of spending two nights at Gaylord Palms to ring in our Christmas season this week, and I can tell you it was not nearly long enough to explore all of the incredible holiday offerings they have, let alone the gorgeous resort itself. There was a bit of a delay with out check-in time and the resort can be a maze to navigate through, but all of that was a blessing in disguise. Gaylord Palms is a resort you want to get lost in, otherwise, you may never get to see all they have to offer.
The boys spent hours wandering through the atrium, gazing adventurously at the alligators, spying the enormous fish in crystal clear waters of the Key West area and taking in the spectacular Luminescence live stage show. From the moment that grand Christmas tree lit up, we were hooked on the holiday wonder that the Gaylord Palms has to offer.
As with the rest of the resort, our room did not disappoint. Modernly furnished with Florida touches here and there, the pillow top beds were comfortable, the fridge with complementary water was convenient, and the view from the balcony could not have been more perfect. We had an atrium view room, which meant that we could take in as little or as much of the live holiday stage shows or people watching in the atrium as we wanted from the comfort of our room.
Holiday Festivities at Gaylord Palms
If you plan a trip to Gaylord Palms during the holidays, make sure that you leave plenty of room in your schedule for the festivities the resort itself offers. With its eight dining options, family water park and myriad of holiday festivities, the resort is a vacation destination in itself.
Perhaps one of the most popular holiday attractions in the Orlando area, ICE is an amazing artistic display of ice sculptures. It takes 40 professional ice sculpting artisans from Harbin, China nearly a month of working rotating 12 hours shifts to transform more than 2 million pounds of ice into the display seen at Gaylord Palms. This year’s theme was Frosty the Snowman, and I was hit with waves of nostalgia as we walked through displays in the 8 degree temperatures, met with scenes I had watched as a young girl and now with my children on TV. The skill that goes into a production like this is remarkable, and is definitely something you need to see in person to appreciate.
I had to drag the boys off of the four ice slides within the exhibit when my toes started to freeze. No matter how warm the Florida weather is, do dress warmly for ICE. They will give you a warm parka at the beginning to wear, but your legs, feet, hands and even face need a little protection too. The Frostbite Factory where you can watch the artisians in action is new to ICE this year, and is the only area where children are allowed to touch some of the carved ice creations. End your journey through ICE with the enchantment of a crystal clear ice nativity scene, and I dare you not to be in the holiday spirit as you exit and pick yourself up a cup of steaming hot cocoa!
What can match the sweetness of the scenes in the ICE exhibit? Decorating your own gingerbread snowmen or houses at Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating station can of course. The boys had a fantastic time creating their own gingerbread snowmen and interacting with none other than Gingy himself, who was a delight even if he did try to steal our icing a time or two.
The holiday fun doesn’t stop there though, in addition to the live shows happening on the stage in the atrium, you can wander over and have your picture taken with Santa in Holiday Hall, go on a Reindeer Roundup Scavenger Hunt around the resort and be sure to dine with Shrek and Fiona at ShrekFeast from 8-10:30 am on Saturday and Sunday mornings. All of this in addition to the regular year-long activities make Gaylord Palms the best place to stay in the Orlando area when you want to ring in the holiday season with your family.
Visit the Gaylord Palms website for current availability and pricing. Holiday festivities are available until January 5th, 2014, so there is still plenty of time to find your holiday spirit and celebrate at this first class resort!