All aboard, the Polar Express pulls into Gaylord Palms for ICE

ICE is open until Jan. 5

ORLANDO, Fla. – Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando has been turned into a Winter Wonderland.

“Towards the end of October we really start decorating out the hotel. So it’s about 4 to 5 weeks of full install,” Niko Nickolaou, creative director at Gaylord Palms resort said.

The installation includes hundreds of workers, millions of Christmas lights and a 60-foot Christmas tree that offers a spectacular light show.

Pretty much every space at the resort is decked out with ornaments, poinsettias and holiday magic.

The experience also includes a space that’s been turned into the Alpine Christmas Village.

“We have a ton of activities, our 5,000 square feet retail space, our Mrs. Claus Christmas traditions, where Mrs. Claus has a children’s show,” Nickolaou said. “The greatest story show, which is a multi cultural celebration of the birth of Christ and that’s on our main stage starting the day after Thanksgiving.”

This year, the Alpine Christmas Village will include the Alpine Workshop where kids and families can choose an ornament and decorate it with a little help from an elf.

The resort’s main attraction is ICE, which is back for it’s 17th season. This year, the theme comes from the beloved childrens book and major motion picture “The Polar Express.”

Around 40 artisans were brought in from Harbin, a town in northeast China to hand-carve 2 million pounds of ice.

“These guys are masters of their craft and then they start by looking at a 250 page booklet that our designers have designed,” Nickolaou said. “It’s broken down into each scene of the movie. The trains, the scenes, all the way through is fantastic.”

As you walk into ICE, the first scene is the boy’s bedroom on Christmas Eve when the north pole bound locomotive shows up. A few new things were added this year to make it an even more immersive experience.

“As you go into the hot chocolate scene, you have the hot chocolate music playing, you can actually sit in the train car,” Nickolaou said.

Families will remember the scene in the 2004 movie, where the train was halted by a herd of caribou. There’s only one way to get the herd moving. Guests will get to tug at the character’s long beard while making their journey through ICE.

ICE is open until January 5. For pricing and schedule information click or tap here.

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