Disney Theme Park

'Frozen' Burnout



By Pete Werner


I’d like to start off by saying that I love the movie ‘Frozen.’   I loved the story, the music, the characters and I particularly liked the message of the story.  It's an important message about sacrifice and facing truth - the movie's success is proof that the message connected with audiences of all ages. Watching the film also reminded me of the “golden age” of Disney animation – the age that produced modern classics like Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and the Lion King - other films with great stories, great characters and important messages.

But even during the ‘golden age,' I felt that Disney – in particular Disney Parks and Resorts – went a little too far in trying to include characters from those animated films in the theme parks.  Under the guidance of Michael Eisner, the policy seemed to be ‘beat it into the ground and wring out every dollar you can.’  However, nothing done in years past can compare to the unrestrained, unmitigated, unadulterated fleecing of ‘Frozen’ that we’re seeing right now.


It seems as though Disney executives, caught completely off guard by the film's success, have – quite simply – gone insane in a desperate attempt to include Frozen in EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME.   It began with addition of Anna and Elsa to the Norway pavilion – creating lines that the area was never designed for and clearly unprepared to handle.  That was addressed by moving the characters (and the 5 hour wait) to Princess FairyTale Hall in the Magic Kingdom.  Then came ‘Frozen Summer Fun’ at Hollywood Studios.  To be sure, DHS needed something to help it with the relevance gap it's currently experiencing and this seemed to fit the bill.  Up to this point, everyone seemed pretty okay with it.  Then Disney announced that Maelstrom would be closing down to be replaced with a ‘Frozen’ attraction.  This is where, in my opinion, the wheels started coming off the wagon.  Fans howled, and even the government of Norway started taking notice.   The Frozen storyline has worked its way onto television via ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time.'   The castle lighting holiday ceremony at the Magic Kingdom is now hosted by Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf and the holiday parade this year is lead by those same characters.   All of this has transpired in 12 months, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  Of course we could mention the flood of Frozen merchandise, but that’s become de rigueur for Disney.


I’ll be honest – I’ve enjoyed many of the ‘Frozen’ additions to the theme parks, but I’m starting to feel like it’s all getting to be a bit too much.   It’s seems that ideas that used to come from Imagineering are now coming from Disney executives who, with very few exceptions, make crappy Imagineers.   It doesn’t have the feeling of a story weaved into a larger narrative – something Disney has done so well for so long.  It feels more like knee-jerk ideas being thrown against the wall like pasta to see what sticks.  My hope is that Disney won't completely exhaust the magic of this great film and the message in it, but it's also possible that ship has already sailed.

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