Our Madagascar ICE! experience at National Harbor

After yesterday’s pleasant excursion to the United States Botanical Gardens, we thought we’d venture out to National Harbor today and take the kids to see the Madagascar ICE! experience they have over there. We’d considered doing this last year but it seemed a bit too pricey for our blood. This year, Kelly found a deal through Groupon so that we got our tickets for half off and, it seemed, we couldn’t pass that up.

We originally planned to go a few weeks ago, before our vacation in Florida, but the Little Man was under the weather so we decided to wait until we got back from vacation. We figured January 2 would be as good a day as any since some people would be back at work and the crowds wouldn’t be too bad.

At 10:30am, we piled into the car and made the quick drive out to National Harbor, Maryland, which for those who are not familiar with the metro-DC area, is just across the Potomac river over the the Wilson bridge. We found parking easily and then went into the Gaylord hotel to obtain our tickets for the event. We’d paid for them through Groupon, but still had to pick them up. We were told that the box office would open at noon and we could head over at that time. In the meantime, we decided to have some lunch in the large atrium area that exists in the hotel. We had to wait a little while because none of the restaurants opened until 11:30. But we were finally seated at The National Pasttime and ordered our meals.

Kelly noted on the menu that there was a drink called “Christmas Cheer” which was essentially rum and eggnog. I ordered that at once and after a few minutes, our waiter came back explaining they were out of eggnog. It was a sign of things to come, but I was keeping a positive attitude and didn’t let such a small thing get to me. We had a nice lunch. Kelly and I reasoned that by the time we got over the event, the opening line would have subsided and we would walk right in.

We headed over to the box office at about 12:15. That’s when we saw the line, which wrapped around the building. It was the line we had to stand in in order to pick up our tickets. There was a cold wind blowing and it was probably in the upper 30s or low 40s and Kelly, the Little Man, the Little Miss and myself settled in to wait.

We waited nearly 2 hours.

Eventually, Kelly took the Little Miss inside while I stuck with the Little Man. With about 30 minutes of line in front of us, Kelly eventually called to say that the kind people inside had made it possible for us to get in more quickly and I was able to take the Little Man in and skip another 20 minutes of line. But he was already asleep on my shoulder. Once inside, there was more waiting, and even more waiting and finally we got into the ice exhibit which is kept at 5-degrees (really!) in order that the sculptures don’t melt.

I would like to describe the amazing sculptures for you but I can’t. By the time we got in all I wanted to do was find the exist. The Little Man was melting down. I was worried that the Little Miss, bundled as she was, would still be too cold. We raced through the exhibit in 10 minutes, and then Kelly took the Little Man on a train ride before we made our way out and back to the car.

On the cold, windy walk back to the car, both Kelly and I agreed: it was not worth the wait. Or the money. But you win some and you lose some and we tried to take it in stride. I will tell you: it’s nice to be back home inside our warm house without crowds of frustrated people around us wondering why it’s taking so long to get through the lines.

Sometimes, the best part of going on an outing is getting back home.

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