In this post, we are going to take a look at a ride that has caused quite a bit of controversy among many Disney fans. When the film Frozen was released in late 2013, it took the Disney universe by storm. While many adults liked it (myself included), kids were obsessed with it. The film made almost 1.3 billion dollars at the box office and merchandise sales were through the roof.
With all the money Frozen made for Disney, it was no surprise that they instantly started looking for ways to shoehorn it into the WDW parks. A Frozen themed summer event was added to Hollywood Studios, including the “also much better than it should be” Frozen Sing-A-Long. Over at Magic Kingdom, an Anna and Elsa meet and greet became the hot fastpass with standby lines regularly reaching well over an hour. Let it go seemed to pop up allover the place in both new and existing shows in the park. To sum it up, Disney threw Frozen at all of us hard.
This lead to a lot “Frozen overload” for fans, even ones who enjoyed the film. If you even mention Frozen to a lot of adult Disney fans, you are likely to get eyeroll or groan in response. While I admit I don’t like having something shoved down my throat like WDW did Frozen, I also don’t think the film deserves a lot of the hate it gets because of it. It was a good film (90% on rotten tomatoes) which somehow turned into a phenomenon beyond our control.
Naturally, everybody soon wondered how long it would be until Frozen would get a ride of its own in WDW. Well Frozen Ever After was announced in September 2014, but it was not what everybody was expecting. Instead of being a completely new ride, Frozen would be an overlay for an existing attraction. More surprisingly, that ride was not in Fantasyland at MK, but in the Norway Pavillion of World Showcase at Epcot.
Set to replace the often overlooked Maelstrom, Frozen Ever After’s announcement set off all sorts of feelings in people. Folks were outraged that a fictional cartoon, set in a fictional kingdom (roughly based on Norway), would be replacing an “authentic” (kinda?) attraction. With the Anna and Elsa meet and greet moving over to Norway as well, Frozen was essentially taking over the pavilion.
In addition to that, of a sudden Maelstrom had all sorts of die hard fans coming out of the woodwork. They were shocked that Disney could be replacing a (classic?) attraction like this.
I myself had mixed feelings. I completely agreed that World Showcase was not the right location for this. I was also a bit upset the ride would be an overlay of Maelstrom. However I was not devastated that we were losing the Norse boat ride, but more upset that the Frozen attraction would be limited to the track and ride style of said boat ride.
Look, I enjoyed Maelstrom as much as the next fan, but it was NOT a classic attraction. Nor was it particularly popular, myself never waiting more than 15 minutes or so to ride. I knew several casual fans who did not even know it existed. It was completely corny (which is what I, like many, enjoyed about it) and almost a caricature of actual Norse culture. It was also very short and a bit bumpy for a slow moving boat ride.
Honestly, with the technology available at the time, I felt Frozen could have gotten something better. Even to this day, we do not have any dark rides in the United States that match technological marvels like Mystic Manor or Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Hong Kong and Tokyo DLs respectively. Being limited to 4 minute or so boat ride was disappointing to me and I had very little hope it would be any good.
So needless to say, when the ride finally debuted for the start of Summer 2016, I went in with low expectations. I avoided any on ride videos or on line reviews before riding, as I wanted to go in with as much of a blank slate as possible. My takeaway from my first ride on Frozen Ever After, was that I was pleasantly surprised.
Disney Imagineering, as they sadly have to far too often these days, took what limits they had to work with, and did the best the could with it. The track layout and boats were still exactly the same, however they extended the ride by 30 seconds to a minute by utilizing the old unload space, instead opting to load / unload at the same area. This allowed them to add much needed extra scenes to the ride.
The ride also featured some of the best animatronics ever created in Olaf, Sven and the Trolls. They seriously look like cartoons come to life.
The face projection on the human characters leaves more to be desired (its a bit creepy where the face meets the back of their head / neck) but they still work.
The ride is still on the short side, but whats there is good. Its beautiful to look at, has the catchy songs you’d expect and is just plain fun.
It is not a groundbreaking or classic attraction by any means, but Frozen Ever After is still a solid addition to the list of WDW rides. No matter what nostalgia tells you, its a better ride than Maelstrom was and should not be missed.
I agree that it doesn’t belong in World Showcase, but sadly this is the current direction of Epcot. Peter Quill is visiting Future World, Ratatouille is coming to France and I would not be shocked to see the long rumored Coco takeover of Mexico either. Its going to happen whether we like it or not, so we can at least hope for quality in whatever they give us. Frozen Ever After succeeds in that regard for the most part which is all we can ask for.
Let us know what you think about Frozen Ever After in the comment below! Thanks for reading!