We all woke up the next morning ready to go. Eli and I slept in the same room as Sarah and Avery; her boys, Clayton and Cooper slept in the other room on the pull-out bed. Eli and Avery both woke up earlier than Cooper and Clayton, so in an effort to keep them quiet so the boys could sleep they played some games together on the iPad. Eli and Avery really bonded this trip. I could totally see myself having a little girl one day-here's hoping that wish comes true one day!
We all bundled up in our warmest clothes, ate a yummy breakfast at the hotel, and then it was time to go to ICE. I don't know who was more excited, the mommies or the kiddos :)
If you've never been to one of the Gaylord properties, I encourage you to go. They are AWESOME! The atrium inside is always decorated to the max. We told the kids to follow the nutcrackers to find ICE and we stopped for a couple of pictures on the way.
Okay, so here's some background information for those of you that have no idea what ICE is. Every year in China they have a snow and ice festival. They literally construct a city of ice and put lights inside the ice to make it glow at night. They have slides, towers, restaurants, and so much more. It's AMAZING. Well, the people at the Gaylord wanted to bring that experience to the states. So about 5 years ago, they hired 30 of the artisans from China to come over here and create an ice event. Every year they use about two million pounds of ice to carve and create statues made entirely out of ice. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen. The themes change every year and I've never seen one that hasn't been fabulous. The first year we went the theme was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Eli really was way too young to enjoy the show, but Josh and I loved it. Ever since then, I've been wanting to take him back, but the timing never quite worked out. I'm so glad it did this year! This year's theme was The Nutcracker.
The ICE Theater showed you a ten minute video that told the history of ICE and showed behind the scenes footage of the artisans carving the ice.
We all walked into the first room and all of our jaws dropped. I mean, come on now, how stinkin' cool is this??
The detail on each sculptured piece was incredible.
The next room was definitely the coolest room for the kids (and for us, too!). It was the room that contained all the ice slides. Yes, slides made of ice! Once you're inside the exhibit there isn't a time limit for how long you can stay. You basically stay until you're too cold and then you leave. No one is forcing you or pushing you through. We got to this part of the exhibit and knew we'd be here awhile. All the kids (and even the mommies) had so much fun sliding down the ice slides!
It doesn't get any better than this...PURE JOY!
After sliding A LOT, the kids finally said they were cold so we moved on to the next room. We had to walk through an ice cave to get there :)
Eli managed to find Turbo inside.
The next room was actually a bonus room. Normally, they do a couple of rooms according to the theme that year and then they always end with the nativity. This year they added the Christmas in NY room with sculptures of famous landmarks found in NYC.
I love how the people at the Gaylord make it a priority to tell the Christmas story to each group of people who pass through this exhibit. Not only do they have the statues depicting Jesus' birth, but there is an audio recording reciting the story from the book of Luke. What a great witness to thousands of people from all over the world!
We turned our parkas in at the end of the exhibit and ordered some cupcakes and hot chocolate. The kids had a blast looking at the ICE sculptures. It was definitely worth the drive to see their faces when they saw everything for the first time. Also, if you go at the end of the exhibit's run all the items in the gift shop are 75% off. We scored long sleeve t-shirts for $5 for each of the kids.
After the exhibit, we walked around the atrium of the hotel to look at all the displays and decorations.
We found a man named "Tall Paul" walking around on stilts and the kids were so intrigued.
Our fun-filled day was off to a great start! ICE was so much fun and we couldn't wait for our next activity :) We all can't wait to go back to ICE next year. I think this just might end up being an annual trip from now on!