The first “Frozen”-themed land, World of Frozen, opened at Hong Kong Disneyland last month and WDWNT’s Tom Corless was there for opening day. As usual for new lands and attractions, Tom has shared his honest review of World of Frozen.
Tom’s Honest Review: World of Frozen
World of Frozen is set during “Summer Snow Day,” which acts as a jumping-off point for the land’s story. It’s woven through every element of the land from the attractions to the entertainment to the way Cast Members greet you (“Happy Summer Snow Day!”), which makes for some great synergy and storytelling. It explains why you’re in Arendelle and why everything is happening. Cast Members do a great job of taking on their roles as citizens of Arendelle, keeping you absorbed in the setting.
The E-ticket attraction at World of Frozen is Frozen Ever After, which is a new version of the EPCOT attraction that replaced Maelstrom, during which guests visit Elsa’s Ice Palace for Summer Snow Day. It may seem strange for Walt Disney World guests to hear this ride called an “E-ticket,” but that’s really what it is for Hong Kong Disneyland guests. It features great animatronics, a thrilling drop (compared to other rides in that market), is inspired by a hugely popular franchise, and has some upgrades.
The electric animatronics are an improvement on the EPCOT versions — although those versions weren’t bad for their time and place. It’s not just their three-dimensional non-screen faces, but all of their movements are impressive. The trolls do still have screen faces, but that always worked better for them than for the other characters of Frozen Ever After.
The Hong Kong Disneyland version of Frozen Ever After also has a gorgeous façade under the clocktower in the town of Arendelle. The queue has several beautiful rooms that expand on ideas from the original EPCOT ride’s queue — literally by making it bigger, but also by including more propping and details.
Because this Frozen Ever After was built from scratch but the original was a re-skin of Maelstrom with various restrictions, there was a lot more Imagineers could do. Some of the scenes feel more complete and have more space to breathe. This shines in the load area, which is large and features a castle structure. But during the ride, scenes are plussed up with extra details and effects, even though the story is identical. There are new projections and lights. The updated layout of scenes lets more guests see what’s going on.
Frozen Ever After in EPCOT used the Maelstrom boats, but Hong Kong Disneyland got to build new boats that are wider and have more comfortable seats. The ride system is brand new, but the lift hill is still a little bumpy and still loud. Some say the drop is bigger, but we don’t know if that’s true. It may be steeper and the landing was a little rough sometimes, for sure.
So in all, Frozen Ever After at Hong Kong Disneyland elevates a ride that was already well-liked (at least when it opened in 2016), bringing it to a new audience who will appreciate it differently.
Outside, World of Frozen is beautiful. It helps that Hong Kong Disneyland is already in such a gorgeous setting — most of the mountains around World of Frozen aren’t fake, they’re part of the natural landscape. Never has the pre-existing setting worked so well for a themed land in a Disney Park.
It’s not on the same level as say Pandora – The World of Avatar, but it’s better than the various “Toy Story” lands around the world.
In classic Disney fashion, there are several façades in the village, which make it seem like there are several buildings, but there are just a couple of real establishments. Some of the fake businesses include the Arendelle Daily Press and a cartographer’s office, but Golden Crocus Inn takes up the interiors of all those buildings.
Golden Crocus Inn features portraits of “Frozen” characters and a “kitten with mittens” from “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” who sometimes meows. One side of the restaurant acts as the interior of the cartographer’s office with a map of Arendelle. It is a pleasant interior.
The one thing we don’t like about the design of the land is that you can’t actually go to Arendelle Castle. Elsa’s Ice Palace is up on a mountain and looks far away thanks to forced perspective, so you don’t expect to go there (and Frozen Ever After takes you there, anyway). However, Arendelle Castle is level with the rest of the land and the bridge leading to it is visible, but hidden behind façades, so you can’t access it. We think this is a big mistake; it should have been something you can walk up to and take photos in front of. It should honestly be a dining venue, which would be more incredible than Golden Crocus Inn.
