Living in Texas, it’s not very often that the weather gives you the impression that the holiday season is upon us. Though you won’t hear me complaining about not having to shovel snow or begging to step outside into instant-frostbite weather, occasionally I find myself wishing I could fly somewhere for a quick visit to the lower temperatures and the fluffy white stuff. Little did I know that we have a winter wonderland, complete with 9 degree temperatures and more “holiday cheer” than I knew could exist, right here in Texas.
Located in Grapevine, Texas (about halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth), the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center had been described to me before my visit as “a town unto itself”. Complete with multiple restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, a coffee shop, a nightclub, live music, and a salon and spa, this $450 million dollar resort provides enough amenities and fun to make anyone question their need to ever leave.
During the holidays, however, the Gaylord really outdoes itself. Remember that winter wonderland I was describing earlier? Imagine yourself walking into a six-acre glass atrium room enchanted with 1.5 million twinkling lights, 12,000 ornaments, a 54-foot tall rotating Christmas tree, Christmas presents you could fit inside, a real life-size gingerbread house, and, most importantly, the Mr. Claus himself. Who knew the North Pole was actually located in North Texas?! But the most spectacular draw of this season by far is the Ice Exhibit.
Each year, ice sculptors from around the globe convene in Grapevine, TX, to create the 8th wonder of the world: a themed ice exhibit consisting of more than 5,000 blocks of ice weighing over 2 million pounds. This giant, 15,000 square foot ice box maintains a chilly constant nine degrees Fahrenheit. But don’t go purchase an Alaskan-quality coat never to be used again in this state just to visit the ice exhibit. The Gaylord kindly provides thick blue winter parkas to all who enter the exhibit (leading you to humorously question whether or not you have just set foot into a scene of The Smurf's Christmas).
This year’s ice theme, Merry Madagascar, gave me the impression that I had entered a zoo chiseled out of ice. Upon entrance, the ice-exhibit maze brings to life the Madagascar tale complete with music, ice-slides, and ice-animals four times their normal size. The end of the exhibit leaves you in true holiday form with a nativity scene carved entirely out of ice. After exiting the exhibit you are greeted with the ultimate holiday gift shop, complete with a café where you can purchase everyone’s favorite cold-weather drink to warm you back up: hot chocolate.
The ice exhibit doesn’t get stingy with the no-camera policy either, so be sure to bring your photography skills, get creative, and snag some quality holiday photos that would be perfect to grace the cover of that Christmas letter you’ve been meaning to send for years. Here are the funny photos my friends and I snagged from our very ‘cool’ time at the Gaylord Texan ICE! Exhibit:
For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-texan/lone-star-christmas/ice-experience/index.html