BRR: Sneak peek at early preparations for ICE! holiday experience at Gaylord Palms

Holiday experiences begin Nov. 18

First Look at the carving work at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, Oct. 19, 2022 (Landon McReynolds, WKMG)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – As Central Florida sees its first shot of cold air since spring Wednesday, it’s nothing to what dozens of artisans at Gaylord Palms Resort are experiencing.

Not far from the resort’s convention hall is a special setup for the return of the beloved holiday experience, ICE!

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On Wednesday morning, News 6 was invited inside to see the work underway for this year’s event. When guests step inside, they will be transported into the Dr. Seuss story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Guests will see more than 10 scenes from Grinch story including statues of The Grinch, his canine sidekick Max and Cindy-Lou Who.

First Look at the carving work at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, Oct. 19, 2022 (WKMG)

“It’s nine degrees inside ICE!, we have different sculptures, different characters all featured in the movie,” said Andres Calvo, director of entertainment at Gaylord Palms.

This year, the holiday event is making its grand return after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.

The talented carvers that create this arctic artwork traveled more than 7,000 miles from their homes in Harbin, China. The resort said Harbin, also known as “Ice City,” is no stranger to elaborate ice carvings — it’s home to the world’s largest annual ice and snow sculpting festival.

First Look at the carving work at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, Oct. 19, 2022 (WKMG)

“There’s about 30 of them with us right now,” Calvo explained. “...they’ll carve for a continuous 30 days just to get all the sculptures and stuff ready to go.”

First Look at the carving work at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, Oct. 19, 2022 (WKMG)

Right now, each artisan is using a series of tools such as picks and chainsaws to carefully craft each Grinch-inspired scene, with each artisan having a specialty in the design process. It all starts with giant blocks of ice, which are currently lined up in the event space. Some are clear, while other blocks of ice have been carefully mixed to create the right color.

Stacked ice blocks being used for ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort (WKMG)

“So they (ice blocks) actually come from different parts of the country, some of them even from Canada. There are different types of ice and that actually goes down to how the ice (was) actually made,” Calvo pointed out. “So there’s frosted ice that’s frozen really quickly. We have clear ice and that takes a special method of freezing, slower freezing - and you can see that clear ice in the nativity scene at the end of ICE!, and then of course we have different colored ice, and making that takes a process of slow stirring of the coloring so that it’s evenly frozen.”

First Look at the carving work at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, Oct. 19, 2022 (WKMG)

Calvo said the color is so detailed to the story that if anything new is introduced, it must be evaluated and then reviewed by the intellectual property owners.

First Look at the carving work at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, Oct. 19, 2022 (WKMG)

“So as you go in, you’ll actually be able to go into different structures like an igloo, where the Grinch is having the feast scene,” Calvo explained. “And then, of course, the big reveal and new for this hotel this year is the ice slide. We have completely redesigned, and never seen before, where you’ll see the Grinch with the sack of Christmas presents.”

Take a look at a rendering of the ice slide below.

Rendering of Ice Slide inside Gaylord Palms ICE!

With temperatures in the exhibit dipping to a chilly nine degrees Fahrenheit, guests will receive blue parkas to enjoy the experience.

ICE! is just a small piece of the holiday festivities coming to Gaylord Palms Resort this holiday season. The resort has an exciting lineup of events including the Snow Factory, a Grinch character breakfast, Christmas shop, holiday escape room, live stage shows and a light show in the resort’s beautiful atrium.

ICE IS BACK: Elaborate sculptures, hand-carved from more than 2 million pounds of ice, will soon tell the story of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” at “ICE!” at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. It will be the first time “ICE!” has been presented since 2019. (Gaylord Palms Resort)

Gaylord Palms Resort is offering special holiday packages that include special room rates and admission to select events. Guests are encouraged to book their experiences early, as advance online reservations are required for all ticketed events.

ICE! and all the holiday experience begin on Nov. 18 at Gaylord Palms Resort.

Click here to learn more about tickets, information and making a reservation.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.