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Marc Davis and the Original Snow Queen Attraction

In just a couple of months, Frozen will be taking over the Norway pavilion at Epcot, but did you know that this isn’t the first time (in forever) that Disney had plans to put Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen in the parks?

Imagineering legend, Marc Davis, (who you can thank for Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and the Country Bear Jamboree, just to name a few) came up with an idea for an attraction loosely based on the fairy tale. He took it pretty far into development, too, having mapped out the ride itself and drawing a ton of concept art, mostly of the characters, that would fill his world because creating memorable characters was a particular strength of his (think of the above mentioned attractions).

Imagine yourself walking through Fantasyland on a hot day in Florida (the original plans were to put the attraction in Disneyland in California, but it’s not a stretch to say that it could have ended up in Florida as well). Off in the distance, you see what looks like a glacier. “What is a glacier doing in the middle of Fantasyland or in this heat?” you wonder, so you go investigate.

As you get closer to the behemoth iceberg, you see more of its detail and realize that you are seeing towers and windows and walls all made out of ice as if someone actually lives there. Of course, it probably is a lot cooler inside than out, so you jump in line.

The line leads you to a boat so you hop in and let it take you for a ride, and what a ride it is! There are dancing polar bears and penguins putting on a concert all while Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” plays in the air.

snowqueen (ploar bears)snowqueen (penguin choir)

D23 released some great concept art of the many characters Davis created. My favorite is the penguin from The Three Caballeros. (A quick note: you may have to sign up for a D23 account to view them, but it’s free and easy to do.)

Soon, you happen upon a couple of frost giants, but don’t worry, not only are they not as frightening as the ones Thor fought in his movies, but they also seem to be distracted by the fairies from Fantasia.

Fantasia Fairies

You then float by some hand maidens who are each being attended to by various artic creatures. But, who do the hand maidens attend? You find out in the next room, which happens to be the throne room of the Snow Queen herself.


She’s about to head out on her nightly journey through her kingdom. She conjures up a blizzard to speed up the process because…you know….the cold never bothered her anyway….sorry, moving on. Your boat also gets caught up in the snow storm, but fortunately, it brings you safely to the end of the ride.

frozen-ride-concept-artWouldn’t that be a great ride? Why did it take the success of Frozen for Imagineering to dust off the idea of an Enchanted Snow Queen ride, albeit a different take on the idea? Well, part of the reason is because Davis was working on the project at the same time that Space Mountain debuted in Walt Disney World and became wildly popular (for good reason). It was so popular, though, that Disney wanted to add another adrenaline pumping roller coaster to the parks quickly and plans for an attraction relying heavily on aesthetics over excitement got shelved.


Would you like to see this version of the attraction or are you more excited for Frozen Ever After?


(All images and concept art ©Disney)


Chris grew up during the Disney renaissance of animation and took his first trip to Disney World when he was ten. Even though he has loved Disney his whole life, his obsession didn’t start until he began planning a trip for his honeymoon. Right now, his primary job (at least the one that doesn’t pay the bills) is to indoctrinate his daughter with his love of Disney while at the same time convincing his wife to move to Orlando, so he can become a tour guide in the parks.