ICE! At The Gaylord National Convention Center. Worth Taking Your Family?

If you live in the DC area, you might have heard of the ICE! show at the National Convention Center.  They’ve been doing it for at least a few years now, and I understand they do one at the Gaylord Opryland (that one probably takes a bit more effort to keep cold!).

A team of artisan ice carvers get together and carve an entire village in ice for you to walk through.  We had heard about it the last couple years but never went to partake.  This year we asked our daughter and she seemed to think it was a cool idea, so we added it to our Christmas “to-do” list.

Tickets are $34 for adults on peak days, $27 on non-peak days.  As you can guess, all weekends and the week after Christmas are peak times.  Kids 3 and older are $27 for peak tickets and $19 for non-peak tickets.

If you’re a member of the Marriott Rewards program, you can use the code MRICE13 to buy non-peak tickets only, although I likely think you could use the code even if you weren’t a member.  The promo code drops another 20% off.

I assume we’re like most families who probably can’t trek over there on a weekday, so we paid full boat and went this past Sunday.  We got lucky that it was bad weather, reducing the lines somewhat, but the folks there told us that Sunday was slower than Saturday.  The theme this year was “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as well as a “Christmas In NY” themed room at the end.

They supply long coats to keep you warm, but you certainly need to bundle up otherwise.  Think thermal underwear, heavy coats, gloves, etc.  The temperature inside is 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and the line to get in the exhibit is outside.  If you catch a day with a decent line, you could stand outside for the better part of an hour.

Gaylord National Convention Center

 

We spent about 30 minutes inside moving through the exhibit.  We may have spent a bit more, but our son refused to wear gloves, warm boots a jacket or a hat, so he got cold pretty darn quick.  All in all, though, I don’t think most folks will spend more than 45 minutes inside, since there’s only about half a dozen rooms to walk through and it’s pretty darn cold.  There is a pretty cool ice slide about halfway through which we all took a spin on.  It’s certainly worth the trip, and they seem to have added more slides than in previous years so you don’t have a long wait.

Our family spent just over $100 on tickets and parking.  We somehow avoided the pictures and mandatory walk through the gift shop on the way out, or the trip might have been considerably more expensive.  Was it worth it?  Sure, once, to say we did it.  Everything is carved ice and it’s all beautiful.

Would I take the kids back a second time if they didn’t beg to go?  Not when you consider that the same $100 covers entry for a family of 4 into the Hershey Park Christmas festivities for a full day and leaves some money for lunch.  Similarly, it covers most of the price of a day at Busch Gardens for their Christmas festivities.  So, fun experience but probably not quite worth the money.

Here’s the pictures of our experience along with some fun videos of our kids sliding.  Happy to answer questions if you plan to attend.

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