Frozen Celebrates 10 Years With Sequels and Disney Parks Lands

Walt Disney Animation Studios ushered in a new era with the release of 2013’s Frozen, a film which opened second upon release but went on to become the highest-grossing animated film at the time. Frozen II followed in 2019 and was similarly successful—so of course, there’s now more sequels on the way, as well as immersive lands at Disney Parks around the world.

Co-directed by Jennifer Lee (Disney Animation’s current chief creative officer and Wish co-writer) and Chris Buck (Wish co-director), from a screenplay by Lee based on a story by Lee, Buck, and Shane Morris, Frozen takes inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy-tale classic “The Snow Queen.” It stars Idina Menzel as Elsa, who’s next in line to be queen of the wintery kingdom of Arendelle, and Kristen Bell as Anna, her younger sister. When Elsa opens up the gates to the kingdom to ascend the throne, her burgeoning icy powers are unleashed in a very X-Men way in front of the populace—so she exiles herself, intending to keep her sister and their people safe. Anna, of course, isn’t having it so she sets out on an adventure to bring Elsa back home.

Menzel, a Tony-winning Broadway star best-known at the time as Wicked’s original Wicked Witch of the West, would go on to make Elsa iconic in her own right as Disney’s first queen with her own power ballad. Written by musical-theater husband and wife duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, “Let It Go” was inescapable when the film came out, and to this day kids (and grown-ups) lose their ever-loving minds when it’s performed at Disney Parks during Frozen moments. Standing in front of the Disney World Castle when Elsa comes out to perform it is like witnessing Beatlemania, I imagine.

Frozen would go on to inspire a sequel, short films, a podcast, a theme park musical, a Broadway musical, an attraction re-theme at Epcot turning Norway’s boat ride into Frozen: Ever After, and standout moments in live shows, fireworks, and nighttime spectaculars—and now, full-on lands at Disney Parks, starting with Arendelle in Hong Kong Disneyland. There, World of Frozen features the village, two castles (one for each royal sister), a re-vamped Frozen: Ever After boat ride, and a new mountain sleigh coaster.

Lee was on hand for World of Frozen’s opening, which happened a few days shy of the film’s 10-year anniversary. “A decade ago at Disney Animation there was a small group of us dreaming about a story about two sisters,” Lee shared at the event. “We could not have imagined back then that audiences around the world would embrace the story of Frozen and take it into their hearts as they have. And we definitely could not have dreamt that one day we would have the opportunity to walk through and truly experience the Kingdom of Arendelle.”

To top it off, in conjunction with the land’s opening in Hong Kong, Disney head Bob Iger confirmed on Good Morning America that not one but two Frozen sequels are on the way. “Frozen 3 is in the works and there might be a Frozen 4 in the works, too … I don’t have much to say about those films right now,” he teased. “But [Jennifer] Lee, who created Frozen, the original Frozen and Frozen 2, is hard at work with her team at Disney Animation on not one but actually two stories.”

Hong Kong Disneyland World of Frozen

Hong Kong Disneyland World of Frozen
Image: Disney Parks

He continued. “For years at our Disney Parks, we’ve been creating these large immersive worlds. Essentially, they are the physical embodiment of some of the greatest stories that we’ve told,” Iger said. “I think it’s just right for building the place that Frozen takes place in. It’s just a fantastic land that enables people to get immersed in the story of Frozen and interact with all the great characters from the films. I think the thing that’s great about it is you actually feel like you’re in the place that the movie took place in. And it just gives you this powerful sense of story that I think people have grown to love over the last decade.”

Frozen mania is far from over, even 10 years later. You still see Elsa costumes on Halloween. Random Frozen pop culture references—like the “Let it Go” karaoke moment in Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso—abound. Frozen merch remains popular, and the movie’s Disney Parks presence continues to grow. In the coming year, an additional Frozen land is being built at Tokyo Disney’s Fantasy Springs expansion, set to open June 6, 2024 in Japan. And Anna and Elsa were most recently seen in the Disney100 short film Once Upon a Studio.

Once Upon a Studio

Once Upon a Studio
Image: Disney

Watch Frozen and Frozen II on Disney+.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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