Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen is a huge hit beyond anyone’s wildest imagination, including my own. The film is close to earning $1 billion dollars at the global box office (as of today, it stands at $958,495,613). The YouTube video of the film’s “Let It Go” sequence as sung by Idina Menzel has had over 100 million views and has spurred on countless video covers of the song done by everyone and their dog (and their dog’s dog). The film’s soundtrack reached the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart, the first soundtrack from a Disney animated film to do so since 1995’s Pocahontas.
The accolades just keep on coming. The film has won a Golden Globe Award, an Annie Award, and a BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, and is the top contender for winning this year’s Oscar in the Best Animated Film category as well. The wait times to meet princesses Anna and Elsa in Disney theme parks can be up to two hours in length or longer. Retailers can’t keep enough toys, CDs, and other Frozen products on their shelves. The movie itself keeps bringing in the crowds (over President’s Day weekend, I tried to go see the sing-along version of Frozen with some of my friends and the screening was sold out). Truly, Frozen has become a phenomenon of unbelievable proportions.
So, what’s next for Frozen? Many fans, pundits, bloggers, etc., have been speculating what Disney is planning to do as a follow-up to this incredibly popular film. I think there are three things Disney should do (or not do) with this great new addition to its esteemed canon of animated films and characters.
1) Don’t Make a Sequel
I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I read the recent interview with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ general manager Andrew Millstein where he stated that no sequel for Frozen is currently under development at the studio. He didn’t say that it wouldn’t happen, but currently it’s not in the plans. Whew.
The only Disney animated sequel I’ve ever liked is The Rescuers Down Under and that’s because it was created by the Disney Feature Animation team rather than by a direct-to-video production team or other group that didn’t have the time, talent, or resources to create a high-quality product worthy of its predecessor (Cinderella II and III, anyone?). I seriously hope that Disney doesn’t go down the “cheapquel” route of the Michael Eisner era ever again, especially with Frozen (or Wreck-It Ralph for that matter, but that’s another story).
2) Broadway Is OK
Disney CEO Bob Iger has already announced that a Broadway version of Frozen is in the beginning stages of development. Disney has even created a website for the project. This seems like a very logical step and a good one. Frozen songwriters Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez live in New York City and writing musical theater is what they do for a living (and they excel at it, too). While we don’t know much else, on the surface it seems like this one is a no brainer.
3) Build a New Boat Ride
While some are speculating that Frozen characters could easily be part of an overlay or makeover of the Maelstrom attraction in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion at Walt Disney World in Florida (Anna and Elsa characters are already part of a popular meet-and-greet in the pavilion), my hope is that Disney will design and build a new Frozen boat ride attraction in the Fantasyland areas of their Magic Kingdom-style parks worldwide. (Have I mentioned that it needs to be a boat ride?)
My dream within a dream would be the resurrection of Walt Disney Imagineering’s charming “Enchanted Snow Palace” concept but with a Frozen overlay. Originally designed for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World by artist and Imagineer extraordinaire Marc Davis (who also worked on early concepts of a “Snow Queen” film with Walt Disney himself, which will be highlighted in the upcoming Blu-ray special features of Frozen), the “Enchanted Snow Palace” was to be a pleasant diversion and escape from the brutal Florida heat and humidity with guests riding in a boat (think Pirates of the Caribbean) through an air-conditioned winter wonderland looking at whimsical winter scenes, including traveling through the palace of the Snow Queen.
While not a lot of artwork has been released publicly, you get the idea from these two images that the ride had great potential (and if you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World when it’s really hot, you could understand how the ride would be the best thing ever). Why not add Anna, Elsa, Krisoff, Olaf, Sven, and even Hans (boooo!), to what Marc Davis already brilliantly designed? It sounds like a win-win to me. ( …and have I mentioned that it really needs to be a boat ride? OK, thanks.)
“Enchanted Snow Palace” concept images © Disney