ICE! Is The Most Thrilling Experience Ever

Hey Cuties,

A few days before Christmas we went to visit ICE at the Gaylord in the National Harbor. We went the very first time they came to town. The Manchild was little and LittleCuteLips wasn’t even thought of. It is a very pricey experience which is part of the reason we hadn’t gone back.  LittleCuteLips came home with a free ticket from school and so I decided we would all go. We invited her Harmony and her Mom to join us.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

ICE! is Gaylord’s signature holiday attraction and every year they have a new theme. This years theme was the most beloved holiday tale Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brought to life in this walk-through winter wonderland.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

We took a group picture before going in, they offer a cool one with a green screen background for like $30. Nope, no thank you.  We were bundled up, I’m talking layers of clothing + ski pants.  They keep it a freezing 9 degrees.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

They used over two million pounds of ice sculptures hand-carved by 35 artisans from Harbin, China. They have four ice slides, colorful ice sculptures that depict the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a stunning crystal clear ice sculpture scene of the Nativity.

Let me show you how much fun the slides are first.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The girls were so excited, they have never seen anything quite like this.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

They used three types of ICE to make everything; Clear “Crystal” Ice, White Ice, and Colored Ice.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The Colored Ice is dyed from nine brilliant colors are used for highlighting and accenting many of the ice sculptures. These giant popsicle-like blocks are made with simple food coloring that is added during the freezing process. Though it may sound simple, there’s a catch… the water must be stirred constantly to ensure a consistent color throughout the block when it is cut.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

This deer was so freaking cute and she had the best eyelashes ever.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

White Ice looks like compacted snow, makes up a small part of the attraction but is invaluable when carving a snowman. This ice is frozen quickly, giving it a cloudy look, much like the ice made in a home freezer. By freezing quickly, the molecules do not have time to perfectly align.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The level of detail they put into these ice sculptures is incredible. Look how they are sitting, look at his legs standing. They thought of everything.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The various sculptures totally made us feel like we were in the movie.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

Let’s talk about the process a little bit; their troupe of ice artisans hails from the city of Harbin, located in Northeast China, they experience relentless winter winds blowing across from neighboring Siberia. While the average summer temperature hovers at a moderate 70 degrees, winter temps fall dramatically to an average of only 2 degrees… sometimes plummeting to -36. Harbin stays below freezing for almost half the year. Eeeek!

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The master carvers spend about a month of 12-hour shifts inside a 9-degree freezer, transforming two million pounds of ice into a breathtaking winter wonderland.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The citizens in Harbin cut their ice from the Songhua River for their festival, D.C. residents don’t experience local waterways frozen solid. So, where do you find two million pounds of ice? At an ice factory! I had no idea an ice factory was a thing.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

The ice for ICE! is created using a special “recipe”, and it arrives in approximately 36 truckloads over a three-week period – two trucks a day for 15 days, which is about as fast as the ice factory can produce it. Large blocks of ice are delivered on pallets via refrigerated tractor-trailers, then moved into place by forklift.

ICE Gaylord National Harbor

Clear, “Crystal” Ice is the most difficult to make, crystal ice is created using highly filtered de-ionized water. It takes three days to freeze the 45 gallons of water used to create each 400-pound ice block. By freezing it slowly, the molecules are able to line up perfectly, similar to a diamond or crystal. In fact, this ice is so flawless it is often compared to Waterford Crystal.

This was the last sculpture of the ICE experience; it is the perfect culmination of everything we saw and the reason for the season.

Lifestyle Media Correspondent MimiCuteLips shares the ICE Gaylord National Harbor holiday tale Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It includes two million pounds of ice. #GaylordICE

Have you ever been to an ICE exhibit like this? Chat with me in the comments below or FBIG, and Twitter.

Article written by:

Mimi Robinson is the Lifestyle Media Correspondent and editor behind MimiCuteLips®. She is a wife and mother of two. You can find Mimi working media at your favorite events, traveling and trying out new adventures, or working on a dope DIY project.

