Before we talk about our destination, let’s talk about the movie “Frozen.” Some people simply love it, some hate it, and some loved it once, but that love is now covered in a thick, frosty layer of cynicism and annoyance from hearing that same blessed song over and over and over.
But there’s also a fourth group –opinions may vary wildly about the movie and the soundtrack, but you have to admit that Queen Elsa had herself a pretty sweet home.
Her ice palace was tall, elegant, colorful and appeared to be well-engineered and structurally sound. Though it would be a bugger to get in and out of, and you might see some seasonal spikes in your heating bill, it would definitely be a great place to call home.
So, since that place is already occupied, is there a way to see other ice castles?
The answer is yes, thanks to a California resident who decided to make the best of his relocation to Midway, Utah, by making something fun for his kids.
His first year, Brent Christensen enhanced a backyard skating rink by creating a 20-foot ice slide, digging out an ice cave and building an ice tower. He chipped out rooms, “planted” icicles which would grow into interesting formations, and used cardboard for support and shaping.
The next year, he started the effort earlier, ditched the soggy, pulpy cardboard, and made the castle bigger and better. People began taking notice, and before long, a stream of neighbors began to stop by. As the structures grew, he also began hiring locals to help create these impressive ice sculptures.
Today, the Midway Ice Castle is a popular attraction for the whole region, drawing thousands of visitors each season.
The Midway Ice Castle usually opens to the public in December, and how long it remains open is up to Mother Nature. Some years this part of Utah doesn’t see a full thaw until April, and other years, like 2013, the castle had to be shut down earlier because of an unseasonably warm February.
The completed castle now takes up 1 to 2 acres. Visitors from across the region enjoy wandering through and admiring the cool – literally — construction.
Each year, Christensen and other employees start planting their icicle farm in the fall, so they’ll already be partially grown by the time castle construction officially starts.
Last year, the organizers included a “Frozen” theme, complete with an Elsa look-alike who wandered around the location like she owned the place.
The concept of the ice castle and the innovative construction method has become so popular that Christensen was asked to design similar structures in Colorado, Minnesota and New Hampshire, and these communities also enjoy becoming tourism destinations.
People planning to visit this year’s Ice Castle are encouraged to car pool or take a bus. Parking can be limited, especially in the downtown Midway area.
Check out The BusBank for information about group excursions to the Ice Castle.