23 Nov 2015

Florida Family Holiday Traditions: Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort 

3 Comments Family Travel, Florida, Holidays, Review, Travel, Travel Tuesday, Uncategorized

{NOTE: Pictured Above: The 2014 Majestic Tree. Below details are from the 2015 event. New details for 2016 to come.}

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A the heart of every family tradition is a meaning experience. The holidays are wrapped in traditions that I hope live with kids in their memory for years to come and might even be taken into the next generation. I feel like many of our traditions began once we had our son. Memories of “the first time” we did things as a family always make me smile. Now that our kids are older, I know which experiences they look forward to each year. They get so excited once they find out the date and start to reminisce of last years experience. Christmas at Gaylord Palms has become one of our most cherished traditions and we look forward to it each year.

This is not just one experience. There are so many things to do and see while you are there for a night or even a weekend! Here’s what you’ll need to know if you plan on attending for an evening of holiday magic! (Additional times are listed on the website and are subject to change.)

Tip: Before you go, purchase your tickets for ICE! as they can sell out nightly.


3:00pm: Arrive! Check in! Welcome to Christmas at the Gaylord Palms Resort!
I recommend arriving early to enjoy the resort. Explore the resort. Each year they have a scavenger hunt that takes place in the main atrium. This year, have your eyes peeled for the Elf on the Shelf elves placed throughout! Find them and submit your form for a special prize! This is always on of the kids’ favorite activities!

If you are staying the weekend with a Christmas package, arrive early to swim (their kids pool is awesome and yes it should be warm enough) or check into your amazing room!

Cost: Purchase the Christmas at Gaylord Palms Package and save money as it includes tickets to ICE! and a photo with Santa for the family!

Package Price:

  • Rates start at $256 for weekday. More information here.
  • (Extra adult or child rates available)
  • Package Includes:
  • Room accommodations
  • Tickets to ICE!® with priority access and unlimited entry during your stay
  • Souvenir Family Photo (one per room)

Tip: Ask about AAA membership discounts or Marriott Rewards discounts.

Marriott Rewards Member Offer — Discount on ICE! Tickets

Book by Nov. 1 to save 30% on ICE! tickets. Use promo code MRICE16**.
Discount available: Sunday-Thursday, November 20 – December 15, 2016

Tickets are available online, via phone or at the Box Office. Tickets subject to tax and service fee.
**Not valid with any other offers or discounts.

Tip: For the evening events, bring the whole family dressed in holiday clothes and use the amazing props for a beautiful family picture! So many scenes to choose from in the hotel, one is bound to be a perfect family photo opportunity for the Christmas card. Santa is also available daily for pictures in Alpine Village if you’d like to get that checked off your traditions list too!

Cost: No sitting fee to tell Santa you’ve been good this year. Picture packages start at $35.
Additionally, in Alpine Village, which opens typically opens 12pm to 6pm daily (times vary by day through out the season) stop by and decorate Gingerbread House or a cookie family! Decorate away and don’t forget to get your picture taken with the Gingerbread Man himself!

Cost: Cookie Family Kit $22.99 or Gingerbread House $29.99

Tip: Save money if you are staying overnight be booking a package! Or ear at Wreckers and have them validate your self-parking ticket with a receipt of over $25 (for self-park).  And ask for Cherish…best waitress ever!


6:15pm: Majestic Christmas Tree Lighting

Arrive early and you’ll marvel at the decor, especially the most Majestic Christmas tree in the middle of the St. Augustine Atrium. Standing 54 feet tall, it’s a magnificent sight to see and totally gets is in the Christmas spirit as soon as we see it. Nightly at 6:15pm, you’ll want to be in the Atrium for the lighting of the tree! With carolers (the Mistletones sang tonight) and lights galore, you’ll instantly be in the spirit!

Cost: None








Tip: Come just for an evening by only paying for parking. Cone early to get a sweet holiday treat from the coffee shop before you sit down, or have dinner at the hotel before the festivities begin.


6:30pm: Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Stage Show
Even if you only come for an evening, you’ll be treated to the most spectacular show immediately filling the Majestic Christmas Tree Lighting. The new show, Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Stage Show is THE MOST fabulous treat of the season. The first time we saw it, I was in awe that this show is preformed nightly for guests during the season. For the first time in their 22 years of performing on an international stage, Cirque Dreams will perform nightly to awe families with its acrobatics on the stage and in the air. My children are captivated by this style of theatrics and live performance.
Cost: None

Tip: Arrive early for a great seat.

6:55: NEW! The Grand Snowfall 
No more dreaming of a white Christmas Florida kids! Immediately following the show, the entire Atrium will be turned into a gigantic 4.5 acre snow globe as snow will fall from the sky. Such a magicsl night to remember for all the kids who haven’t seen snow fall!


