Disneyland Paris was a pioneer in Frozen entertainment; it is often too easy to forget this. Back in 2013, before the original film was released, Anna and Elsa made their debut in Disney Magic on Parade, and Olaf was featured prominently in Disney Dreams of Christmas. Here we are, 6 years on and heading into one of the most anticipated films of the year: Frozen 2; and Disneyland Paris is back with a whole season dedicated to our favourite kingdom of Arendelle, but first we have Frozen: A Musical Invitation taking place in the Animation Celebration building at The Walt Disney Studios Park.
A musical tour of Frozen
Disneyland Paris is not reinventing the wheel here, they are simply doing what they know works: giving guests the story and the music of Frozen. However, what is more innovative is the way that it is done.
Starting out in Kristoff’s barn, Kristoff and Sven (yes, Sven is here too!) are preparing to go to sleep when Princess Anna arrives wanting to put on a surprise celebration for Elsa. The big surprise is that the whole of Arendelle, that’s us, are invited up to the North Mountain and into Elsa’s ice castle. Anna teaches us the dance moves so that we can surprise Elsa with a beautiful performance of Let it Go.
Suddenly, it is time to head to the Ice Castle, we walk into the next room to find this beautiful ice castle alongside Anna and Kristoff. Olaf arrives, on a screen, and suddenly so does Elsa. We then enjoy signing and dancing to Let it Go before a rendition of Love is an Open Door sends us on our way.
The show is fast paced enough to keep guests happy, and also to not make feet tired as we are all standing during the show. The large Sven on stage in the first room is certainly a highlight – he is very animated and even dances to Let it Go as well. Everything about the first room is a delight and a pure pleasure to look at. The second room is less visually impressive and the screen-based Olaf does take away something as well. The vocal performance of Elsa also seems to be an issue; this is unsurprising as Idina Menzel’s voice is so unique and strong – even Mickey and the Magician struggles here.
A special mention needs to go to some of the music within the show, there is one particular version of Let it Go which sounds more rustic and folky, it’s a real success. The music, which is one of the key successes of the show, was recorded by a full orchestra at London’s Abbey Road Studios and 68 musicians around 24 hours to record the full 23 minute show and is something that Disneyland Paris is, quite rightly, proud of.
An intimate show
What is most striking about Frozen: A Musical Invitation is just how intimate it feels. Even towards the back of the room, you are just a few metres away from Anna, Elsa and the rest of the gang and so you feel intensely involved with all the action unfolding and that the characters are addressing you personally.
It is a truly wonderful feeling that differentiates it from any other show in Disneyland Paris.
A pre-show that maintains its heart
One of the best features of the old Art of Disney Animation was the pre-show room which was home to a wonderful mini-exhibition describing the history of animation from the Cavemen right up to Disney films. This room is wonderfully curated that provides a distraction whilst you wait for the show to begin.
Fans of the multi-plane camera, that was such a wonderful feature of the original use of this building, has returned in its old position – we were worried that it would leave Paris and so it is wonderful to see it remain.
Meet and Greets, Drawing, Shops and a Zoetrope
The post-show at Animation Celebration keeps the feeling that there is a lot to do. The Animation Academy has returned, complete with a wonderful new mural that celebrates Disney animation.
A meet and greet location has also been added to Animation Celebration, this is currently (and perhaps unsurprisingly) occupied by Olaf from Frozen. These meets are reservable through the Liberty application 15 minutes prior to the start of the meet and greet. You also must be in the Disney Parks in order to make a reservation.
It makes sense to have a meet and greet in this space, and that we have a Frozen meet and greet for the first time in forever!
A boutique has also been re-opened here, the interior is uninspired but sells Frozen merchandise.
Finally, the Toy Story Zoetrope that was originally in Disney California Adventure has made it to Paris. Inside this dark room, you’ll see how a static model and lighting can bring animation to life – which is also how your brain interprets images on a screen. This Zoetrope is brilliant and something I’m likely to stop by and look at often.
A brilliant addition to The Walt Disney Studios Park
Animation Celebration and Frozen: A Musical Invitation are both brilliant additions to The Walt Disney Studios Park. They fill a Frozen shaped void in Disneyland Paris (which will, once again, be filled in 2023(TBC) with a whole land dedicated to Frozen.
One thing we do know is that it seems Frozen is in safe hands in Disneyland Paris.