Frozen - Live at the Hyperion opens at Disney California Adventure

May 27, 2016, 9:24 AM · This afternoon, Disneyland opened new Broadway-style musical, Frozen - Live at the Hyperion. Taking the place of its long-running Aladdin musical, this "Frozen" retells the story from Disney's Academy Award-winning animated hit, under the direction of Liesl Tommy, who most recently directed Lupita Nyong’o in "Eclipsed" on Broadway. Fans rushed Hollywood Land when the park opened at 8am today, snapping up Fastpasses for the day's three performances, which were gone around 9am.

Disney's also giving California Adventure's Hyperion Theater top-line billing for this show, reflecting the role that the theater itself plays in this elaborate production. Disney installed a 2,200-square-foot custom, curved video wall to support this production, which also includes more than 100 moving lights, 20 plumes of carbon dioxide, and motion capture technology along with projection mapping. Here's the moment that comes together:

Of course, the heart of the show remains its live performances, with actors singing live on top of a recorded orchestral accompaniment. Puppets bring Olaf the snowman, the trolls and Sven the reindeer to life - with "The Lion King" veteran Michael Curry behind those designs. The beloved songs by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez return, supporting a script adapted by Aladdin scribe and four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin.

The Lopez's music is in its native medium here - playing in a Broadway-style theater, sung live to a wildly enthusiastic audience. The hour-long show does not deviate from the movie, hitting each plot point and recreating each set piece, but there's an awesomeness in seeing those set pieces created as practical effects, in person, that movie animation can't match.

Still, Disney's using plenty of projected animation here, employing that massive screen to add visual depth and complexity to many scenes. The show's opening, for example, plays like Soarin' Over Arendelle, thanks to that screen. But the most amazing mix of live action with animation might be the wolf chase through the forest, leading to Sven, Kristoff and Anna literally taking flight over the audience.

Here are our video highlights:

Overall, the show is a visual delight, demanding repeat viewings to catch all the detail. No, Frozen won't offer Aladdin's ever-changing line-up of pop culture one-liners. But with engaging images, impressive stagecraft and that wonderful music, Disney's Frozen - Live at the Hyperion feels just like what Olaf ordered - a nice warm hug.

Replies (31)

May 27, 2016 at 9:36 AM · LIVE!!! Except for the canned orchestra performance. I expect the show to be terrific. My iPhone immediately had available the terrible word.
May 27, 2016 at 10:51 AM · Michael Eisner does NOT approve! They're systematically removing everything that once made Disney's California Adventure so beautiful.

DCA (as some wags call it) was intended to specifically reflect the mind-space of an uncreative Imagineer in the late '90s having a mid-life crisis. That's why it was originally themed to that hip 1990s rock & roll band The Beach Boys, combined with nothing. What is Frozen doing here?! It didn't even exist when I first thought of this park!

May 27, 2016 at 12:30 PM · We have parody comment accounts now? This should be fun...
May 27, 2016 at 3:38 PM · Hi "Michael" (it is SO exciting to speak to you!)
I'm curious, what do you think was your greatest accomplishment as the head of the Walt Disney Company?
May 27, 2016 at 4:26 PM · What was Michael Eisner's greatest accomplishment with Walt Disney? It could be revitalizing animation, acquiring Miramax, or spearheading the Disney Decade. But ultimately the answer is simple, “Rob,” my smiling acolyte! I am proudest of the slow, methodical, wholesale destruction of the company's very soul!


May 27, 2016 at 7:53 PM · 'Frozen won't offer Aladdin's ever-changing line-up of pop culture one-liners.' That's exactly the reason that Frozen won't stay relevant the way that Aladdin did. Frozen as a franchise is already getting old. Aladdin was still strong after 13 years, but I predict Frozen will be old in half that time. They would have been better off upgrading the Aladdin show with the new technology.

Somehow Disney doesn't know a good thing when they already have it, they think they have to go with the latest thing. They should have built a Frozen ride in the former Motor Boat Cruise area instead, but I guess Disney can't do too many things (Star Wars) at once.

