Behind The Scenes: ICE LAND: Rainforest Holiday

page title: Behind The Scenes: ICE LAND: Rainforest Holiday
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Behind The Scenes: ICE LAND: Rainforest Holiday

Updated 188 days ago

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Moody Gardens as this year's holiday attractions are officially underway. One of the favorites of the attractions has been ICE LAND, which began in 2014 with 'Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants' and has since become the premier holiday destination in the Southwest.

This year, prepare for a spectacular journey through the wonders of rainforests from around the world as Moody Gardens debuts ICE LAND: Rainforest Holiday. Experience monkeys, birds, butterflies, orchids and so much more -- all hand-carved out of ice! The award-winning carving team traveled 6,633 miles from Harbin, China and worked diligently for 45 days to create these mesmerizing masterpieces! 



First things first: you will definitely need to bundle up for your journey through the chilly exhibit, which is kept at a frigid nine degrees Fahrenheit. Parkas are provided to guests, but wearing close-toed shoes, pants and gloves are highly recommended. As guests are transported to rainforests from around the world, one of the first sculptures you see is a clear-ice Rainforest Pyramid, illuminated green from the inside, just like the real Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid! The sculpture sets the scene for this year's Rainforest Holiday theme, but also provides the perfect holiday photo opp for friends and family.

Transition through a giant magnifying glass, as leaf-cutter ants and many other animal sculptures become larger than life! Using special chainsaws and ice picks, members of the CAA Ruijing Ice Carving Team also created animals including a porcupine, turtles, giant river otters, an ocelot, birds and fish.

"We are excited to watch as this year's Rainforest Holiday theme comes to life. The ice carvers are able to draw inspiration from our own Rainforest Pyramid, which showcases thousands of plants and animals from the rainforests of the world," John Zendt, Moody Gardens president and CEO, said. "We're thrilled ICE LAND and our other holiday attractions have become traditions for so many. Moody Gardens is a magical place where families can make lasting memories."

Other unique and wonderful aspects of the exhibit include a beautiful tunnel that is illuminated with Christmas lights. Peek through the slits in the wall to see bats and snakes galore! Also check out Shivers Ice Bar, returning with a Mayan Ruins theme this season and the Giant Ruins Ice Slide -- measuring 36 feet tall -- that allows guests to soar from the treetops to the rainforest floor, starting with an 8-foot tall Harpy Eagle at the top of the slide.

As an exhibit finale, ICE LAND offers visitors an exclusive sneak peek at next year's theme, but you're going to have to see that in person to find out! For tickets and more information about all the wonderful Moody Gardens holiday attractions, visit Moody Gardens website.

ICE LAND: Rainforest Holiday Fun Facts

  • ICE LAND is back for its fourth year with a brand new theme ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures: Rainforest Holiday.
  • Two-million pounds of ice will be used this year to create the rainforest-themed sculptures.
  • Sculptures in the exhibit reach heights of 35-feet tall.
  • The ice sculptures are housed within 28,000 square feet of conditioned interior space, which can hold up to 800 visitors, storage for 1,000 parkas and a gift shop. 
  • The ICE LAND tent is kept at a chilling nine degrees throughout the holiday season.
  • Three hundred tons of cooling will be distributed by seven air handling units through January 8.
  • It took 30 truckloads to transport the 6,000 ice blocks from College Station to Moody Gardens in Galveston.
  • It will take 25 professional ice carvers, traveling 6,633 miles from Harbin, China, 45 days to create the sculptures.
  • The ideal temperature for the carvers to work in is 17 degrees.
  • ICE LAND planning began 12 years ago. Preparation for this year's exhibit began in February 2017 when the first block of ice was frozen.
  • It has been 118 years since the last time the temperature was recorded near nine degrees in Galveston.
  • If you lined up the blocks of ice it will take to create ICE LAND end to end, it will stretch 4.46 miles. If you stacked the blocks vertically, it would be taller than 24 Eiffel Towers!
  • It took nearly 1,080 hours for the ice carvers to complete the sculptures of  ICE LAND.
Article written by Clayton Kolavo

Clayton Kolavo is the newest member of the & Company family. Clayton oversees planning, implementation, and evaluation of public relations and marketing activities, including promotions, video production, blogs, and social media. Serves as Director of TV and Galveston Restaurant Week, as well as media liaison between the firm and local tourism partners.