ICE! At the Gaylord Texan Resort

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Every holiday season, the Gaylord Texan Resort holds ICE!, a themed ice sculpting display. Artists travel from China to Texas to spend at least a month preparing the two million pounds of ice for the holiday themed exhibit. You will want to make sure you bring your camera for this event!

The Gaylord Texan is a massive resort situated on Lake Grapevine. The hotel/conference center is expansive, I would probably get lost in the building if I trekked there alone. When you first enter the hotel, you will see the atmosphere is purely Western style. Stone fireplaces, oversized leather couches and chairs and the laid back atmosphere welcome you and remind you of what is it we all love about the Southwest.

Soon you will walk into the atrium. I’ve never stayed at the hotel but the decor is incredible. Wow! Each year this room is decorated differently, but one thing remains the same – the giant train station set. It’s like a whole new little world! A village, buildings, cars and trucks, little people. It’s like it’s alive.

The area that ICE! is held is actually in a tent outside the conference center area. The tent is held at a constant temperature of between 8-12 degrees Fahrenheit. On the day we went this year, it was actually three degrees, due to the cold weather outside. Who knew it could be cold in Texas (and when I say cold I mean in the 20’s in the evening). The ice exhibit contains rooms with different scene’s for each year’s “theme’s”.

(Check out the links for pictures from each year.)
ICE! 2009 – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
ICE! 2010 – A Charlie Brown Christmas
ICE! 2011 – Shrek The Halls

Now I’m sure you are thinking, “It’s so cold, do you really expect me to go in there?!”. Have no fear! The Gaylord Texan equips you with these huge blue cargo coats that are more along the lines of a sleeping bag jacket. You will stay warm and they come in all sizes. If you are really nervous, you can even bring your own mittens / gloves and hat if you would like. (See below.)

At the beginning of the tour, they will show you a video that shows and tells of how the artists come and carve / create the ice sculptures. If I tell you about it, the video will be boring when you see it. Some of the ice is even sculpted so you can take pictures within! Feel like getting inside Snoopy’s dog house?!

The ice exhibits are AMAZING! Life size, bright, brilliant colors and they bring to life the characters and scenes from the shows they depict. It brings the kid out in you and you come to love every second!

Within the exhibit, these is also an ice slide! I only knew of an ice luge in college, this is human size and not used to cool down your beverages. It’s a lot of fun! Although with the huge jacket, I had a little bit of a hard time getting going but once I did, “Wheeeee!”. Please note: if you wear heels or boots, you will not be able to go down the slide.

At the end of the exhibit, there is always a clear ice manger scene which tells the story of Christmas. It’s a nice way to end the tour.

ICE! has other activities available other than just the ice exhibit.

  • In 2010, ICE! added a snow tube hill. Now if you are from the north like I am, this is nothing compared to some of the hills we’ve gone down but it does the trick for an indoor hill (and the kids seem to love it).
  • 3D movie. I’ve seen things about this but I’m not really sure what it entails so if you check it out – let me know!
  • Be sure to check out their website as they offer different family activities every year!


  • I’ve always gone on a weeknight and I would definitely recommend that you do the same. There isn’t a wait and if there is, there isn’t much of one. I can only imagine the weekends are busiest and a little more hectic to try to take pictures of the ice exhibits or try to get a picture with one.
  • Parking – They will give you a voucher for parking. Just be sure to ask for one when you give your ticket to go into the exhibit. (Be sure to get one, it will save you $12.)
  • If you plan on going with a family, doing all the activities will start to add up and it can become a little expensive however the Gaylord does try to accommodate for the family vacation. Try to plan ahead with the budget.

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