May 27, 2016 at 10:00 PM · I am planning a California visit next October. I won't be going to DCA this time. There's nothing new of interest to me there...
May 27, 2016 at 11:47 PM · I will greatly miss Aladdin. I believe it has a far superior Musical score to that of frozen. The staging was breathtaking. Probably the single best stage show of any of the Disney parks I've been to in this country or Japan. Having said that I understand the need for Disney to keep shows relevant to today's children.
May 28, 2016 at 6:07 AM · The notion that a show needs pop culture references to remain popular is silly. That goes for both theme park and Broadway shows.

Remember, Disney does know a thing or two about musicals. Disney's "The Lion King" is the third-longest running Broadway show ever. And, the 27 different productions across the globe have been seen by over 80 million people. All that was accomplished without pop culture one-liners.

May 28, 2016 at 7:39 AM · That's right. Pop culture one liners actually do the opposite. It dates the musical. Now the excuse is it makes it relevant. Frankly, Frozen is an update of a classic children's story. To say it needs to be updated in each performance is really pushing the bar and a little lazy. Aladdin is fine, but they shouldn't have to mimic it every time for a musical in California Adventure. If you really want a Aladdin reference, the stairs seem to be it. Frozen has a high tech stairs. Looks great. The head sticking out of Sven is ackward. They need to give him some lines or it doesn't work. The wire work is very much an Aladdin carry over.
May 28, 2016 at 7:58 AM · I just watched the crapfest in AK, the temporary Bollywood wannabe show with hard and cramp benches and the authentic smelly odour of the backstreets of Bombay by the sweaty audience that watched the disco lights Bollywood show on water that tries to tie in with Jungle Book. Sure it wasn't as bad as the Jungle Book show the park opened with but it was bad.
This hour long musical retelling of a Disney movie I hate makes my hart warm because you can see they brought in talent that could sing live and made a technical impressive stage production, something I thought was only for Broadway and cruise ships but not for the parks anymore. They spent money on it! Unfortunately it's at the already fortunate DL (no magic band hell for you there) and not in the company's flagship sewerpipe called WDW.
May 28, 2016 at 8:56 AM · OT finally muscled up and dropped the words "I hate." OT's therapist might regard this as a breakthrough ... Or an admission about being a troll.
May 28, 2016 at 10:05 AM · A musical on Broadway is different from a show in a theme park. I agree that a long running musical on Broadway doesn't need pop culture references. But a Broadway show is viewed maybe once or at most a few times by the average person over a span of years. A theme park show is seen over and over, especially by Annual Passholders, just like a ride.

This looks awesome, but every time I saw Aladdin, I came out thinking 'This never gets old', in part because of the Genie being able to keep things fresh. Take a look at Mickey and the Magical Map show in Disneyland. It has cutting edge technology, great music and choreography, but it only plays on the weekends. Then look back at the huge crowds that packed Aladdin when it closed.

May 28, 2016 at 10:36 AM · Based on the short video above, this honestly looks like the lowest production budget show that DLR has ever created. First off, let me just say that the projection mapping is pretty cool. Other than that, there's really nothing else positive to say about it. Just the fact that they used a puppet Olaf, where a Person from behind controls him with a few strings is extremely cheesy. Also, just the fact that they have a man in the middle of Sven is also really cheesy. Not to mention, that the acting doesn't look on par either. Plus, all of the effects in general just look really low budget. Honestly, really disappointed in Disney once again. Alddin was a fan favorite. It was loved by everyone and considered by many to be the best theme park Broadway show of all time. How dare Disney replace the greatest show of all time with this embarrassment. Just another reason why I've decided to take a break from Disney. #Fireiger #Firechapek
May 28, 2016 at 10:43 AM · The "person behind the puppet" is the same thing Disney used for Lion King and Finding Nemo. And I thought Olaf was outstanding, in person.
May 28, 2016 at 11:36 AM · Ok, there are some things that people don't understand about the Aladdin show. Pop culture references alone don't make a show relevant or even good. DCA has tried many times to be relevant and they all fell flat, I remember one show where Mickey did hip hop dancing to rap songs.

