The Walt Disney Company has gone all-in after last year’s Oscar winning hit film “Frozen,” inserting Anna and Elsa wherever they can, from the ABC television show “Once Upon a Time” – to a traveling Disney on Ice show, to Frozen costumes, dolls, and merchandise as far as the eye can see. Perhaps nowhere is “Frozen” influence greater than inside Walt Disney World’s theme parks.
At Orlando’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, lines to meet Princess Anna and Queen Elsa stretched nearly six hours long. Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios lingered long past Labor Day until granted an indefinite run. After 25+ years, Epcot’s Maelstrom boat ride will be removed to make room for an upcoming “Frozen” attraction. And now the 30+ year old televised Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade has morphed into the Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration.
Have we reached a saturation point for all things Frozen?
Walt Disney World expert Lou Mongello, host of the popular long-running WDWRadio podcast, doesn’t think so, as evidenced by guests’ reactions. “Instead of thinking about the presence of ‘Frozen’ in parades, shows, shops and attractions, look (as I did this past weekend), at the guests instead,” Mongello remarked, “What I continue to witness are countless little girls walking through the parks dressed like Elsa wide-eyed in the presence of their idol.”
The “Frozen” obsession started in March when Arendelle’s Royal Couple moved into Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park in the Norway pavilion. A small, themed room named “Prinsess Plass” (Princess Home) couldn’t handle the crowds, and Anna and Elsa were quickly relocated to the Magic Kingdom’s Princess Fairytale Hall where a FastPass+ reservation could arrange your audience 6 months ahead of time. With her popularity growing, Disney drew up bigger plans for Queen Elsa over the holidays. It may be Cinderella’s Castle, but even Cindy and her Fairy Godmother couldn’t hold back the coming avalanche.
Each night Queen Elsa transforms Cinderella’s iconic Castle into a shimmering ice palace during a lighting effects and projection show called A Frozen Holiday Wish that not only includes Elsa, but also Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf the snowman. Mongello noted, “Those girls [dressed as Elsa] were teary-eyed on their father's shoulders watching that castle lighting ceremony.” And the castle lighting is not the only place guests will find Frozen during the holidays.
During Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (also at the Magic Kingdom), all four “Frozen” characters join the procession along with a flurry of skiers and ice cutters from the Kingdom of Arendelle.
Do you want to build your own snowman? Head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with real snow at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Snowground. After tossing a few snowballs you can sing-along to “Frozen” songs with the Royal Historians of Arendelle and Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, and Kristoff during “For the First Time in Forever – a ‘“Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration.” At Epcot, Anna and Elsa no longer greets guests (for now), but Norway’s Stave Church replica still houses a gallery of Norwegian artifacts that inspired the “Frozen” filmmakers. Even the Walt Disney World hotels are a little frostbitten, and a “Frozen”-themed gingerbread iced castle adorns the Contemporary Resort’s atrium lobby. Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven are present in gingerbread cookie form, you can purchase a blue raspberry cake “Frozen” gelato to eat, and take home a “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” kit.
Susie Storey, is a Wisconsin mother of a 3-year old boy currently in love with “Frozen”; they saw the film six times at the theater and countless viewings at home. Her son dressed as Olaf for Halloween, and trick-or-treated alongside his many friends dressed as Elsa. Susie’s family is but one example of how Walt Disney World’s “Frozen” increase gives fans what they want.
“When my son met Queen Elsa at the Magic Kingdom, he was speechless and in total awe,” Storey explained, “the ‘Frozen’ phenomenon will subside, but until then, as long as kids want to see Elsa, Anna and Olaf, including them in the parks makes sense.” And there’s no concern about Disney re-branding the annual televised Christmas parade the Disney Parks “Frozen” Christmas Celebration. Susie Storey continued, “our family has watched the Disney Parks Christmas parade on television every year since it debuted. We don't care what it's called; we just know we'll be watching, wishing we were at Walt Disney World, and probably waving to Anna and Queen Elsa from our living room.”
Finally, for those Disney fans who’ve had enough of “Frozen”, and are looking to escape Elsa’s icy grip on Walt Disney World… well, there’s always Disney’s Animal Kingdom – at least until Sven the reindeer shows up.
Dave Parfitt is a Rochester, N.Y.-based travel writer. He is the founder of Adventures by Daddy, a digital database offering family-friendly travel advice from a father’s point of view.