Disney has announced the official opening date for the World of Frozen land at Hong Kong Disneyland! This shares the debut date and new details about the Kingdom of Arendelle, its attractions, dining, retail, and more. (Updated September 12, 2023.)
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the World of Frozen is the first full theme park land inspired by Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen and Frozen 2 films. This Arendelle area will invite HKDL guests to experience a Summer Snow Day celebration commemorating the day that Anna saved Elsa with an act of true love.
In the World of Frozen land, Elsa has embraced her magical powers and ended the eternal winter. That’s probably a good thing, as the climate of Hong Kong Disneyland–where summers are often more hot and humid than even Walt Disney World–doesn’t exactly scream “Norwegian winter wonderland!” Perhap Olaf is on the precipice of finally finding out what frozen things do in summer!
While World of Frozen is the first fully-fledged land themed to the Kingdom of Arendelle, it’s hardly the first Frozen anything in the parks. That began almost a decade ago with “Frozen Fun” events at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, followed by the Frozen Ever After ride reimagining of Maelstrom in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT. That attraction remains incredibly popular to this day, and served as the foundation of sorts for the first World of Frozen land.
To that point, the World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland is the first of these Arendelle areas, but not the last. There’s also a similar Kingdom of Arendelle currently under construction at the Walt Disney Studios Park in France. At one point, that was supposed to open in time for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, but judging by current progress, that looks unlikely.
There’s also the “Frozen Kingdom” coming to Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea. That eighth port is themed not just to Frozen, but also Tangled and Peter Pan, and is the biggest budget theme park expansion ever. Still, only one-third of it (perhaps a bit less since Peter Pan’s Never Land is the biggest area) is Frozen-themed. For full details and commentary, see Everything You Need to Know About Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea.
As part of the road to Destination D23, Disney announced that World of Frozen will open on November 20, 2023 at Hong Kong Disneyland.
During Destination D23, fans were treated to a World of Frozen aerial flythrough at night, and Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro had to point out that the footage was not CGI or concept art, but the actual in-real-life Arendelle land. And for good reason, as it looks absolutely otherworldly. I cannot believe how amazing World of Frozen looks–the Imagineers absolutely hit the aesthetics of this one out of the park. But more on that in the commentary!
Guests will delve into this immersive travel destination, with its captivating stories, beloved characters, culture, stunning landscapes, enchanting music, and cutting-edge technology for the first time in forever by celebrating Summer Snow Day and enjoying fun-filled attractions such as Frozen Ever After and Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs. World of Frozen will be world’s first and largest Frozen-themed land when it debuts on November 20, 2023 at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Michael Moriarty, managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, said: “World of Frozen is set to make its grand debut at Hong Kong Disneyland on November 20, marking an exciting milestone for the park’s expansion. This beloved franchise will elevate Hong Kong Disneyland’s global presence. We are excited to offer our guests an enchanting and immersive experience, where they can explore the captivating wonders of Arendelle.”
World of Frozen’s first attraction is Frozen Ever After, which is a modernization of the indoor boat ride that first debuted at Walt Disney World.
Embark on a journey to the North Mountain where Elsa’s Ice Palace awaits as part of the Summer Snow Day celebration. Upon leaving the harbor, you’ll first meet “Frozen” friends Olaf and Sven in a snowy forest under an ice crystal tree created by Elsa.
After completing your journey, Anna, Elsa and Olaf will be waiting to welcome voyagers back, hand-in-hand, from their visit to the North Mountain.
Frozen Ever After is expected to have most or all of the same scenes as its EPCOT predecessor. However, we already know that it’ll feature updated Audio Animatronics without rear projection faces. Additionally, it’s expected that there will be other improvements by virtue of updated technology, the passage of time, and the reality that this is a brand-new build rather than a retrofit.
Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs is the other ride in World of Frozen, and this is an all-new attraction that’s exclusive to Hong Kong Disneyland.
Before hopping on the coaster, you will spot Oaken in his Sauna and walk by a column he’s working on that is carved with Trolls. Each experience on Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs begins when you visit Oaken’s infamous store, which serves as the queue.