Join the discussion

  1. robin rue

    That sounds so cool! I have heard that the Gaylord goes all out and it really looks like they do. Hope to get there next year.

  2. Candy

    We have seen some beautiful ice sculptures before. This would be great for the whole family and any age group.

  3. Marysa

    This place looks incredible! It is in Washington DC? I would love to check this out and I know my kids would have a blast. The ice sculptures are quite impressive!

  4. Ola

    WOW. I’ve never seen ice colored so brightly before. Such an interesting exhibit.

  5. Crystal Nicole

    This looks so cool. I can definitely take my mom since she has never experienced true winter. 9 degrees will definitely have her rethinking that desire!

  6. Amber Myers

    This would be so cool to check out! The ice is so pretty. I like the colors and you can’t go wrong with Rudolph!

  7. Lisa Favre

    Now this looks like so much fun for the entire family! I can’t believe it uses two million pounds of ice sculptures!!

  8. Anosa

    What an impressive winter wonderland, I am impressive with the sculptures and how much ice they used. I am sure the girls loved it even being bundled up like that.

  9. Mellissa

    That takes a ton of talent and loads of ice. I never knew something like this existed and I”m so intrigued by it. May have to make a trip to check something like this out.

  10. Chelsea

    That crystal ice is beautiful! I love your matching jackets. Too cute!

  11. Stacie

    Shoot, they could have had this exhibit right outside here since it feels like -25 outside. Looks like fun for the kids.

  12. Carissa

    This looks like so much fun!!! I would love going to an event like this and so would the family! These events kill me with the $30 for pictures, that’s just absurd! Glad you all had a great time!

  13. Cyn Gagen

    What a fun display! I love the theme of it and it must be amazing to see in person.

  14. Chubskulit Rose

    That is the type of things my kids would love to see. I probably freeze but I won’t mind seeing that as well.

  15. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes

    I’ve heard of ICE exhibits and always wondered what they were like! It sounds like a great activity for the whole family. Loved your group photo- everyone looks so happy!

  16. Sara Welch

    That looks like an awesome place to take the kids. It looks super cold!

  17. Amanda

    Wow, this exhibit sounds absolutely AMAZING! My kids would absolutely love to explore all of the slides and other fun ice themed activities. SO COOL. Literally.

  18. Sapphire Kharyzma

    You always share the most amazing experiences. I love reading about your adventures!

  19. Natasha

    And I’ve learned a new thing! I didn’t know that’s how they made crystal ice. These places always make me so happy around the holidays! You all look like you had a blast!

  20. Bohemian Babushka

    That’s one of Babushka’s childhood favorites! Ok si, a favorite as an adult too. Jealous we don’t have anything like that here! Never imagined how complicated the procedure was to do ice sculpture.

  21. Kasi

    This looks like fun times! I’ve never been, but my friends went and they said it was awesome but tooo cold, lol.

  22. EG III

    While I’ve been to an Ice Festival before, never anything quite like this. I love how they brought the characters to life in their sculptures!

  23. Eva

    We did go to ICE at the Gaylord a few years ago! It was a whole lot of fun, but that cold was no joke. I had my coat on under the parka and was still freezing. It was so cold my phone and my camera stopped working!

    • MimiCuteLips

      OMG, Eva it does get really freaking cold. I totally needed hand warmers; I had some but they were old and didn’t work. It took my phone much longer to shut down.

  24. Gisele

    This looks like so much fun. I had a friend that recently went through this and she posted it on Facebook. I’ve always loved the original Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cartoon.
    Happy New Year!

  25. Angie

    This looks like SO much fun, and I loooove this movie. I’d love to go to this.

  26. Michelle Thames

    This looked so much fun! I’m sure your family had a blast! My daughter would have loved this!

  27. Ty

    That crystal ice is beautiful. I never thought about how much ice is needed in places like these. 2 million tons of ice? Geesh!!!!

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