Walt Disney World Gears Up for Winter With "Frozen" Attractions

“Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome” parades through Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
“Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome” parades through Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The phenomenal success of Walt Disney World’s “Frozen Summer Fun” program at Disney’s Hollywood Studios prompted a four-week extension beyond its original closing date of September 1 and the promise of more Frozen-inspired delights ahead.

A Disney announcement last month stated that Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, along with Kristoff the iceman, Olaf the snowman and other Frozen characters, would return to more than one Disney park in the near future. After all, a sold-out Broadway show rarely closes its run, and the same has proven true of the sold-out summer attractions inspired by the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

Thomas Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks & Resorts announced in his “Disney Parks Blog” that construction would begin on a new and permanent Frozen ride at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot later this year. Additionally, several Frozen attractions will appear this holiday season in the Magic Kingdom and the Hollywood Studios. 

“We’ve made ‘Frozen’ a part of the guest experience in a number of ways already and our guests have both loved them and asked for more,” writes Staggs. “So I’m pleased to say that we’re starting construction at Walt Disney World Resort on a brand new ‘Frozen’ attraction at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. The new attraction, which replaces Maelstrom, will take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests. We think these ‘Frozen’ elements are great complements to the Norway Pavilion, which showcases the country and region that inspired the film.”

Kristoff at the parade

Kristoff at the parade

‘Frozen’-Inspired Events This Christmas Season

Frozen fans in Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, however, need not wait until the Norway ride opens in 2017 in Epcot. Starting this November, according to Staggs’ announcement, Queen Elsa will use her powers each night to transform Cinderella Castle into an ice palace, and Magic Kingdom guests at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will see Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf appear in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.

The royal sisters who attracted throngs of cheering fans during their Royal Welcome coronation parade this summer reportedly will also participate in Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade in Fantasyland this winter. (Whether or not they will be making appearances at Princess Fairytale Hall, where they took up residence alongside the likes of Cinderella and Rapunzel during the “Frozen Summer Fun” program, has not yet been determined.)

Additionally, Hollywood Studios guests will see an extended version of the wildly popular “Frozen Live – For the First Time in Forever: a Frozen Sing-Along Celebration,” according to Staggs. There will continue to be a Frozen-related attraction called “Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Funland,” a holdover from the summer program with a few enhancements. The ice-covered play area will be enlarged and moved closer to the Sing-Along Celebration in Hollywood Studios’ Premier Theater. During our visit, children made small snowmen and ice castles in a snow play area, and young and old alike skated on a large ice rink.

Travel agents who are unfamiliar with the Frozen phenomenon (as was this writer before experiencing it firsthand during a recent “Grand Adventure” weekend) may want to do quick research, starting with a viewing of the film and a study of its upcoming Walt Disney World attractions. This may be the best opportunity to earn long-term Disney clients by making them among the first to experience the energy surrounding its superstar characters.

We spoke with a father in a family of four from Indiana waiting in line for public transportation in Hollywood Studios who may have accurately summed up fan sentiment. “Anna and Elsa are this new generation’s Cinderella,” said the father. “When these kids are older they will look back at these characters in the same way we look back at our earlier favorite Disney characters.”

Frozen Sing-Along

Among the “Frozen Summer Fun” experiences sure to be available this holiday season, the aforementioned Sing-Along Celebration ranks as a memory maker. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and two “historians” from the Frozen kingdom of Arendelle appear live on stage and present the film’s highlights on the movie screen behind them, along with each song’s lyrics displayed in subtitles.

Young audience members’ reactions to Anna and Elsa were comparable to a rock star concert greeting, and their lusty group-singing of the film’s songs created an electric vibe throughout the theater. Young singers, many of whom recited film dialogue as well as song lyrics by heart, raised the volume when time came to wail the now-famous “Let It Go” with Queen Elsa.

How long Anna and Elsa’s reign at Walt Disney World will last is unknown. However, with the scheduled spring 2015 release of a new animated short, Frozen Fever, a return engagement next summer or winter doesn’t appear to be out of the question.

During the Sing-Along Celebrations, each song’s lyrics are displayed on the screen.
During the Sing-Along Celebrations, each song’s lyrics are displayed on the screen.