The announcement of Frozen Ever After replacing Maelstrom in Epcot was a hot button issue in the Disney community. There were two passionate camps, one crying that change was a good thing, and that the parks were always meant to keep evolving with the times. The second camp wanted to chain themselves to the doors of Maelstrom, and go down with the (Viking) Ship. David and I fell somewhere in the middle. We think that Epcot has needed another ‘E-Ticket’ ride, to anchor the park, and divert crowds. Our main concern was whether or not Frozen would fit organically into World Showcase, or if the ride should belong in Magic Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios. Despite our concerns though, (and our soft spot for Maelstrom), we always tend to fall more into the progress is a good thing camp (unless anyone ever tries to mess with The Country Bears. Then sh** will hit the fan.)
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One of our main reasons for planning a June trip, was to experience Frozen Ever After, right after it opened. The weekend it opened, we heard horror stories of 300 minute wait times, and lines stretching all the way to the Japan Pavilion in the hot sun. We also heard of kind-hearted Cast Members passing out Mickey-Ice Cream bars to the Frozen dedicated, waiting it out, determined to be among the first to sing ‘Let It Go’ in Norway. Half scared to death of such a long wait time (lines are NOT our thing), we arrived at Epcot an hour before the park opened (at this case, the park opened at 9 am). They started letting people into the park around 8:30 am. From there, it was a speed walking challenge to Mexico, where they were holding people off behind a rope until the park officially opened. We were in a crowd of about the first forty people, and the line behind us stretched for what seemed forever. At 9, the rope went down and it was another speed walking rush to get to Norway, where people were hurdled through like cattle into the ride queue. Families were split up, friends lost each other, and lovers were torn apart as everyone tried to make it through this funnel of cast members and be the first people to get to Frozen (you think I’m exaggerating but I’m not I tell you. It was war!). David and I managed to stay together, and made it onto the ride with only a 10 minute wait time. If you think that you can get there when the park opens and not have too bad of a wait time, let me put it in perspective for you – when we got off the ride, a few minutes later, the wait time was 180 minutes. In the sun. So you should probably get there before the park opens, but that’s just our opinion.
The queue for Frozen Ever After is amazing. We were incredibly impressed with the renovated space, and the thought and detail that was put into designing it. We went through the normal line once, and the Fastpass line, and there’s so much to look at and see in the normal line that it (almost) makes it worth it to not have a Fastpass.
The ride itself was the best animatronics we’ve ever seen, bar none. We were shocked by how good they were. Any doubt we had about this being a good addition to Epcot left when we saw how great a job Imagineering did with this job (and the fact that Elsa doesn’t sing the whole version of ‘Let It Go’, doesn’t hurt my opinion either). This ride is going to be a Disney classic, which, in our opinion, will join the ranks of the old favorites, as it has a similar vibe, with the black light animatronics.
Some people are still going to be upset about whether or not Frozen belongs in Epcot. And we think that’s valid. But we think that Epcot needed a big scale attraction, to take down wait times at other attractions in the park, and to bring more numbers to the park (and away from The Magic Kingdom). We think this ride is a good thing for Epcot, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like it fits as organically as we would like it to. We love the ride, and we know that we will want to experience it many times, for many years to come.