Frozen Ever After
Some fans were disappointed when it was originally announced that World of Frozen’s headlining attraction would be a new version of the Frozen Ever After boat ride already found in Epcot, rather than an entirely new ride. A reskinning of the Norway pavilion’s Maelstrom flume, this blacklight boat ride is a semi-sequel to the films that sees guests invited up to Elsa’s ice palace to witness a demonstration of her wintery wonders. (The same will be true of the Frozen attraction under construction at Walt Disney Studios Paris, although the ride coming to Fantasy Springs in Tokyo DisneySea will retell of the first film’s plot using white light.)
However, put aside your preconceptions, because this version of Frozen Ever After is a true E-Ticket that outdoes the original in every conceivable way, starting with a far larger and more detailed queue that takes guests through Kristoff’s ice delivery business. While you wait, look out for tributes to the Imagineers and author Hans Christian Anderson, as well as some chilled carrots for Sven. A later portion of the queue recalls the village square from Epcot’s version, but it’s larger and features additional background buildings that seem to greatly expand the sense of space.
Upon reaching Frozen Ever After’s boarding station, which resembles a royal boathouse rather than the modest fishing dock found in Epcot, you’ll notice the next major improvement. The boats here are significantly larger, comfortably seating 16 guests each in four rows of four, resulting in an hourly capacity of nearly 2,000 riders per hour. Not only is that a vast upgrade over Epcot’s limited throughput, but since the pay-per-use Priority Access service in Hong Kong is not nearly as popular as Genie+, the standby queue here should keep moving at far brisker pace.
Once the ride begins, the sequence of scenes is the same as in Florida, but each has been expanded, extended, or otherwise enhanced. There’s more breathing room, particularly between the introductory encounters with Olaf and the troll, giving the overall experience an improved sense of pacing, as well as a total running time that’s more than 90 seconds longer. Sets here have more dimensional textures, with fully sculpted ice walls replacing plain black corridors, and a striking artificial sky (complete with shooting stars and glowing northern lights) just before the final drop.
Speaking of that drop, Frozen Ever After in Hong Kong doesn’t have a minimum height requirement, but it does have lap bar restraints for a very good reason. The finale’s plunge is noticeably steeper and taller than in Florida, and features a “double down” bunny hop at the bottom that produces a surprising pop of airtime, especially if you’re sitting alone in the front row of an empty boat.
Many of the thrill rides in Hong Kong Disneyland feel less physically intense than their American equivalents (Big Grizzly Mountain Railroad is much less bumpy than Big Thunder, for example), but Frozen Ever After is such an exception to that rule that my iPhone went flying off of my gimbal during the drop — luckily it landed back in the…