Frozen is a big bucks Disney movie, and that’s saying something since Disney itself it basically made out of diamonds from how much money it makes. After reading this list though, you will see how Disney deserves that money. Maximum effort goes into making Disney movies.
Oh, the movie takes place in Norway? Time to fly part of the staff to Norway to make sure they get Norway right! There is going to be a lot of snow? We better take some courses on meteorology. Sisters are the main characters? We better study the importance and psychology of sisterhood. Yes, Disney goes that far. That’s how we get masterpieces like Frozen.
When we think of Frozen, we often first think of all the little kids who were obsessed with “Let it Go,” for a couple of years to the point where there was no escape. There is far more to the movie than that song such as scenes that took hundreds of hours, voice actors getting to make up their own lines, and Elsa hair having more strands of hair than real humans or even Rapunzel.
This just goes to show the money you spend on Disney can go towards a lot of extra work that is put into their movies. Here is our list of behind the scenes facts about Frozen
30 Elsa Changed A Lot
Like how the story distanced itself a ton from Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen,” Elsa’s character also fluctuated. She was going to be evil at one point.
In another version, Elsa became villainous because she was left at the altar and decided to turn her heart to ice so she could never love again.
Concepts designs for Elsa were also completely different. One version giving her blue skin and short spiky blue hair. Instead, the final version became a humanized and hurt woman who had to make tough decisions.
29 “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” Was Almost Cut
“Do you want to build a Snowman?” was one of the most memorable songs of Frozen, so many fans were surprised to learn it was almost cut out altogether from the movie.
"It was not put back in the film until the witching hour before we released it," said Kristen Bell, who voiced Anna.
"Thankfully, at the very last moment, someone made the call of putting it back in," she added. "I think it's one of the best songs in the movie."
28 Most Olaf Lines Were Improvised
Olaf’s voice actor Josh Gad was known to sometimes improvise lines. Some of these made it into the final film such as the “I’ve been impaled,” line.
"Improv is definitely always part of the journey and they were amazing collaborators in letting me just come up with something to say, some of which is in there," Gad explained. "Like in the original Frozen, I remember saying as a joke, 'I've been impaled,' and I was shocked when I watched the movie and they animated this and kept this in the film."
27 Sven’s Original Name Was Thor
What’s a Disney animated feature without a cute and fun animal sidekick? Thor was going to be the reindeer Sven’s name for a time until everyone realized Thor was way overdone as a name in current media.
Thor made sense since the story basically took place in Norway and Thor is the Norse god of thunder.
The name feels a little more heavy and serious than Sven though. Doesn’t Sven suit the personality more? He had the personality of a dog.
26 Anna Could Have Been A Peasant
This goes along with the fact that Frozen was based off Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen” fairytale. The original fairytale had nothing to do with princesses, coronations, or royalty. The character Anna was based off of, Gerda, was a peasant girl, thus Anna was a peasant girl in early development. What about Elsa? Well, at that point they weren’t even related yet! This was during the time the developers thought Elsa was going to be evil and not part of Anna’s family.
25 “Let It Go” Changed The Story
When “Let it Go” was originally written, it was meant to be the song of a villain. This was back when Elsa was meant to be the main antagonist of the story.
Elsa was going to take over the town with an army of snowmen.
However, when “Let it Go” was read, the whole Frozen team began to see Elsa’s character in a new light. They did not hear the words of a villain, but a woman who was going through some hopeful empowerment.
24 The Crew Worked Backwards
Development was done backwards for Frozen, meaning they worked on the end of the movie first and then backwards towards the beginning.
That means the crew knew from the very beginning that it was Anna’s love that would save Elsa.
For those who don’t write stories, it’s an important technique to know how the story ends first and then writing in a way to earn that ending. Endings are also important since they are the lesson and takeaway of fairytales.
23 Was Going To Be 2D
While in production, the movie was going to be called, “Anna and the Snow Queen.” It was going to be 2D, but when The Princess and the Frog was not so great a hit, they decided to change the movie to look more like a movie that was more of a hit, Tangled. Some of the original 2D art was released online, causing some fans to think 2D would have made a more beautiful movie. The numbers don’t lie though. Frozen became a hit.
22 Elsa Has More Hair Than Rapunzel
From Rapunzel to Brave, animators are constantly raising up the hair animation game to new levels. Elsa was easy to go unnoticed since she lacked length and curls, but the official Frozen Facebook page released that animators had to work with 400,000 threads of hair for Elsa. This required an entirely new animation program that they called “Tonic.” To compare, Rapunzel had a measly 27,000 strands of hair. Tangled and Frozen were released only three years apart too.
21 Hans’ Voice Actor Auditioned With “I Feel Pretty”
The voice actor for Hans is Santino Fontana, and he auditioned for the part through the song, “I feel Pretty” from West Side Story. He has been quoted about the audition.
