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ICE! is back, baby! This signature holiday event that makes the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center one of the best Christmas hotels in the country was gone for two years thanks to the pandemic. Now, it’s back with a certain reindeer in the lead.
This holiday season, the frozen wonderland showcases the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in larger-than-life sculptures. The holiday fun includes a variety of activities and events encapsulated within the larger ICE! experience.
ICE! and its two million pounds of colorful ice carved by expert artisans opens November 11, 2022, and runs through January 1, 2023.
Here’s what you will find at the Gaylord Opryland Christmas.
- Snowball Build & Blast: Grab a bucket of real snowballs and take aim at interactive targets created by Santa’s Elves. The cost of a bucket is $13.99.
- Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt: The Misfit Toys are all lost, and they need you to find them! With Rudolph’s help, follow the clues to find the Misfit Toys and send them on their way to their new homes in this resort-wide scavenger hunt.
- Ice Tubing: Experience a 15-foot-high, four-lane ice tubing hill just outside of the Gaylord Opryland Resort. Speed down the ice slide, race with family or jump on a double tube with a friend. This is the perfect way to let your innner Northerner come out! Tickets are $22.99 per person.
- Ice skating: Enjoy time in the day or evening gliding under the stars at the Gaylord’s 9,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink made with real ice. Don’t know how to skate? No problem. Lessons are available. Tickets are $22.99 per person.
- Bumper cars: Enjoy classic bumper car rides with a frosty spin. Guests can slide and glide during this fun experience. Tickets are $13.99.
- Gingerbread Decorating Corner: Let your creativity run wild and decorate a gingerbread house or cookies with this family-friendly activity. Afterward, pay a visit to the Gingerbread Bakery for some hard-to-resist take-home treats. Decorating kits start at $25.99 and can be done at your leisure in the Delta Atrium.
- Build-A-Bear Workshop: Visit the in-house Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Delta Marketplace to experience the fun of personalizing a furry friend. You can add outfits, sweet scents and fun sounds to make this a truly personalized (and cuddly) Christmas keepsake! Prices vary.
- Photos With Santa: Book your personal visit with Santa Claus to make sure you’re on his nice list. and capture the moment with a keepsake photo. Santa will only be visiting until December 24, 2022. Photo packages start at $35. Appointments are available every 15 minutes on the days Santa is in residence.
- Holiday Horticulture Trek: Got a green thumb? This self-guided tour is for you. It’s a great way to learn about the extraordinary flora within the resort while strolling through the superbly decorated atriums. Free.
- Delta Riverboat Christmas Cruise: Explore 12 Days of A Country Christmas on this festive cruise on the quarter-mile-long river that winds through the resort’s Delta Atrium. Tickets are on sale for $19.99 each
- Winter Wellness at Relâche Spa: Upgrade your vacation in the best possible way and take some time for you. Self-care can be a fantastic holiday gift to yourself! This European-inspired spa is offering Winter Wellness spa treatments featuring Eucalyptus, known to be high in antioxidants to promote relaxation and reduce pain. The calming massage I enjoyed was delightful. I’m glad I took some extra time to use the steam room and have a cup of tea in the relaxation room
- Carriage rides: My family had the chance to experience a private horse-drawn carriage ride when we visited and it was surprisingly relaxing and fun. During the holiday season, those on these rides will be able to take in the decorations and lights too. This approximately 12-minute experience is fun for the entire family. Up to six people can ride in the private carriage for a cost of $75.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Try to arrive at ICE! right as the doors open. Crowds start forming early and grow throughout the day. Or, try to swing a weekday visit.
Gaylord Opryland Christmas Deals
As the prices for all these events can add up if bought individually, you might be interested in some money-saving deals. I know I am! There are two bundled activity packages that will save money on these exciting events.
Veterans, first responders, teachers, Marriott Bonvoy members and others may be eligible for extremely attractive overnight deals that include ICE! tickets.
