Breaking bread with an ogre or sluicing down a 20-foot chute of solid ice may not be on your holiday bucket list – but you can bet it’s on your kids’ and grandkids’ wish list, along with the chance to earn Honorary Ogre cred and hobnob with their favorite green swamp dweller.
Gaylord Opryland’s “A Country Christmas” event has returned to Nashville for the 29th year, bringing with it Shrek, Princess Fiona and the whole cast from the swamp in the kingdom of Far Far Away. There’ll be dancin’ in the streets, feasting with the world’s most famous ogre and lots of other “green” themed holiday fun. Also back is the Gaylord’s jaw-dropping world of ICE!, a magical frozen playland carved from 2 million pounds of ice. This year, for the first time, ICE! is all about DreamWorks’ “Shrek the Halls,” and is it ever impressive.
Baby, it’s cold out, er, in
It’s hard to believe these frozen tableaux – where the temps hover at a brisk 9 degrees and visitors must snap themselves into oompa-loompa type parkas for the journey – are mere steps from the tropical warmth within Opryland’s lushly planted atriums. Here, the dense green foliage, compliments of thousands of ornamental plants, get a seasonal pop of color from a profusion of deep red poinsettias and creamy white anthuriums, along with thousands upon thousands of twinkle lights, miles of beribboned and be-wreathed garland and a ceiling-scraping Christmas tree dazzling with shiny packages, baubles and stuffed teddy bears.
As irresistible as kids will find the hotel for its “Shrektacular” amenities, their parents will love it for its crisp and comfy guestrooms and suites (nearly 3,000 of them), many with black wrought iron balconies overlooking the gardens, fountains, waterfalls and river that flows through the nine acres of gardens. This, plus an array of restaurants – burgers-and-fries casual, “outdoor” cafes meandering beneath the glassed rooftop, an upscale steak house tucked into an antebellum mansion and more – please the big people in the party.
And the activities? Inexhaustible. The list includes everything from retail shops, ice cream parlor and coffee klatches to the chummy Library Lounge perched on Delta Island – for ordering up martinis, not checking out books – to the spa and fitness center to the roaring fireplaces in the Magnolia lobby where musicians entertain to the seasonal shows that overtake the hotel like an out-of-control snowball.
Which loops back to Shrek, Gingy and gang. Part of Opryland’s “A Country Christmas,” the Christmassy DreamWorks Experience jolts to life the animated holiday TV special – already a must-see tradition – that had this reluctant hero thumbing through a copy of “Christmas for Village Idiots” to create the perfect day for his family. ICE! features a slew of sculptural vignettes – Fiona hugging her babies, the Three Little Pigs cavorting with Pinochhio, and Donkey just being his sassy, and all aglow in a kaleidoscope of colors. There looms the ogre himself, grinning ear to ear (that’s six feet up and eight massive teeth across), and rising before two slides, the centerpiece of this frozen wonderland.
Click here for Part II of this bucket list adventure.
Click here for Part III of this bucket list adventure.
If You Go
Gaylord Opryland’s “A Country Christmas” is offered now through December 25, 2012. Two- and three-night packages include accommodations; front-of-line access tickets to ICE!; ticket to Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes; tickets to Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas Dinner & Show; tickets for breakfast or luncheon cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat; tickets to Christmas Holly Jolly Town Square including shops, demonstrations, story time with Mrs. Claus and more; admission to Treasures of the Holidays, a craft and gift show with 40-plus unique vendors through Dec. 16; admission to Hall of Trees; and more. The three-night package also includes tickets to Grand Ole Opry and complimentary admission to the “Kids Only” shopping area.
The Christmassy DreamWorks Experience, through January 1, 2013, features two- and three-night packages that include accommodations, front-of-line access tickets to ICE!, ShrekFeast Interactive Character Meal, VIP seating for the Holiday Shrektacular, DreamWorks Character Holiday Meet & Greets, scavenger hunt, souvenir family photo, character wake-up call and a welcome amenity upon check-in.
Visit www.GaylordHotels.com/gaylord-opryland/a-country-christmas/packages/index.html#dw for specific packages and package inclusions.
In addition to the Gaylord Opryland, the Gaylord Palms, Gaylord Texas and Washington D.C.-based National Gaylord, will also offer the ICE! indoor wonderland featuring DreamWorks’ characters from “Shrek the Halls” and “Madagascar” and special holiday packages. Visit www.GaylordHotels.com to see individual hotels’ specific offerings.