Opryland to Debut New ICE! Based on Polar Express

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photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland

ICE!, the annual holiday tradition at Gaylord Hotels, returns to Gaylord Opryland Resort beginning November 10, 2023, through January 1, 2024. Using more than two million pounds–or 1,000 tons–of ice, the resort will debut a brand-new ICE! theme, “The Polar Express”, based upon the beloved Warner Bros. holiday film, as part of the resort’s 40th annual A Country Christmas event. The enchanting tale will be brought to life in ice sculpture form by a team of 40 world-class ice artisans from Harbin, China. The holiday celebration continues with a brand-new Christmas dinner show and a variety of festive activities including ice skating, ice tubing, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and so much more.

As guests enter ICE! featuring “The Polar Express”, they will embark on a magical adventure to the North Pole, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the true spirit of Christmas. The attraction features nine scenes from the heart-warming tale in hand-carved sculptures made of ice including “The Polar Express” arriving at the Hero Boy’s house, passengers sipping hot chocolate on the train, the Glacier Gulch experience as the train is rushing down the side of the mountain, and the arrival at the North Pole. For the first time ever, the attraction will feature five, two-story interactive ice slides, which is more than past exhibitions. Colored ice, clear ice, and LED lights are all used to create the breathtaking display.

Starting with more than 6,000 massive ice blocks, the carvers work approximately six weeks–more than 12,000 man-hours–to create the nearly 17,000 square foot frozen attraction. The artisans, using skills passed down through generations, follow a 300-page design book to create the ice spectacle. Ice carvings range in size from details as tiny as a coin to soaring scenes more than 30 feet tall. The environment will be kept frozen by a state-of-the-art chilling system that maintains the attraction’s temperature at nine degrees Fahrenheit. Guests can sport a signature blue parka to stay warm.

The carvers will travel more than 6,402 miles from their homes in Harbin, China, to Nashville, TN. Known as “Ice City,” Harbin is home to the world’s largest annual ice and snow sculpting festival in the world. At Gaylord Opryland, some of the same artisans who create the Harbin festival will carve 300-pound blocks of ice into the larger-than-life, whimsical scenes. Carvers will use chisels, chippers, tongs, handsaws, grinders, chainsaws, and hand-made tools to bring “The Polar Express” to life.

“It’s very special to debut a brand-new ICE! theme during our 40th anniversary of A Country Christmas,” said Tom Petrillo, General Manager and Managing Director of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Attractions. “We are thrilled to bring our guests a fresh and exciting experience during the holidays this year.”

In addition to the amazing ice sculptures from the popular holiday movie, guests can also traverse through ice tunnels and arches, along with visiting the carver showcase where guests can watch artisans perform live carving demonstrations. The ICE! experience concludes in a separate area dedicated to the Nativity scene, meticulously carved, and shaped in a dramatic display of crystal-clear ice.

While ICE! is the signature attraction of A Country Christmas, there are plenty more merry activities, events, and dazzling decorations, both indoors and outdoors. A true winter wonderland, the resort boasts more than five million twinkling lights, elaborately themed Christmas trees including a fully adorned 48-foot tree, 15,000 Poinsettias, 15 miles of green garland, and 10 miles of hand-tied ribbon. Additionally, guests can experience exciting rides at Pinetop, an outdoor Appalachian-esque village, along with a variety of other jolly experiences.

Here is a rundown of other events, live entertainment, hands-on activities, and exciting attractions taking place this holiday season at the resort.

  • Darryl Worley & Friends: Home for the Holidays is the resort’s brand-new dinner show. Guests will enjoy a three-course dinner prepared by the resort’s award-winning chefs followed by live entertainment by Darryl Worley and friends.
  • Guests can venture throughout the resort to help Snoopy deck his house out for the Doghouse Decorating Competition in the Merry Snoopy Christmas Scavenger Hunt.
    Breakfast with Charlie Brown & FriendsTM –a one-of-a-kind breakfast experience with visits from members of the Peanuts gang like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and even Snoopy.
  • Join the jolliest hostess during Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions for a fun-filled celebration. Delight in the retelling of the Christmas classic, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, sing along to favorite holiday songs, and share a batch of Santa’s favorite snack–warm, fresh-baked Christmas cookies and ice-cold milk.
  • Thrilling activities await outside at Pinetop including ice tubing down a 15-foot-high, four-lane ice tubing hill, a classic bumper car experience, Snowball Build & Blast where guests can throw real snowballs at interactive targets created by Santa’s Elves, ice skating or ice-skating lessons on a 9,000 square-foot rink, and the Merry & Bright Skating Spectacular live show featuring champion skaters, big jumps, fast spins and awe-inspiring throws and lifts.
  • Christmas creativity runs wild in the Gingerbread Decorating Corner. Achieve confection perfection with edible art. After you’ve decorated to your heart’s content, make your way to visit the Gingerbread Bakery.
  • Mailing a letter to the North Pole is great, but nothing can beat a personal visit with Santa Claus to let him know what you want for Christmas and make sure you’re on his nice list. Guests can capture the moment with a keepsake photo by Storibox during the Photos with Santa experience.
  • Guests can hop aboard Nashville’s famous 300-foot paddlewheel riverboat, the General Jackson Showboat, for the Tennessee Christmas lunch cruise or the Music City Christmas dinner cruise while enjoying scenic views of the Cumberland River and Nashville Skyline. Guests can look forward to a delightful Southern meal and world-class live musical performances.
  • Hop aboard the Delta Riverboat Christmas Cruise to explore the 12 Days of A Country Christmas while cruising down a quarter mile-long river inside of the Delta Atrium.
    Visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop to experience the fun of personalizing furry friends and taking part in our one-of-a-kind Heart Ceremony.
  • Other outdoor activities include the resort’s millions of Christmas lights displayed on the Magnolia lawn, a nightly tree lighting and caroling event, Dickens Carolers, carriage rides, and a stunning Nativity display featuring special lighting effects and an audio rendition of the beloved biblical story.
  • A plethora of holiday dining experiences can be enjoyed like A Country Christmas Breakfast Show featuring a savory and sweet breakfast buffet and live holiday music. Old Hickory Steakhouse, inside the resort, will host a Thanksgiving day and Christmas day brunch and Gaylord Springs Golf Links will also host a Thanksgiving day brunch. The resort’s holiday eatery, Frosty’s Pub, features over-the-top seasonal décor, festive dishes, and naughty or nice cocktails with a touch of cheer.
  • Relâche Spa inside the resort features Winter Wellness spa treatments like massages, facials, and pedicures, highlighting the benefits of eucalyptus. The aromatic plant is known to be high in antioxidants, to promote relaxation and reduce pain.

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