Where should Disney build a 'Frozen' theme park attraction?
overtaking The Lion King
as Disney's top-grossing animated film of all time (not adjusting for inflation), Disney executives cannot wait to find new ways to extend their income from this wildly popular movie.
Theme park presence will be part of that mix. Disney's already introduced Frozen meet-and-greets in Disneyland's Fantasyland and Epcot's Norway pavilion at Walt Disney World. And Disney CEO Bob Iger has promised more for Frozen. So theme park fans are led to ask: What would a Frozen theme park attraction look like? And where would it go?
We've already addressed some of the problems with placing a Frozen attraction in Epcot's Norway pavilion. Furthermore, Frozen is set in a mythical kingdom called Arendelle, not Norway. Sure, both have snow and ice, but if that's the sole criterion for placement, you might as well put Disney's Frozen ride in the Hoth section of Star Wars Land as in Norway.
(Hold that thought, actually….)
But let's back up for a moment. The following is based on no insider information, but represents an attempt to logically think through Disney's options for putting a Frozen attraction in its theme parks, examining available locations and feasible concepts.
Let's start with the question of what a Frozen attraction might look like, and include. The movie takes place in two main locations: the castle in the port of Arendelle, and Elsa's ice palace, high in the mountains overlooking the port. The ice palace is supposed to be remote and relatively inaccessible, making it a more appropriate destination within a Frozen ride than the setting of the ride's entrance. Therefore, one might presume that the the facade of a Frozen attraction would recreate the castle and port of Arendelle.
To create that, Disney needs a body of water for the port, with mountains in the background, overlooking that setting. Obviously, those aren't inexpensive locations to create, so it makes sense to first look for an under-utilized location in a Disney theme park which already fits that description.
Actually, Disney has a couple of options here, one of which is so ideal that it's hard to believe it wasn't designed with Arendelle in mind. So where is this ideal setting for a Frozen theme park attraction?
Well, you've heard the phrase "the rich get richer"? That applies here, because the ideal existing setting for an Arendelle attraction would be in the Cape Cod section of the American Waterfront land of what is already Disney's best theme park, Tokyo DisneySea.
Tucked in between the the park's Port Discovery and main expanse of the American Waterfront (which is dominated by the Tower of Terror and S.S. Columbia), Cape Cod today is best known as the home of Duffy the Disney Bear. That might seem inconsequential to American Disney fans, but Duffy is big, big, big business in Japan, where Duffy merchandise outsells everything else at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Still, there's no Duffy ride in Cape Cod — it's just a restaurant with a show stage, next to a meet and greet area. It is a huge restaurant, though, providing the area necessary for at least a space-conscious attraction.
The Oriental Land Company, which owns and operates the Tokyo Disney Resort under license from Disney, couldn't, and wouldn't want to, evict Duffy from Cape Cod in favor of Frozen. Heck, the movie doesn't even open in Japan until next month. But if Oriental Land were to find a new home for Duffy in the park, say, nearer the park's new Toy Story Mania ride on the other side of American Waterfront, that would make Cape Cod available for Frozen.
The existing Cape Cod buildings surround a small cove, and Disney could reskin these buildings to create the Arendelle castle. The park's iconic Mount Prometheus stands in the background, providing the mountain backdrop. As Cape Cod stands on the opposite side of Mount Prometheus from the mountain's Mysterious Island setting, Disney might be able to cover the backside of Mount Prometheus with some "snow," further developing the transformation of Cape Cod into a Port Arendelle land without disturbing the look of the mountain from Mysterious Island or the park's Mediterranean Harbor entrance.
An aerial view of Cape Cod, from Google Earth
So what, then, goes into this castle? As we mentioned, space is a big tight — the footprint is wide but relatively shallow, with the DisneySea Electric Railway in the back — so Disney likely couldn't develop a massive, Indiana Jones-style indoor ride for this Frozen attraction. But let's think about some options.
The purpose of a Frozen attraction should be to create opportunities to spend time with the movie's main characters. A permanent meet-and-greet location for Elsa and Anna is a must, and would fit well into the castle's ballroom. But what about that fabulous ice palace? And the wonderful wintery backcountry? And the trolls?
