Frozen – Live at the Hyperion replaces the long running Aladdin show at Disney California Adventure. It premiered to media and invited guests on Thursday evening. Friday marked the public premiere with three shows. The show is a Broadway style show that follows the movie story line of Frozen fairly closely and features all of the songs. It clocks in at just over an hour running time from when the show started until the curtain call. It features live singing and speaking with a pre-recorded sound track, just like Aladdin. The show utilizes projections to create a backdrop as well as more immersive experience in the theater as it wraps the audience. For more on the technical aspects of the show here is a Disney Release. Also for more facts and figures here is another release with those.
Below are my thoughts/observations and first impressions of the show from Friday May 27, 2016 –
- FastPass is available. I saw reports on Twitter that FastPasses for the three shows were all gone within the first hour of the park opening. Due to my work schedule I did not arrive until after 1pm so I knew my only option was to try the Standby line. Currently there are no dining packages available but the word on the street is they are coming as well as a VIP experience option.
- I found it disappointing that for the grand opening weekend there were only three shows a day scheduled. That means only approx 6,000 guests would be able to see the show each day. This is a small fraction of the attendance at the Resort on a busy day. I am told they will be adding more shows in the coming weeks. I looked at Disneyland.com and they show three shows a day through June 9th, which is the last day they have it on the schedule from the 10th forward times are not posted yet as of this morning.
- As I approached the Hyperion on Friday there was a large number of guests trying to get into the queues. Cast Members were at the doors collecting FastPasses and trying to filter guests to the queue but it was not very well organized. I was surprised they were not more prepared for this given they have done FastPass for Aladdin and had large crowds the final weeks. The good news is if you paid attention and listened to the cast members it was not that bad but it looked bad, guests were not listening as usual and if you are not used to that type of crowd it could be an unpleasant experience.
- I was pleasantly surprised the standby line was as short as it was. I entered about an hour before the show and there were only 50 or so guests in front of me. I would have made it into the show with no problem according to the cast members I spoke to. Luckily for me I did not have to wait and see because a friend saw me in line and gave me an extra FastPass so I left the Standby line and walked back to the end of the FastPass line. Interesting to note when I finally made it into the queue the guests who were around me in the Standby line had been moved.. so I assume they were allowed into one of the queues for the show already. I had a choice to be one of the last guests in the mezzanine level or to be toward the front of the balcony queue. I opted for the Balcony and managed to get a seat near show center in the third row.
- The seating in the balcony has remained the same. They cut out the couple seats on the far wings (which may have actually been removed during Aladdin’s run now that I think about it). The seats down in the orchestra area have had cup holders added. Up in the balcony no such change. It has also been shown online that they are selling food and drinks from cast members walking around the theater. Again this appears to just be the orchestra level. Up in the balcony I did not see any evidence of this at all.
- The view from the balcony is a bit awkward since you are looking down on the stage/cast and are quite a distance away but you do get a wide angle view of the projections and scene. Unfortunately you do not really feel the immersion since you are not surrounded by them. The background projections and staging work from the angle but they are not optimized (you can compare some of my pictures to Disney released images and videos from the lower angles).
- I thought the show was a solid offering. It was a well done production that held true to the original. If you are a fan of Frozen or musicals you will not be disappointed. The staging, costumes, effects, and cast are all great. Disney invested a fair amount of time and money in the production and the quality shows. I saw the second performance of the day (which was only the third in front of a full audience for the cast) and the show had quite a few minor glitches with microphones not working, queues missed, things held up as scenes are set up, but those will work themselves out with time and the show will tighten up and the cast will loosen up. I thought they would have benefited to have had a few weeks of soft opening shows to work through these issues and kinks before the grand premieres but it seems now a days Disney is pushing the envelop with opening windows. I would have liked to have seen a little bit looser of a script allowing for some freedom somehow. I thought one of the key aspects that kept Aladdin fresh over the years was the role of the Genie. There is no such character or opening in this show. So it will be interesting how it ages. Also keep in mind this show is longer, it runs about an hour. So the time investment is considerable. It took about 2.5 hours of my visit from when I entered the queue until I was clear of the exit crowd.
- I have been asked by several people how it compares to Aladdin. It is similar in terms of scale and production quality. The show utilizes more modern technology with the set pieces and projections. The cast seemed larger too. I enjoyed the Genie role and monologue in Aladdin but I like the music and production of Frozen better. In terms of favorite show at the Hyperion I still enjoyed the Power of Blast more than both of them. The live concert aspect I really like.
- My Full Picture set from May 27th features a large number of SLR pictures from the show from the balcony
- Frozen – Live at the Hyperion – My first viewing (Cell Phone Pictures)