After hearing about the famous Ice Castle in Midway, Utah, for months, we finally decided to check it out for ourselves.
I had pretty grand expectations. I’ve seen ice vodka bars, ice hotels, and ice houses featured on numerous TV shows, movies, and ads. And the media never lies, right? So is the Midway Ice Castle worth it?
Well… The Midway Ice Castle was cool (pun intended), but not quite lounging-in-a-fur-coat-serenaded-by-a-string-quartet cool.
Ice Castles, LLC is a Utah-based company specializing in building temporary ice castles around the country. The first ice castles were built in Utah, but the company now offers the ice castle experience in 6 cities across North America. Ice Castles, LLC grows icicles on each designated castle location as soon as cold weather stabilizes, using around 10,000 icicles to assemble the giant structures. Icicles provide structure, and water is added to strengthen the walls.
The castles are not only beautiful and unique, they are also fun. Built to please both children and the adults who supervise them, they include multiple ice slides of varying speeds, LCD light shows, interactive ice seating, fire pits, fountains, and even live performances from local talent.
The Midway Ice Castle had a Frozen theme. Anna and Elsa were available for photos and instrumental pieces from the movie’s soundtrack played inside. This seemed like a natural partnership, and one I’m sure many children were completely captivated by! At one point we gathered to watch a fire breathing show and my sister even quoted, “The hot and the cold are both so intense, put them together- it just makes sense!” from the famous Frozen snowman’s song, “In Summer.”
While we definitely enjoyed being transported to a Norwegian winter wonderland, we only had to look up to realize we were actually in Utah.
Temperatures in Utah this winter have been unseasonable warm, and by early February the grand ice castle had melted into little more than an ice privacy fence.
There’s little to look forward to during Utah winters aside from it’s world-renowned snow. Utah’s mountains, altitude, and temperature combine to form the perfect cold weather oasis: light, dry snow that’s perfect for skiing and snowboarding and, magically, doesn’t seem to feel as cold as it actually is. This winter, however, Utah has seen a lack of snow as the East Coast of the United States has been pummeled with record-breaking cold fronts.
Utah Valley has only seen a handful of snow days, and the ice castle, like the local ski slopes, is not immune to the effects. As we walked over crunching ice pellets and under dripping would-be turrets it was obvious that their daily efforts to maintain the giant frozen structure in unseasonably warm weather have begun to fail. Famous ski mountains haven’t been able to open even half of their famous ski trails and the Midway Ice Castle will be closing earlier than expected.
We considered it more of an ice maze than an ice castle, and enjoyed watching people weave in and out of narrow, dripping tunnels and caves instead of wandering through sleek rooms made of ice bricks (as I’d hoped).
I’m not complaining about 50-degree weather in February, though!
It was also crowded. It may be because we were there on a Friday night, that Utahans notoriously love unique family adventures, or simply because it’s such an unusual place to be, but I certainly didn’t remember this many people in Arendelle! Ice Castle, LLC does their best to control the crowds by only selling a certain number of tickets per 30-minute window. It helps to only have limited people enter in the same window, but you’re allowed to stay as long as you want so those 30-minute slot entrances end up overlapping. We stayed for almost 90 minutes, for example. I don’t tend to enjoy over-crowded attractions, so, for me, the plethora of people detracted from the fun of the structure. It’s hard to enjoy such an unusual place when the tunnels you want to try are filled with people walking through in the opposite direction, when you have to stand in a long, cold line for the slide, or when there’s simply so many people around that you can’t get a decent picture of the place. I guess our extreme flexibility to go wherever we want in the middle of a school day has spoiled me!
And yet, considering the crowds and diminished nature of the “castle”, I still say it was worth it. Ticket prices vary from just $7- $15, depending on your age and day of visit, which is a small price to pay to be surrounded by ice. At least we thought it was cool to be surrounded by ice, but, hey, we’re only living in a cold climate temporarily!