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Did Disney Develop Too Many Frozen Attractions Too Fast?

Technological Wonder 

 Live at the Hyperion

Anna stars in Disney's Frozen: Live at the Hyperion
Image: Ben Delmundo, Flickr (license)

Technological wonder drives forward shows like World of Color. Mass nighttime spectaculars are built on dazzling audiences with fireworks and giant waterjets. However, it seems that Frozen: Live at the Hyperion borrowed a little too heavily from this precedent. Many of Frozen: Live at the Hyperion’s stunning moments are simply that: stunning moments that do not forward any of the plot or further develop any of the characters. The success of shows like Fantasmic! rely on the foundations of character complexity laid in the source movies. Fantasmic! does not have to develop Rapunzel because she is already engrained in the culture of the viewers.

Frozen: Live at the Hyperion, however, does not use the well-established characters from Disney’s animated hit Frozen, in fact its entire job is to redevelop those characters as live Broadway personas. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion fails to do so. This sets a dangerous precedent of visual spectacular instead of detailed storytelling. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion strays from the traditional formula and panders to “wow factor” instead of true emotional appeal. 

Audience Appeal

The Hyperion Theatre

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

This also plays in to Frozen: Live at the Hyperion’s strange audience appeal. Frozen throws away the formula of unique performances in favor of a standardized exactly 55 minute runtime show. Its predecessor Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular, infused modern references and side splitting humor to make each show unique and keep passholders coming back each visit. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion does not have this appeal to repeat visitors (AKA annual passholders) and suffers for it. While Aladdin had a decent royal viewership throughout its 14 year run, Frozen’s audiences have waned after just 2 years. Frozen may fit well in a Disney World show line, where viewers are mostly “one-shot” tourists, but in Disneyland, it fails to draw viewership as a decent chunk of visitors are annual passholders who have “already seen it.”

Walt famously overheard visitors discussing the Jungle Cruise one day about a year after Disneyland’s opening. “Want to ride the Jungle Cruise?” One asked. “Nah, we’ve already seen that” the other replied. Walt immediately jumped into action, changing the Jungle Cruise from its original more educational version to the comedic romp we know today. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion is currently in its “original Jungle Cruise” phase. It is stable in and of itself, but fails to truly appeal to the masses of Disneyland crowds. Frozen: Live at the Hyperion is phenomenally crafted, but currently fails to address its greatest enemy: time. Frozen challenged a functioning format, only time will tell whether this new attempt will press forward into the future of Disneyland stage shows or fall flat as passholders say “Nah, we’ve already seen that.”

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