How much Frozen is too much Frozen?

Anna in Disney Magic on Parade

There is always a lot of talk about the latest hype item and its place (or normally lack of it) in Disneyland Paris. In November 2013, Disneyland Paris updated its parade to include characters from the film Frozen. At this time, these characters were dubbed as being from ‘the upcoming film’. Here we are three years on and the Frozen characters have created a polemic. So how much Frozen is too much?

What is there at Disneyland Paris?

Since November 2013, the Frozen sisters have enjoyed their time on Disney Magic on Parade daily. The section of the parade consists of half a float decorated in a Frozen landscape with a small Olaf waving to his fans. This float replaced The Little Mermaid section of the parade.

During the Christmas season Disney Dreams! becomes Disney Dreams! of Christmas which has a very heavy Frozen plotline. Olaf hosts the show which features multiple numbers from the film’s soundtrack. The show is widely regarded as a lesser version of the main Disney Dreams! show, but still delights guests and sets a wonderful Christmas tone to end a magical park day.

Olaf during Disney Dreams! of Christmas

Merchandise. Lots of it. Frozen is the hit film of the moment, guests love it and it still makes a fortune in merchandise sales. It only makes sense that Disneyland Paris follows up on this. The merchandise is mostly targeted at the child audience and there is very little in the way of adult merchandise.

So what about Frozen Summer Fun?

In 2015 Disneyland Paris debuted a new season based on the film. Frozen Summer Fun could really be described more as a ‘mini-season’ than a full-scale season in the same vein as Spring, Halloween or Christmas but manages to pack in various fun elements that makes it a joy to take part in.

Elsa in Frozen Sing along
Elsa in Frozen Sing along

Frozen Sing-along, which also takes place as part of Disney’s Enchanted Christmas, is a fun show that takes place in both English and French. It’s not a show on the same scale as Mickey and the Magician and so it would be unfair to judge it using the same criteria. What it does is done very well and provides a really fun 30 minutes with the film’s characters and songs.

There are also opportunities to see the characters in a carriage ride and in Disney Dreams! with the inclusion of the hit song Let it go!

So is this too much Frozen?

Put simply. No.

Frozen is the franchise that makes Disney a stack of cash for the moment. Will it always be this way? Probably, the success seems to have sustained so far and will only increase with the sequel in a few years time. It is realistic to say that Frozen will remain popular for years to come.

Frozen Summer Fun will not be back next year, but what can Disneyland Paris do to create a real presence for Anna and Elsa?

Boosting the Frozen presence

Anna and Elsa need to be characters that guests can meet. Disneyland Paris tried this during the 2014 Christmas season and it simply didn’t work – or rather it did but Disneyland Paris refuse to admit to this as the princesses gained such long queues they were deemed to be too popular.

Anna in Disney Magic on Parade

So how do we control this? Anna and Elsa need to be placed inside the Auberge de Cendrillon and you would have a guaranteed sell out for each and every sitting. Ideally, a Frozen ride would be a fantastic addition, but I would also very much like to see a musical much like the one that has recently debuted in Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

When does it get too much?

This is the million dollar question. A question that has no answer. When Toy Story is considered, we seem rather ambivalent towards it. Recently, a new Toy Story puppet show debuted in The Lucky Nugget Saloon and we didn’t say ‘Woah, too much now’ despite the fact it has 4 rides, a land, a restaurant (technically, even though it is pretty much closed down), numerous meet and greets, a large merchandise line and parade inclusion.

There’s no such thing as too much as long as the execution is right, the characters are good and it’s not too much in your face. So let’s look forward to more Frozen in the parks. And as soon as possible – please?

Character Lover, Character Hater. More Characters is good news for you.

Gepetto in Frontierland at Disneyland Paris

There are two schools of thought when it comes to characters at Disneyland Paris. The first, more popular amongst the fan community, school of thought is that characters add the vital magical touch to the Disney parks. The second is a more critical school of thought; that of it’s just people dressed in cosplay. Yet there is a third school of thought, and that is a hybrid of the two. One can acknowledge that characters aren’t “real”, yet to the guest that moment is perfectly real. I would place myself in that third school. I don’t tend to queue ages to see a character, but if I do, I usually enjoy the interaction for that brief moment. I would admit to enjoying characters in general, I always watch parades and shows. Yet, I just will not wait for that moment of enjoyment. And here is where the concept of this article was born.Gepetto in Frontierland at Disneyland Paris

