My family and I have been visiting Gaylord Palms ICE! as part of our holiday traditions since 2007, before I even wrote about it in Zannaland. It has really become one of the things my children most look forward to, and they ask every Fall – “when does ICE! start?” (Part of the perks of being Orlando locals; our holiday traditions are just a little bit bigger and over the top than many places.)
Over the years, we’ve seen the displays and offerings change and grow – ice skating outside, ice skating inside, snowball fights, snow tubing, enchanting circus performers, characters, and differing Christmas themes in ice. In all those years, none has been so magical, to me personally, than this year’s theme – A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Growing up in the 1980’s, I have very specific and very wonderful memories of Christmastime. Christmas is always exactly 2 weeks after my birthday, so the whole month of December has forever been overwhelmingly magical to me. I remember the weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with Christmas specials: Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” the Rankin Bass productions of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” and of course, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
I can see myself clearly, sitting on the floor close to the T.V. in my festive Christmas nightgown, while the lights on the Christmas tree twinkled behind me and the scent of pine and the cookies my mother was baking wafted around me…watching those shows, commercials and all, once a year. At the risk of sounding even more ancient than I already do, this was before a time of cable and satellite television, before 300 channels and DVR’s and Netflix and Roku and Apple TV, or even Blockbuster and VCR’s at this point. So waiting all year to see these shows and making sure you didn’t miss them was a big thing. It became a part of the season, a part of the traditions, a part of the magic.
So to walk in to Gaylord Palms at 9 degrees (a very common temperature feel growing up outside of Boston), and see “A Charlie Brown Christmas” larger than life, right before my eyes, was pretty special for me. The detail was absolutely mind-boggling. Every character, every color, every detail from the television special was carved in perfection. Add to that the music and audio clips from the show, and it was truly a wonderland for anyone who’s grown up with the show, or the Peanuts in general. They were my grandmother’s favorite, and she loved Snoopy, so the Peanuts Gang were always a big part of family visits to her house. I left the ICE! display and wanted to go right back in and see it all again, so I could be little 8 year-old excited-for-Christmas-me once more. If anyone is a fan of the Christmas special or Charles Schulz’s work in general, you must go, you will not be disappointed. The night we were there, Charles Schulz’s son, Craig Schulz, was on hand and seemed to be enjoying himself as well. I can only imagine the memories he must have of these characters.
More to see at Gaylord Palms
Also a part of Christmas at Gaylord Palms is a tree lighting display, A Christmas Wish Light Show, which is the most impressive display yet. Returning for the second year is Cirque Dreams, an impressive show of acrobatic artisans performing in the lobby stage nightly. Alpine Snow Tubing also makes a come-back in the ICE! area, where you can tube down snow-covered slides, as well as other fun activities like photos with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, a Build-a-Bear Workshop, and much more. ICE! runs this year through January 1, a perfect treat for winter break from school or work. The property itself is so beautiful, it’s like another world when you are inside and my kids ask me all the time when we can stay there next!
Thank you to Gaylord Palms for inviting my family and I to experience the magic of Christmas at Gaylord Palms and see ICE! and the other entertainment offerings first hand. My opinions, as you can see, are my own. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!