True to form, Moody Gardens comes through for Galveston and Houston residents in rain, sleet or snow. Though Mother Nature may deny Southwest Texas a cold and frosty winter, Moody Gardens more than makes up for Mother Nay’s stern denial by cranking down the temperature and turning up the winter fun with its attractions that will please everyone from ages 1 to 92.
Snow, ice, and the blessing of a winter wonderland will be available for several weeks thanks to the island getaway’s eight exciting exhibits that Texans and visitors alike can all enjoy, all wrapped into one venue continuing through January 8.
ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures Caribbean Christmas takes guests on a breathtaking underwater journey from the shores of Galveston Island through the Gulf of Mexico. They’ll discover sunken treasure and a festive Christmas theme along the way. An ice slide takes the form of a towering oil rig to venture through the beautiful Flower Garden Banks, filled with spectacular schools of tropical fish, eagle rays, turtles, dolphins, Hammerhead sharks and more on the way to their Caribbean island.
Regarding the choice of a Caribbean theme, Moody Garden public relations coordinator Mariauna Hernandez says, “We wanted a signature theme. We have a huge multi-million renovation with the aquarium, and we wanted to do something with ICE LAND that can coincide. It’s a way to get people excited and pumped about the exhibits we’ll do next year.”
And what holiday would be complete without a few adult beverages? Located inside ICE LAND, the new Shivers Ice Bar will give the phrase “frosty beverage” new meaning.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this. Everything is made of ice. Shelving areas and ice bottles have been made from ice. The tables are made of ice. The neon light bars are made to give it an illumination this year,” said Hernandez.
Be sure to bundle up for this below-freezing bar. They’ll provide the parkas, but they recommend bringing a spare pair of mittens and thick socks. Additionally, patrons can order from a festive holiday cocktail list that will highlight a local, hand-crafted vodka.
The ICE LAND attraction immerses visitors with a diverse range of sculptures in a 28,000 sq. ft. insulated tent chilled to nine degrees.
That's just the tip of the ice berg. The park also will open up its Festival of Lights, which is a one-mile lighted walking trail with more than 100 sound-enhanced light and animated displays themed to everyone's favorite holiday music.
No winter wonderland would be complete without some time in the ice rink. Visitors can skate on the area’s only outdoor skating rink this season. For another action adventure, an Artic Slide will allow guests to grab an inner tube and plunge down the 100-foot path.
There’s nothing like a holiday movie to set the mood. The MG 3D Theater will show some of the classic movies on the largest screen in Texas. It features the world’s first 4K 3D giant screen 6-Primary laser projection system, which is nearly three and a half times brighter than standard theaters and enhances the viewing experience. Additionally, the FX 4D Theater will bring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the 4D screen, along with high-definition 3D projection combined with seat sensors, leg ticklers, wind, snow, and scent and water spritzes to engage all the senses.
Train Rides will take passengers along the Festival of Lights trail in a box car or caboose so that guests can enjoy the animated Christmas displays themed to holiday music.
The Cirque Joyeux Noel Dinner and Show will bring the thrills and excitement of the Christmas season live on stage at the Moody Gardens Convention Center. A team of acrobats, aerialists, clowns and more perform for an enchanting evening of food, comedy and circus acts. This one-hour Christmas spectacular is coupled with a Holiday Buffet Dinner perepared by renowned Moody Gardens Executive Chef Felipe Gonzalez. This show runs December 16 through December 25.
Entertainment includes the hand balancing acts of Christian Stoinev of America's Got Talent fame, the gymnastic prowess of the Cuban Connection on the Russian Barre, the spellbinding quick-change duo Evgeny Vasilenko and Anna Zgurovskaya, the inventive spins of Asaf Mor on the cyr wheel, and the enchanting music and hosting by Michael Hix.
With so much to do, this is the perfect date night or family adventure.
“We are a one-stop shop. We have so many attractions in one location. Everything is in walking distance,” Hernandez said. “We have something for all ages. Because we have so much, we always recommend making a weekend of it.”
Don’t forget, there is a hotel on property for those who want to make it a multi-day experience.
Admission to the Festival of Lights is $10.95, including ice skating admission. Guests can bring their own skates or skate rental is available for $7 with a Festival of Lights ticket. Tickets to the Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, SpongeBob SubPants Adventure, Discovery Museum, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat and Artic Slide are available for $7 each with a Festival of Lights ticket. Artic Slide passes are available for $7 for one slide and $20 for 10 slides.
There are $5 discounts on Value Days, which are Sunday through Thursday running from November 15 through December 17, excluding Thanksgiving.
Cirque Joyeux Noel tickets cost $59 to $95 for adults, $44 to $85 for children aged 3 to 12, and $15 to $75 for infants.
Located at One Hope Boulevard in Galveston, Moody Gardens is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours as we get closer to the holidays. Visit moodygardens.org or call 1-800-582-4673 for the most recent updates or to purchase tickets.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.