Christmas Break 2018 is upon us. If you live in the DC-MD-VA (DMV) area then you already know there are plenty of activities to get into. As a sacred part of Christmas on the Potomac, Gaylord National presents its new seasonal theme ICE! featuring a Charlie Brown Christmas. Sebastian turned 2 on December 1st, and I figured it be a great weekend birthday activity for our family. I must say, ICE! is an indoor winter wonderland full of the right amount of holiday scenes from Charlie Brown. The ice slide is the highlight. And, a larger than life Nativity Scene rounds out the attraction in a breathtaking crystal clear ice. It is amazing how 2 million pounds of colorful ice is hand-carved into a masterpiece by such a small group of Chinese artisans. Overall, it is a wonderful experience, but I was truly happy when it was all over.
Know Before You Go
1. It is cold as hell in this building. COLD!! This was my first thought, and I can guarantee you will be thinking it as well. They keep the facility at a chilly 9 degrees. I am stressing the temperature thing because I saw women with infants in here that underestimated the level of cold like I did. Something about this kind of cold sends you into survival mode. By the time we were half way through, I was somewhere between hypothermia and frost bite (I forgot my gloves and scarf). Don’t show up without your layers: gloves, hats, blankets, scarves, UGG boots, thermals, etc. These HotHands charcoal warmers are great to stuff in kids socks, gloves, and pockets for an additional layer of warmth.
2. Once you arrive at National Harbor, follow the signs for ICE! parking. Be sure to take your parking ticket with you to get the discounted rate ($15). Before entry into ICE! there is an attendant at a table that validates your ticket. The parking lot is to the right of the hotel if you are looking out from the front doors.
3. Strollers are allowed. Moms everywhere rejoice. The last thing you want to do is to have on 3 layers and an ICE! parka and then have to carry a toddler with 8 layers and an ICE! parka.
4. Dates: ICE! runs from November 16,2018 to January 1, 2019.
5. Location: Gaylord National Resort is located at 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745
6. Ticket Prices: Adults (12+) start at $32. Kids (3-11) start at $24. Kids 2 and under are FREE. You can purchase tickets on site, but I’d recommend buying them in advance. Tickets during peak times sell out quickly. I also recommend the morning dates to beat some of the holiday traffic. We chose the 10:30AM slot, and it was a breeze. The Gaylord wasn’t jammed pack this early, which allowed us to really explore everything the hotel has to offer. Important ICE! FAQs can be found here.
7. Military Discount available. Play and Save Passes available.
8. ICE! is interactive, so kids are encouraged to touch, climb, and explore – respectfully.
Once you finish the ICE! extravaganza, you will be running for warmth in the nearby building. Fortunately, the fun doesn’t stop with Charlie Brown ice sculptures. Other seasonal activities on the premises include:
- Cirque Dreams Unwrapped is a 25 minute live entertainment show depicting a Christmas fable that goes from the stage to the air.
- Indoor Ice Skating is $16.99 for all ages.
- Custom Build-A-Bear Workshop where you can build a winter inspired friend.
- All throughout the Christmas Village you can find: gingerbread decorating, cookies with Mrs. Claus, a carousel, a kiddie train ride, and plenty of indoor photo opportunities.
- Round out your day with pictures with Santa Claus.
Vanesa and I have been to ICE! a few times in the past. Now that she is 9, the only thing she was really in the building for was that ice slide. I was there for the experience. And, Sebastian pretty much hated it. I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 3. It is so cold that it almost sends the little ones into shock. He touched a piece of ice and it all went downhill from there. I ended up having to carry him to the finish line with a runny nose and ice cold cheeks to console him. I would never take my infant in there, but I understand some moms are way more adventurous than me. Still worth it!!