A Visit to the Ice Kingdom–Help! I Can’t Feel My Fingers!

I confess to sometimes feeling a little self-conscious with any weather-related stories. Yes, compared to many geographic locations, our Southern California winters are quite warm. Once in a while we dip a bit and the night temperatures might barely kiss 32 degrees. That’s rare.

Sometimes in the early morning there is a little frost on the roof. On those mornings I remotely start the car from the house, grab a hot cup of coffee and dart out the door, quickly making my escape from the cold into the pre-warmed car.

I don’t really know TRUE cold!

So that’s what made our little winter field trip a very interesting first time experience. We made our way to the Queen Mary, Long Beach, to experience the seasonal ice cave exhibit “Chill.”

Family photo pg

Do we look suitably dressed for 9-degrees? Brrrr! We knew enough to wear warm clothing, but as we entered the Ice Kingdom we were outfitted with additional long parkas. In Southern California we don’t have clothing to keep warm in freezing temperatures.

The Ice Kingdom is a spectacular multi-room exhibit of fantasy ice sculptures, utilizing more than two million pounds of ice—crystal ice, white ice and colored ice.  The 12-foot tall Fairytale Castle, covered in icicles, opens to a beautiful 13,000 feet of winter wonderland.

Ice sculpting is a fascinating art. Many of the sculptors responsible for these impressive creations came from Harbin, China, where beginning in 1963, the Mayor  turned the annual Ice Lantern Festival into a formal competition. It is now one of the largest and most popular ice sculpting competitions in the world. Maybe there aren’t that many talented ice sculptors in California. Where would they get the practice?

The girls climbed the frozen Queen Mary with Papa and then enjoyed an exhilarating slide down the bow! Good thing they were wearing their well-insulated snow pants!

The teacher in me would have enjoyed showing the girls some of the more interesting aspects of the ice itself. The white ice looks a lot like compacted snow with its cloudy appearance. I wonder if they thought the colored ice looked a little bit like popsicles? There were signs reminding “big kids” not to lick the ice! And the crystal ice was in huge blocks. I wonder how long it took for them to freeze?


After about an hour my fingers began to lose feeling and then numbness shifted to pain. It didn’t seem the time for a mini-science lesson anyway. This was simply a visually stunning experience, and at 9-degrees, we had our first introduction to what REALLY cold weather must be like!

But 9-degrees?  I’m not sure I’m made of the right stuff! Brrrr!