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The Ice Castles in Midway, Utah have just opened for the season and we were excited to be there for the media preview. We loaded our minivan with our kids and four friends – ages 10-15. They bundled up in snow gear and enthusiastically explored all the nooks and crannies of this cool place.
My husband and I were no less impressed. This is a fun winter activity for all ages.
This was my third trip to the Ice Castles. My daughter and I first visited with friends a few years ago. The details were different, but the overall experience was pretty much the same. Still magical.
You can find the ice castles in six locations in the U.S. and Canada. Here's what you need to know before you go.
What to Expect
The Midway Ice Castles are big! They are literally all ice and snow that has been fashioned into beautiful shapes and features. There are courtyards, slides, tunnels and fountains to explore.
It was big enough that it took us all more than an hour to explore it all on a less-crowded evening. It was small enough that we trusted the kids to explore and not worry about losing them for long.
The ice castles were colorfully lighted and a Frozen-esque soundtrack played over loudspeakers. Cocoa, cookies and cinnamon rolls were available for sale.
At some locations, Elsa from Disney's Frozen and other entertainers make appearances on select dates and times. Fire dancers will perform every weekend at the Ice Castles in Midway, Utah. We caught a performance and all of us were mesmerized.
Having a great experience at the ice castles takes a little planning. Here's what you need to know:
Buy tickets in advance
Buying your tickets online is less expensive and is the only way to guarantee that you'll get in on a crowded day. To buy your tickets, go to www.icecastles.com and choose your location. Then scroll down to the calendar and choose your date and time. Your reservation time is a 30 minute arrival window. Don't cut it close because the ice castles do not guarantee entry if you arrive late.
I purchased our tickets on the same day as our visit. However, popular dates and times may sell out days, or even weeks in advance in some locations.
Go on a weekday
We have visited the Midway Ice Castles on less crowded nights, and it was still no fun to stand in line for the slides. Lines for entry, narrow passages and slides will ebb and flow – sometimes long and sometimes no line at all on less-crowded weekdays. The line for the big ice slide was consistently about 10-15 minutes during our off-peak visits.
It is less expensive to visit the Midway Ice Castles on a weekday. The online weekday price is nearly half the weekend standby price. The savings can be significant when you multiply them by every member of your family.
Go at night
The best time to see the ice castles is after dark. Colorful lighting illuminates all the fascinating frozen features, and it wouldn't be the same in daylight. However, if bed time, travel time, colder temperatures and crowds make it difficult to go at night, the Ice Castles will still be wondrous during the day.
Dress for the weather
This is an outdoor activity, purposely set up in cold, wintry places, so be sure to wear warm coats, gloves, hats, boots, socks, etc. My daughter and I also used air-activated hand warmers. You'll have a lot more fun if your family is dressed for outdoor winter fun.
Wear snow boots
The walking surface inside the Midway Ice Castles is loose snow and ice chunks. Throughout our visit, employees were digging and chunking at the ground with tools to make it safer for walking. However, it will still be uneven, wet and cold.
On our first trip, my daughter and I wore sturdy shoes, but not snow boots. Our shoes filled with snow quickly. Not wearing snow boots was the one thing I wish we'd done differently. Now I make sure to wear all my snow gear, and am comfortable all night long.
Bring a sled
It is nearly impossible to push a stroller through the chunky ice and snow that covers the ground at the Ice Castles. The official website suggests that you bring a sled instead. We saw several families pulling sleds for their small children and it seemed to work well. It might be difficult at more crowded times.
Visit the Homestead Crater afterward
The Midway Ice Castles share a parking lot with the Homestead Crater. The Homestead Crater is a geothermally heated underground pool where visitors can soak, swim or SCUBA dive in bathtub-warm mineral water. My family has swum at the Crater before and we kind of wished we had reserved a time after our chilly visit to the Ice Castles.
Click the button below to read my post about the Homestead Crater. The Homestead Crater sometimes offers deals on Groupon.
It costs nothing to see the Homestead Crater, so at least go inside and take a look and this natural wonder. You'll warm right up.
Ice Castles is a fun winter experience for families and we recommend it. We had a lot of fun on our visit and hope you will too. Happy travels!
Disclosure: My family was hosted by Midway Ice Castles for the purpose of review. As always, all opinions are my own.
Good to Know
- New Hampshire
When: About Christmas through early March, depending on weather. It has to be cold enough to build them and keep them frozen.
How Much: Prices start at US$9.99 for children and US$13.99 for adults. Advance online tickets are much less expensive than standby tickets. Weekday tickets are less expensive than weekend tickets. Children ages 0-3 are FREE.
How Long: 1-2 hours
Amenities: refreshments, porta-potties, free parking, gift shop
How else can I help?
Need a place to stay? We have stayed at Zermatt Resort and Montage Deer Valley nearby. Click the links to read my reviews of Zermatt Resort and Montage Deer Valley. Click the button below to check rates and reviews on TripAdvisor.
Need new snow boots or clothes? Check out my head-to-toe list of essential winter gear for families HERE.
Need more ideas for your Heber Valley/Park City trip? Click the Next button below to get my tips for swimming in the Homestead Crater. Or, visit my Utah page to read all my tips for visiting this area.