Disney does it again with Hong Kong's new 'Frozen' land

November 15, 2023, 9:17 AM · Eleven years ago, Walt Disney Imagineering brought an animated feature to life like never before. Cars Land allowed Disneyland Resort visitors to walk into the world of Radiator Springs from the 2006 Disney/Pixar animated hit. Cars Land set a new standard for immersive entertainment based on an animation franchise. Today, WDI has done it again.

World of Frozen might be the name of the new land at Hong Kong Disneyland, but make no mistake - this is Arendelle, and I kinda wish that Disney had just called the land that.

Walk under the railroad tracks from Fantasyland and you will feel as though you have stepped into Disney's "Frozen." WDI has brought the Kingdom of Arendelle to life in faithful detail, allowing you to share in its celebration of a "summer snow day," as the land's story goes.

Join me for a tour.

I love how the fake mountains of Arendelle visually blend seamlessly with the real mountains of the surrounding area in Hong Kong. It adds to the sense you have stepped out of an amusement park and into an actual mythical land - a transformation that realizes the full potential of themed entertainment.

In addition to the wonderful Nordic-inspired architecture and design, World of Frozen features two rides, a show, a gift shop, a counter-service restaurant, and a sweets shop. Let's look at each.

Frozen Ever After

Disney's opened its first Frozen-themed ride by making over the former Maelstrom boat ride in EPCOT's Norway pavilion to "Frozen Ever After" in 2016. Here in Hong Kong, Disney recreates the basic layout of that attraction, while plussing it with far more impressive animatronics, staging and design.

If you would like a convenient comparison, here is the link to our POV of the original, EPCOT installation of Frozen Ever After.

One rather important caveat prevents me from enthusiastically recommending this new version. Disney did not get the final drop right. (See update below.) It's jarring at the end, causing several of us who rode it discomfort. Now I must say that because this was a media preview, I and others were riding alone in boats designed to carry 16. That lack of weight may have contributed to the problem, but Hong Kong Disneyland isn't exactly Disney's busiest park. Sending partially filled, or empty, ride vehicles is much more common here due to lower crowds than in the U.S. parks. So I suspect that others might be feeling it in the backside on this ride until Disney re-profiles that final drop.

(Update: The double-down butt-bump does not seem to be an issue with more loaded boats. Only having a single rider in the front row seems to elicit this response on the drop. So if you visit, ride with friends, or at least ride in the middle of the boat for maximum rear end comfort.)

Beyond that, though, this Frozen Ever After delights, providing a welcomed new dark ride experience for the park.

Wandering Oaken's Sliding Sleighs

World of Frozen's new roller coaster is perhaps Disney's most elaborately decorated kiddie coaster. Disney's newest mountain stands on the edge of Arendelle, enticing the kingdom's would-be thrill seekers with twisting turns of steel track.

The ride's first turn actually delivers a touch more punch than one would expect from a kiddie coaster. But after that, well... there's not much after that. The whole experience, from dispatch to unload, clocks in a just under 60 seconds - way too short of an experience to justify the length of the queue that Disney has built for this. As a walk-on, it's a cute ride. The power mechanism for the ride elicits a laugh, and the views of Arendelle are stunning. But I can hear the complains from any family that has to wait more than 10 minutes for this experience. Again, Hong Kong Disneyland's relative lack of crowds should help here, but Disney is building World of Frozen to help ensure that small crowds become a part of Hong Kong Disneyland's past, not present and future.

Playhouse in the Woods

Next to the exit of Wandering Oaken's stands Playhouse in the Woods, an indoor interactive theater experience. The story is that this is a place where Elsa practiced her ice skills and played with Anna, and now the room has opened to the people of Arendelle now that Elsa is out... with her ice skills, that is.

The "interactivity" is pretty much just picking a corner of the room and moving toward it, but the projections impress, as do the hard work of the performers. Throughout the land, World of Frozen's cast members help sell the story that they are citizens of Arendelle, happy to welcome visitors for their summer snow day celebration. They're a delight to interact with, so follow along if you are invited to join in their games.


Arendelle's restaurant is the Golden Crocus Inn, serving a variety of Nordic-inspired dishes. I opted today for the Bayside Seafood Medley, given my enduring love for seafood. The salmon, shrimp and mussels were fine, save for the fact they were drowning in a cream sauce.

Bayside Seafood Medley

I should have known this would be the case, given past experience with Scandinavian cuisine, but I ordered this anyway and soon regretted not trying the more popular lamb shank. Other entree options were a Village Chicken Roll Stuffed with Ham and Cheese, and a Forest Mushroom Pasta. I will update if I get the opportunity to try those later in my visit.

(Update: Based on the samples at the opening ceremony party (follow that link for video, including the surprise drone show), the Forest Mushroom Pasta is my clear favorite, with the mushrooms delivering enough umami to cut through the sauce and balance the pasta. The chicken is just a baked cordon bleu and was nothing special to me. I preferred the meatballs, which were nice but not as good as the Cooks Illustrated recipe I make at home. Still have not tried the lamb shank, but those who did said it was tender and flavorful - and more than enough to share. But lamb is a non-starter for some people, so there's that.)

The Northern Delights sweets shop offers baked goods, ice cream, and a wall of chocolates, reflecting Disney's collab with Godiva on this land. I opted for some Norwegian smultring doughnuts, slathered in a hard icing and with a nice glimpse of jammy spice underneath.



