Frozen Ever After

Frozen Ever After

Today’s ride is one I have been waiting for almost a year to ride.  I’m so happy to say that I had the opportunity on my recent Disney vacation to finally set sail to Arendelle.  That’s right, we got to celebrate Summer Snow Day with Anna, Elsa, and the rest of the crew as we took a boat ride on Frozen Ever After.  I’m about as excited as Anna on Coronation Day so let’s get this podcast started with our…

Know Before You Go Essential Facts

  • The ride is located in Epcot, in the Norway pavilion
  • There is no height requirement
  • Fastpass + is offered, and highly recommended
  • The fright factor is 2 out of 5
  • Guests must transfer from a wheelchair/ECV
  • Rider Switch is offered
  • The ride is just over 5 minutes long
  • The ride opened on June 21, 2016.

Those are the facts, now onto the fun

Frozen Ever After is a charming boat ride that brings Frozen fans closer than ever to their favorite characters.  The ride is classic Disney dark ride meets high tech modern day animatronics.  The wintery land is brought to life in some amazing ways and this is a ride you don’t want to miss.  Today we are going to talk about the story, the ride, and how to add it to your next Disney vacation.

The ride takes you into the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, where you have arrived just in time for “Summer Snow Day.”  Elsa has used her magically frosty fingers to blanket the kingdom in snow, during the middle of summer.  You are invited to float through this wintery wonderland to celebrate the day Princess Anna saved her sister Queen Elsa with an unselfish act of true love.  “All shall be welcome to a Royal Reception inside the Ice Palace.”

The journey begins by walking through the queue and exploring a small portion of Arendelle.  This queue is not very large, but the Imagineers do a nice job of cramming in lots of fun nods to the movie.  This is especially true at “Oaken’s Tokens and Sauna.”  If you opt for the standby queue you will see the big guy himself enjoying a little steam on the other side of the glass.  If you are in the Fastpass+ queue you will bypass the inside of the small shop, but you will be able to see the outside of the building.  Other than for seeing Oaken’s Trading Post, I don’t recommend going through the standby queue if you can help it.  Once you make it inside the village, the line snakes you back and forth in a large mob of people.  While the theme of the queue is done very well, the limited amount of space makes for a loud, crowded atmosphere.  Even though you miss the chance to see inside Oaken’s Tokens, I think the time saved in the FP+ line is definitely worthwhile.

Whichever queue you opt for, you will eventually arrive at the docks of Arendelle.  Here, you climb aboard the ancient Norwegian vessel and set sail for a Sing-Along adventure.

After passing through a short tunnel, your boat appears to be outside.  It is dark, but the night’s light is reflecting off the snow covered hills and landscape.  The twinkle of the light is accompanied with the familiar sound of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.”  Next, Olaf appears on top of the hill and is singing the song that originally brought him to life.  While the music is well known by all, the lyrics Olaf sings are a little different from the film.  He is very excited to tell you about Summer Snow Day and to issue an invitation from Queen Elsa to visit her ice palace.  This is your first clue that the ride is more than a retelling of the story from the film. Disney brought in many of the film’s team members to work on the ride in order to capture the same magic while adding to the existing story.  The final result is a beautifully balanced work of art, blending Frozen’s greatest hits with new scenes and fresh storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, the next scene has the wise elderly troll, Grand Pabbie, recounting the tale of Anna sacrificing herself in an act of true love to save her sister Elsa.   He is surrounded by young little trolls that are excited to hear the story, as well as wish you well on your way to the ice palace.  I have to pause here and say that I always thought the trolls were a weird element of the film.  I never understood why the trolls were rocks, nor what connection they shared with Kristoff.  However, the animatronics of the little moss covered boulders on the ride are really cool!

After waving goodbye to the trolls it is onward and upward as you continue your journey to the ice palace.  When you arrive, Olaf is there waiting for you and is now ice skating around the palace.  Not far from Olaf, Anna and Kristoff are joining in song as they sing “For The First Time in Forever.”  Again, the words are a little different as they welcome you to the palace for the first time in forever.  Sven is there as well, although his tongue is frozen to a pillar of ice so he doesn’t join in song.  With a wave to Sven it is time to look ahead and meet Queen Elsa.

The snowflake doors to her royal room open and across the way is Elsa overlooking the ice palace.  Her magical powers are on display as she sings “Let it Go” and all around you the palace is alight with frozen fractals.  This is the pinnacle of the ride and the Imagineers use Elsa to show off their own magical powers.  Frozen flurries light up the sky above and all the walls surrounding your boat. The palace room is alive with motion, light, and sound.  It can be hard to know where to look as the display of snowflakes, lights, magic, and Elsa are constantly moving.  The Queen Elsa AA figure is so fluid, and the movement of her arms shooting out frozen magic so lifelike.  For me, just seeing this achievement in Audio Animatronics makes the ride worthwhile.  Unfortunately though, you don’t have long to take in Queen Elsa and her magical display.  Before you know it, you are being whisked backwards out of the room.  The sensation of rushing backwards into a cloud of cool fog is the perfect punctuation to the highlight of the ride.