The view of the castle is still pretty and you can take nice photos across the harbor, but it’s definitely a missed opportunity to incorporate it into the land more.
Also in the village is Northern Delights, a cute shop selling cute sweets.
The land’s only store is Tick Tock Toys & Collectibles and it was a disaster the entire time we were there. The store is perhaps too small and we think it was a mistake to put it at the exit of Frozen Ever After. Guests visiting this land are going to shop anyway, Tick Tock Toys doesn’t need to also be a ride exit.
One of our favorite references in the land is next to the restrooms. There’s a barrel for Southern Isles Fertilizer that features the silhouette of Hans shoveling fertilizer.
As you wind over to the other half of the land — the Enchanted Forest — there is a photo op area featuring trolls in rock form that will sometimes speak, which is always a surprising, delightful moment. Bruni from “Frozen II” is also on a rock here. There are a few more Brunis hidden throughout the land, but we won’t spoil their locations.
There is no formal meet and greet space because the characters would be mobbed, but this space is where characters will sometimes appear. They also try to roam the land. Guests will see Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Wandering Oaken.
The trolls area is where we most saw Mossi the baby troll, an adorable puppet who is everything we wanted out of lands like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Mossi, as well as the wandering characters and other entertainment, help the land feel alive.
Also contributing to the immersion is a magician who usually appears in Fantasyland. He now sometimes appears in Arendelle with an act tailored to the land. There are also the Royal Arendellian Troubadours, a talented music troupe who perform instrumentals of “Frozen” songs. And speaking of music, the background music of World of Frozen is excellent.
Let’s talk about the land’s other ride, which is brand new: Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs. In honor of Summer Snow Day, Oaken has created a high-speed sleigh ride. It’s a good backstory that makes sense within the land. It also has a great themed queue, incorporating the Oaken-related elements of the Frozen Ever After queue in EPCOT and expanding upon them.
The ride is short, less than a minute long. It’s a mild, family-friendly ride when compared to rides at the American parks. But in context, this is a more thrilling ride for the Asian market that appeals to adults. It would’ve been great if it was more at the level of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but they worked with the space they had and it fulfills a need for the park that wasn’t being met. Hong Kong Disneyland previously didn’t have a family coaster like The Barnstormer. Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs fills that niche with good theming and immersion.
In the show building with Wandering Oaken’s is Playhouse in the Woods, a show that fulfills the meet-and-greet role somewhat because it guarantees seeing Anna, Elsa, and Olaf up close. For now, Hong Kong Disneyland is using Standby Pass, which is their version of a virtual queue in the app.
The storyline is that this is a clubhouse Anna and Elsa used to play in as kids. In her new position as Queen and for Summer Snow Day, Anna has revitalized the space and commissioned sculptures of the four elemental spirits as a surprise for Elsa. There’s a small stage, but Anna and Elsa also come down on the floor closer to guests for an interaction with one of the sculptures. There are four different versions of the show, which use projection mapping technology and the screen behind Olaf to bring one of the four spirits to life in the space.
There’s nothing brand new about this show. It’s similar to Frozen: A Musical Invitation – Animation Celebration at Disneyland Paris, and we learned the same Imagineers did work on both. But they aren’t exactly the same and this is a good interactive experience that will satisfy guests hoping to see the characters.
World of Frozen is gorgeous and immersive. It’s the high quality we expected. Everything there is to love about the “Frozen” films is captured in this land, so if you are a fan, no matter your age, you will enjoy it.
Hear all of Tom’s thoughts in his honest review video below.
Also check out World of Frozen merchandise and souvenirs:
- Full List (With Prices) of New World of Frozen Merchandise at Hong Kong Disneyland
- Exclusive World of Frozen Anna & Elsa Pandora Charm Available at Hong Kong Disneyland
- Exclusive “World of Frozen” Starbucks Tumblers Released at Hong Kong Disneyland