Frozen Ever After exits into Tick Tock Toys and Collectibles, where Arendelle's master toy maker sells their work. Like the rest of the land, it's a handsomely designed space, and filled with more unique selections than typically found in theme park gift shops.

Tick Tock Toy Shoppe

The plush are knitted, in the fashion of an Arendelle toy maker. There are sweaters and hair accessories as well as hoodies and headbands and Lego and more. The apparel choices here support the market preferences in Hong Kong, which park merchandise officials say is far more interested in cosplaying as citizens of Arendelle than just buying a shirt with Anna and Elsa on it. (Hey, I bought a wool blend sweater for US$60 and a cotton blend for $US51. You can see them - the green one and the white one, respectively, in the photo above. Prices here are consistently lower than Disney's U.S. parks.)

The cosplay analysis is spot on, given what I have seen in the park during my stay. But most of the dressing up seems to be in support of Duffy and Friends rather than any other Disney IP. The Frozen shop is the only one in the park I saw with no Duffy and Friends presence, so I guess we will see how long that lasts. Duffy is a world traveler, after all.

I just hope that Duffy leaves some space on the shelves for Arendelle's unique merch. Mystic Manor - the best ride in the park - has a gift shop at its exit, too. And save for a kids' shirt and an Albert the monkey keychain plush, there is no Mystic Manor merch to be found there anymore. Let's hope the citizens of Arendelle - and their visitors - do better in supporting their local store.

Because this little corner of the world is better for being all 'Frozen.'

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Replies (14)

November 15, 2023 at 4:23 PM

This is the kind of theming Disney does really well. However I don’t get the kiddie coaster investment for all that mountain theming ?

November 16, 2023 at 8:12 AM

Never a good sign when it takes longer to walk the queue than ride an actual coaster!!! Should this have been a 2 lap special? In all honesty... why make a coaster that short. It looks great, but how on earth did a brand new ride of that length get approved.

I was worried when this was excluded from the Paris plans, but now I see why.

November 16, 2023 at 8:49 AM

That’s the most beautifully themed waste of time coaster I’ve ever seen. Okay, that’s probably harsh. I mean, I get it, it’s a family coaster. But I think I was probably expecting something along the lines of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train after seeing early concept art and construction updates. Everything looks amazing though, and incredibly immersive.

November 16, 2023 at 10:20 AM

Robert, I'm curious when these types of openings happen in far away places, do the theme park companies cover your expenses for travel such as plane tickets or hotels, or do you have to pay your own way?

I'm glad that someone is covering the opening. Is there a relationship where the theme park expects some kind of positive coverage in return for travel expenses?

November 16, 2023 at 12:00 PM

Really liked what I saw with the animatronics and makes me wish that we start moving away from the projected faces in America. They were fine for the time they were developed, but that time has since passed.

November 16, 2023 at 1:48 PM

Land looks absolutely beautiful! But man I do feel they mightve struck out with the coaster. I too was expecting something closer to 7 dwarfs but it's not. Anyway this whole land seems like an awesome addition to an under rated park. I've spent one day of my life at HK Disneyland and it remains one of my most memorable theme park visits.

November 16, 2023 at 2:17 PM

Hi Spaceman, I paid for my own airfare and ground transportation for this event. Disney provided a hotel room and the park admission during the press event.

November 16, 2023 at 4:57 PM

The land and dark ride look fantastic, but geez on that coaster. Once you pass those initial animatronics, it's a big fat nothing. I get it that it's a kiddie coaster (it's superior to the Chip and Dale coaster at DL, I suppose), but it's a royal stinker.

November 16, 2023 at 7:01 PM

I'm going to defend the coaster on the grounds that little kids deserve a full realized themed environment for their coasters, too. Just because the look of that environment then raises expectations among adults does not mean that it is a bad attraction.

November 17, 2023 at 2:07 AM

Surely the point of the mountain around the coaster is not so much to theme the coaster, (although that's a great bonus for the ride) but more to theme the whole land as the coaster mountain looks fantastic. Without it the land would be considerably diminished.

November 17, 2023 at 8:08 AM

Robert its not a bad attraction its just too short.

November 17, 2023 at 8:11 AM

I feel like Disney normally underestimates the amount of thrill that a grade school child desires in their coasters. They seem to interpret "kiddie" to mean "4 years old", instead of "4 to 10." I'm still waiting for the ultra-themed version of Big Bear Mountain or Oscar's Wacky Taxi. As is, I'll take the superior ride experience of those coasters over a dressed up "meh" ride experience.

November 19, 2023 at 11:51 AM

There are plenty of Disney coasters that I'd say are on par with or similar to Big Bear Mountain in terms of thrills, I mean even within the same park, there's Big Grizzly Mountain, which is a family launch coaster literally themed to bears. It does that concept much more justice than Big Bear Mountain IMO.

This park needed a junior coaster, it was a niche that Hong Kong desperately needed to fill. I'm just glad the theming looks much better than Barnstormer or Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster.

November 19, 2023 at 4:39 PM

Yeah, while it's undoubtedly on the short side of coasters built at a Disney park, it's actually on the long side of junior coasters at those parks: https://rcdb.com/r.htm?order=-22&ot=2&io=12510&ex and it's much more richly themed. The only real competitor for that crown is Casey Jr. in Paris which is pretty lovely.

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