By Jordi Ettinger
The ocean liner RMS Queen Mary was once used during World War II to transport American soldiers and supplies between the United States and the battlefields of Europe. Today, the former fastest ship in the world has a more humble purpose – it’s a floating hotel and museum. Between late November and early January each year, the Queen Mary (now permanently moored in Long Beach) becomes the centerpiece of one of Los Angeles’ best winter festivals: Chill.
In the foreground of the majestic ship stands this festival, complete with traditional carnival food, ice skating, live entertainment and ice tubing. This year, the main attraction at Chill is Alice in Winterland, a 14,000 square foot re-creation of the famous children’s book by Lewis Carroll. Decorated with hundreds of lanterns, neon lights, intricate scenery and colorfully costumed characters, Alice in Winterland truly takes its guests down the rabbit hole.
The movie ‘Polar Express’ is shown during Chill as well. Taking place in the Queen Mary’s 4-D theater, it presents some of the most famous scenes from the Polar Express, improved upon with water, fake snow, shaking and other effects. Similar to Alice in Winterland, the 4-D movie brings about childhood nostalgia and is very enjoyable even as a teenager.
Ice skating is a main attraction at Chill. With a 6,000 square foot ice rink available to the public for an additional fee (ice skate rentals are free with admission), it is easy to slip on a pair of skates and carve up some ice. Inside the Queen Mary dome and alongside the Alice in Winterland is ice tubing, in which users ride two stories down an ice slide while sitting on a life preserver. The thrill of the rushing wind is a very refreshing break from walking around. Along with these rides is a live performance stage.
General admission varies from $35 to $45 depending on the day. Chill is open until January 8 every Thursday through Sunday with the exception of the last two weeks in December when it is open every day. Although many of the attractions at Chill are designed to appeal to children, it is still an enjoyable experience, especially if you go with a date.