Today, Christmas season starts in Southern California, as ‘Chill’ opens at the Queen Mary. The theme this year is a ‘California Christmas Experience’, so besides ice slides, ice skating, tubing and other fun things, guests will be able to enjoy the holiday “Chill Style” as a California Christmas. JJ Wickham, the Creative Director for ‘Chill”, told me that “there will be 2 million pounds of ice everywhere! We’ve got a larger than life ice sculpture of a ‘Surfing Santa’. We’re also doing an area decorated as Christmas on the Beach, we’ve got a 50 ton sand sculpture being built and that will play into the holiday Christmas theme on the beach as well”.
Walking into the Ice Kingdom, it starts off with a traditional poinsettia entrance complete with seven-foot tall toy soldiers. From there, though, things get ‘California style’ as a Surfin’ Santa appears shredding 20-foot tall ice waves. There is a fairytale kingdom for the kids, an ice replica of the Queen Mary with ice slides and even a forest of penguins. A little further down is the Glacier Glide, 2 stories tall, 100 feet of pure ice that our guests can go up and tube down the slide. There are six lanes of ice tubing there. This definitely adds a California “freeway” to the tubing world!
Next area starts off as a traditional feature back East, but adds a Chill twist to it. “We’ve got a 6500 square foot ice skating rink and there is definitely going to music. This year, we’ve got a live ‘beat bay’ in the middle of the ice to entertain people, so I don’t know how ‘old fashioned’ it will be, but it’s a lot of fun! We’re also having themed nights, so the DJ will be playing themed Christmas music on the ice for everybody to skate to”.
JJ said that they will have everything this year from basic fair food, including pizza, hot dogs and candy apples, but there will also be special winter food like soups, stews and grilled sandwiches. Christmas crepes will be another good choice as well as fresh-baked cookies. She noted that you’ll be able to get “anything that’s good for the winter season”.
Inside the Holiday Village there will be a lot of fun. JJ said’ “Guests can ride a bucking reindeer, a “bouncing bow” of the Queen Mary for guests to go into and live magic. We also have a live stage, with a holiday revue, tap dancers, musicians and much more”. For the kids, there is a Gingerbread House that kids can go into and actually buy decorate their own gingerbread house.
Blizzard Boulevard is a new area for guests to visit. It is designed especially for great photo ops, especially with Santa. Mrs. Claus will be nearby in her cabin and caricature artists, face painting and other goodies line the Boulevard.
Not everything though will be family events, though. As JJ explained, “There will be several Date Nights, with 2 bars, including a holiday ‘beach bar’ where guests can come in and have a cocktail or two”. VIP Cabanas will also be available on the ice rink that people can rent out. They are private, there are security guards there, they can go hang out and have unlimited access to the ice rink while they are there. There will be bottle service and food service there., so it’s a great place to put your stuff down, put your feet up and relax while watching the figure skaters skate.
Inside the Ice Kingdom it will be a comfortable 9 degrees, so guests should wear winter clothing. If they don’t, Chill has complimentary winter parkas for guests to wear while inside the Ice Kingdom. There will also be ice skates that anyone can rent for the skating rink.
A holiday experience like no other, CHILL tickets start at $39.99 for adults and $29.99 for kids (ages 4-11). Tickets include entrance to The Ice Kingdom, ice skating and skate rental, ice tubing and access to the Queen Mary ship. Lodging packages are also available. CHILL will be open Nov. 21-30, Dec. 2-7, Dec. 9-Jan. 4 and Jan. 8-11. CHILL sponsors include The Port of Long Beach, Hawaiian Host, YP, Coca-Cola, Heineken and Finlandia. For more information, including hours or to purchase tickets online, visit http://www.queenmary.com/events/chill/.