For the first time in forever, “Frozen” fans can visit Arendelle, just like in the Disney films.
World of Frozen opened at Hong Kong Disneyland on Monday.
It’s the first land dedicated to the franchise marking its 10-year anniversary on Nov. 27.
“We’re really excited about it,” Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger told USA TODAY in an interview alongside Frozen’s Oscar-winning creator and co-director and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee, Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro and Disney Entertainment Co-chairman Alan Bergman.
“When you immerse someone, a guest, into the physical world of the story that they loved so much, it becomes an experience that is – I know we overuse this word sometimes – it’s just magical. It just lives with them forever,” Iger added. “If you were to go to Cars Land in California, or the two Star Wars lands we built, Galaxy’s Edge in Florida and in California, or Pandora in Florida, you’d see what I mean. You just walk into this world, and you believe that it actually exists.”
Here’s what fans can expect when they visit World of Frozen.
Into the unknown
The world of Frozen (lowercase w) has long existed for Lee, who co-wrote and co-directed the films. And while it’s previously manifested on screen, on Broadway, and in other experiences across Disney parks and Disney Cruise Line, it’s never looked like this.
“These sisters live in my head. It’s all imagination,” she said. “For that to go to a screen is one thing, but then to come in and people are invited into Arendelle– I found myself, after waves of emotion, acting out Elsa on the fountain and twirling on the bridge like Anna, just like the kid I am. And I think the part of it that’s most incredible is you get to be a part of Frozen.”
Iger and D’Amaro have seen their share of new lands and attractions come to life across Disney parks through the years, but D’Amaro said this one stopped them in their tracks.
“It was surreal to be inside the World of Frozen, something that we have all loved so much for so long, and we literally stood there, for it felt like a half hour just looking before we even went into the land,” he said.
It looks just like Arendelle, with actual mountains in the background.
“It looks as if it’s in the fjords, and it’s built into the natural landscape in Hong Kong. And it’s just so stunning, but it’s emotional.” Lee said. “For those of us who worked on the film, we were part of every detail, and the Imagineers took every detail and they made it real. Even a funny jar of lutefisk that we had a meeting about in Oaken’s Trading Post is there.”
Nostalgia also flooded Bergman.
“For me, it brings back memories of the film, when we were struggling at times, and Jenn and her team just doing a remarkable job to get the story right, never giving up. And that first time, hearing ‘Let It Go,’ you kind of knew we had something special,” he recalled. “And for Josh, who’s done a remarkable job bringing our movies to the theme parks, and just seeing what they’ve done is just so gratifying for the entire company.”
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Let it go
Frozen fans can unleash their imaginations across World of Frozen, which is divided into two areas: Arendelle Village and Arendelle Forest.
The land features two rides: the brand new coaster Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs and a next-level version of Frozen Ever After, which guests may recognize from Walt Disney World’s EPCOT.
“The animatronics on the rides are, I mean, the top,” Lee said. “They’re absolutely extraordinary, and you truly feel that you are three-dimensionally inside the film, and those are your characters.”
Playhouse in the Woods is a first-of-a-kind immersive theater experience with Anna and Elsa in the flesh, as well as projection mapping and special effects.
Guests can also meet Kristoff, Oaken, and an original new character, Mossie, the baby troll, wandering throughout the new land.
For a literal taste of Arendelle, guests can try Nordic-inspired dishes at the quick-service restaurant Golden Crocus Inn or grab a snack at Forest Fare or Northern Delights. And, of course, there are plenty of souvenirs available in themed shops.
“I’m just still so emotional and so grateful that Disney has decided that this deserves a land,” Lee said.
Do you want to build a snowman?
Even with Elsa’s magic, Hong Kong’s tropical climate isn’t fit for actual snowmen, but there’s plenty else to do on the land and across the park, which offers a mix of old favorites like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and “it’s a small world” and unique attractions like Iron Man Experience and Slinky Dog Spin.
General admission tickets for guests ages 12 to 24 start at HK$639 (about $92 USD).
Unlike Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida, where kids ages 10 and over count as adults, children ages three through 11 qualify for child tickets at Hong Kong Disneyland. Child tickets start at HK$475 (about $61 USD). Children under the age of three may enter for free.
Deeply discounted senior tickets are also available for guests 65 and up. Those start at HK$100 (about $13 USD). There are no senior discounts at Disney’s U.S. parks, which are popular intergenerational destinations.
Hong Kong Disneyland admission includes World of Frozen.
“I can’t wait to get out there and actually see real people experiencing it,” Iger said.