Grunion Gazette - Long Beach

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Chill Blows Through Queen Mary This Holiday Season

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Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 2:00 am

Sure the temperature climbed to 90 early this week, but the Queen Mary will help cool things down this holiday season when it presents the seasonal Chill.

Chill will take place at varying hours between Nov. 17 and Jan. 6 — creating a holiday winter wonderland with a similar footprint to Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Halloween event.

“It’s been surreal (going from Dark Harbor to Chill so quickly),” said Steve Sheldon, director of entertainment events. “We’ve condensed a calendar that probably should have taken about six weeks, and instead we’re tearing down Dark Harbor in about a week-and-a-half. That’s been a really quick process, as we began to construct Chill around the tear down.”

Chill’s main event, Ice Kingdom, was erected in a tent on Sept. 4 within the Queen Mary Dome. Inside it, there will be an ice sculpture exhibit with multiple themes. There will be Fairy Tale Castle, a replication of the Queen Mary bow complete with ice slides, Santa’s Toy Land, Land of Penguins and the Christmas Nativity scene. Many of the sculptures will be larger than life, colored and interactive in some sort of way.

“It’s made up of more than 2 million pounds of ice,” Sheldon said. “About 2,000 blocks were brought in from all over the country, including trucking it from Georgia, Texas and we even got some of it in locally.”

The tent is kept below freezing at all times, so attendees will be asked to don large parka coats to stay warm while they traverse inside. A team of 45 Chinese artisans has been working on bringing the Ice Kingdom to life. It is inspired by the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival that is hosted in Siberian China every year.

“We went cold on about Oct. 18 and they have been carving ever since,” Sheldon said.

The other two main attractions have more of a playful component. Outside, there will be a 6,500-square-foot ice rink. Near the Ice Kingdom tent, workers are constructing a nearly 100-foot-long ice tubing hill.

To supplement those three ticketed events, there will be live entertainment, holiday carolers, people in Christmas character, bands performing, ginger bread decorating, pictures with Santa and a robust holiday retail center with possible gifts.

Queen Mary officials said they are hopeful to attract about 200,000 people during Chill’s 51 days next to the ship — by comparison, Dark Harbor drew about 70,000 people during its 15-day stint.

“That would be significant for any seasonal attraction,” Sheldon said. “There really isn’t anything like this on the West Coast, and definitely not along Southern California. We are blessed with 80-degree weather, but at the same time, sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere with a little different climate and we’re bringing that right to our own backyard.”

To enter Chill, attendees must purchase a ticket for any of the three main attractions. Prices vary depending on the day and age of the person — anywhere from $12.95 to $24.95 for a single event. Go to the Queen Mary’s website at www.queenmary.com for complete dates and times of Chill.

WHAT: Chill

WHEN: Nov. 17-Jan. 6

WHERE: Queen Mary

COST: $12.95-$24.95