Iceploration was the large scale main-season stage show at Moroccan Palace Theater from February 2012 through April 2017. The show featured ice skating, acrobatics, puppets, and a cast of human and animal characters. Over its run, Iceploration was performed 5,390 times, and won several awards. During its run each season, the approximately 30 minute show was performed several times daily.
The official press release, from September 8, 2011:
For more than five decades, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has set the industry’s standard for delivering unforgettable entertainment experiences, with Broadway-style stage spectaculars like KaTonga: Musical Tales From the Jungle and innovative ice shows like World Rhythms on Ice. This winter, the park will combine some of the most amazing aspects of its entertainment history and debut its biggest ice show to date: Iceploration takes the stage on Feb. 2, 2012.
Starting February 2, a cast of 20 brings to life an all-new adventure filled with world-class skaters, more than 75 original costumes, amazing aerial performances, master puppetry and live animal stars, with shows daily in the Moroccan Palace.
“The grand scale of Iceploration sets a new standard of entertainment that further solidifies Busch Gardens as one of Florida’s premier theme parks,” said Busch Gardens Park President Jim Dean. “This show reintroduces the ice show to our most loyal fans while bringing together the things Busch Gardens stage productions do best: world-class entertainment with top-notch skaters, amazing costumes, original music, larger-than-life puppets and even animal stars.”
Iceploration inspires audiences to “explore the world” on a 30-minute journey to the four corners of the earth. This multi-sensory story, told through theatrical skating and an all-new original score, is the collaboration of an award-winning creative team with Broadway credentials, including Tony Award-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes (The Drowsy Chaperone, Best Costume Design Tony winner 2007; Legally Blonde the Musical, Best Costume Design Tony nominee 2007).
The 30-minute show opens with Austin, a digital-savvy preteen, explaining how technology has made his generation more connected to the world than ever before. But his grandfather – and old-world explorer – argues that the boy is more disconnected than he realizes, and takes him on an adventure around the globe. Through their travels they visit the African Serengeti, Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic and the Amazon rainforest.
African Serengeti. Here, larger-the-life puppets and spectacular set design bring elephants and other awe-inspiring animals to life at a watering hole. Solo and chorus skating performances accompanied by acrobatics tell an anecdote of an agile cheetah stalking graceful gazelles and meerkats.
Great Barrier Reef to explore the harmony of life on the ocean floor. An amazing black light transition and never-before-seen helium-filled puppets immerse the audience in the wonders of the sea, filled with parrotfish and lionfish, sea urchins, turtles and a moray eel.
Arctic, majestic skaters become striking snow flurries as a winter storm threatens the travelers. Austin and Grandpa witness even more beauty as they encounter the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, represented with theatrical lighting and projections. Then, they share the stage with amazing live animal stars, including a Siberian lynx and a sled of Siberian huskies as they continue to traverse the tundra.
Austin and Grandpa wrap up their adventure around the globe immersed in the lush, tropical Amazon Rainforest. Squirrel monkeys, sun conures and colorful macaws fill the air as playful frogs and a graceful dragonfly skate into the grand finale: a new signature song called “Meet the World.”
Construction has already begun to transform the Moroccan Palace into the icy new site for this ground-breaking show, as well as an exciting version of Busch Gardens’ classic holiday ice show. This holiday season, the Moroccan Palace will host Christmas on Ice with several shows daily from November 21 to January 1.
Iceploration performances are included with any daily park admission or annual Pass.
The main story line of Iceploration follows Austin, a boy who is more in tune with current technology than nature, and his grandfather, a more old-fashioned world explorer. Austin joins his grandfather on an expedition around the world, to locations including the African Serengeti, Great Barrier Reef, Arctic, and an Amazon rainforest. During their journey, Austin learns to disconnect from technology and connect with the world around him, and along the way Austin teaches his grandfather that sometimes technology can be beneficial, even while getting in touch with nature.
In earlier seasons, a girl sometimes played the role of Austin. In later seasons, the show was re-worked slightly with the character’s name changed to Kaitlyn when a female was in the main role. Other small changes over the years were made, but overall the story line remained the same throughout the show’s run.
Along with the two main characters, Iceploration featured a cast of ice skaters, puppeteers, and animals including a variety of birds, Siberian huskies, and a Siberian lynx. At several points throughout the show, various birds would fly out over the audience.
The show originally opened to the public on February 2, 2012. It would go on that year to win two Brass Ring Awards at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo, including Best Sports Show and the Heartbeat Award, which “recognizes the show that demonstrates superior overall ability in reaching the hearts of its audience.”
Opening day of the 2013 season was January 16. Later that year, on October 3, Iceploration hit its 2000th performance. By September 17, 2014, the show reached its 3000th performance. When it closed for the season on November 9, 2014, the tally stood at 3,158 shows, equaling 104,214 minutes.
January 14 was the opening day for the 2015 season. That summer, on July 20, Iceploration was ranked fifth as Best Amusement Park Entertainment in the USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice awards. On September 9, 2015 the show hit 4000 performances, and went on to end the season on November 8 with 4,183 shows performed.
Iceploration returned on February 14, 2016, later than normal due to a renovation of Moroccan Palace Theater. The season ran through November 6, closing out the year with 5,077 performances.
In early 2017, rumors began that the show would be closing soon. The official announcement came on January 26 from the park that the show would be closing in April. The final performances were held on Sunday, April 23.
Official Open Date: February 2, 2012
Close Date: April 23, 2017
Venue: Moroccan Palace Theater
Additional details and images of the Iceploration will be added in the future.
Iceploration Ice Show – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – accessed 4/21/2017
Advanced Entertainment Group – Facebook – accessed 4/21/2017
Best Amusement Park Entertainment Winners 2015 – accessed 4/21/2017
2012 Brass Ring Award Winners – accessed 4/21/2017
Advanced Entertainment Group – Facebook Post – accessed 6/2/2017
Press Release – Sept 8 2011 – accessed 12/15/2017