Spectacular ice show makes its seasonal debut

This ice sculpture of Alex the lion from Madagascar is about 13 feet tall.
A huge sculpture crafted from both colored and clear ice.
An expert ice sculptor from Harbin, China uses a hand tool to transform a chunk of green ice into a leaf.
These are two-story ice slides for both kids and adults to enjoy.
Here's another view of the sparkling ice slides.
WTOP's Michelle Basch models the long, hooded parka guests are given to keep warm inside the attraction, which is a very chilly 9 degrees. Yes, you have to give it back when you're done.

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

OXON HILL, Md. — Friday’s forecast includes a 100 percent chance of indoor ice.

Friday is opening day of Gaylord National‘s “ICE!” at National Harbor, a walk-through wonderland of ice sculptures housed in a massive tent across from the hotel.

This year, the attraction features the characters from DreamWorks Animation’s “Madagascar” movies, and is based on a holiday TV special called “Merry Madagascar.”

“It tells the story of Santa who crash lands on the island of Madagascar, and gets a bump on his head,” says hotel spokeswoman Amie Gorrell.

The characters learn how to fly Santa’s sleigh and make his very important deliveries around the world.

Forty expert ice carvers from Harbin, China have been working for a full month to prepare the sculptures with forklifts, chainsaws and hand tools.

“The reason why we bring them is because they are known as the world’s best ice carvers,” Gorrell says.

Each block of ice weighs almost 400 pounds, and it takes about 5,000 blocks to build the attraction. Some of the ice is colored, some is white and some is crystal clear. The clear ice is made from deionized, highly filtered water.

The attraction includes a two-story ice slide both kids and adults can enjoy, as well as a sparkling nativity scene made entirely of crystal clear ice.

The tent is kept at a constant 9 degrees, so each visitor is given a long, heavy, hooded parka to wear inside. It’s highly recommended that you wear warm clothes and shoes and bring your own gloves and hat.

Gorrell says buying timed tickets in advance is a good idea, especially if you plan to visit on a weekend when sellouts tend to happen.

Ticket prices start at $25 for adults, and $20 for children ages 4 through 12. Kids 3 and under are free.

“ICE!” is open daily from Nov. 18 through Jan. 8, including holidays.

Get more information and tickets here.

Follow Michelle Basch and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up