7:00pm ICE! ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas & Snow Tubing
I had to see it to believe it. Think Christmas morning in Alaska. 9 degrees. A little chilly, right?! What exactly is it? The ICE! experience is two million pounds of hand-carved ice on display for all to see. A new theme is chosen for ICE! each year. This year, the theme is ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Beautiful ice sculptures are inside this winter wonderland where you’ll walk through admiring their beauty. Four two-story ice slides are also inside! Typically, people walk through for 30-60 minutes. Lots of photo opportunities. My favorite scene is the Nativity scene carved from crystal clear ice. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Attire: Coats for all ages, including children and infants, are provide. Bring hats and mittens. Boots aren’t necessary, but close toed shoes are required.
Upon your exit out of the ICE! experience, you’ll see the Snow Tubing Experience! This is a separate price (and up grading is available.) This was my kids’ favorite part! Grab a tube, walk up the slide and slide down until your heart is content. It feels just like snow tubing down a real hill up north!

The prices are for one time admittance only. So you can’t come back all day, even if you are staying overnight. They vary by time slot too. J

Cost: 2016 Prices for ICE! Only Advance Online Price  // Phone and Box Office Price

  • $28.99 Adults // ($29.99 Adults if you purchase at box office on on phone)
  • $26.99 Seniors** (ages 55+)// $28.99 Seniors** (ages 55+) if you purchase at box office or on phone)
  • $14.99 Children (ages 4 – 12) //$16.99 Children (ages 4 – 12) if you purchase at box office or on phone)
  • Children (3 and under) FREE with paying adult.

Tip: If you, the adult, won’t be riding the snow tube, just buy that ticket for your child. You can still go in and take pictures.


Cost: ICE! & Snow Tubing Combo

  • Save when you purchase an ICE! and Snow Tubing Combo Ticket!
  • Advance Online Price Phone and Box Office Price
  • $41.99 Adults $44.99 Adults
  • $38.99 Seniors** (ages 55+) $41.99 Seniors** (ages 55+)
  • $31.99 Children (ages 4 – 12) $33.99 Children (ages 4 – 12)
  • Children (3 and under) FREE with paying adult

Tip: Buy your ticket early and online if not staying over night. Tickets WILL cost more if bought at the box office and over the phone.








Tip: Save money on tickets three ways:
Florida Residents Offer (ICE! tickets only)


Save an additional $4 per ticket for advance tickets, and save $3 on regular ticket sales. Use promo code FLR15 when you book your tickets to save**! Offer valid on the purchase of ICE! tickets only.
Marriott Rewards Member Offer — Discount on ICE! Tickets

Save 20% on ICE! tickets by using promo code MRICE16**
Hero Offer

The program is for first responders and their families (military, fire, police).

Adult: $22.99**

Child: $8.99**

Dates: Every day
Purchase: ICE! Box Office only

Is it worth it? What’s my option for best pricing?

Yes, yes, YES!  We LOVE this event and you will too! Sometimes Groupons or Living Social will have a deal. For those that have gone before, they will swipe up the offer immediately because it does save money.

For us, here’s my breakdown: Tickets were purchased online.
$20 Self Parking ($27 valet)

$95.97 Three children tickets to ICE! with Snow Tubing Combo Ticket

$57.98 Two Adults

Free One Three Year Old

-$20 Florida Resident deal

$153.95 Florida Resident ICE! & Snow Tubing Combo Tickets for a family of 5 plus one baby.

At this price, you might consider taking advantage of a one night stay that would include tickets to ICE!. The hotel’s amenities and pool are so much fun, that this would be a special weekend! Even for one night, with the whole family, we feel what we experience is well worth the cost of this tradition.

We love our tradition of Gaylord Palms and we look forward to it each year!

Then… 3 years ago…


Read my full reviews on the Gaylord Palms on Trekaroo!

*I was compensated with tickets for the ICE event by Gaylord Palms for 2015. All opinions are my own. I will be visiting again…every year, from here until eternity.

written by
Marisa is a Mama to 4 kids and resides in Tampa, Florida with her family. Connect with her on Twitter @TampaMama to learn more about Tampa Bay and things to do with kids, Florida family travel, travel adventures and tips or her secret parenting tips for staying alive while wrangling 4 kids. She has a "official" business background in marketing + PR + events, but now plays daily with social media strategy, brand development and digital media. Days are long. Life is short.

3 Responses to “Florida Family Holiday Traditions: Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort ”

  1. Reply O'Connor Law says:

    This is a great idea for a family vacation. Has a little something for everyone.

  2. Reply Barnett Woolums says:

    It looks so beautiful, a great way to get into the holiday season.

  3. Reply Santa’s Flight Academy Lands in Tampa, Florida at International Plaza for the Holidays || Tampa Mama  says:

    […] Tampa, you’ll definitely want to plan a trip over before the holidays are over!  We visit every year and love all the experiences that have that are now considered traditions for our family. Enter to […]

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