The warm mug of hot chocolate warms my ungloved hands. I snuggle further into the soft couch as I take a sip, my beverage warming me from within. An older woman enters the inviting room filled with twinkling lights and holiday knick-knacks, her energy lighting up the space. She straightens her homemade skirt as she takes a seat in an old rocking chair in front of an impressively large Douglas fir. The woman smiles a comforting smile as she adjusts the spectacles on her nose and the hat covering her curly gray hair. She reaches for a book next to her and cracks it open. Welcome, she says, I’m Mrs. Claus, and this is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Following another successful year of Dark Harbor, the Queen Mary cuts back on the adult-oriented October festivities in favor of a more intimate and family-friendly Christmas experience. While there are no age restrictions on the upper end of the spectrum for any of the activities, some are more suited to children than to adults, but all are welcome. There are, however, height restrictions on some of the more dangerous offerings. With both indoor and outdoor activities for all ages, as well as ample holiday photo opportunities, Queen Mary Christmas offers a beautiful view of a festive winter wonderland.
Giant Rocking Horse: Have you ever been on a rocking horse as an adult? How about a 15-20 foot high rocking horse? If you’re not scared of heights, climb the stairs and sit atop this massive, human-powered rocking horse for a better vantage point of the festivities and a gentle ride. However, the bathrooms are just to the left, so you might want to focus on the right side for a better view of the Grand Carousel, Queen Mary Express, and the Queen Mary itself, brightening up the sky with twinkling holiday lights.
Grand Carousel: While the Grand Carousel is not holiday themed, its décor is still beautiful with its bright lights and detailed animals. Visitors can hop aboard a house cat, a variety of horses, a lion, or a dragon and have a merry time going ‘round while listening to holiday music. Be sure to wave at the Queen Mary Express as it passes by.
Ice Skating: A major draw to Queen Mary Christmas is their beautiful, 6,000 square foot ice skating rink. Visitors can purchase a 45-minute skating session and try their hand at ice skating around Queen Mary’s 26-foot Christmas tree while listening to holiday tunes, or stopping by the nearby vendors. Friends and family not on the ice can watch from a rink-side cabana or visit the Making Spirits Bright Bar for a specialty cocktail.
North Pole Rock Climbing: Brave visitors also have the option of getting harnessed up and scaling the free-standing North Pole Rocking Climbing wall. We here at Become Immersed got cold feet during our visit, so you’ll have to tell us how you fared during your climb in the comments below!
Queen Mary Express Train Ride: If staying close to the ground is more your speed, take a ride on the colorful Queen Mary Express, a small train which weaves its way throughout the outside grounds. Take in the sights and sounds of an enchanted forest, timed snowfall, and performers on the nearby stage, and marvel at a tunnel of lights (which you can also walk through later for more photos). The train is free for everyone, but those under 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
Snow Globe: Ever wonder what it would be like to be trapped inside a snow globe? Queen Mary Christmas has you covered with a giant inflatable globe for guests to step inside. Smile and say Cheese! in front of the snowy background – or have fun with it and look trapped inside – as someone on the outside takes a photo to commemorate the occasion.
Themed Cocktails: Queen Mary Christmas doesn’t leave out the adults, as there are two separate bars on the grounds that feature three specialty cocktails for the holidays. The Candy Cane Martini combines candy cane-infused vodka, vanilla vodka and white creme de cacao, and tops it off with a small candy cane to munch on afterward. The Rumchata Eggnog mixes the two creamy beverages and garnishes the tasty treat with cinnamon and a cherry. Lastly, the Cranberry Old-Fashion couples whiskey with angostura bitters and cranberry simple syrup, garnishing the drink with an orange peel, cranberries and rosemary.
Gingerbread House Decorating: Guests can get their hands sticky (and delicious) as they decorate their own gingerbread house – if they can hold off on eating the decorations! The pre-constructed houses are ready for children and adults alike to apply gumdrops and chocolates to, along with plenty of icing to lick off their fingers afterward. And for added entertainment, the Singing Baker might just make an appearance in Gingerbread Village.