There are the attractions, the shows and, of course, the Disney characters. For a great number of our guests, adults or children alike, the encounter with their favourite heroes is a key element in their experience at Disneyland® Paris, and has a great influence on their satisfaction.” So says an article entitled “From Spider-Man to Frozen: An ever-growing number of characters for further guest satisfaction“. Despite the unnecessarily wordy title, the article actually reveals several key pieces of information linking to characters at Disneyland Paris. Let’s begin with Spider-Man, the first of its kind Marvel experience in Disneyland Paris, which has recorded a 78% guest satisfaction rating. Another key fact, over the course of a year, Disneyland Paris provides 55,000 hours of character interaction opportunities in Disneyland Paris. An extraordinary number that really indicates that characters are perhaps the key moment of a holiday. Guest satisfaction rises, and so therefore characters look set to increase. So, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, depending on that all important school of thought, that answer probably will be a good thing.

Grumpy at Disneyland Paris Fantasyland

Let’s allow one second to imagine you are a character-hater. And there is nothing wrong with that mindset at all, but more characters is a fantastic thing for you. Take Anna and Elsa which have taken-over the princess pavilion for the 2014 Christmas season (which extends to 7th January 2015), these two Arendelle Princesses are recording queues of over three-hours. First of all, let’s acknowledge that the hourly capacity of the Pavillion is very low, and so we cannot compare a three-hour queue here to a three-hour queue at attractions such as “it’s a small world”. It’s impossible to compare a 12 person boat, to a family of four spending two or perhaps three minutes with a character. In the pavilion set-up, there are a potential of two sets of Princesses in there at any one moment, so the possibility of a pair meeting around twenty pairs of people per hour exists. Returning to the point, more character meeting locations now exist at Disneyland Paris. Looking at this weeks programme (at the time of writing, this programme is the week  17/11 – 21/11 2014), there are 7 potential Meet and Greets in Disneyland Park and 5 in the Walt Disney Studios Park. Heading to the real hook for Character-haters, each of these take guests away from rides. More characters means less queuing for Big Thunder Mountain, Star Tours or Ratatouille. Good news for you, start campaigning for more characters.

Donald Duck at Walt Disney Studios Park

Character-Lovers will also rejoice. For years, these fans lauded the idea that Disneyland Paris constantly put the same characters out to meet guests. To say this now would be false. What I have noticed on trips to Disneyland Paris from around late-2012 is that the variety of meet opportunities has been greatly increased. Now, you’ll be able to see more than Princesses and the VIPs (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip, Dale etc. etc.), in fact now, you’ll frequently meet Alice, Mad Hatter, the Dwarfs, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Buzz, Woody. This is to be applauded. More characters also means a more distributed queue. Imagine the queue to see Anna and Elsa during the Christmas season minus the potential distractions that one can encounter along the way, in this I’m referring primarily to Merida and Rapunzel.

Mickey Mouse in Hotel New York at Disneyland Paris

Today, (upon writing 12/11/2014) was the last day that Disney Characters will be appearing in Disney Hotels at Disneyland Paris. A move designed to prohibit people from taking advantage of a service that Disney provides its hotel guests. When staying in a Disney hotel, one presumes that this Disney experience includes meeting the characters over breakfast. I would additionally argue, and I will argue in another article, that we could see guest dissatisfaction rise in hotels due to this. One thing that cannot be advertised to guests is that ‘Disney Characters appear in Disneyland Park now”, we expect this to be the case. Why should a hotel guest be forced into taking breakfast at 7am, in order to be in the park by 8am for a luxury that, on previous visits, could be enjoyed  hassle-free. What is the alternative? Go to Disneyland Park and see more people crowding around less characters. Or, just enjoy Peter Pan’s Flight with a 5 minute wait.

Disneyland Paris seeks to provide increasing character interaction experiences in order to boost guest satisfaction. Is this a fruitless goal? As I’m sure you will take from this short article, I would argue not. For those not inclined to enjoy characters, you’re going to enjoy the effects of more characters as you’ll probably notice queues for rides being marginally reduced. On the other hand, rather obviously, character-lovers are going to love the increased and more varied meet opportunities afforded to you. Personally, for myself, this is also good news. I see myself as somewhere in the middle, I don’t dislike characters, actually rather the opposite. But I’m a reserved person that doesn’t really thrive on chatting to characters, in fact face-characters terrify me, but if the queue is short enough, I will do it (and then sort of stand gormless as I get a photo with them). Disneyland Paris is changing, and for the better.