Silver Play & Save Pass
Includes access to ICE! featuring Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, ice tubing and Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt. Click here to save 20% on this package.
Gold Play & Save Pass
Includes ICE! featuring Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, ice tubing, Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt, Ice Skating, Gingerbread Decorating (house kit), Snowball Build & Blast and Hot Chocolate (1 serving in a souvenir cup). Click here to save 30% on this package.
Each of the Gaylord hotels presents its own version of ICE! This year, the other celebrations are:
- Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida will present “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” from November 18, 2022 – January 1, 2023. (As an added bonus, this Gaylord property is near Orlando. That makes it easy to add on a trip to see Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney World!)
- Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas will present “The Polar Express” from November 11, 2022 – January 1, 2023.
- Gaylord National in National Harbor, Maryland will present “A Christmas Story” from November 20, 2022 – December 31, 2022.
- Gaylord Rockies Resort in Aurora, Colorado will present “A Charlie Brown Christmas” from November 18, 2022 – January 1, 2023.
Ice tubing, skating and carriage rides are only part of the holiday experience. There also are exclusive dinner shows and complimentary light and fountain shows.
Holiday Light Shows
There is something about a display of holiday lights to enhance your holiday spirit.
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And during the Gaylord Opryland Christmas, there are many opportunities for this. Stroll the Magnolia Lawn to see the three million holiday lights. There is a nightly tree lighting and Christmas light displays inside and outside the facility, operating from 5pm to midnight.
Grab a hot chocolate and a scarf (especially if you aren’t used to chilly weather) and enjoy the sparkle of the season. At 4:55pm nightly, join other guests on the Magnolia Lawn to sing Christmas carols and watch the spectacular tree lighting.
Also, don’t miss the outdoor nativity display featuring special effects lighting and an audio rendition of the biblical story of Christmas.
Seasonal Fountain Shows
Relax after dinner while experiencing the impressive synchronization of light, water, and holiday music in the free nightly fountain show in the Delta Atrium. Brightest Star Fountain Show will occur daily at 6pm and 8pm, and Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. only. Sounds of the Season Fountain Show can be seen daily at 7pm and 9pm, and Dec. 31 at 7 pm only. Free.
Christmas Ice Skating Show
An all-new LIVE ice-skating show will feature champion skaters, big jumps, fast spins, and awe-inspiring throws and lifts! And you don’t have to walk far from your hotel room to see it! Seated tickets are $13.99 and standing room only is free.
A Country Christmas with The Oak Ridge Boys
If you are looking for a country Christmas, buy tickets to the 5-week residency of The Oak Ridge Boys as part of Gaylord Opryland’s 39th annual A Country Christmas event.
The Oaks “Christmas in Tennessee” Dinner Show beginning November 23 will feature a holiday meal followed by a performance of Christmas classics and timeless hits from The Oak Ridge Boys and their band.
General Jackson Holiday Cruises
What a treat to enjoy an authentic riverboat with a delicious meal and a fantastic show. My family enjoyed the novelty of boarding the General Jackson Showboat and having a “fancy” dinner with an entertaining show to follow.
It gave us a unique vantage point to see downtown Nashville from the middle of the beautiful Cumberland river.
During the holiday season, the General Jackson Showboat presents a real Tennessee Christmas. This 2.5-hour cruise celebrates the most wonderful time of the year. Tickets for the lunch or dinner show start at $64.99 per person and include the show, meal and cruise.
SheBuysTravel Tip: While the cabin where dinner is served is toasty warm and climate controlled, the open-air decks where guests wait for the meal and show to begin are not. Bring a jacket or wrap to ward off the cold and wind. The lower deck has limited tables with comfortable chairs and is a bit warmer.
Gaylord Opryland Hotel
Ice! is the signature holiday event, but the Gaylord Opryland Resort is a stunning destination any time of the year. The best way to see as much as you can is to be overnight guests. We visited for three nights and four days and still didn’t see it all!
