I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes it helps me go to sleep to fantasize about what attractions I would build if I was a Disney Imagineer. (I know, I’m really cool.) So inevitably, as details let out about Frozen, I couldn’t help but imagine what the Imagineers might pull from the film for the theme parks.
With any new Disney animated movie, there comes some presence in the parks, but typically it’s temporary. In expert use of synergy, there’s always some publicity, usually in the form of a character meet & greet and/or an art exhibit. But then once the next new film chugs through the pipeline, it’s out with the old.
That is, unless, the film cements itself in the Disney family, in which case it then goes on to be used in a more permanent capacity, whether it be in the form of rides, shows, or other uses. We’ve seen this happen more and more often as Disney Animation has re-found its legs in the last several years. Take, for example, Tangled. When the film first released, it, of course, hailed a character greeting for Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. When the film and its characters became a runaway Disney classic, the Imagineers got busy. Today, we not only still see hours-long lines to meet Rapunzel, but at Disneyland we’ve got a stage show surrounding her story and at Walt Disney World her entire tower was even built.
With Frozen being billed as “the greatest Disney animated event since The Lion King,” it’s natural to expect that it will achieve, if not top, the superstardom of Tangled. Because of this, it’s natural to think that something Frozen-related in the parks might be a very real possibility.
For starters, the movie already has much more of a presence than most new films do, and the thing hasn’t even come out yet. In addition to meet & greets with Anna and Elsa, Disneyland has its own Olaf animatronic that talks to guests, and multiple scenes from the film are incorporated into the new nighttime water spectacular World of Color: Winter Dreams. At Walt Disney World, an exhibit highlighting Nowegian inspiration for the film sits just outside an Anna/Elsa meet & greet at Epcot, an art showcase is found at Hollywood Studios, and projection wizardry transforms Cinderella Castle into Arendelle during a nightly light show at Magic Kingdom. Across the pond at Disneyland Paris, the cast of Frozen even has their own parade float in the annual Christmas procession.
That’s a lot to begin with, perhaps showing Disney’s confidence in the film. Of course the Imagineers will wait to see how Frozen performs at the box office before going forward with any major attraction, but… if Frozen does turn out to be that Disney masterpiece we’re all so desiring it to be, would Imagineering tackle a big-budget, E-Ticket Frozen extravaganza? I sure hope so! But what could that look like?
On the west coast, the Matterhorn immediately comes to mind. It’s European and it’s snowy. Bam. But the story of the Matterhorn itself (a runaway bobsled escaping a yeti) doesn’t exactly mesh with a princess trying to de-ice a kingdom. If Imagineers were to layer Frozen‘s story into Matterhorn’s aesthetic, they’d have a lot of overhauling to do, not to mention an army of nostalgic Disney fans in protest of changing the attraction so drastically. So maybe that’s not the best choice.
But at Disneyland, there’s really not many more options due to the limited space the resort has. The land constraints already make anything other than in-and-out entertainment cumbersome. (Consider that not even The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast have anything beyond that description in Disneyland.)
In Florida, it’s a different story. As Walt Disney said, “There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.” If the Imagineers hadn’t JUST built New Fantasyland, I would propose constructing Arendelle in Fantasyland, complete with some sort of dark ride or restaurant. With New Fantasyland already filling that bill for other princess fortresses, though, it’d be neat to see an epic, full-blown Frozen E-Ticket at Epcot.
The meet & greet is already in Norway and that’s a good match anyway, so let’s put it there. Since the World Showcase pavilions are on the edge of the park, that means there’s plenty of space ripe for expansion just beyond the current berm. Could you imagine entering Elsa’s snow castle and boarding a part dark ride/part thrill ride through the story of Frozen, complete with wolves, trolls, and lots and lots of snow? (Think on the scale of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Radiator Springs Racers here.)
Blizzard Beach is also a curious idea. The water park currently has a storyline of a snow ski resort that’s in the middle of melting in the Florida sun (hence all the water rides). Why not swap out the ski theme and overlay the entire park with a Frozen motif? That would be pretty swell, I think.
On both coasts, a musical stage show is always also a viable option, with plenty of venues at both resorts that could house a show with the scope that a Frozen stage adaptation would necessitate. (Hyperion Theater at California Adventure and Theater of the Stars at Hollywood Studios come to mind, for instance.)
How about you? What ideas for Frozen would you dream up for Disney’s theme parks if you were an Imagineer?