"So basically, all that they told me about the character was he's super confident, perhaps overly confident, he needs to be able to sing with a 'Broadway sound' and he's really good with women, but he may have a dark side.
"I came into the sound studio and I was very nervous and I sang this."
20 Had First Woman To Direct A Disney Animated Feature
That’s right, every Disney animated feature before Frozen was directed by men. That’s upsetting when you think about how all princesses before Elsa and Anna were under the direction of men. This is part of what made Frozen breathtaking though. The director, Jennifer Lee, made a lot of choices that broke the old Disney mold of princes, love stories, and it’s portrayal of villains. Women weren’t saved by men, but fellow women and that is part of what made Frozen so special.
19 50 Animators Made Elsa’s Ice Castle
Disney and castles go together like peanut butter and jelly. Elsa building her own castle out of ice and snow was agreed by fans to be one of the most spectacular parts of the whole movie.
It was empowering, beautiful, and took a ton of hard work.
“For that one single shot in which Elsa builds her palace, 50 people worked on the technology required to execute that shot," said Jennifer Lee, co-director. “And that shot is so complex that just one frame took 30 hours to render.”
18 Film Makers Had A “Sister Summit”
Anna and Elsa were not always planned to be sisters, but once they were, the topic had to be studied. Relationships between Disney characters are one of the most important aspects of their stories after all. So the makers of Frozen held a “Sister Summit” where they invited female employees to come and talk about their childhood relationship with their siblings. This information was released in Charles Soloman’s book, “The Art of Frozen.” That goes to show you can’t go too far to get a story right.
17 Hans Almost Gave Anna A Snowglobe
You can’t be more on the nose with the movie’s theme than to put a snowglobe in it. However, the makers displayed some self-control and cut a scene where Hans was to give Anna a snowglobe after her sister’s coronation.
How much more symbolic could they get with the snow and theme of isolation?
The scene was cut for narrative streamlining but we still have this piece on concept art that was released in "The Art of Frozen" by Victoria Ying.
16 Oaken Directed Big Hero 6
Oaken is well remembered as a sweet and humble shopkeeper in the mountains. He’s also the only character with a Scandinavian accent. Who performed that awesome voice anyway? He was voiced by Chris Williams, who later directed Big Hero 6. Disney employees certainly are people of many talents. Apparently, Williams’s wife is also from Scandinavia, which inspired the accent he used for Oaken. Despite being a minor character, his voice made Oaken popular among fans. How can you not smile when he says, “Hoo-hoo, big summer blowout!”
15 Frozen Is Based On “The Snow Queen”
“The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen is the fairytale you have to thank for Disney’s Frozen. If that name is familiar, Hans Christian Andersen is also the man who wrote the original fairytale of “The Little Mermaid.”
Frozen deviated a ton from “The Snow Queen” story as it developed.
The original fairytale has a peasant boy, Kai, taken by the Snow Queen and his friend, Gerda, has to save him. Also there was a singular troll who was also known as “the Devil.” So yes, Frozen became very different.
14 Artists Had to Learn Meteorology
The Disney team brought in a scientist to teach their animation team all about snow crystals and how they are formed. The scientist was Dr. Ken Libbrecht, ironically nicknamed “Doctor Snow” from the California Institute of Technology. Don’t believe such a spectacular man can exist? See what the work of Doctor Snow on snowcrystals.com! He has written books from “The Secret Life of a Snowflake” to “The Snowflake: Winter’s Frozen Artistry.” Disney definitely found the best teacher out there.
13 The Voice Of Hans Could’ve Been Flynn Or Kristoff
The story of how Santino Fontana got to voice Hans is a lesson to all to never give up. He originally auditioned for Flynn Rider for Tangled.
Despite not getting that part he was called back for Kristoff auditions back when Frozen was still known as The Snow Queen in 2010.
When he didn’t get that part, he auditioned for Hans when the movie changed to Frozen. Stubbornness can get you far in the voice acting business.
12 Arendelle Was Inspired By Norway
Actually, Elsa and Anna’s kingdom had various inspirations from different parts of Norway. The name, for example, is from Arendal which is a town southwest of the capital of Norway in the county of Aust-Agder. Arendelle’s scenery came from elsewhere; based mostly in western Norway since the buildings of Oslo and Bergan most resemble what the city of Arendelle’s buildings look like. Frozen definitely helped tourism in Norway, that’s for sure. A ton of Norway travel guides have Frozen themed destinations included.
11 Anna And Elsa’s Voice Actors Read Together
Did you know that reading voiceovers together for animated films is a rare occurrence? It makes sense because trying to schedule everyone to get together at once could be a hassle and doing everyone individually would create far more flexibility for the film team.
