The casting is done, rehearsals are underway, and the new Frozen-based musical is set to start this summer at California Adventure. It will take the place of Aladdin’s live theater adaptation (already gone) in the 2,000-seat Hyperion Theater.
The new show has resulted in some mixed emotions. Some people are excited, and others are decidedly tired of all things Frozen and flinch upon hearing another rendition of “Let It Go.” (I am in the latter category). But even I see there is a silver-lining to the new show.
The Pro: The return of the Muppet*Vision 3D?
California Adventure has had a Frozen show since January 7th, 2015, when “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along” took over the Muppet*Vision 3D Theater. The show was meant to be temporary, part of the “Frozen Fun” event that ended May 15th, but it has continued, and the Muppet Theater has become the Crown Jewel Theater.
The park insists that Muppet*Vision 3D will come back, and there’s certainly some good reasons for the company to return the Muppets to their home. The show is one of the last productions directed by Jim Henson, who also does the voice of Kermit the Frog and the Swedish Chef, before his death in 1990. In addition to serving as a farewell tribute, ABC’s new show “The Muppets” could likely use some promoting. Currently, Jim Henson’s creations have almost no representation in the resort at all.
There is still no news about Muppet*Vision 3D coming back when the Frozen musical makes its way to the Hyperion Theater, but having two Frozen musicals almost right next to each other will likely seem redundant to everyone but the most loyal Frozen fans.
If the new Frozen musical is meant as an upgrade and relocation for the current sing-along, Muppet fans have good reason for embracing the live musical (whether they see the new Frozen show or not).
The Con: The loss of “Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular.”
The Muppets’ return is speculative, but the Aladdin musical’s demise is a certainty. The show ran from 2003 until September 2015 (the last shows required FastPass tickets due to their popularity). It offered frequent park-goers something few attractions could – a constantly changing experience.
In addition to the typical deviations of live theater, the Genie had a constantly updating list of topical jokes for the audience, from Kardashian puns to jokes about the Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe snafu. No matter how they translate “Frozen” into live musical form, Olaf will most likely not be able to keep up with the genie’s wit.
Likewise, Aladdin was a show that had a broad fan-base, appealing to both adults and children. Frozen, on the other hand, will likely have a very specific audience – excited young girls. Hopefully fans of the “Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular” caught the show before it closed, because all that’s left now is the empty theater and a signboard.
When Disneyland Resort creates something new, something old almost always has to get bumped. The park is not in a particularly good position to expand considering the area’s property values and layout. Star Wars Land will be taking some of the last underutilized space in the resort, but still had to bump the Big Thunder Ranch area out of the way.
But the hope is the new will always be better than the old. For the new Frozen musical that will be a very high standard to meet.