Here's an idea: We take a ride on Kristoff's new sleigh, pulled by Sven the reindeer and accompanied by Olaf the snowman. We're heading into the backcountry to pick up a load of ice, when we're sidetracked by the bad guys from Weselton, once again trying to sneak their way into the kingdom. With the help of the trolls, we evade the bad guys. Along the way, we make it to the ice palace, we hear Elsa sing "Let it Go," Olaf cracks plenty of jokes, and we back it back, safe, sound, and well-entertained.
To work this ride into the available space, Disney might need to take a page from Universal's playbook and use motion-base sleighs with accompanying screens, a la Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, to create the visuals for the story. The even cheaper alternative is to go with a Star Tours-like motion base theater for the ride, but I'd rather see Disney try a mix of screens and practical sets here.
In addition to the available setting, Disney has another advantage with launching this attraction at DisneySea: it puts the initial capital design and development on Oriental Land's books, rather than paying for that development solely from its own pocket. That would give Disney a head start on adapting these plans to other parks at a lower initial capital expense.
But where else could Disney build a Frozen land? I mentioned two possibilities. The second isn't as ideal as DisneySea's Cape Cod, but still provides an under-utilized body of water with a mountain in the background. It's the old Motor Boat Cruise lagoon in Disneyland's Fantasyland.
Not familiar with that site? Today it's mostly hidden behind the old "Light Magic" stage next to It's a Small World, and the smoking area across from the Matterhorn. There's no room at all for an attraction show building here, as Autopia consumes the land on the far side of the lagoon.
If Disney really is considering taking the Autopia space for a Star Wars attraction in Tomorrowland, it's conceivable that Imagineers could leave enough space to accommodate Arendelle on the far side of that Star Wars ride, facing the lagoon in Fantasyland. (Okay, it's not exactly placing Arendelle on Hoth, but hey, it's close enough to crack the joke!) The Matterhorn would provide a wonderful accompanying visual to one side of Arendelle castle, while an additional "mountain range" backdrop could provide a visual barrier between Arendelle and whatever the Star Wars ride turns out to be. The huge problem here is the monorail track, which provides another reason why the site isn't as ideal as DisneySea's. The monorail would have to move to make this work.
Just imagine, though, the one-two punch of a new Star Wars ride in Tomorrowland and a Frozen attraction in Fantasyland. That would provide a more than compelling response to Universal Studios Hollywood's new Wizarding World of Harry Potter and billion-dollar-plus "Evolution" redevelopment.
What about Disney's other theme park resorts: Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland?
If Epcot's off the table at Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom is getting Avatar, and Disney is just finishing tricking out its Fantasyland, it would seem that Disney's Hollywood Studios might be the preferred site for a Frozen attraction, perhaps again abutting the Star Wars land now in planning for that park. At Disneyland Paris, the woeful Walt Disney Studios Park certainly could use another richly-themed new pavilion to accompany its upcoming Ratatouille ride, and there are plenty of easily-forgotten attractions that Disney could rip out to make way for Arendelle there. Hong Kong Disneyland's rather cramped, but has space for a second gate, so perhaps Frozen could go there. And, finally, Disney just needs to get Shanghai open before developing any expansion there.
What do you think? What would you like to see Disney do in its theme parks with Frozen. Let's play Imagineer and share our best ideas, in the comments.
Utilizing the former Motor Boat Cruise area at Disneyland would be ideal.
Why not use the back corner of the park betweent Port Discovery and the Indiana Jones ride? It is undeveloped and would probably have a bit more space than Cape Cod.
Frozen makes for the perfect reason to finally tear out that awful tomorrow land speedway. The footprint there is enormous and sits right next to new fantasyland.
Why not recondition Expedition Everest a la Dueling Dragons for Harry Potter? And, as a bonus, we could finally get a working Yeti (as Marshmallow). The initial capital outlay wouldn't be so bad then, either.
Rumors are swirling that Disney executives will soon announce that the first Frozen movie is only the beginning!
Don't over think this. Frozen can be a ride without the pretense. One minute you're in Europe, then you're in Scandavia. The ride takes you to the fantasy location. You don't arrive there first. What fun is that? For instance, you're in New Orleans, then in the Carribean on the Pirates ride.
But my professional purpose in life is to overthink theme parks!