The first Frozen-themed coaster anywhere in the world, Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs was built by none other than Wandering Oaken himself.
In Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, guests will embark on a scenic ride through Arendelle. For this roller coaster, Oaken has enlisted the help of his buddies Olaf and Sven to power the attraction as they work together to pull the sleds to the top of the lift hill.
No visit to Arendelle would be complete without indulging in its exquisite cuisine and exploring its charming shops, which are deeply rooted in Nordic history and culture. Named after the national symbol of Arendelle, Golden Crocus Inn is one of the most popular spots in town for Arendellians. It’s a place where they love to meet for parties and celebrations, and of course, enjoy the delicious and diverse cuisine.
Do not miss Bayside Wharf for a taste of local delicacies inspired by traditional Nordic dishes, and grab a quick bite at Forest Fare. Northern Delights is a one-of-a-kind sweets shop is home to a mouthwatering selection of candy and frozen treats. Named after none other than Arendelle’s famous Northern Lights, it’s also where Anna and Elsa order their favorite desserts!
Tucked away in the village of Arendelle, Tick Tock Toys & Collectibles is a charming toy shop operated by a wood carver and his wife. This is a go-to place for toys, keepsakes, and collectibles that include playful carved depictions of favorite “Frozen” friends.
Visit Traveling Traders for another delightful shopping experience, where guests can find the perfect souvenirs to bring home cherished memories. Complete the magical Arendelle journey by staying at one of the enchanting resort hotels and participate in themed recreation activities that will make the Arendelle experience truly unforgettable.
Finally, there’s Playhouse in the Woods.
Found within the forest, the doors of Anna and Elsa’s childhood Playhouse have been opened to celebrate Summer Snow Day! Here you can enjoy a unique interactive play experience within the playhouse.
The Kingdom of Arendelle is also a star of the show in the World of Frozen, as the land itself brings a number of iconic scenes in the “Frozen” movies to life. Some of Arendelle’s signature spots include the North Mountain, with its peak as the highest point in the kingdom, which is also home to the Ice Palace where Elsa unleashes her icy powers freely for the first time.
Down in the village itself, there’s Arendelle Castle, home of the royal family. The Bay of Arendelle, which features the small fishing boat that Anna fell on when she met Prince Hans. The Clock Tower where Anna danced with Prince Hans and Friendship Fountain where Elsa uses her magical powers to freeze its water into beautiful snowflake ornamentations can all be found in the World of Frozen.
Michel Den Dulk, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, stated: “I am excited to see this project come to life. This idea started as a sketch seven years ago and has since transformed into a beautiful land that will enchant guests with magical experiences! The collaborative efforts across disciplines have made World of Frozen a reality, creating unforgettable memories that will last for a lifetime.”
World of Frozen integrates inspiration from Norway to create a must visit travel destination at Hong Kong Disneyland, with scenery, architectural design, clothing and cuisine, and more that are all infused with rich Norwegian elements, including “dragestil” (dragon style) architectural style, Balestrand’s asymmetrical architecture, and rosemaling floral decorative paintings.
The Imagineering team worked with award-winning composer, Andrew Cottee, to rearrange the iconic music from the movies for World of Frozen, with various tunes played in different locations throughout the land, to tell stories with strong emotional connections. The cinematic music builds the perfect ambience for guests to feel the story of “Frozen” with different senses.
Imagineers spent over three years in concept and design, working in partnership with artists and storytellers from Walt Disney Animation Studios, to accurately depict cinematic features in World of Frozen. The team analyzed ice textures, colors, and how these relate to Elsa’s emotions to recreate her Ice Magic. Attention was paid to every detail including various forms of ice and snow, and different materials were studied and experimented to truly represent the Ice Palace and icy ornaments.
Amanda Chiu, senior producer at Walt Disney Imagineering Asia, stated: “Bringing our characters to life, featuring our unique, state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics figures, is a thrilling aspect of this project. It is a great testament to the amazing talents at Walt Disney Imagineering who made the impossible possible. We share the same goal with Walt Disney Animation Studios to create incredible entertainment for people of all ages, using innovative technology to tell a compelling, heartfelt story like never before.”
