Queen Mary’s New Chill Will Warm Your Holidays
This year’s all-new Queen Mary’s Chill spotlights and celebrates international cultures and traditions. Chill boasts many winter activities for adventure-seekers, shows and craft projects for the more reserved, and cuisine from around the world. Decked out in my jacket, gloves and beanie, I was ready to step into the world of Chill, a 38,000 square-foot ice adventure park covered in magnificent lights and smelling of delicious international fare.
From Germany’s brats to China’s dumplings, from Switzerland’s deli to Holland’s breakfast house, and from Russia’s stew to America’s hot chocolate, Chill features foods and drinks from around the globe. My friend and I tried out a giant pretzel with German cream cheese and sweet mustard; I drooled over the cheese fondue platter; and got in touch with my roots munching on pierogis.
For the adults, there are many bars to choose from, often featuring one or two specialty holiday drinks in addition to the traditional bar options. I tried the “glazed jelly donut,” “mandarin spice,” and the “mistletoe”, but my favorite was the sweet and creamy “sugar cookie” which was featured at the Alpine Lodge. Chill also has two tasting taverns for an additional fee, one spotlighting German beers, the other an array of ice-cold vodkas. Of course, there was kid-friendly hot chocolate to sip while warming up by several fire pits.
When I wanted to take a break to enjoy the atmosphere, there were several ongoing shows throughout the night for entertainment. I got to see Shaolin monks doing acrobatics off vertical poles, aerialists in a large dome covered in projected snow, and the Chillettes (Chill‘s version of the Rockettes) dancing on the main stage before and during the massive tree lighting. I missed the Alpine live band and the Lion Dancers, but I was mesmerized by the light show. Set to music, the lights sparkled and danced along, brightening the night sky and bringing a smile to my face. The aforementioned aerialists were also extraordinarily talented and my friend and I stopped to watch them several times on the Lyra, Silks and Trapeze.
Also, with a ticket upgrade, there is a short 4D film focusing on Rudolph’s journey to helping Santa on Christmas Eve. I giggled at the snow, jumped at the abominable snow monster and relived my childhood with Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist. The film is very short, around 15 minutes I think, and is cute entertainment if you need a break from the cold.
In each of the international areas, characters specific to that region were available for pictures – Kristkindle from Germany, Tea Hostess from China, Sinterklaas from Switzerland, Father Time from Holland, and America’s own Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Also walking around among the fun, wintry sets were Ginny the gingerbread girl and a panda in the Kung Fu Forest, and I do love a good photo op!
Here is where Chill far exceeded my expectations. Included in the price of admission are ice skating, tubing and a ride on the giant rocking horse. Not only does Chill have the typical skating rink, but it had a track around the park for the skaters that wanted to explore away from the main cluster of people, which I thought was a brilliant and fun idea. And for those not comfortable skating without help, there were winter-themed skate trainers in the design of polar bears, snowmen and penguins! The Matterhorn Mountain tubing had us climbing up two stories with our inner tubes to slide down the 100-ft ramp, spinning and laughing the whole way, faster and more exhilarating than we were expecting. We didn’t try out the giant rocking horse, but it seemed to delight the children we saw.
At a higher ticket price, the Ultimate Expedition Pass grants access to the Amsterdam Bumper Boats, Shanghai Speedway, Shuffle Board, the 4D film and the 300-ft long zip line. While I didn’t try shuffle board or the zip line due to wait times (I was also more interested in the food/drinks), they both looked like a lot of fun, especially the 34-ft high zip line across the park. The glowing neon bumper boats were amusing, but sadly brief. Once we got the hang of the joystick-led movement, it seemed like our time was up. I would’ve liked more time spinning and ramming into people. I had never heard of ice tricycles before, but the Shanghai Speedway was quite enjoyable! Riding a tricycle on ice is not very easy and I admit that I ran into a guard rail on occasion, but pedaling through a rainbow tunnel of lights was the highlight for me; it was beautiful.
For the younger or more relaxed Chill-goer, there were several areas for crafts. There was lantern decorating (I wish I had had time to do this), gingerbread house construction (for an additional fee), a wishing well guarded by a silly gnome, stories read by Mrs. Claus next to a warm fire, and a make-your-own-stocking craft room (Ultimate Expedition Pass). The Munich Market offers an array of holiday souvenirs for purchase, and there are private igloos – each with their own heater and comfy furniture – for when you need a break from the action and cold (additional fee). Capping off opening night (and Sundays hereafter) was a lovely fireworks display over China’s Forbidden City area.
I grew up in San Francisco with very little “real” winter to speak of (besides rain and cold), so I had a blast trying out all the wintry activities Chill had to offer. From the magic of the lights to experiencing other cultures to the merriment of sledding full-speed down a hill, it might have been cold out, but Chill warmed my heart.
Chill runs through January 7th at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.
Purchase your tickets here.