Start a Southern Tradition with a Country Christmas

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Here in the south, having a country Christmas is really not that out of the ordinary. However, you can make that tradition even more special by being part of A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Resort.

I recently posted on the DreamWorks Experience that they are offering now through Jan. 3, 2012, and I would like to expand a little more on it — because you really need to see it!

Like I said before, if you’re like me, we usually take the entire family over to this grand resort to see the vibrant light spectacle they put up each year. We actually had the chance to be there for the lighting ceremony where special guest welcomed in the new holiday at the resort. We heard live music from Point of Grace and Thompson Square, appearances from Alex the lion and the penguins from Merry Madagascar and ended it with a spectacular fireworks display. So, if you missed that, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year. You won’t want to miss it!

New this year, there’s a unique, family experience that is a must-do for all fans of Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar — with overnight packages available — called Christmassy DreamWorks Experience.

There are character stations throughout the Delta atrium that look like parts of the movies plucked straight from the film and built on site! Each of the stations are exquisitely detailed and beautifully crafted. How fun is that!? You can take pictures of the stations, but the meet-and-greets are exclusive to DreamWorks Experience Package guests only. We were afraid that my 5-year-old daughter would be scared to take pictures with them, but the resort has made it so friendly that her fears were thwarted! She was thrilled to meet each and every one of them.


ICE! featuring DreamWorks Merry Madagascar The animated movie comes to life with 2 million pounds of ice formed in brightly colored sculptures of the film’s characters. If you are unfamiliar with Merry Madagascar, you will be able to view a short movie clip before your entrance into this wonderful place of ice. AND, if you haven’t taken a ride on the ice slides, you are missing out! It’s cold, but it’s so much fun! As you leave, don’t be in a hurry to get out because the penguins from Madagascar — Skipper, Kowalski, Rico or Private — may be hanging around for a chance meet and greet. Tickets are $24.95 adult, $17.95 ages 4 – 11; ages 3 and younger are free. There is free self-parking for ICE! when you present your ticket stub.


NOTE: DreamWorks Experience Package guests also get tickets to ICE! with a special entry time — one hour earlier than everyone else — on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. If you can’t make it in that early, when you are ready to attend ICE!, you get front-of-the-line access!

Holly Jolly Town Square — Here, the resort has transformed the inside into a nestalgic streetscape complete with a library, post office, soda shop and more. Here, Lilliana mailed her very first letter to Santa — which she wrote all by herself! See picture below. We can’t wait to hear back from him. There is also a miniature train ride for the kiddos.

Holiday Skrektacular — During your visit, make sure you grab the family and head to the Delta atrium for this FREE show that is to be so grand with Shrek, Fiona (as Ogress Fiona), Puss in Boots, Gingy (the Gingerbread man), Po from Kung Fu Panda and the Penguins from Madagascar taking to the stage to strut their stuff! (DreamWorks Experience Package guests receive first-come, first served VIP seating, which is limited so get there early!) Show times are 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on select dates (no shows on Wednesdays), so check the schedule online. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s going to SNOW inside during a part of the show, too! How cool!

Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating — Purchase a gingerbread kit (starting at $19.95 plus tax), decorate it until your heart is content and get a chance to meet Gingy, one of the most famous gingerbread men. This event is open to all hotel guests (those that are staying and those just visiting for the day), but DreamWorks Package guests receive a discounted rate.

Don’t limit yourself! Stay the night and get the FULL DreamWorks Experience which includes all of the above AND DreamWorks Experience Package Guests’ exclusives such as:

ShrekFeast Interactive Character Meal — This very special meal takes you on a blissful experience to rock your taste buds with table-side meet and greets with Shrek, Princess Fiona and Puss in Boots — not to mention the green chocolate fountain! You also get the chance to be honorary ogres, of which you must solve riddles and puzzles to earn your ogre ears. When Shrek made his way to our table, our 1-and-a-half-year-old son was terrified of him. Shrek didn’t like that and played peek-a-boo with him to try to ease his fears. It worked just a little. But the characters sure to make every effort to have everyone smiling! Puss in Boots was so funny with our daughter, Lilliana. She had a feather in her hair, like he has in his hat, and kept petting her feather. She was tickled pink with the interactions with the characters. Oh, and Princess Fiona came by and had a little skirt twirling with Lilliana. She was so happy by the time our meal was done. See photos below.

DreamWorks “Character Passport” Meet & Greets — Grab your provided “passport” and set out on a quest to travel round the resort to each of the character stations to get a special stamp and have meet-and-greet with Shrek; Alex the Lion, King Julien and the Penguins from Madagascar; Po from The Kung Fu Panda; and Gingy in a giant gingerbread house! Don’t forget Puss in Boots! He has a new movie coming out, too.

DreamWorks Themed Scavenger Hunt — What would family fun be without an interestingly interactive scavenger hunt? Read your clues and search everywhere for the answer. Some of the clues are quite hard, so you must put all your heads together and have fun! Once you think you’ve got it, take your answers back to the DreamWorks concierge desk for a small prize and then go online and enter your answers for a chance to win the grand prize!

DreamWorks Character Wake-Up Calls — Most kids don’t want to hear Mom or Dad telling them it’s time to get up. So, why not take the fuss out of it and make Shrek or another DreamWorks character to do it? Your kids will love it! It’s also a good way to get them pumped and ready for the day.

DreamWorks Welcome Amenity — There’s all those great things to participate in, but the great spectacle starts with an extra-special amenity when you check in. Limit one item per package, per guest room.

Family Photo — Before it’s all said and done, you should definitely take part in a family photo featuring you and your favorite DreamWorks character. A professional photographer will capture the special moment for you to cherish — and show off to your friends.


But the fun doesn’t stop there! There are even more activities and events to participate in with your family.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular — This year marks the 10th anniversary of this fantastic show! They have new scenes this year, but don’t worry, the ever-popular march of the toy soldiers is still part of the show as well as the live nativity. We were a little skeptical about taking a 1-and-a-half- and 5-year-old to the show, but they proved us wrong … for just the first part of the show. While our Lilliana sat there wide-eyed in amazement, not blinking for fear she might miss something, her little brother fell asleep. But, when I had to move him, he woke up and didn’t want any part of being there. So, my husband took him back to the hotel room. Lilliana and I enjoyed every bit of the first half of the show, but by intermission, she was ready to go home. This may be because we had a super busy day and were at a late showing. So, plan your trip wisely and make sure your children are rested. Our little guy enjoyed the show before he fell asleep, and I think he may have liked it more if he had had a nap. Tickets cost $25 – $75.

You can read Managing Editor Chad Young’s complete review of the show here: Rockettes Rock the Holidays.


Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville

DreamWorks Experience One- or Two-Night Packages Available

One-night packages start at $149
(Based on double occupancy and availability, plus tax, resort fee and parking. Extra adult $89 plus tax; extra child $69 plus tax; 3 and younger free.)

Two-night packages start at $199
(Based on double occupancy and availability, plus tax, resort fee and parking. Extra adult $89 plus tax; extra child $69 plus tax; 3 and younger free.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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