Billed as the first and largest permanent bar made of ice in the USA, ICEBAR Orlando officially opened its doors yesterday, on Oct. 1. We attended the grand opening party and had a chance to wander the entire ICEBAR experience.
Before reading on, check out this video summary of ICEBAR Orlando, including some information from director of operations Dustin Dunaway:
ICEBAR Orlando is made up of two sections: the Chill Lounge, which occupies more than 3,000 square feet of space and can hold up to 475 guests (though that would be quite a tight squeeze) and the ICEBAR itself, which is considerably smaller than the Chill Lounge. Here’s a look at the floor plan:
The exterior of ICEBAR is fairly simple – so much so that you might drive down International Drive without even realizing it’s there. A couple of small ICEBAR signs mark the otherwise plain, white building.
There are three focal points inside the Chill Lounge, the main part of ICEBAR Orlando. Upon entering the lounge, eyes are drawn to glowing, ice-inspired decor, cycling through a multitude of colors. While the Chill Lounge does not actually feature any ice carvings, it is designed to evoke a cool feeling throughout, down to the highlighted crystal chandelier.
Beyond the illuminated furniture, the most obvious attention-grabber in the Chill Lounge is the stage which, last night, featured a DJ along with a rotating selection of scantily clad young women, dancing to various popular tunes including (what else?) Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. When not dancing, these women were found roaming the bar. These dancers are not a permanent fixture of ICEBAR, but will make appearances for special occasions and possibly on nights when the DJ is present (scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights). While ICEBAR Orlando welcomes both adults and children, some parents may feel that the women’s outfits are too tiny for some younger visitors, though the dancers are surrounded and partially obstructed by a frosted glass enclosure (literally, it can be seen dripping during performances – insert your own joke about how “hot” the dancers are). Anyone concerned about potentially spotting these dancers in action should avoid ICEBAR on these select nights.
The other focal point inside the Chill Lounge is the actual bar itself, which, like most everything else inside ICEBAR Orlando, is illuminated to grab attention. It was certainly a popular spot on opening night.
So by now you must be wondering, “Where’s the ice?” The actual part of ICEBAR Orlando that is made of ice is located behind a sealed door at the front of the building. Up to 50 guests at a time may experience the ice room in 45-minute time slots after putting on a thermal hooded cape and gloves. The room is kept at 27 degrees Fahrenheit, so the cape is a welcome treat to stay warm. The gloves are needed to drink at the ICEBAR as the cups themselves are made of ice.
While the Chill Lounge features furniture that cycles through a spectrum of colors, the entire ICEBAR glows, changing colors every few seconds. The colors range anywhere from an eye-pleasing blue/white hue to an overwhelming bright red.
Nearly everything inside the ICEBAR is made of ice, from the furniture to the many sculptures. One particularly entertaining feature is a semi-clear block of ice that allows visitors to see outside.
Most of the tables inside the ice room are made to look like ice but for stability’s sake are actually made of the same acrylic or plexiglass material found in the Chill Lounge, as the ice is slippery on top and does not easily hold a drink steady.
ICEBAR Orlando admission prices start at $35 per person and include a Grey Goose vodka drink for guests 21 and older. Guests under 21 receive a free “mocktail” instead. Most importantly, there is no cover charge for the Chill Lounge and parking is free, so anyone wandering International Drive can stop by and relax at no cost. If it happens to be a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night, visitors can even enjoy some free music too.
Normal operating hours for ICEBAR Orlando are 5 to 11 p.m. with the the Chill Lounge open from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 4:30 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday.
With so much of International Drive filled with chain restaurants, gift shops, and unique tourist attractions, ICEBAR Orlando is a welcome change for a fun, relaxing evening.
Don’t miss our ICEBAR Orlando photo gallery for a few more snapshots from the ice room and the Chill Lounge (including a few more of the dancers).