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Friday 3 January 2020

ICE! at Gaylord Rockies

It's January, but it's still looking an awful lot like Christmas around here!

Christmas may have been and gone, but the holiday fun continues a little longer here in Colorado with many Christmas themed displays and events on until next week, or in some cases, even longer. One such Christmas event that is still on for a few more days is the ICE! exhibition at Gaylord Rockies. We visited yesterday and it was such a fun experience.

Gaylord Rockies is a huge hotel and convention center located close to Denver International Airport. It's a popular spot with families, both visitors and locals alike, due to their large range of on site activities. There's a water park there that the kids are keen to check out, but that will have to wait until Summer! For now, the attractions that got our attention were more on the frosty side of things.

The highlight of our visit to Gaylord Rockies was the ICE! exhibition. The exhibition is based around the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and features adorable characters made purely of ice. We visited a similar exhibition years ago at the Queen Mary in Long Beach California (you can see it here) and we really enjoyed it, so when I saw that there was something similar right here in Colorado I knew we had to go check it out.

Now, as I mentioned, all of the characters in ICE! as well as many of the surrounds are made of solid ice. It's gets pretty chilly here in Colorado, but not quite cold enough to keep these sculptures from melting outdoors, so the exhibition is held indoors in an area chilled to a frosty 9F (or -13C for my non-American friends). That's cold! To keep visitors from freezing their butts of, everyone is given a giant parka upon entry. Even so, I highly recommend wearing gloves, warm shoes and maybe even a beanie. 

The ICE! exhibition shares the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer based on the classic stop motion holiday movie. I've never actually watched the whole movie before (I know, I really should) and it was a little busy in the exhibition so I didn't get a chance to read all of the signs, but the general gist of it is this... Rudolph is born in the north pole with a glowing red nose which everyone tries to hide - unsuccessfully. He's something of a misfit and becomes friends with an elf named Hermey who wishes to become a dentist rather than make toys. Adventures ensue and the two come across a prospector, abominable snowman, a winged lion and all sort of other characters before Rudolph ultimately saves the day by leading Santa's sleigh with his glowing red nose. Ok, I skipped an awful lot in there, but that's the general gist of it.

Ok, enough talking about the exhibition, let's take a look at all the fun...  

Most of the exhibit is off limits (warm little hands can melt the ice) but there are a few interactive parts. Kids can press a large button to make Rudolph's red nose glow and there is a photo opportunity get behind the toy making workbench with the grouchy head elf looking on.

The biggest attraction, however, is the ice slides! These were so much fun. There are four slides in total; three long slides for anyone over 40" tall (Mathilde just scraped in!) and a shorter slide for the smaller kids. The line for the long slides was quite long during our visit, so while we lined up Mathilde took the opportunity to slide on the shorter slide a couple of times as there was generally no line there at all. The slide is made of clear ice with lights inside that change color from pink to yellow and blue.

The slides were so much fun and we all probably had about three or four turns before heading on to the next part of the exhibition. Here the story continued with more of Rudolph's adventures and him, ultimately, saving Christmas at the end.

The exhibit ends with a clear ice nativity scene and a giant angel. These were very pretty, but being clear (and of religious nature) they weren't as of much interest to the kids who, by now, were eager to get out and warm up with hot chocolate.

Aren't the sculptures pretty?

After we'd finished walking through ICE! we checked out the other wintry activities on offer at Gaylord Rockies. Outdoors there is a fun activity area called Glacier Point with ice skating, a tubing hill and, our favorite, ice bumper cars. We gave the ice skating a miss this time and went for the tubing and bumper cars. The bumper cars were super fun as we spun and bumped our way around the ice. You can see us in action in the video below. Mathilde and I didn't quite make it back to the parking area before our bumper cars powered down at the end so we both needed a push.

While the ice bumper cars were a one off (per ticket) the tubing tickets were all-day passes. This meant that, had we wished, we could've stayed on site tubing all day until 9pm. After their first turn sliding down the hill Mathilde declared that it was terrifying, but she quickly lined back up for another turn. And another. And another. And another!

Such a fun day of wintry activities!

Have you visited an ice sculpture exhibition before? It really is amazing to think that pretty much everything on display was made out of ice.

Christmas at Gaylord Rockies, including ICE! and the Glacier Point activities, runs through this Sunday, January 5th. Time's running out, so if you're in the Denver or Boulder area and keen to see it, get your tickets now.

You can find more information and book tickets at https://christmas.gaylordrockies.com/activities

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