The reason that the Aladdin show was so good was that the Genie was able to make pop culture references because he as a character transcends time, so it fit the story. If Olaf or anyone else tries to make pop culture comments, it will be sure to elicit groans from the audience, because the story is tied to a certain time.

The continual change up of the Genie's jokes made the show different every time, it wasn't like a stale show that is the same every time.

In Aladdin, Disney finally had a show that was relevant and hip without being dumb, and they got rid of it.

May 28, 2016 at 11:36 AM · Never been to DLR (sadly), but if the Aladdin show is similar to the one aboard the Disney Fantasy, this looks quite a bit superior.
May 28, 2016 at 11:58 AM · An animatronic or 3D show like Country Bears, Lincoln, Bugs Life or Muppets gets stale because it is the exact same show every time. Country Bears lasted longer in Florida because people visit less frequently than Disneyland where people may visit every week.

A live stage show has more repeatability simply because of the energy of the live actors. I remember the Beauty and the Beast show and Animazement in Disneyland were great shows that I wanted to see again and again. But Aladdin had that extra special spark of the Genie's performance, which made it fresh and new every time.

May 28, 2016 at 12:58 PM · "How dare"? Really?
May 28, 2016 at 4:25 PM · "How dare" is a bit much. You also may want to rethink that screen name.
May 28, 2016 at 10:37 PM · From what I've heard, it sounds like Frozen is pretty good but not on the same level as Aladdin. While I'll wait to judge it until I see the show (which may be next week, but more likely won't be until August or September), if Aladdin was a perfect 10/10 it sounds like this show would be about an 8/10. The big difference seems to be that Aladdin was a theme park show done in the style of a Broadway musical while Frozen seems to be a Broadway musical performed inside a theme park. I'm expecting this will be insanely popular for a year or so with most performances completely full, but unlike Aladdin I wouldn't be surprised if it is playing to crowds of 500 or less a few years down the road. Aladdin worked because it was constantly being rewritten to keep it relevant and entertaining, with just enough tweaks to make it fresh to someone who saw it a couple times a year while remaining consistent enough that those who only saw it once never felt shortchanged, but I just don't think many regular visitors are going to sit through a 70 minute performance more than two or three times if it's the same thing every showing.

On another note, why only three showings a day? Aladdin generally had 4, and I would have expected Frozen to have 4 or even 5 for at least the first few months. Even if it required two casts, I'd think it would be in Disney's best interest to up the capacity of the show than deal with thousands of complaints daily from visitors who can't see it. 6,000 visitors per day is pretty poor capacity for a Disney attraction.

May 28, 2016 at 11:23 PM · Aladdin was just dazzling in so many ways: the music, the choreography, the costumes and lighting, and last but not least the genie.

Frozen is "nice" and the special effects are good but it doesn't put a smile on my face the way Aladdin did.

