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Gaylord National’s ICE! – Merry Madagascar

We are always looking for something to do around the Washington DC area and last Saturday we drove over to the National Harbor to experience ICE! at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center. National Harbor is easy to find right off of I-95 in Oxen Hill, MD. We purchased our tickets online as well as discounted parking ($10 online or $21 at the garage). The price of the tickets provided an “ouch” moment; not cheap at all. Tickets for adults are $35 each on the weekends. They are only $25 if you go during the week.

We decided to go to the National Harbor early to grab some lunch and do a little Christmas shopping. This was our first trip to the National Harbor and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the selection of shopping stores that were available. There were also some craft vendors selling but nothing interested us. Peg did manage to buy some Mike and Ikes at the Peeps store. At least there was a better selection of restaurants.



Since we had some time to kill, we went inside the Gaylord to check out the decorations. Everything was done up well and very festive looking. Poinsettias were everywhere and many Christmas trees were scattered about. If you wanted to, you could build a gingerbread house or visit with the characters of Dreamworks. Well, that is if you wanted to pony up more cash. The Gingerbread House kit package was $49.95 and you have to stay at the resort for the meet and greet at $150 per person!



Over in the actual ICE! area there are a few more things to do. You can ice skate in the small rink for $12, take 3 laps around the Christmas tree on the Potomac Express train for $2, or get your photo taken with some penguin characters from the Madagascar movies for even more money. Are you sensing a theme yet?



So after queuing up for a short time you are ushered in to a small theater room where you get to watch a short Merry Madagascar promo which also proclaims “Available for purchase on DVD” and then a more interesting bit of the behind the scenes making of the ice sculptures.  From the ICE! website:

ICE! is created by dozens of artisans who will migrate to the D.C. area from Harbin, China to craft this elaborate attraction out of nearly 2 million pounds of ice. It takes them nearly an entire month of 12-hour shifts to transform the refrigerated tent where the exhibit is held into a remarkable icy wonderland.

Then you queue up once again to get your blue parka before you enter the 9 degree freezer. It is truly amazing to see what these artists can do with a block of ice. All the bright colors and lights kept us smiling the whole time we were in the deep freeze.


Bonus time! About halfway through the ice sculptures is a giant ice slide. Peg decided to give it a try and exited all giggly after her ride. I watched a couple people get stuck which gave me more chuckles. They do warn you to sit on you parka so you don’t get stuck! The whole ICE! tour took us only about 20 minutes; it’s not that big. After exiting, there is one last push to sell you more stuff as you must exit through the gift store.



We did enjoy our time at the National Harbor and the Gaylord National. Was it worth the price? Probably not but at least we can say we are doing our part to stimulate the economy. The only real bad thing is now I can’t get Vanilla Ice out of my brain, “Ice, Ice, Baby!”


  1. Rollin' in my 5.0....

    I agree that it's definitely pricey, but worth doing at least once. Would love to know if you have other suggestions for festive, holiday outings in the area that don't cost so much.

  2. One thing that we are trying to do this year is the walking tour of lights at Brookside Gardens.

    We have done the one at Clearbrook Park, "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" , several times in the past.


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