23 Nov 2015

Florida Family Holiday Traditions: Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort 

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

{UPDATE: 11/20/2017. Pictured Above: The 2014 Majestic Tree. Below details are from the 2017 event.}

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! We love this tradidtion each year as new experiences are added and we cherrish our memories of years past too!

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!

Explore the sights and sounds of Christmas at Gaylord Palms, discover a brand-new experience this year as the Christmas Tree Trail debuts! Set inside the Everglades Atrium, this Christmas Tree Trail offers a display of nine magnificent trees provided by Balsam HillTM, adorned with decorations honoring the culture and traditions of various countries including Brazil, China, Italy and more. Guests can explore the trail at their leisure, admiring the décor while learning about international holiday celebrations.

You’ll also encounter some extra Christmas magic when they visit the new, immersive Reindeer Express Post Office. Kids are invited to jot down their top Christmas wishes on a postcard before entering this special facility to send their wishes off on a journey to Santa. When kids submit their postcards, they can watch as the cards are stamped and prepared for delivery via a special scan, sending their wishes directly to the North Pole before returning the card to them as a special Christmas keepsake.

Tip: 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- maybe overlooking the atrium with the Christmas tree!!

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! Details are here: 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms Package

Valid from November 21, 2017 through January 6, 2018

Package Price (based on double occupancy):

  • 1-night package rates from $240*
  • 2-night package rates from $414*
  • 3-night package rates from $605*

(Extra adult or child rates available)

Package Includes:

  • Room Accommodations (available for one, two or three night stays)
  • Single-entry ticket to ICE! featuring Christmas Around the World, including the option to schedule your ICE! visit during overnight guest-exclusive Extra Cool Hour, daily from 9-10am (one ticket per person, per stay)
  • Souvenir Family Photo (one per room)

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

Marriott Rewards Exclusive Offers

Marriott Rewards Member Offer — Discount on ICE! Tickets

Save 20% + ICE! tickets. Use promo code MRICE17**.
Discount available: Monday-Friday only, November 21, 2017 – December 15, 2017

Click here for more information on the Marriott Rewards Member Offer.

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 holiday traditions list too!

Cost: No sitting fee to tell Santa you’ve been good this year. Picture packages start at $30 for two 5×7 pictures.
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 (additonal costs do apply)! Decorate away and don’t forget to get your picture taken with the Gingerbread Man or Jack Frost too!

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).


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, 8:15, 8:45 and 9:15pm, you’ll want to be in the Atrium for the lighting of the tree! With lights galore, you’ll instantly be in the spirit!  Gaylord Palms’ dazzling atrium becomes even more merry and bright during Joyful, a spectacular new multisensory experience surrounding the resort’s six-story Christmas tree. Joyful will feature an exclusive holiday musical score along with millions of dancing, choreographed lights during the 12-minute nightly shows that illuminate the resort’s atrium.

Cost: None.








Tip: Come just for an evening by only paying for self- parking or valet. 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
Gaylord Palms welcomes back an exciting, new season of Cirque Dreams Unwrapped – reimagined by Broadway director and renowned Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg. Never-before-seen acts, artistry and costumes set in a magical and timeless wonderland bring this new high-flying adventure for the entire family onto the atrium stage. This latest Cirque Dreams Unwrapped spectacle is a thrilling 25-minute, action-packed experience of amazement, theatricality and imagination that will have guests on the edge of their seats. Complimentary seats will be available on a first come-first seated basis, while Guaranteed Seating may be purchased in advance. There will also be a matinee preformance during some days (see hotel schedule upon arrival.)
Cost: None. Guaranteed Seating may be purchased in advance.

Tip: Arrive EARLY (or purchase a guaranteed 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! Featuring Christmas Around the World & Snow Tubing at Alpine Village
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 ” Christams Around the World.” 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: Blue Parkas for all ages, including children and infants, are provided. Bring hats, scarfs 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- see below.) 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! Double check the height requirement before purchasing!

Cost: 2017 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. But it is fun, so be a kid again and buy that ticket for yourself.  Your kids will love it!


Cost: ICE! & Snow Tubing Combo

  • Save when you purchase an ICE! and Snow Tubing Combo Ticket!
  • Advance Online Price Phone and Box Office Price
  • $46.99 Adults $44.99 Adults
  • $44.99 Seniors** (ages 55+) $41.99 Seniors** (ages 55+)
  • $30.99 Children (ages 4 – 12) $33.99 Children (ages 4 – 12)
  • $18.99 Children 3 and under


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 MRICE17**
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

Don’t leave without a keepsake!
The all-new Build-A-Bear Workshop® Scavenger Hunt sends guests to find Snowburst, the Gaylord Hotels Polar Bear, along with his bear buddies (each with a holiday talent) as they make sure Gaylord Palms is festively decorated with holiday cheer!  In addition, guests can choose from all kinds of furry friends to bring home, including the exclusive light-up Snowburst polar bear, as imaginations soar at the Build-A-Bear Workshop® at Gaylord Palms.

Staying Overnight?


Award-winning buffet restaurant Villa de Flora brings back the hearty and heartwarming Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends, allowing guests to pose with Snoopy and hang out with Charlie Brown and Lucy. In addition to the Peanuts Gang meet and greets, the breakfast includes a delicious morning buffet with themed dishes, such as Charlie Brown’s Build-Your-Own-French-Toast Station with Snoopy’s Maple Syrup, Pig Pen’s Dirty Hash Browns, Lucy’s Flap Jacks and Woodstock’s Granola.

NEW FOR 2017!

What if you could take a field trip to one of the coolest places this holiday?!  Yes!!!

If you’re looking for a field trip that includes not only educational information about geography, history and physics, but also gives students a chance to enjoy a 9-degree winter wonderland, ICE! featuring Christmas Around the World is your wintertime trip.

Educational Inclusions

  • Through an educational video, students will learn from the Chinese artisan ice sculptors about their exciting profession and the lasting impact they have had on Chinese history and culture.
  • Learn fun facts about the many countries featured in our exhibit.
  • Visit The Frostbite Factory – a live ice-carving zone featuring Artisans in Action!
  • Learn about why we see our breath in the ICE! exhibit

More infomation about booking a field trip to the Gaylord Plams here.

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.


Consider staying a night! Take 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… 4 years ago… our first trip. Abby couldn’t even walk!


Read my full reviews on the Gaylord Palms on Trekaroo!

Disclosure: I was compensated with tickets for the ICE event by Gaylord Palms for 2017 for my family. All opinions are my own. However, I will be visiting again…every year… from here until eternity. It has truly become a family tradition in our house.

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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