Originally published December 2, 2013 at The Los Angeles Beat
The holidays are officially here. Shiny Christmas bulbs, gingerbread houses and visions of sugar plums dancing in a surrealistic dreamscape. It’s the time to count our blessings and fill our cups with gratitude as we literally and figuratively reboot.
Here in Southern California, our sun swept landscape contrasts vibrantly with the idea of a “picture perfect Christmas.” This city, with its green grass and its blooming flowers surely can’t compete with the North Pole. What we lack in snow and ice we make up for in goodwill to men, or so we tell ourselves. Even so, a little winter wonderland vibe goes a long way towards achieving the desired holiday spirit that can often elude the best of us.
Luckily for us, the fine folks at The Queen Mary have once again taken it upon themselves to create the spectacular Ice Kingdom at CHILL, a frigid fairy tale winter playground. This year’s Ice Kingdom theme is the holiday classic The Nutcracker. Inside this magical frozen village, a mouse army does battle with little Clara and her Nutcracker, all intricately carved out of two million pounds of ice. The temperature inside the dome housing this village is a very un-Southern California-like 9 degrees.
You might have forgotten what the rest of the country is experiencing this winter, and if so, walking into the Ice Kingdom will soon remind you how lucky we’ve got it. Outside, a 60 degree night in Long Beach will feel absolutely balmy. Parkas are provided, free of charge, to each guest visiting this ice tundra, but even with one of those it is guaranteed that you will freeze your sweet patootie. A large ice sculpture of the Queen Mary holds stairs leading to a pair of slides also carved from ice. Although sliding looks extremely fun, when you are already freezing, the long line is far from appealing. Hurrying through the rest of the Ice Kingdom might be all that’s on your mind.
Outside there are a lot of adventures to be had. A 100-foot tall tubing run has 6 lanes in which to slide down a sheet of ice in an oversized inner tube. A cheery North Pole village and gingerbread house gives you the chance to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, gingerbread people and some friendly elves.
In the literal shadows of the Queen Mary herself stands a 6,500 square-foot outdoor ice skating rink. It is perfect for warming yourself back up after shivering in the Ice Kingdom by doing a few laps around the rink. The best thing about all of this winter fun is knowing that all of this icy joy is temporary. We thankfully know that after taking off the parkas and as our numb fingers and toes begin to thaw, we can choose to sit by the ocean and stretch our bare feet out onto the still sun-warmed December sand. Let the rest of the country keep their snowy weather…
CHILL: Open Nov 22nd 2013 -Jan 5th 2014. The Queen Mary- 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802; (877) 342-0738.