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First-ever World of Frozen opens at Hong Kong Disneyland

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Posted at 10:48 PM, Nov 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-22 22:48:37-05

Hong Kong (CNN) — Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Sven have a new home on a subtropical island in Asia. World of Frozen, Disney’s first-ever themed land dedicated to the “Frozen” media franchise, opened at Hong Kong Disneyland on November 20.

The new land at the park on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island brings the fictional kingdom of Arendelle to life, including several elements from key scenes in the hit movies such as the North Mountain, Elsa’s Ice Palace, the snowflake-topped ice fountain and the clock tower where Anna and Prince Hans sing “Love is An Open Door” in the first “Frozen” movie.

“The ‘Frozen’ franchise is one of the most successful in Disney history and it’s a testament to the power of great storytelling,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in Hong Kong at a November 16 event to commemorate World of Frozen’s opening.

Disney Imagineers spent more than three years working on the concept and design of the new attraction. The franchise itself is just 10 years old, with the first “Frozen” movie coming out in 2013, followed by “Frozen II” in 2019, as well as several short films and TV shows.

The company announced in September that it will be doubling its investment in its Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment, with $60 billion spending planned in the next decade.

While Disney is facing revenue challenges elsewhere, its international theme parks are thriving, with Iger saying in August that parks in Asia are doing “exceptionally well.”

In the new World of Frozen in Hong Kong, cast members playing Elsa, Anna and Kristoff will walk around interacting with guests, a departure from other lands where princesses and other characters are largely available only for photo opportunities.

And instead of scheduled shows, a band will wander intermittently throughout World of Frozen playing music.

Hong Kong’s World of Frozen also includes two rides: Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, a high-speed roller coaster that gives guests views of the Arendelle castle, and Frozen Ever After, a boat ride featuring Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Marshmallow, Sven the reindeer, Olaf the snowman and Pabbie Troll. As visitors float through Frozen Ever After, characters sing songs from the movies, including “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” “Let It Go,” and “For the First Time in Forever,” recorded by the movie’s original English-language cast.

Michael Moriarty, managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland, called World of Frozen “the most immersive attraction we’ve ever built.”

He added that the decision to bring World of Frozen to Hong Kong was influenced by the regional interest in the franchise and the unique natural elements of Lantau Island, where Hong Kong Disneyland is located.

“I think also when you look at the beautiful space that we have, with our ability to create mountains that wind together with the Lantau mountains and the scenery, to create a very specific and unique immersive environment, I think it was an easy decision that Hong Kong should be the first,” Moriarty told reporters ahead of the opening.

Asked how the team chose which scenes and elements to feature, Moriarty said, “when you think about the scenes that really connect you with Anna and Elsa and Kristoff and Sven, we tried to recreate those.”

“What we have created here with the World of Frozen is this wonderfully immersive experience where you are at the center of the story,” Moriarty said.

In pursuit of a more immersive experience, architecture and design elements in World of Frozen are inspired by Norway, just as Arendelle was in the movies.

Visitors can see the 19th-century Dragestil (Norwegian for “dragon style”)-inspired architecture in the storefronts located throughout World of Frozen, and the stylized floral motifs indicative of rosemaling decorative art featured on the clothing worn by cast members.

The menu at World of Frozen’s Golden Crocus Inn also draws from Norwegian cuisine and includes a Bayside Seafood Medley in a nod to the harborside location of both Arendelle and the World of Frozen.

At night, World of Frozen is alight with Elsa’s “Ice Magic” as the Ice Palace, Arendelle Castle and Friendship Fountain light up an icy blue.

Hong Kong’s climate, however, is very different from Norway’s. Snowfall is virtually unheard of here and while November is late autumn in Hong Kong, average temperatures still hit around 75 F (24 C).

A ticket to Hong Kong’s Disneyland includes admission to the World of Frozen, though in honor of the new land, the park has introduced a series of four new “Frozen” themed ticket designs showcasing Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf.

Visitors can get to Hong Kong Disneyland by car or via the orange line on Hong Kong’s MTR public transit system. Disney has its own train from Hong Kong’s Sunny Bay station, which is plastered in World of Frozen decals to commemorate the world’s opening.