Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Gaylord Opryland Hotel Resort & Convention Center. All text and opinions are my own.
I have always wanted to visit the ICE! exhibit at the Opryland Hotel Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. Each year at Christmas I have seen lots of pictures on Facebook from family and friends when they visit but, two of the last three years, we have had a newborn at Christmas. Now that the girls are 1 and 3 years old I thought it would be a perfect year to visit. Since we aren’t in crazy survival mode it was important to me to be very intentional this holiday season to create memories with our family and follow through with holiday traditions as well as make new ones.
My hubby took off work last Friday and we made plans to visit the ICEi! Exhibit and take the kids to one of our favorite restaurants in Nashville while we were there. Although we had initially planned on staying a couple of nights, both of our big kids ended up having basketball practice and games so we decided to make a day trip since we are only three hours away. It was such a fun surprise to share with the kids and they were so excited about a family day.
We started out in a room with lots of screens that gave us a little background information about how the ICE! Indoor Winter Wonderland is created. It was fascinating to hear that the two million pounds of colorful ice sculptures were carved by 40 artisans from Harbin, China.
The first thing do before going inside the exhibit is to grab one of the blue parkas that are provided. They also gave us a blanket for the little girls that we put on top of the blanket we brought with us. The temperature inside the exhibit is 9 degrees. Since I had seen pictures of our friends touring the exhibit over the years in the signature blue parkas I didn’t realize how important it was for us to be prepared. Thankfully, a friend had explained to us how we needed to bring gloves, scarves, warm socks, boots, etc. Even though the blue parkas are warm, bundling up is very helpful.
This year ICE! has a brand new theme and it is one of my favorite all-time Christmas movies featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas. We were all absolutely amazed at the detail that went into each of the sculptures and the exhibit as a whole.
There were lots of different opportunities to interact with the displays making it even more fun.
Of course, every kid’s favorite part of the exhibit are the four two-story tall ice slices.
This might be my favorite part of the Peanuts display. The Christmas tree is so life-like!
I just can’t get enough of that sweet blanket with Linus. My son carried around a blanket everywhere he went when he was a baby. When he was little we would watch Peanut cartoons and he would always say he loved Linus because of his blanket. It’s amazing how memories can be evoked so clearly.
(As this point, my phone turned itself off because it was so cold so I had to let it warm back up for a little while before it would work again.)
At the end, we walked into a different room with this captivating display of the nativity. I’ve never seen anything like it. It literally took my breath away as I tried to take in every detail.
The crystal clear ice along with the painstaking attention to every detail of the nativity left me speechless. I loved the Peanuts display of A Charlie Brown Christmas, but the full nativity was beyond any nativity I have ever seen.
Facing the nativity is this enormous, gorgeous angelic being. We all were so impressed with the entire exhibit, but the nativity was our favorite part by far. I can’t imagine the time it took to create the exhibit. It really was something that has to be seen in person as pictures just don’t do it justice.
Here are a couple of other favorite memories of our day:
For everyone that deals with any kind of peanut or tree nut allergies, I wanted to point out these cookies. My daughter has severe peanut and tree nut allergies. Over the past 11 years, I can count on one hand the times she has been able to enjoy a treat like this. I am so thankful to whoever ordered these cookies to sell in the gift shop. They had several varieties available and they were all nut free. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
In both the snack area outside of the ICE! exhibit and inside Holiday Halls toddlers and younger children will love making a Build-A-Bear. Over the years, we have created so many special memories with all of our Build-A-Bear stuffed animals.
Inside the Opryland Hotel and Resort Center, there are signs that direct you to Holiday Halls. To be more present in the moment with my kids, I tried to be intentional in not having my phone out the entrie time therefore I missed getting pictures inside Holiday Halls.
We ended our day with a Build-A-Bear Scavenger Hunt around the hotel that was super fun. It comes with a guide that directs you each step of the way that my toddler is holding in the picture.
At the end of the Build A Bear Scavenger Hunt, we claimed our prize and our fun day was complete. By this time, each time I held up my phone and asked her to smile she said, “No more pictures, please.”
We had such a fabulous day and created memories that will last a lifetime. Memories and experiences are so much more important than “stuff” to us, and holiday traditions are especially meaningful. Make sure to check out all the details of ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas and all the other attractions at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. The ICE! Exhibit is open until January 1st, 2018.
Here are our top 5 tips for making your trip more enjoyable:
Tip #1 – Go around the hotel to the ICE! exhibit and park for free.
Tip #2 – Come prepared! Bring gloves, scarves, warm socks, boots, ear muffs, etc. Nine degrees is very very cold. You will need more than the blue parkas to stay warm so you can fully enjoy the exhibit. We brought a blanket for the stroller, then added the blanket they provided as well.
Tip #3 – Keep your phone in your pocket as the temperature may make it turn off as it did mine. Once it warmed back up, it was fine.
Tip #4 – Once you walk out of the exhibit there is hot chocolate along with other snacks. The hot chocolate will be particularly amazing as you warm up.
Tip #5 – Make sure to check out the snow tubing outside and food trucks including kits for smores and hot kettle popcorn. Then, follow the covered walkway to Holiday Halls in the hotel for Santa’s Snow Throw, Build-A-Bear Workshop® Scavenger Hunt, Gingerbread Decorating Corner, and Ice Skating. There are Children’s passes (ages 4-11) available that include a ride on the Opryland Express Kids Train, Santa’s Spinners, and Cookies with Mrs. Claus.