Frozen. It’s tough to pick a side on this one. The first few times I saw the movie, I loved it- the musical score was fantastic, the messaging was different and empowering, and I love the energy it infused back into Disney Animation. I often wonder why this particular film took over the world when we had so many incredible Disney movies growing up in the 80′s and 90′s that were arguably just as good but have since withered into oblivion. Exhibit A: The Lion King. (I’m sorry but no amount of warm hugs can ever compete with that opening-NAAAAAAAAAANTS ZVEGNAAAAAAAAAA!) But, I suppose that is neither here nor there.
While I may be in the just let it go (Bazinga!) camp, I’m clearly in the minority. There are Frozen Summers at Hollywood Studios. There are Frozen Summers at Disneyland. There are Frozen Holidays at Disneyland Paris. The list goes on. The final straw for me was the takeover of Maelstrom- the beloved, and yes dated but still wonderful Norway attraction at Epcot in Walt Disney World. But regardless of how anyone feels, it appears the Disneyverse has been frozen (double Bazinga!).
So, it was with mixed feelings that I arrived for the first day of the Disneyland Paris Frozen Summer Fun celebration. The majority of the summer offerings take place at Cottonwood Creek Ranch in Frontierland, the oft forgotten area that guests visit for one of three reasons: 1) they’re lost 2) to catch the Disneyland Railroad or 3) they wander over after enjoying some delicious Cowboy Cookout Barbeque.
Recently the only other times that Cottonwood Creek Ranch has been utilized have been during the Christmas season as Santa’s workshop or during spring holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, when the area has a small thematic overlay.
The Chaparral Theater, located in the very back of Cottonwood Creek Ranch, used to hold musical stage shows, but it’s been quite a while now. When Frozen Summer Fun was announced with a brand new sing along, high fives could be heard all around. Finally, DLP was bringing back live entertainment to The Chaparral.
Chantons La Reine de Neiges is the heavy hitter of DLP’s summer entertainment and offers guests the chance to sing along with their favorite Frozen characters in both French and English (separate show times for each). Instead of three hour long queues for an Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet, DLP thought a better alternative would be to bring the sisters to the crowds in a 20 minute performance.
I quickly learned that lines for the shows form early as I arrived roughly 30 minutes prior to the start of the first English performance and was at the tail end of the queue. Make sure to get there well ahead of schedule if good seats are a priority for you or your family. And, if your little Anna’s or Elsa’s happen to be dressed up for the occasion, there is special seating front and center for distinguished guests.
The stage of the country western Chaparral Theater has been transformed into a mini winter wonderland, complete with giant Arendelle landscapes that hang from the walls and snow frosted pine trees on stage. DLP did a wonderful job of making this feel like a fully fledged production rather than a temporary overlay.
As the sing along begins and residents of Arendelle skip through the bleacher seats and onto the stage, we learn the premise of the performance: the choir selected to sing at Anna’s Winter Festival has been caught in a snow storm. We, the audience, have been chosen as replacements and of course, will need a little practice before the finale for Queen Elsa, hence the sing along. Fair enough.
Clips from the movie are projected onto movie screens along with the lyrics for anyone hiding under a rock for the last two years.
soapy bubbles snow, smoke and beach balls, performers kept the audience engaged and energized throughout the entire show. The part when they run into the aisles, turn their mics over to the tiny Elsa’s in the audience, and project them singing their hearts out on the big screens was a particularly nice touch. This audience interaction, participation and every other word ending in -tion helped make this headliner attraction really something special.
I’m not especially keen on sing alongs, (I’d rather re-ride Phantom Manor a dozen times), and I certainly wouldn’t be first in line for a Frozen related anything (who needs Arendelle when you could have Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride?), but even I was pleasantly surprised by this new summer addition. I wasn’t the only one either- kids, adults, everyone in the stands was singing, clapping and just having a generally wonderful time.
Disneyland Paris really did a fantastic job with the Frozen Sing Along and I hope this gives the cast and crew behind the scenes a little more push to make great live performances at The Chaparral Theater more than just a seasonal occurrence. If the performers can maintain that contagious enthusiasm throughout the summer season, I think they’ve got this in the bag, ahem, snow cone.
DLRPFans has a great video of the entire production here:
Just outside the Chaparral Theater is a small Arendelle market complete with a food stand (read: cupcakes!), merchandise kiosk, Frozen themed Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique and a photo-op with Olaf and Sven.
It gets pretty crowded in the afternoons, especially immediately after performances let out, so if you’re looking for the calm before the storm so to speak, plan to arrive in the morning. Though it’s not a large area, there are nice details throughout and again, it’s so nice to see this area finally getting some love.
Frozen: A Royal Welcome is a daily promenade of Queen Elsa and Princess Anna by horse drawn carriage. They travel down the parade route a few times each afternoon and it’s a nice way to see the characters if you’re a super Frozen fan, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to queue up for it. Wait instead for their float during the daytime parade, Disney Magic on Parade!
The only other real additions to Frozen Summer Fun at DLP are the musical fountains show (unadvertised) and during Disney Dreams! Those who saw Disney Dreams of Christmas during the holiday season, or as I liked to call it, Frozen with a hint of Toy Story, will recognize the “Let it Go” overlay in place of Brave (RIP Merida). I understand why they do it, but I really feel like Brave doesn’t get much love at all. #Sadface
Watch the full show by Café Mickey here:
The musical fountains show is one of my favorite Disney details on a regular day at DLP, so it (almost) goes without saying that both the daytime and nighttime version (which includes the castle Christmas lights and occurs 15 minutes before Disney Dreams!) is pretty spectacular and well worth a look.
Overall, Frozen Summer Fun is a small but lovely addition to DLP. For all those Arendelle-obsessed, it’s a great new way to interact with your favorite snowman and for those who could probably take or leave another Frozen inspired anything, the new offerings will at least divert the massive summer crowds for a time, bringing that Dumbo queue down from “kill me” to “ugh” levels.
As always, DLPGuide has your current summer schedules here.
And, if you’d like to see how those brilliant behind the scenes builders came up with the the ideas for Frozen Summer Fun, CafeFantasia has a great transcript with everything you could possibly hope to know here.
Frozen Summer Fun takes place at Disneyland Park from June 1-September 13, 2015.