20 Jun 2019

The Making of an Ice Show: Behind the Scenes at Moody Gardens

Aggreko cooling equipment at Moody Gardens Iceland

Ice shows inspire awe in everyone regardless of whether they’re six or sixty. But, because everything is made of such a delicate material, the conditions need to be absolutely perfect otherwise disaster can strike; and who really wants to go to a melting exhibition? 

For Moody Gardens, an annual ice exhibit is one of the main events in the calendar - not an easy feat when hot and sticky is the standard climate in Galveston, Texas, where the site is situated. 

The ICE LAND sculpture exhibit entered its third year in 2018, when the facility invited a collection of master ice carvers from Harbin, China to create a landscape filled with more than 100 jutting sculptures. 

Dubbed ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas, the huge show drew in crowds from miles in every direction and saw people walking amongst immaculate hand-carved sculptures of coral, spinner dolphins, vibrant fish, hammerhead sharks, ancient sea turtles, and an ice slide. 

It was an interesting contrast to the tropical temperatures of Texas at that time of year and provided a magical wonderland that brought a different version of Christmas to the local people and those who came from further afield. 

The edutainment facility has a unique purpose: to incorporate recreation into the healing process. With such a meaningful purpose, the last thing the event organizers want to do is have to worry about making sure the conditions were right. 

This is precisely why they chose to hire a provider that could take the weight of cooling, heating, and electricity off their shoulders. 

If you’re running a temperature-sensitive event like Moody Gardens’ ice show, bringing a provider on board who can deal with all the power requirements means you have more time and capacity to focus on making sure everything else is running smoothly. 

Chillers at Moody Gardens Iceland

The Moody Gardens Ice Exhibit in Numbers

Moody Gardens has grown over the years to include a hotel, a convention center, and a series of annual and one-off events that are becoming more and more popular. The ice sculpture show was one of the biggest events yet, that:

  • Was set inside a 27,000 square foot tent
  • Had 17,000 square feet of refrigerated space
  • Needed over 300 tons freezing capacity
  • Had to be kept below 10 F 

With such a huge amount of space that needed cooling, it wasn’t an easy task for Moody Gardens to find a provider that cut the mustard. 

The event organizers had a previous history of emergency needs and last-minute callouts. They had been using Aggreko as a provider and knew that we were responsive and on the ball when it came to emergencies. 

Moody Gardens Iceland Ice Structures

The Different Stages of Setting Up

The main issue the organizers faced was creating the right ambiance throughout the different stages of the set up and during the live exhibition itself. 

In order to create a smooth, carvable surface on the ice, the temperature needed to be a little bit warmer to ensure the ice blocks didn’t crack. But, when the sculptures were completed and they were ready for the public, the temperature needed to be cooler to avoid any nasty melting incidents. 

While this might seem like a simple requirement, it can be tricky to maintain a consistent temperature inside a tent, especially when there are so many variables like body heat and the outside climate that can so easily affect it. 

To avoid this, Moody Gardens brought in Aggreko to adjust temperatures and maintain consistent heating and cooling throughout every step of the process. Not only did it mean that there was a technical person on the phone in the middle of the night if a pressing question came up, but it also meant that there was always someone on hand to come on site and adjust the temperatures accordingly. 

Aggreko Air Conditioner for Moody Gardens Iceland

A Winter Wonderland in the Heart of Texas

900 tons of ice and a collection of beautiful sculptures later, ICE LAND proved to be a huge hit for Moody Gardens. 

Powering such an event can feel like a major headache if you don’t get the right people to help out. Not only did we make sure the event stayed at the right temperature for the entirety of the show, but we were also on-hand to go the extra mile if Moody Gardens found themselves in a melting crisis. 

Maintaining a 10 F temperature in a 27,000 square foot tent isn’t easy, but our unique solutions made sure the event ran smoothly so that Moody Gardens could continue to maintain its high-level reputation in Texas. 

Planning ahead was key in Moody Gardens’ ICE LAND success, and it can be the key to your success, too. 

Watch the full video of the making of ICE LAND below: