Gaylord Rockies Christmas: Know Before You Go

Our family kicked off the holidays this year by attending the Gaylord Rockies Christmas festivities last weekend.

Gaylord Rockies Christmas Lobby

We have stayed at the property before, but this was the first time we’ve been there during the holiday celebration.  Whether you drop in for a couple of hours or stay overnight, the Gaylord Rockies Christmas offerings are a great way to celebrate Christmas in Colorado.

From the moment we arrived, the atmosphere was so festive it was practically buzzing. The lights and holiday activities definitely helped put us in the Christmas spirit!

But… there were a few hiccups.  During our stay, I kept finding myself thinking “I wish I would have {fill in the blank}.” 

When we got home, I knew I wanted to write a post for help other families who might be heading down. I hope this helps you prepare to make the most of their time at the Gaylord Rockies Christmas experience if you decide to try it out this year!

So, here is a list of things I wish I had known before I headed off to the Gaylord Rockies Christmas celebration.

The Lines Might Be Long

Like, they might be really long.  I always feel like being prepared for this helps manage expectations and make for a better experience.  We only allowed a few hours to do the outdoor activities (skating, tubing, bumper cars) and the lines were so long on the Sunday we attended that we ended up getting our purchased tickets refunded.  It took us an hour to get on the bumper cars and our kids were DONE by that point. We bailed on the tubes and skating.

If you are planning on doing it all and have time to spend, I might suggest a day pass.  Allow plenty of time to get it all in, and consider spreading the activities out throughout the day to lessen the stress of waiting in the lines on a busy weekend.  

Alternatively, go on a weekday earlier in the month… I have no doubt that the lines will be shorter.

Tip: Pre-purchase your tickets online ahead of time to avoid standing in ticket lines.


I mean this in the traditional sense, but I added another “B” to refer to the word “breakfast.”

On the Sunday we were there, I waited in line for an hour (AN HOUR!) at the Marketplace, which was the only place aside from the buffet to get a hot breakfast on the property.  The line was slow and the crowd was grumbly.  I also paid a premium for the muffins and croissants I bought (which I expected…but it added insult to injury after the long wait).

Tip: Do yourself a favor… PACK YOUR OWN BREAKFAST

Alternatively, your could order room service.  But don’t rely on grabbing a quick bite at the coffee shop if it’s a busy weekend.  It probably won’t be quick at all.

In reference to the alcohol, there was not much waiting.  They had pop up bars set up everywhere on the property on the Saturday night we attended.  Beer, wine and hard seltzers were plentiful, and many guests were walking around the property in ugly sweaters nursing cocktails. 

If you plan to enjoy adult beverages while you are on the property, I would also suggest just bringing in your own and bringing it down to the lobby with you.  Ditto for bottled waters and late night munchies.

Pack Right

I’m usually a good packer for things like this, but since we went the day after Thanksgiving, I hastily threw stuff in a bag and found myself missing quite a few things I wished I had brought for our kids.

A lot of the kids running around later at night in the lobby were wearing Christmas PJs, robes, and slippers (like they do at Great Wolf Lodge), which I thought was cute.  I wished I had packed that for my kiddos.

Here are some other things I wished I had packed:

  • Full Snow Gear (my kids got wet in the snow… I wish I had their ski pants).
  • Glow sticks or festive light-up necklaces as a surprise for the kids (they are on sale everywhere and they will probably want one).
  • Super warm gloves/hats for everyone to check out the Christmas light walk at night.
  • Aforementioned food and beverages.
  • Flip flops and a cover up to wear to/from the pool.
  • Christmas outfits for my kids to wear the day we met Santa.


Our kids had fun at all of the activities we participated in.  

Gaylord Rockies Christmas ICE!q


The ICE! Experience was totally new to us and everyone agreed we were glad that we did it.  The time it takes to make these sculptures… I can’t even fathom.  There is a nativity scene at the end that wowed me.  It is so beautiful!


Santa was awesome, and the staff moved groups through very quickly.  All of our family got pictures taken with him (2 sets of kids and one big group photo) and they put all of the images on one digital download for $50.


Build-A-Bear was… well.  It was Build-A-Bear.  You could probably skip this one. Unless you are a sucker like me.  Then you will spend 45 minutes in this narrow alley apologizing for being in other peoples’ way while you wait for your kids’ reindeers to be stuffed. 

Maybe this is the blossoming minimalist in me talking, but if I could do this again, I would have told my kids to pack one of our existing BAB outfits for their new “friend” to wear home.  Or bring one of their bears and let them pick out a holiday outfit for it to wear.

Gingerbread Decorating

TIP:: Make sure you purchase tickets BEFORE you get in line at the attraction.

We mistakenly thought you needed to wait in the line at the store to buy tickets, and waited in line for 20 minutes to find out you have to buy your tickets at a separate stand.  Once we were in it was fine. 

The cookies were just the same kits you buy at Sam’s or Costco… but there was a dancing gingerbread man on stage and the kids had fun. It was a part of the experience and a good activity to keep kids busy.

Gaylord Rockies Christmas Gingerbread Man

Outdoor Lights

In my opinion, the best part of the whole Gaylord Rockies Christmas experience was the one thing that is FREE: the Christmas light displays.  We walked the outdoor path at night together and it was magical.  There was a fog that night, and I felt like we were truly transported to another place.  It reminded me a little bit of the lights displays at the Botanical Gardens, just on a bit smaller scale.  There were some interactive elements (music buttons, light up stepping stones) and some photo ops along the way. Many people were skating at night under the lights and everyone seemed to be having a great time.


The pool was PACKED at night, but it was a nice way to end the day.  Swimming has a way of helping kids sleep better in a hotel!

The outdoor pools are closed for the season, but the indoor pool is large, has water slides, a splash pad, and a hot tub. If you have little ones who aren’t proficient swimmers, there are life jackets provided.


I feel like I probably don’t need to say this… but maybe I do.  You will spend a LOT of money while you are at the Gaylord Rockies Christmas celebration..  It is kind of like going to Disneyland… they are really, really good at finding ways to get you to spend money. 

The dining is all very expensive for what you get, the rooms are pricey, and there will be a million things your kids want.  It’s very easy to get carried away.  You are paying for the experience.

Go in with a plan.  Maybe your plan is “carpe diem” and you don’t care.  Maybe your plan is to take cash only for spending.  Maybe your plan is to bring in as much food and drink as you can.  

Do what works for you, but definitely take the time to think about this a little bit before you go. It’s no fun to be caught off guard!

Have fun!

Overall, we had a wonderful time at the Gaylord Rockies Christmas experience and if you are looking for a fun way to celebrate the season with your family, this is an excellent choice.

It combines elements of many of our other favorite Colorado Christmas activities (light walks, activities, sledding, skating, indoor swimming pools, Santa visit) into a one-stop shop.

I felt like we knocked a lot of our Christmas “bucket list” items off in one weekend, which freed up a lot of space for us to do other things this season that we might not get to otherwise.

You can learn more about what the resort has to offer here.

If you go, let me know what you think! And if you’ve already been… is there anything else you would add to this list of things you wish you’d known before you went? If so, add it in the comments below.

Hope you are having an AMAZING holiday season.

Thanks for being here.


P.S. Did you catch my December Weeknight Meal Plan post last week? If making dinners this time of year feels challenging… it might help you out a little! Check it out here!

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