Today marked the debut of a new Disney experience that fans can now find in their neighborhoods: the opening of the Frozen Ice Palace. Thanks to a partnership between Disney and Taubman Centers, the management company for several shopping outlets in the U.S. and Asia, the magical world of Elsa, Anna, and that lovable snowman Olaf is available for kids and adults to explore. I stopped by my local mall to check out what the holiday display was like and left feeling both pleased and a tiny bit disappointed.
Walking into this experience, I knew that it was important to keep my expectations in check. I was not in Florida. This was not Walt Disney World. I would not be seeing some stroke of Disney Imagineering genius in the middle of New Jersey. However, I was excited as any Frozen devotee would be and eager to find out just how this would be pulled off. Taubman advertised the experience as being “unique, interactive…where guests can sing ‘Let it Go’ just like Elsa, or one of many other songs from the Sing-Along Edition DVD release.” The display would be large and bright and immersive while intimate enough for fans to feel at home with their favorite characters.
When I arrived in the early afternoon, the line to get inside the Ice Palace was already close to two hours long. This included a short closing for the “scene” to be cleaned up – snow swept away, videos rewound, and overall upkeep. I was told that the line was made up of nearly 200 people about an hour after it opened this morning. Dozens of little Elsas and Annas were excitedly waiting despite this. I even saw a few boys proudly displaying their Olaf shirts and Sven plush sidekicks.
The palace itself is 30-feet tall and filled with snowy trees, sparkling icicles, and glowing lights. The arches supporting the structure change colors over time from blues to purples to pinks. There are a few screens showing clips from the Frozen film as well as cardboard characters that are fun to pose with. This helps little ones pass the time while waiting to walk farther into the display.
As you walk deeper into the palace area, you can sit on an “ice throne” with Olaf or even measure your height against him or Sven. Popular songs such as “Summer,” “Love is an Open Door,” and “Let It Go” play in the background. The ground even had pieces of “snow” on it which was a nice touch.
The highlight of the experience is walking into the Ice Palace itself. The dome structure is pretty impressive. Snow falls from the sky while clips from the singalong version of the movie play on screens in the panels. Children had fun playing in this area, but it felt a bit empty to me. I thought that they could have added a few character elements here for guests to pose with. Likewise, more children should be allowed in the area at once. When I visited, just one family entered at a time. The space is so big that it seemed a bit silly for there to be such a massive line and only one or two children in there. I’m sure they would enjoy playing in the “snow” with new friends.
Once you exit the Ice Palace, you are greeted by another familiar face: Santa Claus himself! Guests can take pictures with this holiday celebrity and even have them customized with Frozen borders and elements; Santa’s surprise gift is a paperback Disney Frozen Look & Find book. Shutterfly is one of the sponsors for the event, so expect to see some merchandise on display in this area. Although it was not available at the mall I visited, others will also have a Frozen merchandise gift shop near the palace.
Overall, this was a fun exhibit to visit today. I loved the theme and details put into the experience. With this being said, I would not wait over an hour for it. In fact, I started to feel badly for those who were doing so. Some even complained to mall management that they expected more. Still, I think it is something any Frozen fan would appreciate. My recommendation would be to arrive just before mall opening to avoid the longest waits. Be sure to wear a fun outfit with your favorite characters from the movie and have fun.
The Ice Palace interactive display is in honor of the singalong DVD release of Frozen on November 18 and will be at the below malls through December 24. There is a fee for any pictures purchased. Be sure to stop by if you have one near you.
- Cherry Creek Shopping Center (Denver, Colo.)
- Dolphin Mall (Miami, Fla.)
- Fair Oaks (Fairfax, VA.)
- Great Lakes Crossing Outlets (Auburn Hills, Mich.)
- International Plaza (Tampa, Fla.)
- The Mall at Short Hills (Short Hills, NJ)
- Sunvalley (Concord, Calif.)
- Twelve Oaks Mall (Novi, Mich.)
- University Town Center (Sarasota, Fla.)
- Westfarms (Hartford, Conn.)
Taubman Centers Media