However, they decided that the voice actresses for Anna and Elsa should be read together to create more chemistry between the characters.
So Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell read Anna and Elsa’s lines together.
10 Disney Created A Snowflake Generator
More science goes into Disney movies than you think. The team behind Frozen used math and physics to create a snowflake simulator. They called the tool “Matterhorn.” Effects supervisors Dale Mayeda and Marlon West definitely had a lot on their plate. “As far as effects animation, it’s definitely a combination of art and science,” said Mayeda. “So much of what we do on a daily basis is not just doing simulations but also making sure the composition is great and the timing is beautiful, and a lot of design as well.”
9 Kristoff’s Character Was Influenced By (Or Is) Sami People
Depending on who you talk to, Kristoff is either Sami or just Sami influenced. This sparked a couple controversies in terms of race as some Sami are people of color and some are not depending on location.
Sami people are known for taking up large parts of Norway and Sweden.
So what does Kristoff and them have in common? Reindeer for one thing. The Sami are known for herding reindeer. This could mean that Kristoff is actually wearing reindeer fur from Sven’s mom since animals are part of Sami livelihood.
8 A Real Reindeer Was Brought Into The Studio
It’s certainly not the first time a real animal was brought into a Disney studio for animators to examine and it won’t be the last. Animators are artists and artists need to see the real creature that they are going to create to get the best representation. Disney is rich and can probably afford to bring anyone or anything into a studio. A reindeer was probably easy to get for them since they can be bred easily and live on farmlands.
7 The Team Studied Norse Language
Disney brought over a Scandinavian professor, Professor Jackson Crawford, as a language consultant for Frozen. The Norse language is pretty subtle in the movie. One example in which Norse runes were used was when the trolls examined their book of magic. The entire book was written in Norse runes. Some fans have even deciphered the rune book, which revealed some interesting information about the origin of Elsa’s magic. Other subtleties of language include Viking protection symbols and an old Norse prayer during Elsa’s coronation.
6 Elsa Had A Celebrity Hairstylist
Celebrity hairstylist Danilo was hired by Frozen’s filmmakers to give advice on Elsa’s hair.
“My assistants and I set up our tripod, mannequin heads and our platinum wigs all in a row, and began the construction of 3 to 4 styles inspired by Elsa’s character at different stages in the movie,” said Dalino.
“She transforms from Princess to Queen with her side braided chignon, and the bouffant height of her pompadour is an outward example of her confident and powerfully regal status, ready to lead as queen, hopefully happily ever after.”
5 Team Visited An Ice Hotel For Inspiration
Yes, an ice hotel exists. Located in Quebec City, Canada, is Hotel De Glace. It’s not a cutesy ice-theme either. It’s actually made of ice, much like Elsa’s castle. The hotel is destroyed and remade with some new designs made by ice sculptors every year and is kept cold from the outside to keep it intact.
Some of the Frozen team visited the hotel to examine how light influence the ice building and refracts off of its surfaces. So this might be as close as a fan could come to visiting Elsa’s ice castle.
4 Longest Frame Took 132 Hours To Make
What can be a single second of time in an animated film can be weeks of work. In “Let It Go,” where Elsa strides onto the balcony of her new castle, there consists 132 hours of work.
To give you some more context, the entire scene is 218 frames long. So 1/218 frames took 132 hours.
That’s amazing and horrifying all at once. This includes Elsa’s 400,000 strands of hair, her newly glistening dress, her castle, the light bouncing off the ice, her movement and how her surroundings respond, and more.
3 “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” Had Three Singers
Sometimes the same voice actor also does the different ages of a character during time skips. Not in Anna’s case. This means they had to have three different singers for her song, “Do you want to build a Snowman?” She is three different ages at various points of the song from five to nine to fifteen. The voice actresses were Kristen Bell for 15 years old, Katie Lopez for five years old, and Agatha Lee Monn for nine years old.
2 At First, Elsa Was Inspired By Bette Midler
No one would’ve recognized early concepts of Elsa. One of her early concepts was based on Bette Midler. This version was sassy and confident. She was more like Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
That is a huge difference from the timid and quiet woman we know in the movie.
To be fair, this also was when Elsa’s concept was still a villain — Disney probably realized this might be problematic.
1 Kristoff Was Going To Be A Man Of Few Words
Before they cast the voice actor for Kristoff, the Frozen team thought Kristoff would be more of a shy character. They imagined a more awkward mountain man who rarely spoke to others.
“Then Jonathan Groff came in for an audition and he changed our view of the character,” said co-director Chris Buck. “Jonathan is very charming, but he is also very chatty. His voice has such a wonderful quality and everyone thought he was great. Plus, people started to swoon with him around!”