Welcome witches and warlocks,
I was able to attend The Queen Mary’s: CHILL this past week and thought I would offer up some thoughts on the event as a whole. Just so everyone knows where I am coming from; this is my first time attending this event, but I have seen pictures of previous year iterations and talked to others so I know what has come before. With my credentials out of the way, here is the theme for the proceedings:
“Embark on an international holiday expedition at the all-new CHILL, featuring the United States’ first-ever ice adventure-park and a touching tribute to cultural traditions from around the world showcasing a global sampling of food, music, and live entertainment perfect for the holidays.”
A quick, but very important, caveat: this review is confined to my experience on opening night. Since I only had the one evening to attend, I cannot account for any improvements that might have been made since my going. This will be important to keep in mind while reading the first half of this review as there were definitely some opening night jitters on display.
Walking up to The Queen Mary’s: CHILL it was immediately evident that they were putting the finishing touches on the event because the entrance sign was still being hung. When the signage was finally in place, they let us enter and we decided to do a quick walkthrough to see the layout before we began our evening in earnest. As we were touring around two things became clear: first was that they were still working on the event as seen by the workers still hooking things up and second was that there was no real map to tell us where to go or how to get to the various attractions. I realized later in the evening that there was no show schedule handed out to guests either, so any entertainment we caught was purely by chance (apart from the well-publicized tree lighting).
Okay, those are all easy enough to remedy, so how was the event itself?
Honestly, the grounds were beautifully decorated for the occasion with six different countries represented. Some of the transitions between the various areas could have used a little work, but the level of detail within these lands was nice. There were lights all over the central area that drew the eye nicely towards the main Christmas tree and the ice skating rink.
As a casual ice skater allow me to say, this was one of the most interesting ice skating rinks I have ever had the pleasure of zipping around. What made this particular attraction so unique was that the rink was set up more like a lazy river that weaves around the entire event with step on and off points in nearly every country. Just by skating around I had a perfect view of two of the three stages and two of the four other attractions. It was a thing of beauty knowing that there was so much for me to see along the path and at any time I could hop off for a quick bite to eat.
In fact, I should probably go over some of the food on offer. Each of the areas had a special signature item that they felt best represented the country. While I enjoyed everything I was able to sample, the real standouts were the hot beef dim sum and the potato pierogis (the latter of which was praised by a Polish family). The fact that the theming around the park was backed up by such well executed regional cuisine really added a lot to the experience.
Most of the areas also had a signature drink, but I was unable to try all of these beverages. One of the main reasons for this was quite simply; they did not have the makings for some of the drinks. Two of the bars were unable to make any of their signature beverages due to not having the proper alcohol and the hot chocolate was hit or miss as they kept running out all night. I hope these issues get ironed out as the one signature drink I had was quite tasty and the others sounded like they would be good.
Moving on from the food and beverages, the attractions available at the event are quite a lot of fun. Be warned, things like the zip line, the ice bumper cars, and the ice bikers are all liable to get and hold long lines, so those looking to experience all the event has to offer should make those three a priority. I was especially interested in the ice bikes as it was such a simple yet novel concept that added some speed and uncertainty to an otherwise normal biking experience.
Finally, the shows on offer (at least the few I was able to run across) were very entertaining. I wish I had known the set times for a few of the things as I occasionally ran into the ending of a show or saw it from across the way, but what I did see was good. Of course, the highlight of most nights is the tree lighting ceremony which goes on for a whopping fifteen minutes. This show especially does a good job of integrating the dancers, the various versions of Santa Claus, music, and of course lights. It is funny that I actually think the show should be a few minutes shorter as there were times when the music seemed to crescendo, only to have the display keep going for another song.
All in all, there were a lot of bumps to opening night, but once they are hammered out this will be a stellar event. Those looking to attend should do some research as there is a lot to keep track of as far as the pricing, upgrades, and activities available; so having a gameplan is a must. I honestly wish I had more time to see everything as I feel as if there were some cool experiences I missed just by not having any clear guidance or understanding of how the event worked. Even so, the food, decorations, and ice skating were true highlights that would draw me back for a second visit.