Maze

The Ice Palace MAZE continued to grow — ice block by ice block — this past week at The Zephyr Theatre.

The Ice Palace MAZE in downtown Stillwater is scheduled to open at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22. Ticketed visitors that night will be the first to wander through the ice maze and witness the glow of colored LED lights.

Construction at The Zephyr Theatre started Jan. 7, when 12 semi-trailer trucks began to deliver more than 1,500 blocks of man-made ice.

“The ice is so beautiful, and the blocks are so big!” Calyssa Hall, the Zephyr’s executive director, said. “It has been thrilling to see our Ice Palace MAZE grow every day,”

Now, the 8-foot-tall exterior wall is capped with a series of merlons (solid ice blocks) and crenels (the spaces between those blocks), mimicking fortress walls of yore. This formidable ice wall is tall enough to demand attention and to hint at — but not give away — the attractions inside.

Ice Palace MAZE visitors will work their way through the maze of 5-foot-tall ice walls, navigating some tricky turns and dead ends. Two ice thrones and three ice sculptures will provide photo ops. Two 36-foot-long slides will make a fun exit for kids of all ages.

Hall promised maze attendants will be available to help visitors who are “directionally challenged” by the icy labyrinth.

Beyond the maze, an outdoor ice bar, sponsored by 7 Vines Vineyard in Dellwood, will sell beer and wine. The theatre’s indoor cash bar will offer hot cocoa and cocktails. S’mores kits, including individual bamboo skewers, will be sold, and bonfires will be made ready for the marshmallow roasting.

To help celebrate opening weekend, “our good friends and partners at Victoriano’s NY Style Pizza will be offering a free slice of cheese pizza at the noon and 1 p.m. time slots Saturday,” Hall said. (She also noted all tickets for those time slots have been snapped up already.)

Hall is confident the Ice Palace MAZE, scheduled to be open into March (weather permitting), will attract lots of local residents, other Minnesotans and out-of-state tourists. As of last Sunday, Jan. 17, more than 2,600 tickets had been sold, she said.

Apparently, Explore Minnesota has faith in the ice project, too. Dedicated to promoting tourism throughout the state, that organization awarded The Zephyr Theatre a $25,000 grant for new events operations. An ice sculpture with Explore Minnesota’s logo acknowledges the grant.

The Ice Palace MAZE will be family-friendly and coronavirus restriction-rules compliant. Masks are required inside the theatre and outside.

Tickets will be sold for specific time slots, limiting the number of visitors in the maze at one time. Patrons who are eating or drinking will be seated at designated tables and, as always, social distancing will be required.

To order tickets, visit www.icepalacemaze.com.

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