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Dillon Ice Castles: Good for business, but at what cost?

Posted at 5:38 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 20:46:23-04

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DILLON, Colo. — On Monday, the company behind the Dillon Ice Castles announced that the massive frozen tourist attraction would be returning this winter. But just like the coming of the cold season itself, that announcement was met with a variety of opinions.

What are they?

The Dillon Ice Castles are made up of approximately 25 million pounds of ice, 10,000 icicles, and frozen LED lights. They’re created by Ice Castles LLC out of Utah. Last winter, the company says thousands of people visited the attraction from December to March.

“You definitely can’t find another experience like the Ice Castles anywhere on earth,” Ice Castles CEO and co-founder Ryan Davis said.

Happy crowds, happy town

“It was so amazing,” Dillon resident Faith Shick said.

Shick was seven months pregnant when she and her family visited the Ice Castles over the winter.

“It was beautiful. It was an incredible experience. It’s amazing how they can build it,” she said.

Having the massive frozen ticketed attraction helps build up the town as well.

“The Ice Castles is a wonderfully magically big deal for this town,” Dillon’s director of economic development Kerstin Anderson said.

Anderson says Dillon as a whole saw nearly a half million dollars in economic impact as a result of having the Ice Castles in town.

“We are 12 percent up year over year in sales tax revenue,” she said.

Not all a fairytale

The magic of having the well-lit frozen fortress in town didn’t last after spring came and it closed. Issues with drainage at the Dillon Town Park caused some flooding, and construction equipment that took down the ice and hauled it away tore up the grass and left mud patches.

“So the visual of that was not great. People were concerned,” Anderson said.

It took public works 200 man-hours to repair the park. Ice Castles say they usually let their creations melt naturally. That wasn’t the case in Dillon due to scheduled construction and improvement projects to the park. 

“We just figure it out as we go and every location is different,” the company’s CEO told Denver7 over the phone.

Improvements already made

The Town of Dillon has already made improvements to make this winter and spring run better. A new drainage system was installed at the town park, and issues of sloping and water conservation have been discussed and dealt with.

“After you’ve done it once you can make adjustments and do much better the next time around,” Davis of Ice Castles said.

What to know

Staging for the Ice Castles will start in Dillon within the next few weeks, but it all comes down to Mother Nature as to when they can start freezing ice and building the castles.

The company behind them is aiming for an opening date between December 15-29. Information about tickets will be emailed out to those who have signed up for emails, and will be available in either late November or early December.