Fun Facts About Frozen Ever After
Around the Thanksgiving holiday in 2013, Walt Disney Animation Studios unveiled its latest masterpiece. Over a short period of time, this film, Frozen, went from an unknown commodity to a pop culture sensation. Its signature song, Let It Go, quickly became a part of the zeitgeist, and Frozen dominated Halloween and Christmas for the next few years. At some point, Disney park officials decided to go all-in on their hottest intellectual property by developing a ride based on it. Here are a few fun facts about Frozen Ever After.
You Get to Enter a Fictional Realm!
The Norway Pavilion at Epcot was as authentic a place as any country in the World Showcase when it opened. The Norway government funded part of the project and had a great deal of input into the creative process. The country is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, and its vast heritage of Viking lore provides the backbone for many of Norway’s myths and legends.
The pavilion played up many of these elements when it debuted in 1988. Since this pavilion came long after the World Showcase opened and had Norwegian government oversight, its attention to detail was arguably the best of the 11 countries. Over the years, however, the appeal of Norway was lost on some Epcot guests, a disappointing statement from your author, a passionate fan of Norse mythology.
When Frozen became the seminal animated release of 2013, Epcot strategists saw an opportunity to reinvent the Norway Pavilion. This time, they moved away from the Norwegian culture, at least somewhat. Sure, the buildings are still modeled after places that you’ll see in Alesund, Bergen, Oslo, and Setesdal, but there’s a new entry as well.
Disney constructed a “Royal Sommerhus” as a place for Frozen’s royalty to stay when they’re at Epcot. This area recreates some of the elements of Arendelle, the fictional realm where Anna & Else are royalty. The Frozen Ever After ride queue features even more of these distinctive visuals from Arendelle. Then, the ride itself takes you through some of the most famous landmarks of the fictional realm. Frozen Ever After is the next best thing to living in Arendelle.
It’s Different from Maelstrom!
When Disney announced their intention to convert the Norway Pavilion’s only ride, Maelstrom, into a Frozen-themed attraction, some Epcot loyalists expressed outrage. From Disney’s perspective, however, the plan was ideal. They already had a track layout that would fit well with a dark ride based on the world of Arendelle. A few changes were necessary, though.
The Maelstrom version of the tracks had a section that was “outdoors” in that attentive guests could see the building’s exterior. The track layout also started and ended at places that Disney needed to tell their story. Imagineers had to convert parts of Maelstrom to fit these needs.
The interior is now closed off; in other words, you can no longer see any part of the exterior. Also, Disney moved the boarding areas. They needed this space for something else. Disney moved a couple of the sets, the places where Audio-Animatronics are on display. They required this change for the big centerpiece of the show.
All Roads Lead to Elsa’s Big Moment
The star of Frozen Ever After is unquestionably Elsa. The first half of the ride builds to her big moment, and the entire path is designed to give guests the longest possible view of this performance. I’m speaking of Elsa’s dazzling rendition of Let It Go, the show-stopping tune that’s the most famous Disney animation song of the 2000s.
Imagineers highlighted the glory of this music by placing it in the middle of the ride. You’ll know that you’re about to partake in the world’s greatest singalong. It’s impossible to miss. Large stage doors will open, ones that resemble castle gates. You can’t miss them due to the tell-tale snowflake on the doors.
Once these gates separate, you’ll suddenly see the Snow Queen at the top of a balcony, belting out her classic song. Icy animated fireworks adorn the walls, and the boat’s design enables you to watch a large portion of the performance.
You’ll start moving forward toward Elsa, but you’ll then adjust backward so that you’re facing her during the entire show. Even after she’s out of sight, the walls light up with digital projections of the Disney Princess (well, Queen), and speakers carry the sound all the way through your descent. The entire structure of Frozen Ever After is centered around Let It Go, and you’re sure to have the song in your head for a long time after you depart the Norway Pavilion.
The Characters Look So Realistic
Disney went a long time between the creations of major new Audio-Animatronics (AAs) at Walt Disney World. They recycled AAs for years, but Frozen Ever After was different. Executives understood that they had a money-making opportunity with this attraction, and they weren’t about to mess it up.
From the start, you’ll see the most life-like versions possible of your favorite characters. The first two Frozen AAs that you’ll see are Olaf and Sven, both of whom are brightly colored and capable of remarkably detailed movements. While Imagineers weren’t introducing AAs at the parks, they were working behind the scenes to perfect AAs. Considerable advances in the field of robotics pay dividends with Olaf in particular.
The fictional snowman bursts into song when you see him. His rendition of Do You Wanna Build a Snowman includes hand gestures (well, stick gestures), tilting for effect, and circular motions that allow the AA to follow boats around the turn.
Sven quietly nods his approval in the background, but his next representation is the unforgettable one. The reindeer commits the cardinal sin of A Christmas Story by licking a frozen icicle. While Anna and Kristoff belt out a song, he can only stare in frustration at his predicament. The genius of these AAs is that they’re cartoonish enough in design that their silliness seems larger than life.
The Elsa AA during Let It Go is a stunner. Her glowing dress refracts the other colors in this visually glorious rumor. Her hands repeat the character’s actions from the Let It Go sequence in Frozen, too. The difference is that she looks happier and more at peace here, which makes sense. Frozen Ever After is set after the events of Frozen and Frozen Fever, a time when Elsa has come to terms with her powers.
The other characters from the Frozen universe will delight children in particular. Trolls sit around a circle, intently listening to Grand Pabbie recount the story of Frozen. Later, the Marshmallows appear. This nickname belongs to the snow creatures brought to life by Elsa’s magic. They are gleeful, as you’d expect when animatronic objects are suddenly brought to life.
Of course, the giant Marshmallow is the highlight here. The movement of his face is more than merely Imagineering wizardry. It’s also a hint that the bottom’s about to drop out. When you see this smiling fellow bellow, you’ll know that the massive drop is about to happen. Smile! You’re on candid camera, as the ride has reached its unforgettable climax and Disney Photopass is capturing your face for posterity’s sake.
The most impressive feat with Frozen Ever After is how Disney kept some of the best moments from Maelstrom but updated them for the Frozen universe. You’ll feel so joyous watching all of your favorite characters from Arendelle that you’ll temporarily forget that you’re on a water ride that ends with a splashdown!
There’s a reason why Frozen Ever After claims the longest lines at Epcot. It’s one of the most immersive, adorable attractions Disney’s ever created.