Disney just takes far too long to ever build anything, and when they do they are so cheap. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I'm tired of waiting for a Star Wars land and I will probably be in my 70s before Disney ever builds a Frozen area. Disney just doesn't want to spend any money. I wish it was a private company and not beholden to shareholders. They would build so many more great things if they were privately owned.
I think Shanghai is just taking the oxygen from the room for Disney, at this point. They're trying to build that park so fast to avoid copy-cats ripping them off during construction.
Robert: I have one main selfish complaint about the majority of your story.... it seems to focus a lot on putting the new attraction overseas. I'm not trying to hear that right now. I want new attractions here, in Florida preferably.
I wish there was a way for The speedway to exist but take up less room. Maybe Disney should just move the speedway to another park that needs an additional attraction or build a new mountain or attraction over the top of it and just let the speedway exist under it (going through tunnels might be cool). I know a lot of people on here hate the speedway, but a lot of people on here are not below the age of ten.
my first inkling was to convert Blizzard Beach.. already a winter theme... should be easy. :) just a thought.
I like the speedway idea or (although my wife won't like it) you could replace the beauty and the beast stage show with frozen as it has some great songs
Blizzard Beach at WDW. The theme is already there, there is a very large hill to build an ice castle on. It wouldn't take a lot to convert it.
Is there any room for expansion 'east' of New Fantasyland?
Level the Tomorrowland Speedway in WDW--village with meet & greet in castle, sleigh ride, village with chocolate shop, a sandwich/slushie restaurant(counter service). A skating rink & nightly "snow" a la MVMCP. Forced perspective mountains & ice castle in background
Although it isn't likely to happen, I would prefer that Disney develop a 5th gate in Orlando and use Tokyo DisneySea as the blueprint. Other than Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Fantasmic, everything else in that park isn't currently present in Orlando, and a Frozen ride could be used to replace one of those attractions. Since most of the development work has already been paid for by the OLC, Disney could get a new park relatively cheaply.
I also like the idea of replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway with a Frozen ride. Theme park fans can do their part to combat man-made global warming by replacing those evil fossil fuel engines with a simulated horse or reindeer drawn sled. Heck, we could even find a global warming scientist to do a study showing how much it would slow down global warming, earn carbon credits for Disney, and possibly lead to government funding for the ride. I get the "cool" fuzzies just thinking that we could combat global warming with a Frozen ride.
Replace Maelstrom with a Frozen restaurant. That will fit in with the redevelopment of EPCOT into Food World.
Please don't take this as disrespectful, but I think Tim above has the only viable option. A DisneySea in Orlando. That way you are free to expand Star Wars in Hollywood Studios, leave Epcot alone, and make a fifth theme park. That allows for Mystic Manor, a Frozen ride, and (gasp!) even new E ticket attractions. You accomplish many things here. One, Disney can show the world that other theme parks cannot outdo them developing. Two, it can help take strain off of the magic bands to open up more attractions for fast pass plus, to the extent that people can have four, maybe five reservations. Three, they have already stated that the theme parks are profitable. A fifth one would add to it. Look, they are past the big movie flops and seem to be turning it around. Avengers and Star Wars are on the horizon, and they really don't need to just rest on armbands.
It's not where but when? I'm guessing 2022 and I'm being kind. It takes them so long to put out a quality attraction. 8 years is about right from concept to actually be able to ride it. I mean how long has Star Wars been popular? Since 1977? and we have a bad 3d sim that's been upgraded to a 3d sim with options. An 80's dodge dart loaded with options and upgrades is still at its core a dodge dart. Now they are talking about maybe doing a Star Wars land in 4 years but now its being pushed back. Avatar came out in 2009 and they say the lands going to be ready in 2017? That's if everything's on schedule. Being on schedule what's going on with the dwarf family coaster? Are they having problems getting it up and running, they only had like 6 years from concept, and no pun intended but its dwarfed in comparison to what Universal is doing this year and in the future.
