ICE at the Gaylord National — Mommy Daze

rsz ice at gaylord national 02There is an incredibly unique, ‘cool’ event called ICE! that’s taking place during the Gaylord National’s “Christmas on the Potomac” at the National Harbor. My husband and I went a few times before having kids, so we were excited to take our 4 and 6-year old boys to see it this year. My husband’s birthday is in December, so this made for a perfect family birthday outing for him.

This amazing indoor ice-sculpture display has a different theme every year. This year’s theme was based on the classic animated film, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Our kids love this Christmas movie and were excited to see all their favorite characters depicted in giant ice-form!

If you’ve never been to see ICE! before, it’s a breath-taking display of craftmanship. They apparently use over two million pounds of ice. The frozen walk-thru takes place in a giant enclosed tent area that’s accessible from inside the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The entire place is kept at a very chilly 9-degrees. They provide everyone with special parkas to wear, but I have a few recommendations for anyone planning to go with their kiddos:

#1) Dress warmly from head to toe! Faces and fingers get especially cold, so I recommend thick scarves or neck warmers to pull up over mouths and noses. I dressed my kids in layers, with pajamas underneath their pants and sweatshirts. I also had them wear warm jackets, snow gloves, two pairs of socks, and hats. Afterward, I stowed everything in a backpack.

#2) Protect your camera or phone. Since the temperature is so cold, my husband and I kept our phones inside our parkas. But the few times I brought it out to take pictures, it ended up shutting down because the cold effected the battery settings. Once it warmed up later it was fine. But I’m glad I didn’t take my nice DSLR camera because I don’t know how I would’ve kept it warm.

#3) Try to attend an early time-slot. We used a Groupon deal to buy tickets for a Friday at 6:00pm time-slot. Our kids ended up doing the ICE! walk-through quickly, primarily because they were cold. They enjoyed looking at everything, and even went down the huge ice slide a few times, but were done after about 30 minutes inside. I’m glad we went early so we had time to walk around the Gaylord National and go to dinner after.

#4) Be prepared for the ‘extra’ costs that follow the main exhibit. After walking through the frigid tent of ice sculptures, you exit into their ‘Christmas Village’ area. Here they offer rides on a carousel, a tiny little train, ice skating, ginger-bread house making, photos with Santa, cookie-decorating with Mrs Claus (which requires pre-reserved tickets), Build-a-Bear Workshop, and concessions such as hot cocoa. Of course, everything cost extra, so we talked our kids into picking out a souvenir from the gift shop instead of spending the money on the other activities.

#5) Make an evening of it! There are some fun shops to visit near the water-front at National Harbor such as a Peeps store and Cupcakery. The giant Capital Wheel on the pier is lit up beautifully for Christmas and makes for a nice photo backdrop. Inside the Gaylord National atrium, every hour they have an entertaining light show set to Christmas music. There are various restaurants within walking distance of the Gaylord. We chose Cadillac Ranch because it was directly across the street and had a kids’ menu. Our boys were entertained watching patrons try to ride a mechanical bull.

We greatly enjoyed our visit to see ICE!, which is going on until January 1st, 2018. I can’t wait to see what next year’s theme will be!

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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.