CHILL: An Icy Wonderland at the Queen Mary

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in CHILL, Features

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Published on December 01, 2013 at 2:00 am with 6 Comments

The Queen Mary in Long Beach California is certainly becoming an interesting destination to visit. Throughout the year it is an historic destination offering tours, restaurants, shopping and world-class hotel.  But now, they have begun to add seasonal events towards the end of the year.  Dark Harbor, their Halloween offering, is a wildly successful and wonderfully produced spooktacular.  It was perhaps an obvious move, then, to come up with a family friendly event for the holiday season.

Chill is a winter wonderland at the Queen Mary which offers a fun filled, albeit frosty, evening of family friendly activities. Here, guests can explore the north pole village, walk through a quaint English town, Ice Skate, jump into a snow globe, ride a bucking reindeer, and more.

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We enter through the archways and are confronted with a winter wonderland of snowmen and candy canes.  off to the left is a European, almost Dickinson place called the North Pole Village.

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We would have hoped for a few carolers here

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Further along, in an area called Frosty’s Funland. Here you’ll find a HUGE snowman bounce house (included with admission) and the Buckin’ Reindeer. ($5 charge)

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The world’s largest snowman bounce house.

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The BuckingReindeer is a $5 up-charge experience.

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In the center of the main thoroughfare are more experiences. Enter the Gingerbread house and there is a Gingerbread Man Decorating experience (nominal cookie fee).

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Guests can decorate their own Gingerbread men for a fee.

 

Next is the world’s largest rocking horse and the Claus Cabin, both of which are free.

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Santa and Mrs. Claus tell Christmas stories to the kids . . . and Elves.

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In contrast to the Dark Harbor food, the edibles here seem far more themed and appropriate.  The pricing is still a little up there but it’s all acceptable.

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Outside there is also the Ice skating rink/stage in the Polar Park.   While you do have to pay to skate during the “sessions”, skates are offered.  In fact, you can even bring your own ice skates if you have them. The Queen Mary is a unique backdrop to ice skate in front of!

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While you can buy tickets to skate there, a season pass is also available for $29.95.  There are also cabanas available for rent, but frankly, they are way too expensive.  Located at to the side of the ice rink, the cabanas are available during three separate, progressively expensive time frames.  11:00am-2:00pm, $99 3:00pm-6:00pm $159, 7:00pm-11:00pm $199.  What’s more, renting the cabanas does not include admission into Chill.  We say skip it.

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You can even step into a large snow globe!

But let’s now enter the former Spruce Goose dome, aka the Igloo.  It is here that the two major attractions await, The Ice Kingdom and Ice Tubing.

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The Ice Kingdom and Glacier Glide have separate queues.

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The Ice Kingdom is a actually a very beautiful walk-through attraction that is worth the price asked.  Donning a complimentary parka, guests venture into a large tent that is kept at a frigid 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Nearly everything you are about to see is sculpted from ice.

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Midway through the attraction there is an Ice Slide.

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While the slide is free once inside the tent, the line tends to get rather large.

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Ice Tubing is the other offering in the dome and, frankly, it’s not worth the price.  It is a slide made of ice and nothing more. The Ice Kingdom, offered for the same price, is far more interesting.

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One of the major highlights of Chill are the roaming actors.  Several different acts take to the stage and various times throughout the evening to entertain.

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Chill goes to great trouble to create a themed environment for guests to explore.  It’s not perfect, mind you, but neither is their budget.  From a few temporary tents, and set dressing, they have attempted to create the North Pole, a candy land, a North Pole village. While there is a lot to enjoy at CHILL there are a few cold spots they still need to work out.

While strolling the property and considering what to do next, it is unclear what costs a little more and what is included.  It creates a feeling of hesitancy to enjoy what is offered.  It’s a shame too since there are some wonderful things here to see that ARE included with the admission.

The pricing for this event is confusing and, at times, absurd.  Your evening begins with parking at the ridiculous rate of $20.  You then make your way to the entrance and ticket booths, where you’ll have to figure out what sort of ticket to buy or what you’ll still need to pay for after you enter. After paying admission into the event, which is a healthy $34.95 (online price), it is unclear what smaller experiences are included with that ticket.

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To help you to enjoy the event a bit more, let’s clarify what tickets are available and what it gets you.  This way you can better understand what you are paying for, and you will be able to select exactly what you want.

When considering visiting CHILL, you must choose two of the three major attractions to enjoy with your admission;  Ice Kingdom, Ice Skating, Ice Tubing.

  • Ice Skating and Ice Kingdom Adult Ticket – $34.95
  • Ice Tubing and Ice Kingdom Adult Ticket – $34.95
  • Ice Skating and Ice Kingdom Child Ticket – $19.95
  • Ice Tubing and Ice Kingdom Child Ticket – $19.95

Furthermore, entrance into the Ice Kingdom is on a time reservation basis.  You are asked to choose an hour-block of time in which to enjoy Ice Kingdom.  While guests are allowed to stay in the exhibit as long as they like, it is only a one-time use ticket for the exhibit.  However, if you really have to see it a second time, there are re-entry tickets available.