Frozen was an AMAZING animation. I totally loved it. However, I concur with several other writers. Disney takes so long to turn around any attraction. I just worked for a local Disney Store and I had been a long time fan of the store. BUT, once you work for Disney, OH MY GOSH!!!!! They were so focused on the hourly profit quota--it was a wonder they didn't ask the staff to work for FREE. I'm sure they'd ask that if they could. To come to the point. I love Disney but their total obsession with the bottom line is making them a second rate industry player in my book. LONG LIVE UNIVERSAL!!! Even as a Disney fan, it seems like they do not care about the customer (DEFINITELY NOT THE WORKERS!) or offering new experiences people want (like Star Wars Land). No, all they care about is M-O-N-E-Y!!! Walt's gotta be puking right now.
Blizzard beach in florida would be a perfect site & disneyland paris is in need of new attractions so a new Frozen land would be perfect there too xxx
A Frozen ride will happen when monkeys fly.
I think Walt Disney Studios in Paris is the park that needs it the most. The park lacks immersive environments and Frozen could provide it. Just like what they are already doing with the Ratatouille area in the park, a land devoted to Frozen would immerse guests into the world of the movie. I think it could do to the Studios what Carsland did to California Adventure.
@ Robert Niles
Reading all these comments about a 5th gate, my first response was, "no way, that's not gonna happen..." but the more I think about it, the more that idea could explain some of the recent activity. With Universal contemplating a 3rd gate, and building hotel capacity to support that, Disney may eventually need more ride capacity to fill its hotel rooms. Is it possible that they've been banking some of the attraction $$$ for a new park? (btw, and I owe Robert a trip report about all this, sorry Robert ;)--but my recent WDW trip was very positive, and the overall impression I got was that the WDW parks were getting more love than they have been for a while, except for the lack of new attraction construction...) That DisneySea concept would be awesome, and it's really gotten to the point that there are a full park's worth of E-tickets not represented at WDW. Florida has the magic of EPCOT, unique in the world, but the flagship resort of the lot should really have some of these rides that represent the very best of imagineering in the last 15-20 years.
I love the idea of a Frozen attraction coming to Walt Disney World, however when I look at Universal I “see the glass as half full” now when I look a Disney, I see the glass as “half empty” (actually I see the glass cracked and leaking $10.00 of wine from EPCOT F&WF)
I really think that Frozen should be in the Magic Kingdom. Even though that park just got investment, it still is in rough shape. And I really like the idea of an adventurous sleigh ride through the scenes of the movie. I would rip out the tomorrowland Indy speedway. That is a large chunk of land for one boring attraction that does not fit with anything. However, I would dream big and put a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and the Frozen village in that spot. An Alice dark ride and landscaping closer to the existing Tea Cups would be nice. Then transition over to Arendelle with the actual attraction outside the railway tracks like Space Mountain. I would use natural feature like water and trees to divide Fantasyland from Tomorrowland. It would make for a great Fantasyland experience that would be unmatched.
A 3rd gate for Universal would be awesome! Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are already better than Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
What exactly are "development costs?"
I'm going to take a different approach here. How about replacing the Great Movie Ride with a trackless Frozen ride? Disney is expanding the use of the trackless system to Paris so it wouldn't be much of a stretch to bring it to the US. Plus it would refresh an area of HS that needs it.
I'm not convinced Disney is going to put in the effort to create a whole mountain and seaside village..
I think frozen could replace the go-carts in Magic Kingdom. The last time I rode it my arm was killing me, but the gas fumes were kind of fun...lol. It takes up a huge foot print. Let's face it that area of the park is way past it's prime. I think Universal wants to get the guest for 3 days or more. They only have a few more attractions that are on the chopping block. (Kid Zone, E.T., Disaster, Sherk, Twister) IOA is pretty great, maybe an addition to Jarassic Park area and a Toon Lagoon re-do. Most of these areas could be fast tracked and completed in about two years. The next logical thing is 3rd gate and other things to side track guest for a few more days. Disney will have no choice to respond if Avatar is not completed in a cohesive time frame. People will still flock to Magic Kingdom, but they may choose to ditch 2 or 3 of the other parks, with no new additions. Disney May need to re-think there approach of false hopes and snails pace construction.
Disney makes more money by accident than Universal makes on purpose. How many rides at Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios are worth experiencing more than once per trip? By my count:
This is not a permanent idea but rather a temporary one and that is to add Elsa and/or Anna in place of the yeti on both the Matterhorn and Everest for a limited time.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.