After the success of Disney’s 2013 movie Frozen and its introduction of Arendelle sisters Elsa and Anna, it’s largely forgotten that an early trailer for the movie didn’t even show Elsa and Anna; it was all about Olaf the snowman and reindeer Sven.
Disney, burned by animated box office disappointments (think: The Princess and the Frog), resorted to a don’t-say-princess (or musical) marketing strategy to try to draw more boys to its animated films.
The across-the-board success of Frozen — the film has raked in $400 million to date domestically, making it the No. 3 release at the box office in 2013 — perhaps caught Disney executives off guard. The movie opened Nov. 22, 2013, and there weren’t a lot of Frozen-themed tie-ins at Florida’s Walt Disney World or California’s Disneyland at Christmas 2013.
But the appetite for Frozen from park visitors was real in late 2013 and early 2014: The wait for meet-and-greets with Elsa and Anna could often be estimated in hours, not minutes. But now there should be plenty of Frozen to satisfy Elsa and Anna aficionados.
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Meet-and-greet opportunities with the sisters from Arendelle occur inside Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.
The pair also appear in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade and the “Celebrate the Magic” nighttime projection show at Magic Kingdom.
The Maelstrom ride at the Norway pavilion at Epcot closed last year to get a makeover as a Frozen-themed ride, but that overhaul isn’t expected to be complete until early 2016.
The Frozen E-ticket attraction is “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Arendelle’s royal historians recount the Frozen story, aided by clips from the movie on a big screen. The sing-along also features actors playing some of the film’s most popular characters onstage, including Elsa, Anna and Kristoff.
“For the First Time in Forever” also can be found at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif., where it has taken over the Muppet Vision 3D theater as part of the “Frozen Fun” festival in the park’s Hollywood Land.
The actors playing Arendelle historians in the sing-along go for laughs by incorporating bits of song lyrics into their dialogue (“There were frozen fractals all around,” one says) and toss in references to other Disney properties (“Once upon a time, a cute little clownfish … A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”).
The California parks offer more Frozen tie-ins than Florida thanks to “Frozen Fun,” which runs through May 15 at Disney California Adventure.
The Frozen-themed “Freeze the Night” evening street party at DCA, featuring chain-saw ice sculptors, will revert to the Alice in Wonderland-themed “Mad T Party” in May, but the “For the First Time in Forever” sing-along will continue indefinitely.
Olaf’s Snow Fest, which began with the advent of “Frozen Fun” at DCA in January, continues through at least April. Housed in Stage 17, Olaf’s Snow Fest features a field of icy snow, a short sledding hill and the opportunity to meet Olaf.
Anna and Elsa greet DCA visitors in the Disney Animation building in Hollywood Land. Visit early in the day to collect a return time for meeting the royals of Arendelle. (These meet-and-greets will continue beyond May.) In the same location, the Animation Academy teaches park guests how to draw animated characters, including Olaf and the Frozen snow monster, Marshmallow.
At Disneyland, a Royal Theatre show in Fantasy Faire features Renaissance Vaudevillians Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones retelling the Frozen story. Anna and Elsa also appear on a float before the afternoon parade.