The resort is immense and truly magnificent, like a small village under one roof. There are a variety of restaurants, from cute coffee shops to white tablecloth-covered bistros. It boasts 2,712 hotel rooms and 176 suites.
And the cherry on top is SoundWaves, the upscale water experience that can excite people of all ages. This is an upscale one-of-a-kind resort in Nashville that takes “family-friendly” to the next level.
My family of six tumbled out of our Honda Odyssey on a Saturday afternoon and were immediately stunned upon entering the Cascades lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Resort. It was just so big! Small groups of people milled around, with families lounging in the comfortable lobby chairs.
The glass dome that covers the atrium lets the sunshine pour through, making everything seem warm and bright. The sound of rushing water from the massive, multi-story waterfalls was a pleasant background buzz, sort of like the sound of the ocean on a beach vacation. We felt welcomed, not just by the staff offering to help us, but by the southern hospitality that seems ingrained in the resort’s fiber.
When we arrived in Nashville, the Gaylord staff were just beginning to put up the thousands of lights and holiday decorations throughout the resort.
If I thought the place was bright during the sunny day, it was spectacular at night with lights twinkling throughout the atriums, on railings and balconies and everywhere I looked. The nightly light show syncs these lights with a dancing water fountain and projected images.
In November, those lights turn red and green and the pumpkins will turn into Christmas trees.
Room with a View
With six people in our family, we occupied two rooms that connected. Both had balconies that overlooked the Cascade atrium. It was fun for our kids, ages 10 to 15, to be able to enjoy the nightly live music and general commotion of the hotel without leaving the room.
Both rooms featured two queen beds and family-friendly extras like an in-room coffee maker, refrigerator, and a second sink area outside of the bathroom. If you’ve ever traveled with a 15-year-old girl, you will know the bathroom is in use 90% of the time.
There are 12 dining destinations within the Gaylord Opryland complex. You can take your time and linger over red wine and pasta, grab an ooey gooey Cinnabon on your way out and everything in between.
While we didn’t partake on this trip, the Gaylord offers in-room dining throughout the day. I saw several people enjoying their room service meals on their balcony and was just a little bit jealous.
Instead, we opted for quick-service restaurants, grab-and-go options and the delicious pizza parlor. With kids, sometimes you just go with what is easy and keeps everyone happy! Next time we visit I plan to try Stax Burger Bar and The Falls lounge.
Starting November 12, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Friends will be the starts at a special Rudolph’s Holly Jolly breakfast event. It includes breakfast, games, and the opportunity to sing along to favorite holiday music. Tickets start at $27.99 per person.
For some adult fun, don’t miss the specially crafted drinks and light bites at the seasonal Frosty’s Pub or the Tree Farm Bar too.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The restaurants can get crowded, especially when the hotel is at capacity, so plan ahead and make reservations early if you want a sit-down meal. The concierge helped us immensely by making a reservation for the super popular buffet breakfast one morning, letting us sleep in a bit.
Sound Waves Water Experience
With all the exciting holiday activities and attractions, do not miss SoundWaves, the upscale indoor/outdoor water experience kids of all ages (and their parents) will adore. There are dedicated recreation zones for adults, young children and families.
This is not the waterpark of your youth, though. It is a unique swimming, sliding an
d even surfing experience.
Discover several multi-story water slides, a winding lazy river, aqua basketball court and the ever-popular Flow Rider surfing simulator. The plethora of seating, availability of snacks and drinks (including alcoholic kinds) and immersive, energizing music make this an extraordinary oasis for all to enjoy.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you want guaranteed access, you should reserve the SoundWaves Experience Overnight Package.
Wildlife Rescue – An Augmented Reality Experience
While this is not exactly a show, the Wildlife Rescue is an exciting way for families to learn more about endangered animals using augmented reality.
The spacious atriums are transformed into an exciting safari for families with virtual experience guides The adventure highlights indigenous animals and brings them to life with the “magic” of technology. This experience is free.