Disney launches world’s first ‘Frozen’ land in theme park push

The World of Frozen themed area at Hong Kong Disneyland. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bertha Wang

The World of Frozen themed area at Hong Kong Disneyland. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bertha Wang

Published Nov 1, 2023


By Adrian Wong

Walt Disney Co is set to open the world’s first Frozen-themed land at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort as the entertainment giant prepares to make available $60 billion (R1.1 trillion) in spending across parks and resorts worldwide.

Based on the popular animated films, World of Frozen will open on November 20 and recreate landmarks from the fictional kingdom of Arendelle including Elsa’s Ice Palace.

The attraction will have two rides – a boat trip through a winter wonderland featuring music from the movies, and a sleigh-themed roller-coaster – as well as a restaurant serving Nordic-inspired food.

World of Frozen is a big bet for Disney in Hong Kong, with the firm helping fund a HK$10.9bn (R26bn) expansion of the park that also includes a Marvel-themed attraction.

The operation has reported eight-consecutive annual losses, including last year’s HK$2.1bn deficit, as it struggled to entice tourists to the world’s smallest Disneyland park and Covid curbs hammered the travel sector.

The Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs roller-coaster ride in the World of Frozen. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bertha Wang

“This beloved franchise will elevate Hong Kong Disneyland’s global presence,” said Michael Moriarty, the managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. The firm was committed to continually delivering new and innovative offerings, he said.

Beyond Hong Kong, Disney wants to expand its dominant position as the world’s largest theme-park operator.

It has laid out an ambitious plan to nearly double spending on its theme parks and resorts to $60bn over the next 10 years, citing a boost to the bottom line from rides, cruises and other attractions.

The company is looking to maximise a division that’s growing strongly, as it wrestles with seismic changes in the film and TV industry, as well as challenges for its streaming business including market saturation in the West and increasing competition in Asia.

The company says it has more than 1 000 acres (405 hectare) of land it could develop and has signalled it wants to do more with some of its most popular characters.

Disney has plans to open Frozen-themed attractions in Tokyo and Paris. Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland will get a Zootopia attraction later this year.

The new attraction also serves as a litmus test for Hong Kong’s broader efforts to revive an economy that’s been battered by years of pandemic isolation.

The government, which owns 52% of the city’s Disneyland park, has rolled out campaigns aimed at reinvigorating the financial hub’s appeal to visitors and stimulating consumption, but which, so far, have fallen flat.

Visitors to the Hong Kong park will have to shell out more cash should they go in peak season.

Last month, the city’s Disneyland announced a one-day ticket for popular days and seasons will cost HK$879 (R2 119.39) for people aged 12 and older, while a standard one-day pass for other times will be HK$639 (R1 530.27).

Annual pass holders will be able to go to World of Frozen on select dates, starting October 23.

Visitors watch a performance at the Playhouse in the Woods attraction during a media event in the World of Frozen themed area at Walt Disney Co’s Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, October 13, 2023. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Bertha Wang

Frozen is one of Disney’s highest-grossing franchises. Combined, the two films – the first released in 2013 and the follow up in 2019 – have earned $2.7bn worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

The popularity of the movies has led to a sprawling empire that includes a Broadway musical, short films, a podcast and merchandise that spans toys to costumes.

A third “Frozen” movie is in development.