It took 7 years to build, but it’s the biggest easter egg in Disney’s “Frozen” park | A conversation with Imagineers

A Frozen Park opened in a (sub)tropical city, the sense of immersion is slightly weak haha

When we shared a sneak peek of the world's first Frozen land at Hong Kong Disneyland last week , a reader left this comment.

Really, Hong Kong is a city where the average temperature can reach 25℃ in November. Building a world with "ice and snow magic" here is destined to be full of challenges.

Fortunately, Disney's "Imagination Engineers", which have always been known for their "dream-making", found a way to realize it during the seven-year construction process, and turned Hong Kong's characteristics into one of the "Frozen Worlds" The biggest highlight.

▲ Jiao Yaxin and Deng Duwen in "Frozen World"

Through interviews with Michel den Dulk, Executive Creative Director of Walt Disney Imagineering and Jiao Yaxin, Senior Producer of Walt Disney Imagineering (Asia), we unearthed little-known design details and got a glimpse of the secrets behind the immersive world of wonder.

From "stumbling block" to "gem of inspiration"

How to make the world of "Frozen" without ice and snow? One of the challenges we will definitely face is creating ice.

Dun Duwen said so.

At the same time, he also reminded us that the Kingdom of Arendelle in the first part of "Frozen" was actually in summer, with big green trees everywhere. Only when Elsa's magic went out of control did Arendelle fall into the freezing winter. .

This provided a great story opportunity to create a "Summer Snow Day", meaning we could build the world in a happy summer environment.

▲ Panoramic photo of "Frozen World"

The warm weather suddenly went from a stumbling block to an inspirational gem, inspiring a new holiday to commemorate Anna's "act of true love" that saved Elsa and the kingdom of Arendelle.

When we usually discuss Disneyland, we often use words like "highly restored" to describe how faithful the park is to the original story.

But in my opinion, the best thing about Disneyland is not the "copying" of the story, but its "creation" – new stories and rich details. What makes you immerse yourself is not the movie itself, but the story. the world inside.

This festival created for Hong Kong Disneyland has become our entry moment into the world of "Frozen" and is exclusive to those who step into this park.

▲ “Summer Snow Festival” elements in the park

Of course, this content is still part of the IP world, and other background settings must conform to the original world.

We can see the town architecture that is consistent with the movies and extras, inspired by the Norwegian village of Balestrang and the city of Bergen – brightly colored wooden buildings with asymmetrical designs with local characteristics.

▲ The Port Adel restaurant not only adopts an asymmetrical design, but its color scheme also echoes the colors of Elsa and Anna’s coronation ceremony

The design of Arendelle Castle was inspired by the wooden church, a type of church that originated in the 12th century. Craftsmen used wood to elaborate the Romanesque architectural style with granite as the main material.

The problem is that Hong Kong has high temperatures and humidity all year round, plus the salty air due to its proximity to the ocean, making it difficult to use wood.

A big difference between making a movie and a paradise is that the physical objects in the movie do not need to be preserved, but the things in the paradise must be preserved for a long time. They must withstand wind and rain, and they must withstand the long-term touch of guests.

In order to meet this requirement, the building facades in the town that appear to be made of wood are actually made of concrete.

They are essentially made of pressed concrete, carved and molded by hand in a factory, with materials injected into them, and then installed and painted in modular fashion.

Jiao Yaxin emphasized to us that although the material selection must be adapted to local conditions, the final product must look like wood to fit the story, which requires a very long and complicated process.

The ice and snow elements dotted throughout the park, blessed by Elsa's magic, also face environmental challenges.

▲ The ice tongue of Briksdal Glacier in Norway makes people wonder if there is Elsa’s castle in the real world hidden inside. Picture from He Zhenzhen

For example, for the ice and snow elements on Arendelle Castle, resin cannot be used because it is flammable and does not meet safety standards.

Finally, the Imagineering team chose glass for the ice and snow magic elements on the castle, which greatly increased the difficulty of the project because they are very fragile, both during installation and manufacturing.

▲Elsa’s Ice and Snow Palace (top) and the ice tongue of Briksdal Glacier in Norway (bottom) make people wonder whether there is a real ice and snow palace hidden in the Norwegian glaciers.

Not only is architecture difficult to make, but "landscape" is equally tricky.

If you look carefully, you will find that the "river water" in the park is blue, just like in many Norwegian travel photos.

Dunduvin told us that if only clear water were left, it would look like a modern swimming pool. So Imagineers decided to dye the water blue to "increase credibility and give people a reason to think this is a deep blue river."

In addition, Jiao Yaxin also pointed out another important point in river water treatment:

Imagine you had a pond here and a harbor over there. What would happen? mosquito.

