Good grief, Christmas is big at the Gaylord Texan
GRAPEVINE, Texas — They say things are bigger in Texas. Well, that includes Christmas.
Each year, the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine becomes a 125-acre winter wonderland for the holidays.
Two million holiday lights, 2,000 poinsettias and 15,000 ornaments decorate the hotel’s indoor atrium. The hotel has more than 200 Christmas trees, including one 54 feet tall. There are 5,600 feet of garland and 2,300 decorated wreaths. A miniature train rolls through that atrium, which is guarded by 25-foot-tall nutcrackers.
Eat your heart out, Hallmark.
The Lone Star Christmas Experience features ice skating on a 6,000-square-foot outdoor rink; snow tubing on a two-story, eight-lane indoor hill with 2 million pounds of real snow; a Christmas carousel; gingerbread house decorating; a Christmas village with goodies and gifts; and the star attraction, the ICE! exhibit.
Artisans from Harbin, China, come to Texas each year to hand carve ice sculptures of Christmas images and spend a month working on the project. This year’s theme is “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and the Peanuts gang looks splendid carved and painted in ice. Snoopy has never been cooler.
A journey through the exhibit is like a journey through the Charlie Brown Christmas television special and ends with a stunning life-size nativity scene in ice.
This is the 16th annual ICE! exhibit at the Gaylord Texan and a repeat performance for the Peanuts characters. Charlie Brown and friends were the main attraction 10 years ago, and many people surveyed over the last decade asked for their return, said Martha Neibling, director of marketing and public relations for the Gaylord Texan hotel.
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Scenes within this year's ICE! exhibit include a bewildered Charlie Brown checking an empty mailbox for a Christmas card, Lucy the psychiatrist offering life advice for a nickel, Snoopy’s prize-winning decorated dog house and Linus on stage explaining the true meaning of Christmas, just to name a few.
And, of course, there are the classic scenes of the Peanuts gang ice skating and singing around the Christmas tree. The tent must be kept at 9 F so each guest is given a parka to wear while walking through and viewing the ICE! exhibit. It would be a good idea to bring your own gloves, too, because it is a cold walk.
It takes about a half-hour to view the ice sculptures, assuming you don’t stop and play. The exhibit also features six two-story ice slides for the kids and an ICE Bar for ages 21 and up.
The ICE! exhibit and Christmas Village, located in the convention center that connects to the hotel, opened Nov. 15. On opening weekend there was more than one family — grandparents included — all dressed in Charlie Brown pajamas and making Christmas memories.
The Lone Star Christmas Experience is not only for hotel guests. It is open to the public, but there is a fee for each activity and parking on the grounds, so don’t plan on being a Scrooge if you go.
In the Christmas Village is a Build-A-Bear workshop, and for the first 1,000 bears bought and donated to Marlee’s Smile (a charity that helps children battling cancer), both Build-A-Bear and the Gaylord Texan hotel will match the donation.
Other activities in the hotel for the kids include a breakfast with the Peanuts gang, a Holiday Escape Room, a Merry Snoopy Christmas Scavenger Hunt, Mrs. Claus reading Christmas stories and photos with jolly ol’ St. Nick himself.
The ICE! exhibit and Christmas activities run through Jan. 5. Santa Claus, however, will be checking out of the hotel on Christmas Eve. He has to work that night.
Ed Godfrey's visit to the Gaylord Texan was paid for by the resort. For more details on the Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas events and activities, or to buy tickets and holiday room packages, go to www.christmasatgaylordtexan.com.