ICE at the Gaylord National 2016
by Melissa Moore
For eight years the Gaylord National, has presented ICE! on the banks of the Potomac River as part of its Christmas on the Potomac extravaganza. Maybe your family visited when Frosty or Santa was in town, and you are familiar with the colorful displays that the ice artisans from Harbin, China create each year. One difference is that for 2016, locals can easily make their Christmas on the Potomac experience a full day of fun with the Play All Day + ICE! package – because let’s face it, we Virginians and Marylanders can only stand 9 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or so before running inside shivering to grab our hot cocoa.
As guests of Gaylord National my son and I experienced Christmas on the Potomac’s Play All Day + ICE! package as well as their Breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends to bring you the scoop on how your family can enjoy a full day of holiday fun at the Gaylord National. The Play All Day package includes: tickets to three rides, an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, gingerbread house decorating, trip through ICE! Christmas Around the World, and that all important cup of hot chocolate after the icy cold experience.
ICE! Christmas Around the World
This year’s theme for the ICE! display is Christmas Around the World. Visitors are greeted by sculptures that represent the holiday traditions of 5-10 different countries including Germany, Ethiopia and the United States; while parents and older children can pause to read about these traditions, younger children will enjoy crawling through a tunnel in an icy Christmas tree. Another room features ice sculptures of over a dozen larger than life children from around the globe decked out for the winter season and holding hands. Written on a nearby wall is “PEACE” – what a timely reminder! Of course, everyone’s favorite ice slides are again part of the display.
Play All Day
You know that you’re going to want some hot chocolate after exiting the 9 degree ICE! experience. If you have the Play All Day package, it will be included – yay! Also located in the new Christmas village are the tea cup and carousel rides. My recommendation, send your kiddos on the rides while you warm up with the hot chocolate; the spinning of the tea cups and sugary beverage combo was a bit too much for this mama.
Decorating cookies or gingerbread houses is an activity that everyone in the family can enjoy. Some children might carefully paint their creations while others simply try to pile on as much sugar as possible – yet in the end everyone will have a memorable, fun experience. What’s the best part of it all? The sugary, frosting mess that is left behind is not on your kitchen table, and you don’t even have to clean it up!
Finally, the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt has families searching the resort for elves hidden high and low using a booklet of clues. By the time we found all the elves and returned to the store for the coloring book prize, my six year old had created quite the back-story of how Santa could have placed these elves strategically around the Gaylord National Resort for us to find.
Breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends
If you want a special treat, the Breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends is the perfect way to start your special day. The buffet breakfast features omelets, waffles with fixings, pastries, sausage, bacon, cereal, fresh fruit and more. Snoopy greets guests as they enter; Charlie Brown and Lucy walk frequently through the breakfast area posing for pictures and giving high-fives. It’s a cute event, but not distractingly over-the-top.
In the past I have purchased tickets to just the ICE! event at the Gaylord National and loved the sculptures and the experience, but felt a bit let-down by how little time we actually spent inside ICE! before needing to warm up. Honestly, I feel that checking out the packages available, finding the right fit for your family, and making a day or overnight getaway out of the experience is a better way to go.
For more family travel adventures, follow the author, Melissa Moore, on Twitter and Instagram as @DCTravelMom and read her articles as the DC, MD and VA family travel guru on the acclaimed national website, Trekaroo.
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