CHILL @ The Queen Mary
A winter wonderland in Long Beach. CHILL – The Ice Kingdom is an awe-inspiring exhibit featuring larger-than-life ice sculptures: castles, slides, even a replica of the Queen Mary. CHILL also offers Ice Tubing and Ice Skating for an additional charge. Have your kids come prepared with their Christmas lists for a visit with Santa.
Being accustomed to LA crowds, we decided to visit CHILL before December and on a weekday morning. Our efforts were rewarded by a virtually EMPTY venue. No lines for ice tubing, no crowds in the Ice Kingdom, no line for Santa…you just walk right through.
The Christmas village was underwhelming. It’s the normal venue with a few decorations, but the carolers were a nice touch. Santa was there; seeing as how there was no line, J was able to go right up and discuss his heart’s one desire (a SWAT costume) with the jolly, old elf. K wanted nothing to do with the red, scary man, and J wasn’t into having his picture taken with strangers…so that was it.
We’d paid extra with J ticket for Ice Tubing. There was again no line, so J was able to grab his tube and head up for his allotted five slide’s down the ice slope. He was bored after three.
The wait to the Ice Kingdom was minimal, though I can imagine a serpentine line coiling through the massive arena. We had come with layers and our warmest California coats, but the blue parka was still mandatory…and it’s a good thing. It was freezing inside. You live in LA long enough and you forget what cold really feels like.
The Ice Kingdom was beautiful! Carved out of solid ice, the size and skill of the sculptures was amazing. A castle was the focal point of the first room, just large enough to walk through and look out the windows carved through the thick walls.
Various structures are very sensitive to heat, and so NO TOUCHING in the first rooms…which is hard for kids. Security guards have the authority to remove anyone touching the ice formations, but my boys got off with a strict warning. Fortunately, the next room is for kids.
The children’s room host a Queen Mary replica in dyed ice, as well as a series of ice-slides. A small whale-slide for toddlers, and two larger slides for grownups and kids. It’s actually quite fun to slip and slide all the way down like a toboggan. The blue parka protects you from getting wet.
An ice tunnel leads to the toy room, where there is again, NO TOUCHING. Next is the penguin hallway leading to the Nativity room. The Nativity was beautifully done with ice as stained-glass, and ice animals surrounding the wise men presenting gifts to the Christ Child.
At this point, I wanted to go back through and take a million photos. It was all so beautiful! Absolutely incredible that I didn’t want to leave. Unfortunately, our boys couldn’t take the cold anymore. Their fingers and noses were numb, and they could not be persuaded to stay any longer. I was disappointed to leave so quickly, especially factoring in the cost of the tickets. But alas.
We grabbed a late lunch from one of the vendors, and talked the boys out of Ice Skating (we’d spent all the budget we’d planned on). A visit to the Queen Mary was free however, so we took the boys over to run around the decks, explore the vast ship, and pretend to shoot enemy aircraft and whatnot.
CHILL is cold. Seriously. Bring coats, scarves, mittens, and muffs for the kids. You are required to wear a big blue CHILL parka, but additional gear is a must. We left prematurely because our boys couldn’t take the cold.
Beat the Crowds
We went on a weekday in late November and NO ONE was there. But I can imagine what that place would be like with a full LA crowd. Yikes. So if you want to avoid the crowds, don’t wait until Christmas is around the corner…and hit a weekday if you can.
Ice skating and ice tubing are not part of the Ice Kingdom and are an additional charge and can be quite expensive. But the Queen Mary is FREE. So feel free to take the kids over and explore the ship while you’re there.