May 29, 2016 at 2:17 AM · I can only go on the videos that I have seen on Youtube (LMGs video is superb, really hi def so you get to see all the details.). From someone who studied musical theatre and lives for musicals I can honestly say that whilst this is technically amazing, the show is, pardon the pun, cold. If seems that they were so focussed on hitting the key beats of the story that they forgot to add a soul to the show. It is very by the numbers and clinical. Now I know watching it on Youtube is nothing to actually being there but you get the feeling from it and the feeling wasn't great. I have seen two different casts and one was slightly better than the other. It may be that they are finding their feet as any actor has to grow into a role and it did seem very hesitant at times, you can almost see the actors waiting for an effect to go wrong and seeing as videos are already surfacing of technical issues this looks like a show that is going to be plagued. The texture mapping is superb and the way the auditorium transforms in 'Let it go' was amazing but I found the acting stilted and dry and in some cases over egged but not in a 'we are in a musical, let's be cheesy' way. I also found some of the vocals and harmonies ropey and for Disney that is unacceptable. I expect cream of the crop in a Disney show. Having appeared in Avenue Q I appreciated the puppetry and personally think Sven was superb and as with Q, after a while you ignore the actor and just watch the puppet. Over all though I actually found the show ultimately boring. No amount of flashy tech can cover up a frozen heart and for me, this shows heart has been hit by Elsa's magic in the worst way. And don't get me started on those creepy Troll costumes. I never saw Aladdin live so won't compare but taking this as a stand alone piece, I can't see it having the power to run successfully for 5 years let alone 15. They should have waited to see if Frozen has the legs to be a true Disney classic rather than rushing it out. Yes it made a mass of cash but once those little girls grow up will they want to return to Arendelle? Makes me have doubts about the upcoming Broadway show even though it is a totally different beast.
May 29, 2016 at 7:11 AM · While pop culture one liners aren't mandatory - they made it absolutely necessary that the actors chosen for Aladdin were superb and that's what was lacking here. It was like watching a high school musical with a million dollar budget and slightly more adequate singing voices. The acting was so melodramatic - between it and the effects and the set - it was just all too much. There was no flow. Where we sat in the orchestra even the sound system was off so we were straining to hear the voices over the score at times. Olaf - was the exception he was both natural and engaging. I did love the puppetry - I did not love the troll costumes and dolls throughout fixer upper - it again was just too much and was more corny than artistic. I couldn't wait for it to end - my daughter on the other hand - was enchanted throughout which was the most important. I think any child will be absolutely delighted with the snow and effects and the chance to see Elsa perform let it go and not notice the rest.
May 29, 2016 at 7:27 AM · In terms of the actors and feel of the show being somewhat cold, that's not a reflections of the show, but the fact that you're seeing a brand new production with people trying to find their groove in it. I'd give it a month or two once they're hitting their stride to truly judge the show. So many people on this site are so hasty in criticising Disney its hard to get a true picture of anything new they're putting out.
May 29, 2016 at 11:23 AM · Aladdin took at least a year for it to develop to a good production and found an appreciative audience. People are being very critical of it already. I do think a 65 minute show is a bit long. The songs aren't the easiest to sing and it appears "Let It Go" was the hardest song to sing and her voice was cracking. Maybe the microphone is off.
May 29, 2016 at 1:22 PM · I'd suggest everybody just chills out a bit and gives this show a few weeks to bed in and then gives their opinion of it. It seems to me, reading the comments above, that most people's opinions were formed well before they actually saw the video footage.
May 29, 2016 at 3:03 PM · Watched the entire show on video, it does drag on in parts. 65 minutes, what were they thinking? It seems that they were too stuck with their desire to bring a Broadway experience to those poor folks who don't get the opportunity to see a Broadway show. Aladdin gave a Broadway experience but in a cleaner, tighter show. A show this length needs an intermission, kidding but not really.

I'm willing to give allowance to the acting, singing and performances, to me they were fine. But the show as a whole seems too melodramatic, and it shows the weaknesses of the movie's plot even more.

The main comic relief was not Olaf, as I would have expected, but rather the Duke of Weaselton, which is not saying much. It was a nice touch to reprise 'Love is an Open Door' at the end, but the final song should have been a reprise of 'Let it Go', not another repeat of 'Love is an Open Door'.

May 29, 2016 at 3:06 PM · Hey! Mr. Eisner! So great to finally meet you! Just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful things you did for the company! Under you, the animation department was saved thanks to great classics like Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King. And under you, some of the company's greatest attractions were built! Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, and Indiana Jones Adventure! You did make some noteworthy mistakes and you were definitely no Walt, but I believe you really did wonderful things for the company. Thank you!

(And yes, I am aware it's a parody account, but just thought I'd remind everyone that Eisner made just as many good decisions as he did bad ones. Have a nice day!)

May 29, 2016 at 5:08 PM · Anon Mouse brings up some great points. I think many fans forget that Aladdin in its first weeks felt a little forced and took some time to hit its stride, too. That production didn't take off until it quit trying to be the movie and just tried to be itself.
June 1, 2016 at 4:21 PM · What also is a huge downer is the fact that there are hardly any physical props. Most of the show relies on actors using the screen as the only means of creating a setting. It honestly looks pretty cheap when the actors are just acting in front of a screen with very minimal physical props. It also takes away from the sense of immersion since the screen does not do a good job at making one feel like they are in Arendelle.

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