Turning to commentary, I can’t get over how amazing the World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland looks. The level of detail on the architecture looks amazing, the layout around a Bryggen-style wharf looks engaging, and the natural landscape of Lantau Island is a breathtaking backdrop.
Everything about the World of Frozen looks thoughtfully done, meticulously created, and truly the perfect fit for Hong Kong Disneyland. Part of that is the climate. As noted above, it gets hot and humid at Hong Kong Disneyland. There’s something about a ‘Summer Snow Day’ that just feels right, and it’ll hopefully be a breath of fresh, cool air during the brutal heat.
More significantly, it feels tailor-made for the landscape of Lantau Island. The idea of borrowed scenery–incorporating the background into the design of a foreground–is popular throughout Asia, and although it usually applies to temple gardens, it’s also apt for theme parks. There were some uses of borrowed scenery in the original Hong Kong Disneyland design, but the park never leaned into it fully. With the post-opening expansions, the mountains have been better leveraged. Heck, they even make Toy Story Land look cooler!
Based upon the glimpses we’ve seen of it so far, World of Frozen will take this to the next level. For one thing, the Kingdom of Arendelle is a port city nestled among mountains in the movies. So right off the bat, this is an organic setting for the land, even if the average temperature is dramatically different!
For another thing, the World of Frozen is oriented around a waterfront. This is a savvy design decision–it opens up the view with a cleaner and unobstructed approach, adding to the wow factor. This might seem simple and obvious, but it doesn’t exist in many of the original areas of Hong Kong Disneyland. Unless you’re standing in specific vantages (like the Train Station), you lose the view of the mountains.
All of this gushing is before we even get to the lavish details of Arendelle Castle and its surrounding village, Elsa’s Ice Palace, and everything else. The attention to detail in this land looks off the charts–like another home run from Imagineering.
Then, of course, there are the attractions. I’m cautiously optimistic about both of these, but not to the point that I’m going to offer the same hype for them prior to riding. I hope that Frozen Ever After is a significant improvement upon its predecessor at EPCOT, and expect that will be the case since this is a fresh build rather than a retrofit. I’m not completely sure of what to expect from Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, but my hope is that it ends up being on par with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Both are the kinds of additions that Hong Kong Disneyland could really use to round out its ride roster.
Ultimately, the World of Frozen has us really, really excited. We are optimistic that this will be yet another “game changer” land for Hong Kong Disneyland, and really hope that it’s a grand slam–both creatively and commercially. This little park needs all the love it can get, and frankly, deserves way more attention from diehard Disney fans.
To that point, Hong Kong Disneyland already features two of the best lands built at any theme park in the last decade (or so) with Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch. Those were added during the last big expansion at HKDL (which also added the aforementioned Toy Story Land), and are home to Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. Those are arguably two of the top 10 Disney attractions in the world. (Mystic Manor is in my personal top 5; Big Grizzly makes the top 15.)
Beyond that, the resort complex of Hong Kong Disneyland has beautiful scenery, surprisingly good food, a walkable layout, and several top tier hotels. Everything is relatively reasonably priced since HKDL isn’t particularly popular, and for that same reason, the park has a charming and quaint atmosphere that’s now almost entirely absent from every other Disney park in the world. So much of Hong Kong Disneyland was modeled after the Anaheim original, and the atmosphere reminds us a lot of how Disneyland in California used to be. Suffice to say, if you’re a big Disney fan, you should not overlook Hong Kong Disneyland just because it’s a “little” park. It packs a surprisingly powerful punch!
What do you think of World of Frozen? Does the new Kingdom of Arendelle make you want to book a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland? Does this expansion look like something you’d like to see at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? If you’ve visited the park, what do you like to do most at Hong Kong Disneyland? Any thoughts or recommendations regarding HKDL? If you’ve never been to Hong Kong, what interests you most about the park? Anything else to add? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!