ICE at the Gaylord

My sister treated the girls to ICE at Gaylord National Harbor this past Monday. I paid for myself and tagged along. Yes, with the boy too. Bad idea. I didn’t fully think about the time of day (note: boy’s nap time) and the website didn’t fully disclose what it’s like inside the arena. Sure, it says the indoor massive ice sculpture is nine degrees and one should dress appropriately. What it does not say, however, is that entrance is on a rolling basis so the line is continuous. It takes 45-60 minutes in line (the line snakes around information boards of Dr. Seuss’s history and lithographs of early works) and the line waiting area is heated. The layers of long underwear, extra socks and three shirts to be comfortable in nine degrees were making everyone irritable. Add a sleepy, hungry, cranky, hot 15 month old who wants to practice his new ability to walk but at the same time is too tired to actually stand and wants to be held, then wants to be down, then wants to be held, and fun times are shot to shit.

Also unaccounted for was the group of about 25 who decided they were going to bypass the maze of a line and go straight to the front. The website lists other things that one can see at ICE aside from the main Grinch attraction. These appear to be optional things to see, but the walls of Dr. Seuss information are along the way to the entrance. The group of people who bypassed the line claimed they simply opted not to visit that attraction. Um, this is the way the line is going. Opening a rope and shimmying one’s husky butt through while whispering ssshhh doesn’t seem to be a simple “opting out.”

By the time we reached the entrance and donned the “required” parka, the boy was done with it all. He screamed and yelled. I wanted to scream and yell. Holding him was making my arm ache. Trying to hold him and put on a coat over my coat that is over my three shirts was just too much. The website stated infant coats were available but they had none. I wasn’t even sure he needed one over his coat which was heavily lined and over two shirts (I’d brought a blanket for him). I began to get lightheaded. I felt myself perspiring through each shirt so that the top sweater was now wet. I handed the boy off to get the coat on and he kicked in protest. By the time we actually entered the beautiful, amazing gallery of Whoville in ice all I could think was fuck this. I love the Grinch. I can watch the movie repeatedly, saying the lines, singing the songs. But. Fuck. This. I felt trapped, claustrophobic. I felt my arms were being held down. The boy was heavy. My turtleneck was choking me, my neck was itching, and I was sure there were hives on my face. It all made me want to escape. So, I think I actually did say fuck this. And I handed my sister the camera, said video them coming down the slide, and left.

It really was nine degrees in there. But I couldn’t get past feeling hot to feel the cold. I ripped off the parkas and took us to the bathroom (which was outside — where it was cold and windy). The boy settled down and we sat in the ice skating area until they came out. We clung to each other, quiet, me not pointing out what people were doing and him not pointing at people asking “what’s that?” I think the experience took a lot out of both of us. As luck would have it, my camera died and I hadn’t given my sister the batteries I’d brought in case that happened.

Even with this experience, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from attending ICE. The fact that I walked through two million pounds of ice sculpted into perfect scenes of the Grinch and various Whos is absolutely amazing. I wish I had better pictures. I simply should have been better prepared, more informed, and perhaps babyless. Or maybe I just needed more snacks and the stroller. If we go next year I’ll be sure to think it through more fully.

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