Overall, Chill is nice but may not quite be worth the high price for everyone.  $34.95 would be acceptable if everything was included in the admission price.  But as it stands now, it is a bit too steep.  Not to mention that you will also have to pay for $20 parking.

All in all, we enjoyed this icy holiday utopia. There’s a whimsical magic to ice sculptures and this frozen world is over the top. We hope to see Queen Mary continue offering seasonal entertainments, they’ve certainly been developing a knack for it.

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Norm! You rule!
    I appreciate your tours of places I’m curious about.
    I’ll skip this one, though there was some impressive creativity here.
    The $20 parking probably gets every frugal person’s visit off to a bad start.
    And I’d expect to go on the ice slide with the admission.
    Too bad all of those potentially beautiful ice sculptures were garishly colored.

    Since I LOVE christmas carols and singing groups,
    I’d be tempted if they had six of the best quartets, choirs, soloists, etc. all performing at once on different stages. My own kid would like marshmallow roasting and many included treats. Hot chocolate and Bailey’s would be a nice option for me if it were $5.

    I will hit the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor again though.

    Hey Micechatters, how about a Norm Gidney/Fishbulb appreciation day Micechat meet-up at Disneyland? He’d get to pick out the rides!
    (I’m afraid I’ll have to wait 2 or 3 years for the second or third annual one. We now get APs every 2 or 3 years.)

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    I’m glad to see Queen Mary trying so hard to expand their entertainment offerings. They are to be commended. If they continue to grow CHILL and come up with a less confusing pricing structure, they’d really improve this event.

    Thank you for braving the cold Norman.

    • Zeathos51

      The ship has the same confusing structure but from closing to 12am, you can board the ship as a restaurant or bar customer and see some of the sights.

  • Hakuna Matata

    There is currently a groupon that lets you in for $20, it’s available on weekdays. I bought two tickets for Dec. 10, I’m not sure exactly what is included, but I know the Ice Kingdom is, and that’s really what I want to see. Very excited about this.

  • Zeathos51

    There are three places I enjoy more than any other; Knotts, Laughlin and the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary has been a great place to visit at night before closing and these attractions are really enhancing the experience. However, as great as the Ice Kingdom looks as well as seeing the village and the ship spruced up in lights, $35 is a big chunk out of the budget and I’d only go if the Ice Scultures could make up for an ice tubing experience that I’d rather not pay for.

    I will mention though that you can avoid the steep parking fee by parking at either the Aqaurium or Sea Post Village with a vaidation from the shops and hoping a ride on the free red bus service.

    Thanks for the review.

  • Chadwick

    So my family (8 of us) all put on Winter coats and headed to Queen Mary yesterday (Dec 1). We all bought tickets on Living Social $20-no sledding or ice skating included and purchased 1 childrens ticket with sledding included-also $20 online. Here are my thoughts.

    1. Be prepared it is only 9 degrees inside the ice kingdom and family young and old a like will sweat and complain after coming back outside. We went at 11am and by the time we went outside for lunch and other stuff it was like 90 degrees and no shade. Come with a change of clothes and ditch the winter clothes in the car. They provide parkas but I was glad to still have a hat and jacket on underneath. I laughed at my dad in shorts but he had the last laugh later.

    2. The food was good but pricey. You come to expect it but be prepared. Lots of options scattered around from sweets, to pizza, massive chicken kabbobs, crepes, and hot dogs and hamburgers. Everyone was happy about the quality of the food, just not so much on the price.

    3. Sledding includes 5 rides but the line gets progressively longer and I had to wrangle my daughter after 4 otherwise wait another 20 minutes for her last ride…but she loved it.

    4. Ice Kingdom tent. COLD and ICY. Exactly what you would expect. The blowers make it loud inside and the crowds seem to make it heavy traffic. Skip the ship slide if you want to save 15 minutes in line. The colors, lights, artistry were amazing but my kids were less than amazed (5 and 2) and my daughter was afraid of the ice. The warn you not to touch it and she thought if she got to close she would get stuck and turn to ice (some imagination huh?) I would have liked to stay a bit longer but with two sets of parents and two kids we rushed through. Be prepared that with eyeglasses if you wear them they fog up and impair your vision (it is that cold).

    5. They take pictures and they are pricey and they have some shops inside as well. Ice Skating is Outside but we didn’t partake.

    6. Take advantage of the free offerings. Santa’s Cabin, the Giant Rocking Horse, The Snow Man Jumper and the Snow Globe pictures. My kids had fun outside and we got some fun pictures.

    All in all great event but maybe not a yearly visit. It is pricey for what you get and if we did not pay $20 on Living Social I would have felt ripped off. I think had we had a group who wanted to explore the Queen Mary as well (included in the price of Chill) we might have found it more reasonable. But we had fun. I think this might be more fun in the evening so take that as a tip. There was no entertainment during the day.

    Great pics and review!