Imagineers also added chlorine and other chemicals to the water, which in addition to preventing mosquitoes from breeding, can also prevent the growth of fungi and keep the environment comfortable.

When it comes to mountain landscape design, Deng Duwen is particularly proud.

The man-made mountain, designed through complex engineering and crafted by hand, is beautiful to look at, but the best part is that Hong Kong's Lantau Island is also integrated into the mountain scenery of "Frozen".

I think this is the greatest achievement of the entire project.

▲ Lantau Island integrated into the park (top) and the mountain scenery near Briksdal Glacier in Norway (bottom)

Unlike movies, visitors to the park can freely experience the world of the story 360°, so Imagineers want to ensure that the scenery from all angles in the park will not "disappoint" the fun.

When building the "Cars" park at Disneyland in California, the first task of the Imagineering team was to find ways to block the outside environment that was originally visible in the park – using artificial mountains and car tailfins to isolate the outside world.

If "Frozen World" really had an all-ice and snow theme, the green Lantau Island might have become an element that needed to be "dealt with."

Against the background of the summer theme and other artificial mountain designs, it has become the finishing touch of the entire space, making the park landscape more open and far-reaching, and has become a unique feature of Hong Kong parks.

This is the first time we’ve successfully embraced the scenery outside of the park and made it part of our storytelling.

You can only do it here.

Why immerse yourself in Disneyland?

The park is still very immersive, right?

When I was experiencing "Frozen World" in advance, one of the staff members who was traveling with me told me.

Indeed, "immersion" is somewhat like the "holy grail" of entertainment experiences in the 21st century.

The newly born "Avatar", Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirror Rooms", Apple Vision Pro, the LED "big ball" Sphere in Las Vegas costing more than 2 billion US dollars, and of course Disneyland, one of their major The charm lies in "immersion".

▲ Sphere in Las Vegas, picture from "Wired"

But what exactly does “immersion” mean?

Undivided attention? Total deception of sensory reality? Do you truly believe everything is true?

When Jiao Yaxin shared with us, she also mentioned that the realization of the park is like a "dream come true" – so that adults and children who like "Frozen" can see everything come true.

When I thought of the "forest world" where I experienced the park, I subconsciously positioned it as an "immersive theater."

The actors playing Anna and Elsa "performed" among the audience. We could participate in learning Elsa's "magic" and choose our favorite elves. Finally, when Elsa cast her magic, we were "surrounded" by ice and snow magic. It feels great.

However, during the enjoyment process, I knew at every moment that Elsa and Anna were not really Elsa and Anna, because I also silently sighed, "The actor of Anna is really suitable to play Anna!"

That didn't affect my enjoyment of this "immersive" experience at all, but it made me even more confused about what "immersion" meant after hearing the question.

We know clearly that everything about Disney is fake, so why are we still so willing and happy to be a part of it?

Oddly enough, even though almost everything is assumed to be on a spectrum, we're still pretty binary when it comes to discussing "deceptiveness."

Either you feel the art of immersive experience, or you just don’t feel it.

Art critic Jackson Arn wrote in a recent article in The New Yorker.

He went to experience two major attractions in Las Vegas that sell "immersion" – "Sphere" and "City", the world's largest modern art work created by artist Michael Heizer, and came up with an interesting insight:

The combination of hallucination and awakening is more intoxicating than either alone.

When you are clearly aware that you are in a specific artificial illusion, you can enjoy it more.

Some colleagues in the industry mentioned in the media that they only had the "talent and the courage" to ride the merry-go-round when they were at Disney:

Because at Disney, no one cares about your age, body shape, etc., you don’t have to worry about anything.

I remembered that Deng Duwen used the word "believability" before. Dying the water blue gives people a reason to believe when they want to think of the water as a blue river in the natural world.

When we were waiting in line for an hour for the "Snow Ridge Sledding" in "Frozen", we knew that we were in an "illusion" and would appreciate even more the details that Imagineers set up for the queuing space. :

Okun pops his head out of the sauna from time to time;

When you are about to be queued, there is a "top-secret blueprint" on Okun's work desk;

There is also a map hanging on the exit road after the game is over.

▲ Did the dragon in the water escape from the "Mysterious Mansion" next door?

They are all signals left to us by Imagineers, firm eyes, telling you "You can come in at any time, we've got you."

I seem to understand better why integrating Lantau Island into the "Frozen World" mountain scenery is the highlight of the entire project.

Seamlessly blending into the reality of illusion, isn’t that what we are in paradise?

The accompanying pictures are from Disney and Ai Faner. The accompanying pictures about Briksdal Glacier in Norway are all from He Zhenzhen

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