Seeing it all last year, I nearly passed out from glee. Steve, not so much. As I tried to catch the “snowflakes” in my mouth, he yanked me back.
“Don’t eat that,” he said. “I think it’s some kind of foam.”
To entice Steve back this year, I shelled out $41.80 each ($36, plus taxes and fees, plus $15 for parking) to see the hotel’s main attraction, “Ice!” — 15,000 square feet of giant ice sculptures and slides. (“Ice!” is open every day until Jan. 1, except Dec. 5-7.) Our friend Tori and her daughters, Colette, 8, and Lexi, 1, met us there.
The entrance to “Ice!” is in the hotel’s new Christmas Village — basically an exhibit hall draped with red curtains. At the center is a small carousel ($5 a ride), and around the edges are stations where you can have milk and cookies with Mrs. Claus ($20 for one adult and a child), build gingerbread houses (for $30-$40) or customize a Build-A-Bear stuffed animal ($12 and up).
We were on a tight schedule — Lexi’s naptime is noon sharp — so we beelined for “Ice!” We skipped the introductory movie and tried to avoid the counter where employees were handing out giant blue parkas. “Sorry, they’re required,” a woman said. We obediently slid them on top of our already bulky winter attire and waddled onward, like a family of obese penguins.
As we headed to the tent where “Ice!” is staged, I tried to impress Steve with fun facts. “The tent is kept at 9 degrees to keep the ice from melting,” I said. “They truck in 2 million pounds of ice from Ohio, and it’s carved by artisans who flew in from China.”
“I hope they also buy carbon offsets,” said Steve, the Al Gore to my Al Roker.
When we entered the tent, we were hit with a wall of cold air and a cacophony of Christmas music. Each section of the attraction has its own soundtrack, but since ice is not soundproof, you can hear upward of five songs simultaneously.
“I think that’s a calypso version of ‘Silver Bells,’ ” I said, picking up on a song coming from the next room. I moved toward the music’s source and found an area filled with little stages showing how people from different countries celebrate Christmas. In the Netherlands, apparently it’s traditional to fill your (ice) shoes with (giant, frozen) carrots. In Ethiopia, Christmas is Jan. 7 and presents aren’t a big part of the holiday. Then, there’s us. “In the United States, Christmas is a festive time of shopping …,” a tombstone-shaped sign declared.
“Let’s go to the ice slides before the line gets too long,” Tori said, pulling me away. But there were only a few other people on the slides, and we soon found out why: Even though they are made of ice, they aren’t slippery. If you push off and sit on your parka, you might make it to the bottom. Colette didn’t get a good start, so she had to scoot down her slide a foot at a time.
“Do you want to go again?” I said. “Nah,” Colette answered. “Come take my picture,” she said, striking a pose in the next room, which featured ice sculptures of international children.
She’s a bright kid, so she had quickly figured out the real purpose of “Ice!”: photo ops. Unfortunately, I was only able to snap a few shots before the cold knocked out my phone battery.
We’d been in the exhibit for 30 minutes and we were pretty chilled ourselves, so we decided to leave. As we returned our parkas, Steve said that “Ice!” was a disappointment, and I reluctantly agreed. The main problem, according to Colette, is there’s nothing for kids to do besides pose for pictures. And the sculptures, though impressively large and impeccably made, aren’t all that interesting to look at.
We had a lot more fun afterward in the Christmas Village, riding the carousel, drinking hot chocolate and browsing the Build-A-Bear kiosk. We didn’t stay for the indoor snowfall and fountain show — Lexi’s nap time is ironclad — but I hope to make it back this season, ideally with some children in tow, though perhaps not with my husband.
More reviews from the Staycationer