The Blizzard Returns One More Time
Okay you bloated overgrown snowflake who’s probably so wide by now you could fit nicely into Lake Pontchartrain, let me be clear: you took forever to get this one going. It was like you almost went away! And then a reminder in June smacked into my brain just as fast as an expertly thrown ice-filled snowball when I laid my eyes upon a write-up for your new ride, Frozen (known here as Icebox) Ever After.
I knew IAE would be finished this calendar year, but every website was a month or so off in predictions. That means I’ve had to wait just like your obnoxious squealing fanbase in what I presume was a very, very long line on opening day. Luckily, I didn’t leave the line and am still ready to tackle your latest edition. Despite ranting about it in the previous episode (check out “Episode II: Rise of the Pointless Franchise” if you haven’t already), there’s a difference between reading about something and actually experiencing it.
Anyhow, being serious, I had to view the ride on YouTube (also a great place to view roller coasters in first person). Before I began my so-called journey I put speakers on mute for two reasons: I wouldn’t have to hear the songs I knew were coming, and based on what I knew about the ride already, sound wouldn’t be the most important sense I’d need to understand it.
Before we “GET ON WITH IT” (Monty Python anybody?), it’s important to know what this ride’s unceremoniously replacing. The new home of never-melting ice castles was once home to the Norway-inspired Maelstrom, a unique offering at Enormous Silver Geodesic Golf Ball at Disney (known here as MouseEars) World. It featured a life-size polar bear animatronic, used Viking longboats as tour vehicles and took you through a history of Norway with a couple drops and pyrotechnics mixed in. I’m sad to report that if you didn’t go to MouseEars World between 1988 and 2014, you’ll never get to experience Maelstrom in real life.
And now, as MouseEars VHS tapes used to say, our feature presentation!
The journey into generic fantasy world #12 begins as all theme park rides do- with the line queue. MouseEars Imagineers did, as you’d expect, a good job recreating much of the look and atmosphere from the movie. Among the little nods to the film is a most-wanted style billboard off to one side, showing pictures of the film’s villains-in-name-only. SPOILERS: that’s their only appearance in the entire ride, thank goodness.
Snow is strangely absent from the queue, however, which should’ve tipped me off but didn’t. The surprisingly large queue places us in what I assume to be a city market. However, the designers placed a shop, featured in the movie with no other buildings around it, in the middle of this collection. Why? I can only guess fan service.
I received my first inclination that this ride would meet my expectations when, thanks to the camera, I saw a sign saying: “summer snow day”. Ummm, what? I thought this world was inhabited by snow, the ride title implies that! When you title your ride with a word that suggests the presence of snow, there ought to be snow! Anyways, moving on.
Soon enough I ‘arrived’ at possibly the last remaining part of Maelstrom that exists: the longboats (why couldn’t they just have used sleighs?). They’re relatively unchanged, save for what I assume to be frost on the front and back. The boat begins moving along the water (yes, it’s still a WATER ride, see my previous post) and we first lay eyes upon… that annoying talking snowman, fully represented in animatronic form. I’ll stop here and say the animatronics are wonderful to look at, as they look like they’ve been plucked straight from Icebox.
Anyway, after telling the snowman to leave repeatedly (sound or no sound, he’s annoying) and going through some forgetful filler including an appearance by those pointless trolls who recap the end of the movie via video montage (like any of the fans forgot), we next meet the two young lovers who are singing, of course, and see some dumb comedy: the reindeer who never speaks has his tounge attached to a pole Christmas Story- style. Sigh. Oh, the snowman pops up again afterwards and this time he’s ice skating. I wish I was joking.
Then we arrive at the part I think the entire audience was waiting for: meeting Ice Queen in her perfectly intact ice palace where she’s still singing!!! And I didn’t need speakers to tell me that! She blasts us away from her soon after, trying to get over her shyness I presume, although you’d think she have that problem figured out by the end of the movie!! Moving on…
We are dumped off to a view of the main city briefly, and then the longboat moves on to the snow monster- PEACEFULLY SITTING WITH LOTS OF TINY TALKING SNOWMEN!!!??? COME ON!! The only character who could have been a part of any conflict is reduced to a brief cameo of him relaxing with- what are those things, his children, relatives, random baby snowmen??? I already knew this ride had very little story but really MouseEars? You’re using an idea from that short film that hardly anyone remembers?
Anyway, we move into the last part of the ride, where apparently its summer with no explanation and the two royals- plus that dumb snowman- bid us farewell. Instead of paying attention to the three characters and the fact the ride was over, however, I was asking where all of the snow and ice went!
We just went through a snow and ice-dominant ride and now you tell us that it all mysteriously vanished?? And no, I did not see a cloud above the snowman’s head so he should’ve melted too! In a franchise based on a movie called Icebox, which to me screams “snow and ice all year”, why bother to include summer and have no winter precipitation at all??
My other problems? Perhaps most importantly, NO STORY! What little story there is (apparently it’s about a winter festival in the middle of summer) isn’t done very well. These types of rides are supposed to tell a story both visually and through sound. It is clear this ride cannot explain its story visually because I couldn’t understand what was going on!! At least one of the villains can make some sort of cameo, but not even that happens!
Here are my story ideas for the ride: we are lost travelers trying to figure out how to get to Ice Queen with the lovers help, the entire ride focuses on helping the snowman with some matter, or Ice Queen guides us on a journey through the land. Any of those, however boring they may have been, would’ve made a far superior story to the ride we have now.
Furthermore, its also clear the ride was made mostly for just fans, especially the young ones. When the designers forget to include any sort of flowing narrative, allowing only the bare minimum of a passable story, you can guess their target audience! There’s still no explanation how Ice Queen obtained her ice powers, and two snowman appearances were clearly fan service!
Now let’s compare this ride to the other movie-centric rides in the park (at least the ones I remember from thirteen years ago). The original Snow White, Peter Pan, Aladdin, and probably Beauty and the Beast rides (if the latter existed) all retold the stories of their respective movies simply and quickly.
Icebox Ever After goes for more of a quick “greatest hits” mishmash and it doesn’t quite work. The visuals are straight from the film and the atmosphere’s fairly believable. However, the lack of a decent story with zero conflict or tension made it feel more like a celebration of both movie and songs instead of a good ride. I will admit it’s probably the least terrible addition to the franchise so far and I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. If you’re a fan, you’ll love it. An average person who hasn’t watched Icebox, on the other hand, will be pretty lost.
I do have something else to say: I’m done.
This is the last “episode” in the “saga”. I realized some time ago there’s a 99% chance I will never, ever like this franchise. I’ve ranted on this enough by now and want to move on. It happens to all of us with something, despite seemingly everyone else loving it you just couldn’t catch on the bandwagon. And the fact I’ve all but ran out of new content to say helped too.
Some may think the reason I don’t like Icebox is because I’m not the demographic it’s targeting or I don’t like Disney. If that were true, Fantasia wouldn’t be one of my favorite animated movies of all time with Beauty and the Beast also in that list. Both of those films weren’t targeted towards my demographic and I still enjoyed them, albeit for different reasons.
The only way I’ll write another entry in this “saga” is if I find out that the franchise does something so stupid, so pointless, so downright ridiculous that I have no choice but to comment about it’s perplexed state of being, then I’ll write about it.
Before I bid adieu to this ever-expanding iceberg, I’d like to thank everyone who enjoys/enjoyed reading these posts and the people who saw my review of the movie (aka Episode I); all were a lot of fun to think about and write.
Farewell, frosted franchise!