Yesterday, I had the great fortune to preview the new World of Frozen land coming to Hong Kong Disneyland. In addition to getting to check out the food, merchandise, and more of what the Arendelle area had to offer, the highlight was always going to be the attractions. World of Frozen is home to two rides: Frozen Ever After and Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs.
So, now that I’ve had a chance to experience both, what are my thoughts on the rides? I’m glad you asked.
Frozen Ever After
We’ll start with the attraction that many Disney fans already have some familiarity with: Frozen Ever After. As you might expect, this new version of the EPCOT ride (which utilized the previous Maelstrom layout) bears a strong resemblance to the domestic attraction. However, there are some subtle differences.
For one, the track layout and the placement of some show scenes is slightly different. Most notably, the track switches move in the opposite direction of the Maelstrom’s. Of course, another notable change is that Olaf speaks Cantonese in addition to English. Comparing videos of the two, Hong Kong’s show scenes also seem to have more lighting.
However, easily the biggest difference between the Hong Kong Disneyland Frozen Ever After and the EPCOT original is the upgrade to the Audio-Animatronics. While the latter’s characters are presented with projection-based faces, the new version features characters in an AA form that feels more familiar and classic. To me, this is a huge improvement as the projection faces in Frozen Ever After never worked for me. While I could appreciate what they were attempting, the mismatched skin tone and odd glow were always a drawback for me. In turn, I doubt I’m alone in hoping that these new AAs make their way to Walt Disney World eventually.
Overall, Frozen Ever After is a nice addition to Hong Kong Disneyland and a perfectly logical choice for the land. While it is a bit weird to clone a ride that was shoehorned into a previous attraction, the truth is that the ride does have a nice mix of family-friendly dark ride with just a bit of thrill thanks to the drop. Plus, the updated Audio-Animatronics make this one a win for me.
Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs
When Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs was announced, it seemed just about everyone assumed that it would be a Frozen version of the uber-popular Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. Alas, that is far from the case. Instead, the ride is more akin to the likes of Chip 'n' Dale's GADGETcoaster at Disneyland — although the intensity is definitely ratcheted up.
I’ll admit that I initially wasn’t sure I’d want to partake in this ride seeing as my thrill tolerance has decreased over the years (and was never very high to begin with). However, when my wife’s ride vehicle entered the station shortly after departure, I had my first clue that this ride wasn’t quite what I was thinking. Watching the GoPro video she took of the experience confirmed that, from dispatch to return, the entire experience was less than a minute. In other words, it was something I should totally be able to handle. Sure enough, I did end up taking a ride and was absolutely fine.
What’s kind of funny about the attraction is that, as it turns out, you can see most of it from the exterior. Sadly, there aren’t any major dark ride portions hiding inside — just a short segment in the beginning where we see Olaf powering the ride by dangling a carrot on a string in front of Sven. Other than that, it’s just a quick coaster.
In terms of what that coaster experience is like, the turns and their force reminded me most of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. To my mind, there were two “intense” parts of the journey while some short dips and lesser turns fleshed out what there was of the track. Also, contrary to the name, the sleighs don’t really slide, which is to say that there’s no side-to-side motion as you get with Mine Train.
Thematically, Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs is a win. The queue has some fun touches while the Cast is amazing — constantly putting their hands together and saying “hoo-hoo” like Oaken himself. Unfortunately, though, I have to believe that this ride will prove to be a letdown for many. While I viewed the short duration as merciful, depending on how wait times look for the ride, I can imagine guests feeling underwhelmed. So, although the ride looks great in the land and is fun to watch from across the water, one can’t help but wish they did more with the concept.
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