There was a bit of a crush once inside the tent, but the crowd was mostly well-behaved and we moved steadily toward the ice "building" that marked the beginning of the ICE! exhibit. This gave us time to finish adjusting finicky snaps & closures on assorted jackets, find missing gloves and hats, find missing kids (and parents), and so on. This would be the first time I tried using my current camera with gloves on, so I practiced a bit and quickly realized I was going to have to be careful -- I had to delete two short videos of the floor and several extreme close-ups of my hand or pictures of the ceiling before I got the hang of it.
|I tried to crop out the obvious commercial for the exhibit sponsor on the bottom...|
|Does anyone else think the Mailman looks like a young Fred Astaire?|
|There was a scrim in front of Old Man Winter, giving the sense of freezing wintery|
blasts of wind (augmented by the very real near-zero temperature in the display).
|Waitaminit... if Kris Kringle becomes Santa Claus, then who are the|
characters who raise him after he leaves the orphanage?
|Just a couple of extra members of the crowd...|
|This is part of the massive (life-size) town square, complete with statue in the center.|
It was all made of clear ice backlit in blue, giving the place an ethereal feel.
|You can't see it in the photo, but a cooling vent was located directly above this vignette. That|
veil was literally waving in the wind, and no one stood here more than a few moments!
And I waited.
And I waited some more.
And then I waited some more. Everyone was in a good mood and total strangers were happily joking with each other about the antics of scared kids and adults coming down the slides or sharing photo tips, but I eventually realized that I had been waiting more than ten minutes and the people sliding down in front of me had entered the room well after us... and the girls were still nowhere to be seen. I'll reiterate: two young girls, ages six and eight, had disappeared in a very large and very dark room filled to the brim with identically-dressed people.
Yes, I was worried... like very.
It was only after another ten face-numbing and increasingly scary minutes of AJ and I frantically looking round the room and making hand signals to each other that one of the other moms in our group found me and explained everyone had become concerned when we didn't follow them out the other side of the room and had come back to see what was wrong. While looking for AJ, she had accidentally bumped into the girls -- just finishing their 3rd run down the slides on the opposite side of the room. The girls apologized for scaring us and explained that as soon as they had gotten to the top of the stairs, the hotel staffer stationed on the platform insisted his side was too crowded and sent them across the bridge to the other side while funneling literally everyone who came up before & after them directly down the slides where we expected to see the girls.
I think we were all feeling quite a bit warmer (as in hot under the collar!) as we made our way through the ice tunnel that led out of the slide room and I began composing a complaint letter in my mind while trying to admire the rest of the exhibit. (As you'll see, that letter kept getting longer.) The last ice vignettes from the TV brought the story to its happy end, and then we passed through the gallery that showed how the exhibit was put together before reaching its end.
|The final vignette in the story, thankfully without any annoying|
commercials following immediately afterwards. :-)
|We were all excited to see this Chinese dragon in the gallery near the exit.|
|This young woman (presumably from Harbin) was putting the finishing touches|
on a beautifully detailed wolf head as we passed by.
|This nine-foot-tall(!) angel watched over the exit.|
We dropped off our parkas at the appropriate kiosk and then visited the (chaotic and noisy) area where the official portraits were available for purchase in various forms. We had posed in front of a big green curtain but the digital photo did an excellent job of showing is all in front of the exhibit entrance, magically devoid of the hundreds of other visitors we had actually shared the space with. A few negotiations later one family had purchased the package that included a downloadable digital file we could all have and we headed on our way.
Back in our room, the three of us finally had a few moments to catch our collective breath and try to figure out which bag held what. (There was no question about who would sleep in which bed; I simply assumed -- correctly -- that I would be closest to the AC unit where my mammalian biology could block some of the airflow that always left my sister's more reptilian biology feeling uncomfortably cold.) AJ had brought a bunch of holiday gifts for the assorted kidlings and took the chance, with some "help" from her daughter, to figure out what was for who and where it might be hiding. We also discovered that the platforms supporting the bed were low & dark enough to be just outside one's normal field of vision while protruding just enough on the corners to ensure many large, painful bruises on one's shins. This problem applied mainly to AJ, since somehow she never remembered to steer wide while going around the corners of her bed... which, of course, her brother found highly amusing. (Dude, isn't that what big brothers are for?)
The Pipsqueak decided to check out our location on the room's safety map. She carefully figured out where our room was in relation to the other families' rooms, then figured out where the emergency exits were... and then realized I was taking her picture.