CHILL At The QUEEN MARY by Shawn J. Dake

The majestic QUEEN MARY decorated for the holidays and looking festive. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2012.

A Chill is in the air in Southern California.  More specifically, CHILL is on the ground around the QUEEN MARY as the venerable ship is decked out to celebrate the Holidays.  This year marks the first time, in what may become an annual tradition, that a new ice attraction has been included in the Christmas festivities adjacent to the beautifully decorated liner.  As guests arrive they are greeted by the QUEEN MARY’s tall funnels, lit with hundreds of twinkling lights, before heading to the world’s largest igloo (actually the former Spruce Goose dome) which houses a 13,000 square foot Ice Kingdom, ice tubing, shopping and just outside a holiday village complete with an ice skating rink.  It is all part of a new attraction, appropriately named “CHILL” that opened November 17th and runs through January 6, 2013.

The QUEEN MARY meticulously reproduced in carved blocks of ice. Photo © Shawn J Dake.

The centerpiece of CHILL is a walk-through attraction called “The Ice Kingdom.”  Skilled ice carvers from China bring elements of the annual Harbin Ice Festival from Heilongjiang Province to the California coast.  More than two million pounds of ice are used to create a wonderland of castles, animals, an ice queen, larger-than-life nativity scene and even a 24-foot tall replica of the QUEEN MARY using crystal clear and colored ice.  Visitors climb stairs onto the bow of the ice-ship, then come down even faster using the dual ice-slides off the port side of this incredible frozen replica.  Inside, The Ice Kingdom is maintained at a chilly nine degrees fahrenheit.  For a Southern California native like myself who is more used to sunbathing on a sandy beach, it was cold in there.  Thankfully the attraction provides parkas with hoods to offset the frosty temperature.  The ice sculptures are nothing short of spectacular, offering something beautiful to see for everyone.  From penguins to pandas, and ships to Santa, a visit to The Ice Kingdom at CHILL could easily become a new must-do holiday tradition.

A couple poses for a photo beside the bow amid a maritime world of ice including a lighthouse, whale, sea birds and waves. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2012.
A fantasy ice castle in “The Ice Kingdom” at CHILL. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2012.
Guests can walk through a massive nativity scene complete with a camel, cattle, shepherds and wise men, arriving at this manger scene which showcases the attention to detail in both the ice-carving and lighting. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2012.

For a separate admission charge, guests can skate on 6,500 square foot ice rink.  Virtually no other location in the world can claim a winter scene like this, with one of the most famous ocean liners in history providing the backdrop, while salt air off the Pacific ocean fills the lungs.  Three days each week contemporary cruise ships depart from the Carnival Cruise Lines terminal, housed in the southern portion of the same geodesic dome currently used by CHILL, and once home to Howard Hughes H-4 HERCULES aircraft, better known as the “Spruce Goose” although it was actually made out of birch.  The potential rhyme for that didn’t sound as nice.

It seldom snows in Southern California, but raindrops on the camera lens make it look that way on the ice rink at the QUEEN MARY. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 2012.

Tickets and more information can be found at  Admission to The Ice Kingdom sculptures are $19.95 for adults with discounts or advance online purchase, or $24.95 at the box office.  Ice skating is available at $12.95 and five rides on the 100-foot long ice tubing slide are priced at $9.95.  Free entry to board the QUEEN MARY is included in the admission price to The Ice Kingdom.  It may not ever snow on the beaches of Southern California, but this winter residents and visitors can experience their share of awe-inspiring ice by paying a visit to Long Beach, California’s favorite nautical icon, the QUEEN MARY.  It’s very cool in every sense of the word.

Winter in California. The QUEEN MARY and an igloo transformed into a wonderland of ice.


Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake

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