Looking for a “cool” way to spend your time? As much of a wimp as I am in the cold, the drop in temperature has enabled the opening of Ice Castles at Mall of America, which I’ve got to say, looks seriously “cool” (OK, I’m done with the weather puns now).
The largest structure of its kind ever built, the castle will span across more than an acre of the mall’s North Lot, with its tallest peak hitting 40 feet. The (or one of the) neat thing(s) about the castle is that it isn’t built with ice blocks like most are, but instead made from icicles that have been organically grown and fused together. Ice walls that reach 12 to 15 feet surround the outside, while 50 large ice towers are joined to create archways, tunnels, and caverns inside. Staying in tune with the royal theme, the castle contains several Throne Rooms, each with ice chairs large enough to seat several people. The structure becomes even more enchanted at night, when thousands of LED multi-colored lights illuminate the ice.
Photo courtesy of Mall of America
The idea behind Ice Castles first arose when Brent Christensen, the company’s artistic designer, was searching for a new outdoor activity to do with his children. This led him to experiment with using icicles as a base structure, creating what his children called “an ice castle.” In 2009-2010, Christensen was asked to build a larger version of his creation at Zermatt Resort in Utah, attracting more than 10,000 visitors, thus beginning the yearly development of the castles. The Mall of America’s is the grandest to date, having been constructed from four million gallons of water and more than 20,000 to 25,000 tons of ice.
Aside from the castle, visitors can enjoy warming up at outdoor fire pits scattered across the area, or with hot food and drinks that are available onsite for purchase. For youngsters, a snow park area will be a place to play and construct snowmen. Inside the castle, for kids that prefer crawling to walking, smaller tunnels have been constructed.
The castle, which opened on New Years Eve, is set to remain open until Feb. 20, however that date is dependent on weather. Considering Minnesota’s unpredictability, I would suggest visiting sooner rather than later to ensure you don’t miss the magical experience.
Info: Located in Mall of America’s North Lot at the corner of 24th Avenue and Lindau Lane. Open Mon.-Fri. noon-10 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sun. noon-7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children or $25 for a family pack (two adults, two children).