By Charly SHELTON
If there is one thing Disney’s “Frozen” hasn’t mastered, it’s subtlety. It has taken the world by storm, both overseas and here at home, in film and video and toys and costumes and you name it. The newest “Frozen” venture is theme parks. I, for one, am surprised it took them this long to get the ball rolling. Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim is now playing host to “Frozen Fun,” a section of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot that caters to the shrieking little girl in all of us when we hear “Let It Go.”
For those who have been vacationing on another planet since Thanksgiving 2013, “Frozen” is the animated Disney musical about a girl with ice powers (voiced by Idina Menzel) she can’t control so she locks away the world, and her sister (voiced by Kristen Bell) who wants nothing more than to be part of the world. Throughout the various misadventures, they encounter a snowman, Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), who likes warm things and longs to see summer, as well as an ice salesman (voiced by Jonathan Groff) who faces a suddenly saturated market when the kingdom freezes over, thanks to the ice powers. The film is actually very, very good and the first time you watch it, it mesmerizes and delights. It’s only on the 6000th rendition of the showstopper number, “Let It Go” that you wish everyone would do just that.
Now “Frozen” has invaded DCA Park and brought with it some wintertime fun to the 80-degree shores of Southern California. While it may be a chilly thought to stand next to plastic snow for five hours waiting for your girlfriend/wife/daughter to have her chance to meet Elsa and Anna, Disney has one-upped itself and made a system to really get guests into a cold state of mind while waiting upwards of three hours to meet Olaf.
And, by the way, these wait times are not arbitrary. When Elsa and Anna were greeting guests in Fantasyland, the wait time was around five hours. Now the wait is based on the Fastpass system, but still about five hours. The guests that I spoke to in line for Olaf said they had waited three hours and that was when the line was shorter. But wait times aside it’s the way in which guests waited that impressed.
Once the initial line is passed to get in the door of the sound stage (about one hour), there is a reception desk where guests give their name and party size. They are then handed a pager and told to go have fun. In the sound stage is a set of Arendelle, the kingdom where the film takes place. Elsa’s ice powers have caused a snow flurry in the courtyard of the castle that includes a frozen fountain, icicles and a field of real snow for the kids and kids-at-heart to play in. While the kids play, there is a seating area for parents to wait with a snack bar featuring Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce (which were okay, but honestly not worth the $6 – not nearly as good as Ikea for $1.99), corn dog bites and hot white cocoa, among other goodies. The “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” kit includes a snowman-shaped sugar cookie to build your own Olaf, which seemed to be the most popular item judging by the empty boxes left all over the tables.
When the buzzer finally goes off, it’s time to meet Olaf the Snowman. Remember – he likes warm hugs, so make sure to hug him because it makes for a great picture. Once outside, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post is having a big summer blowout, even though it’s January, and they have everything that you need to outfit your little prince or princess in “Frozen” gear and toys. The MuppetVision Theatre has been converted to the Crown Jewel Theatre, featuring a “Frozen” sing-along show with Anna and Elsa.
Next week we will take a look at the nighttime party, “Freeze the Night” at DCA, as well as some of the other updates at the parks.