ORLANDO – Anyone walking through the Atrium at Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center this morning might have found themselves scratching their heads in confusion when Kenny Babel looked out onto the crowd filled with children and said ,“From us here at Gaylord Palms to you, Merry Christmas!”
In the heat of July, Christmas may seem like something that’s still many months away. But to Babel, today’s celebration – billed as Christmas in July at Gaylord Palms – made perfect sense.
“It’s one of the most social times of the year,” he said of the December holiday season.
Babel isn’t with Gaylord Palms, though, but with another well known company: Dreamworks Animation, the studio known for such popular animated features as “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar” and, of course, the “Shrek” series.
The Dreamworks marketing team was on hand at Gaylord Palms today to announce a collaboration this fall between the antimation giant and the resort in Osceola County. Gaylord Palms’ traditional ICE! show, held every year from November through January, will feature a distinctly Shrek-esque theme this year.
“Gaylord Palms has a new alliance with Dreamworks,” said Johann Krieger, vice president and hotel manager at Gaylord Palms. “We think this will be like no other.”
ICE! is a unique event that Gaylord Palms has hosted for several years. Every fall, the resort flies in ice sculptors from China, who spend weeks carving huge blocks of ice into finely designed sculptures that capture holiday themes like Santa Claus, reindeers and the North Pole. Gaylord Palms sets up a special multi-room area where the temperature is kept below the freezing level, and guests who attend ICE! are given thick parkas to wear inside. The rooms typically feel like its 20 degrees — or colder. Each year, the seasonal theme is a little bit different.
“I know last year’s ICE! theme was The Night Before Christmas,” Babel said, and this year, Krieger added, they’re moving in an entirely new direction.
“It’s going to be ‘Shrek the Halls,’ “ Krieger said.
Popular characters from the Shrek movies will be featured in the ice sculptures, and in addition there will be actors in costume portraying Shrek, Donkey, Princess Fiona, Puss In Boots, and other loved figures from the series available throughout the resort.
“We’ll have character wake up calls,” Krieger said. “It’s all very exciting stuff.”
“Shrek and ICE! – that is fantastic,” said Babel. “That means this is the combination of the two.”
Gaylord Palms held a press conference today to unveil the merger, and brought out a massive wooden box on wheels that had the words “Do Not Open Until July 19” written on it. Inside was the ICE! logo, and actors playing Shrek and other Dreamworks characters were soon on stage, ready to entertain the kids in the crowd.
“Please welcome the characters of Dreamworks to Kissimmee in our countdown to Christmas,” Babel said.
As Krieger noted, a lot of people might not be thinking about the Christmas holiday in mid-summer, but he added, “It’s typically the time of year when we talk about our holiday events.”
Larry White, communications director for the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Gaylord Palms is a strong draw for tourists and business travelers, and events like ICE! help bring visitors to this region. He predicted the Shrek-themed ICE! would be a hit for Osceola County’s tourist industry, which he said has been on the upswing this year.
“We have a lot of events coming up in the county,” White said.
And as Babel told the crowd, “Thank you for joining us today – and remember to come back in November!”
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