#TravelTuesday | A Christmas Experience As Big As Texas

by Rusty Shelton on December 5, 2017 in Travels,
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The only thing more startling than the sheer size and grandeur of the Christmas experience at the Gaylord Texan Resort is the feeling you get when the 9 degree temperature hits you as you walk into ICE!, the two million pound ice structure tour that is the main attraction for the resort’s Lone Star Christmas event.

After considering it in recent years, my wife Paige and I finally decided to take our kids (ages 10, 8 and almost 2) to the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, which is located pretty much right in between Dallas and Ft. Worth near the DFW airport. I had been to the Gaylord Opryland Resort before, so I had an inkling of what we were in for, but the enormity of the Christmas experience at the resort in Texas still managed to over-deliver.

Amazing Christmas decor at the Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Atrium.
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As part of the 13th annual Lone Star Christmas event, the resort completely transformed its four-and-a-half acres of indoor gardens into a winter wonderland, featuring two million holiday lights, 15,000 ornaments, a 54-foot tall Christmas tree, 25-foot tall toy soldiers, 2,300 wreaths, 5,600 feet of garland, and magical miniature train sets, just to name a few.

The Hill Country Atrium at the Gaylord Texan, near Grapevine.
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Although our kids enjoyed seeing the lights and decorations, the real fun starts when you head into the conference center area of the resort where holiday activities include the two-million-pound ice sculpture attraction I mentioned earlier, a 12-lane snow tubing hill, an outdoor ice skating rink, gingerbread decorating, breakfast with Rudolph, milk & cookies with Mrs. Claus, and even photos with Santa.

Holiday activities include breakfast with Rudolph, milk & cookies with Mrs. Claus, a 12-lane snow tubing hill, an outdoor ice skating rink and gingerbread decorating.
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We stayed Saturday – Monday and it was a home football weekend for the Dallas Cowboys (whose stadium is nearby), so it was very crowded but the resort managed the crowds in a way that limited wait times, which was a pleasant surprise. One of the most impressive areas of management for the resort was around guest arrival, as we got there amidst many other families and the valet crew stood out for their efficiency and effectiveness at moving families through.

“…you can count on the Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas to over-deliver on extravagance, memories and fun for the whole family.”

The Gaylord Texan has parkas on hand for guests in the ICE! winter wonderland.
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Once we checked in, we headed to the heated pool and hot tub to relax a bit, and then cleaned up and headed off to the array of ICE! activities. Our sons are 8 and 10 and had a lot of fun ice skating, throwing snowballs and especially enjoyed the ice sculpture walk. It’s hard to put into words how cold it is during the 10-15 minutes that you’re walking through the ice sculpture tour. Thankfully, the resort had parkas on hand (it was 75 degrees outside, so most people come unprepared) and we gladly accepted. Once inside, you feel like you have been taken to another world, which is much colder and more magical than the one you left outside the tent. In addition to many themed structures, the exhibit also includes ice slides for the kids (which they loved).

The thing I loved about the set-up at the Gaylord Texan is that, in addition to ICE!, the resort features a ton of other fun activities that keep everyone entertained. I enjoyed watching football at the Texas Station Brewpub & Sports Bar while our kids loved the arcade.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for us was how cool downtown Grapevine is. We ventured out on Sunday morning and were pleasantly surprised to find a quaint, scenic downtown area with great restaurants, historical attractions and lots of great wine tasting and shopping. Although a family has everything they need at the Gaylord Texan, from great restaurants to activities, sometimes it’s fun to venture out as well, so if you make the trip, make sure to save time to head out for a meal in downtown Grapevine.

If you can be patient with a line here and there and are willing to invest in a memorable experience, you can count on the Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas to over-deliver on extravagance, memories and fun for the whole family.

Rusty Shelton, an author/entrepreneur based in Spicewood, TX, is founder and CEO of Zilker Media and publisher of ForbesBooks.