Insta-Wrap: With Instagram palaces popping up all over town, Queen Mary Christmas is getting in on the social media game with their dedicated #Intsa-Wrap room. The large hallway is split down the middle to separate the various wrapping paper backgrounds with an area clear of decorations for photographers. Visitors can pose in front of the holiday-themed wallpaper while holding one of a good number of pre-made signs for the perfect Instagram pic. There are no dedicated photographers in the room, though, so visitors will have to have someone from their group, or a kindly stranger, snap the photos. Don’t forget to tag #QMChristmas on posts!
Meet and Greet with Santa: In the Promenade of the Queen Mary, visitors will find a Letters to Santa station where they can write down their Christmas wishes for the jolly, old man. With papers in hand, visitors can go to the Captain’s Quarters to meet the man in the red suit himself, sit on his lap, hand him their wish list (or whisper in his ear), and take a festive photo – even adults! No outside photography is allowed, but several of Santa’s elves are on hand to help with any photography needs.
The Polar Express 4D Experience: If you like The Polar Express movie, you can immerse yourselves in a truncated, 20- to 25-minute version of the 2004 holiday film, complete with 4D enhancements – like 3D visual effects, air bursts, snow flurries, and the smells of hot cocoa.
Stocking Decorating: Young and old alike can take joy in decorating their very own stockings to hang by the fire, choosing from enhancements like bows, snowflakes, and little Santas. Don’t worry, some of Santa’s elves are on hand to help out where they’re needed!
Storytime with Mrs. Claus: Several times a night, guests of Queen Mary Christmas can snuggle up on small chairs, a cozy sofa, or bean bags with a warm mug of hot chocolate while listening to Mrs. Claus read classic holiday tales like The Night Before Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among others. While several different actresses portray the kindly matriarch, the Mrs. Claus we saw was fun and chipper, incorporating the listeners in her story as sound effects.
Queen Mary Christmas is a smaller affair than 2017’s globe-spanning CHILL, but it is still an entertaining reminder of a white, snowy Christmas. The use of the Queen Mary itself to house several of the activities is a nice way to let visitors have more options in terms of keeping warm and still being able to participate in activities. It also prevents any weather issues from spoiling the entire event (it did rain when Become Immersed attended and the ship provided a nice respite from it). Some of the decorations are carried over from previous years, but the freestanding installations throughout the grounds allow for many photo ops, especially stunning with the colorfully lit-up atmosphere and occasional snowfall.
While the park is open from 5-10pm, guests would benefit from arriving on the earlier side (if only to have an easier time parking), purchasing their allotted time slot for ice skating, and then enjoying the other activities while they wait. Unless there are long lines, or a visitor wishes to linger long enough to really perfect their stocking or gingerbread house, the activities can all be enjoyed in about a two-hour time frame.
This year, Queen Mary Christmas has streamlined their event to favor more family-friendly activities for guests to enjoy together. Even though Queen Mary Christmas is not ideal for a thrill-seeker’s night out, it is perfect for those who love everything Christmas, families that believe in Santa, and perhaps a holiday-themed date night; most of the events encourage spending quality time in the presence of loved ones in a gorgeous atmosphere. Guests of all ages will find something magical and inspiring this Christmas at the Queen Mary.
In addition to the regular hours and activities of Queen Mary Christmas, several special events are worth looking into. Guests ages 12 and up can attend Breakfast with Santa (Dec. 7, 14, 21, 24) and hear him read a story; pajamas are welcome! Or visitors can splurge on a Three-Course Dinner plus a show featuring Holiday Follies (Dec. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24). And every night of Queen Mary Christmas includes VIP cabana rentals for an additional cost – and additional warmth and comfort.
Queen Mary Christmas runs through January 1st. Find out more information and purchase tickets HERE.
All photography courtesy of Queen Mary.