In 2018 the Gaylord Rockies opened in Denver, just in time for Christmas festivities. I knew of the Gaylord from a visit to see our family in Texas three years ago. The grandparents planned a fun Christmas excursion to the Gaylord Texas for the ICE! exhibit. This Colorado family was a bit confounded at the time about the idea of an indoor ice exhibit. But it is an experience that we still reminisce about. A winter wonderland carved from more than two million pounds of colorful ice and kept at a wintry 9 degrees is memorable. When the opportunity arose to take the kids to this experience at the Gaylord Rockies for Christmas 2019, we grabbed it. We visited for opening night of Gaylord ICE! Here’s what to know!
A Gaylord Christmas in Denver is one not to miss. Denver is already an ideal city to celebrate Christmas. Denver boasts many spectacular Christmas light displays. The Rocky Mountains as a backdrop make it a special holiday destination.
Disclosure: The writer was hosted on this trip by Gaylord Rockies. All opinions, however, are her own.
As you walk in the Grand Lodge of the Gaylord Rockies, you will want to walk straight ahead to take in the 30-foot Christmas tree set at the base of a musical waterfall up against the tallest glass windows looking out to the snow capped Rocky Mountains. To the left is the largest fireplace you’ve ever seen already hung with stockings. And, there’s also a Christmas train which will immediately draw in the little ones.
What is Gaylord Ice!?
ICE is an annual Christmas celebration held at Gaylord Resorts around the country. These Gaylord hotels transform into a holiday wonderlands, featuring a variety of seasonal activities, live entertainment, and grand décor. The centerpiece of these Christmas celebrations is a winter wonderland carved from more than two million pounds of colorful ice crafted by master artisans who travel across the globe from Harbin, China.
What to Know about Visiting Gaylord Ice!
Do you need to stay at the Gaylord Rockies hotel to be able to visit Gaylord Ice!?
No. You do not need to stay at the hotel to visit Gaylord Ice! Though we did. We were guests of the Gaylord Rockies for a media event and were graciously hosted overnight. If you can swing it, staying at the hotel will enable to you take advantage of as many of the fun Christmas activities as possible. And, then you can also enjoy the pool which is part indoor water park and part outdoor fun.
So, what all is there to do at Gaylord Ice?
Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Gaylord Ice! may be what you are going for but we are going to start with Cirque Dreams because it is also over the top. Cirque Dreams was the first part of our Gaylord Ice! experience at Gaylord Rockies. The Gaylord Rockies has converted part of their expansive conference space in to the bubly theater especially for this show.
This riveting theatrical experience includes exciting acts, dazzling costumes and awe-inspiring holiday productions with astonishing aerialists, singers and dancers. It’s a cirque adventure and Broadway musical all in one. And, it is sure to entertain the entire family.
Opening night was somewhat chaotic and it did take a bit longer than we expected for the show to last and thus also to end. But it was quite the show!
Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast
Our family is not that into characters. When at Disney World or on a Disney Cruise we typically skip any character lines. But the Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast was not only delicious, but we really enjoyed the characters. Rudolph and Clarice stop by all the tables several times and do their very best to interact with the kiddos. We even got a little dance out of Rudolph.
I am not going to spoil the surprise, but they were not even our favorite character. Can’t say that mom was all that happy about the dessert bar with breakfast but it might have been the prettiest dessert display we’ve seen. And, they kids were in heaven. It was the perfect start to the day before heading over early to the ICE! exhibit as a Gaylord hotel guest.
Gaylord ICE! Exhibit
Brrrr. I have to wonder how these talented artists maintain their consent ration and precision in the cold that it takes to keep these ice sculptures pristine. While part of the Gaylord Rockies conference space has been converted to the bubly theater, the other part has been converted to a chilly winter wonderland.
On our visit to the Gaylord Ice! exhibit at the Gaylord Texan a couple of years back we made a mistake. We insisted that as Coloradoans we did not need to wear the parkas provided. Oh yes, we did. This time around it sounded as though they were required. But we had already learned from our mistake. We readily accepted the cozy parkas to keep us warm. They also came in handy as a sled on the ice slides.
Gaylord ICE! opens at 9 a.m. to hotel guests and 10 a.m. to regular ticketed guests. There is a Christmas Village at the entrance which is worth a stroll through either before or after touring Ice! We didn’t stop in but there was a candy workshop and visits with Santa.
Naughty & Nice Escape Room
If you want to participate in the Naughty & Nice Escape Room you may want to book in advance. It was sold out and we were not able to experience it. Though is sounds really fun. Your group works together to solve festive puzzles and piece together Christmas clues to erase their names from the naughty list before Santa returns to his office.
Ice Bumper Cars
Our kids managed to be the first in line for Ice Bumper Cars. Unfortunately it did not open right at 10 a.m. So they had to move over to the Ice Tubing before coming back for some fun driving the bumper cars into each other. We got right back in line for a couple of additional rounds before having to head up to the lobby to check out. This may have been the highlight of our visit for the kids, at least for the seven-year-old.
Ice Tubing at Glacier Point
Ice or snow tubing is always fun. And, it is certainly so here at Glacier Point at the Gaylord Rockies. Grab a tube and race your friends or family members down the hill!
Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt
We did not have time to fit in this scavenger hunt featuring Rudolph and The Misfit Toys. Gusts can join team Rudolph and play reindeer games to find the Misfit Toys hiding around the resort. All families that help Rudolph accomplish the special Christmas expedition receive a prize.
Gaylord Rockies Indoor Water Park in Colorado
While Gaylord Rockies would not bill itself as an indoor water park, it comes close to rivaling others indoor water parks in Colorado. The indoor pool includes two large water slides, two spray park areas, a hot tub and a lap pool. Outdoors there is an infinity pool, a lazy river, yet another water slide and a hot tub. Expansive views of the Rocky Mountains expand around the outdoor pool area. We managed to fit in a visit after check out and before heading back up to the mountains after our Christmas fun in Denver.
More Colorado Fun for Families
Denver boasts a full line up of Christmas fun. Be sure to check out some of the other Denver Christmas light displays and more to get you in the holiday spirit.
A very different Christmas tradition. But one that will get you out into Colorado’s beautiful outdoors. Get a permit and head out to the forest to cut your own Christmas tree!
Denver is a great city for family fun during the holidays, as well as other times of the year. But the mountain towns of Colorado also have a special charm. Be sure to check out our ultimate guide to the mountain towns of Colorado to discover other areas to explore with your family!