Next, you find yourself back outside of the palace.  The friendly version of the giant snow monster, Marshmallow, is surrounded by the little Snowgies from the short film Frozen Fever.  This is another nod to the fact you are visiting Arendelle after the original Frozen story, and a fun little way to incorporate the cute and cuddly snowballs.  Marshmallow lets out an icy blast and your boat takes a small plunge down into the village.  You see the culmination of Summer Snow Day as fireworks explode over the kingdom.  Before the ride comes to an end, you get one final scene with Anna, Elsa, and Olaf.  The sisters are holding hands and showing off their colorful summer dresses.  Olaf dances just below and the trio sing “In Summer,” the snowman’s daydream of the wonderful time to be found in summer.

Overall, the ride is a fun combination of fantastic Audio-Animatronic figures, great music, dazzling lighting effects, and classic Disney miniatures.  The ride is pleasant and something the whole family can enjoy together.   We loved taking James and Julia, our four-year old nephew and two-year old niece on the ride.  In anticipation of our Disney trip they started watching Frozen a couple of weeks in advance.  I think they probably saw the movie 50 times in that short two week period, but it made the ride so much fun for everyone.

For me personally, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first ride on Frozen Ever After.  I did enjoy the ride that previously occupied this space, Maelstrom.  I knew the ride track was essentially the same as before.  I had also heard some give the ride luke warm reviews.  In fact, I listened to another Disney podcast where one of the hosts didn’t even include Frozen Ever After in their Top 5 Epcot Rides!  So, with all of that I went in with tempered expectations.  Well, as soon as our first ride was over I looked at my wife Rachel and we both said, “That was fun!”  I really enjoyed the ride and I was pleasantly surprised at how new and fresh it felt.

Even though you could say this is a recycled ride space, I never once thought about Maelstrom while riding.  The details that Disney does so well were found in every room and it felt like this space had always belonged to Frozen.  I loved the AA figures, the special effects, and the fun new story being told with familiar music.  Most of all I loved that we could take our whole crew on the ride and watch the kids’ faces light up with each new discovery.  I guess I’m a sucker for a Disney boat ride, and this one is now another family favorite ride for me.

So, I do highly recommend you check out Frozen Ever After and I do recommend you use a Fastpass+ to do so.  As I said before, the queue for this ride is neat, but not worth the extremely long wait times normally found here.  On our most recent trip we arrived before rope drop.  The crowds were allowed up to the front side of Spaceship Earth.  Once the park opened the giant ball served as a dividing line.  Those on the left all headed back to the World Showcase and Frozen Ever After.  Those on the right headed to Soarin’ in the Land Pavilion.  Let me just say there were a lot of people on the left side headed back to Frozen.  If you opt to ride using the standby queue, keep in mind the ride opens when Epcot does, not a couple of hours later with the rest of the World Showcase.

The fact that the World Showcase doesn’t open until 11 am, coupled with the large crowds that go straight to Frozen are two of the main reasons I opt for a Fastpass.  I recommend you book Frozen Ever After as your Tier 1 Fastpass and then go straight to Soarin’ or Test Track when you arrive at Epcot.  I breakdown this strategy in detail in the Frozen Ever After – First Look podcast, so go listen to that episode if you want more touring plan tips.  I also talk a little about the history of Maelstrom and how Frozen Ever After came to take over in the Norway pavilion, so go check that out if you haven’t already.

I will say that Frozen Ever After feels like a good fit to me in the Norway pavilion.  With the Anna & Elsa meet ’n’ greet close by, this pavilion has a lot to explore now.  You can have a great character meal at Akershus, the restaurant located next to the ride.  Or, you can grab a snack, like the world famous School Bread, at the Kringli Bakeri og Cafe.  Coincidentally, I tried the School Bread for the first time on our last trip.  It was a little like having a wheat donut with a sweet vanilla cream.  For those that don’t like their desserts too sweet or rich this is possibly one of the best options in Epcot.  Me on the other hand, the sweeter the better!  So, I probably wouldn’t get the School Bread again, but it was fun to finally try.

The thing I really did like was the Royal Summerhus, where we met Anna & Elsa.  That however, is a story for another day.  Say, maybe next week?  Well, I hope you will come back and join me again then!

Thank you so much for tuning in today!  I had an icy blast sharing Frozen Ever After with you and I can’t wait to explore more of WDW next week.  Have a great week, give someone a warm hug, and make each day a ride worth taking!

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