Ice! At Gaylord National 2016

We were fortunate enough to be invited back to ICE! At the Gaylord National Hotel just over the Virginia/Maryland line at National Harbor.  Here's what to expect this year. 

 We started off with a delicious brunch with the characters from "Peanuts".  With a custom omelette station, Belgian waffles, eggs, pastries, and more, there's something for everyone.  While you eat, the characters come to your table for pictures.  Prints are $20, or you can purchase an "all inclusive" package and receive all the professional pictures you get taken all day for $89.  Brunch is $39.99 for adults and $26.99 for kids.

As always the atrium of the Gaylord National is absolutely amazing and they have it decorated for the season.  My kids were disappointed that we came in the morning so we didn't get to see the Christmas Lights show- but we've already made a plan to come back up for one of National Harbor's Friday night events and to watch the lights and "snow" at the Gaylord. 

After breakfast we headed to ICE- which was mistake #1!! If you're doing the "Play All Day" pass, or if you just want to add on the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, you'll want to pick up your scavenger hunt materials BEFORE you head into the exhibit.  There's a bonus elf we didn't even know to look for! However, we still had fun- I just wanted to give you guys a heads up! 

The theme this year is Christmas Around the World, and you start off with a video (I missed the video last year- it shows how the artisans from China make the ice sculptures, but my kids didn't like seeing footage of the ice sculptures we were about to see before we went in- they wanted to be surprised.) After the video we went in, and this is where I made mistake 2- I forgot our gloves.  It's 9 degrees in ICE! and you're going to want gloves. Also closed-toed shoes.

 There are several featured countries with ice carvings, and next to them are signs explaining how Christmas is celebrated in that country.  They were really fascinating, although they're long, so read outloud to children who are slower readers because you get cold quick! 
There was a hall of children from all over the world holding hands- and I kind of expected "It's a Small World" to start playing, but luckily it didn't! ;) 

 The slides this year light up, which is really cool- but I don't think they're quite steep enough- kids weren't quite making it all the way down without their parkas slowing them down.  The room is full of ice sculptures from around the world and the Christmas greeting from each country.  I liked the room a lot. 
There was a "North Pole" where several stuffed animals had been replicated in ice, which was really neat, and there's a viewing station where you can watch sculptors from China work on a carving. 
 Finally is the crystal nativity, which is always my favorite part.  It's so beautiful and simple after all the colors that you've just seen, and I enjoy it immensely. 

When you're done viewing ICE you head back into the Christmas Village, which has several fun additional activities.  There are teacups, a carousel, build a bear workshop, holiday store, hot cocoa station, cookies with Mrs. Claus, and a gingerbread workshop.  
 The teacup ride was little, so I thought my kids were going to be too old for it, but they actually used their tickets AND my adult tickets and rode it twice.  They really got that little cup to spin! 

Next we made mistake #3 and went to decorate our cooking in the gingerbread area.  Gingy from Shrek is there for pictures.  Kits range from $30-40 in price depending on what you select.  The Ugly Sweater Kit comes with 6 cookies in it, so it's easy to break up if you have multiple kids, but the gingerbread house is a fun one to put together as a team. 
 Obviously the sugar is working on them already. I got made fun of because none of my sweaters were "ugly enough" but I had fun anyway.  What was the mistake here? We did our cookies and THEN we did the scavenger hunt- so I ended up schlepping these things around and then ultimately making a trip back to the car so I could put them down.  Decorate your cookies LAST so that you don't have to carry them everywhere! 
We had a great time kicking off our holiday season with the Gaylord National Hotel's Christmas on the Potomac.  We hope you will, too!

Disclaimer: This was a hosted event, but all opinions are my own.

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