Disney’s Frozen was a phenomenal success, and not just with kids and their parents. Even teenagers, singles, and grandparents were belting out their own renditions of “Let it Go.” Needless to say, the public wanted a sequel. So when Disney released Frozen II in November, everyone was delighted. But did the product live up to the expectations? Here are 51 facts about Frozen II.
1. Record Breaker
When Frozen II’s trailer came out in February 2019, hardly anyone watched it. Just kidding: With 116.4 million views in 24 hours, it became the most highly viewed animated movie trailer of all time. With those numbers, I can believe that. Gives you an inkling about how the movie was going to do at the box office, right?
2. Love, Actually
One short scene in the trailer showed Elsa talking to a new female character. This led to fans speculating whether Elsa would have her own romantic relationship in the new Frozen, and before you knew it, there was a campaign underway on social media called “Give Elsa a Girlfriend.” When fans of “Give Elsa a Girlfriend” actually saw the movie, however, they were bound to be disappointed..
Sadly’ it’s true: Elsa has no romantic interest in the film. But the reason for this makes so much sense. Screenwriter and co-director Jennifer Lee explained that Elsa just wasn’t ready to have a relationship at this point—and Lee had proof to back it up. When creating Frozen II, the team tested Elsa’s feelings through journaling, discussions, and even putting her through the “Myers-Briggs” personality test. The results were clear.
Elsa was still discovering herself and finding her love for herself as a person in Frozen II, and she didn’t need anyone else at this point.
4. A “Princessy” First
Frozen II is the first Disney Princess film sequel that got a theatrical release.
What comes to mind when you think Disney? One of the images is probably Mickey Mouse, which has become synonymous with Disney over the company’s long history. Well, Frozen has something in common with Mickey. Disney CEO Bob Iger believes Elsa and Anna can become modern-day Mickey Mice, and have a lasting legacy of their own.
6. The Write Way
Frozen II was very much a team effort. Different writers and directors from other movies and departments not only work on their own movies, they also comment on and provide feedback for the work other teams are producing. It’s a very fluid atmosphere—in fact, co-director Jennifer Lee actually started at Disney as a freelance writer!
7. The Princess Diaries
As many viewers have noted, Elsa and Anna are not your typical princesses. This is definitely on purpose. While working on the first Frozen, Lee tried to create the sort of princesses she wanted to see on the screen while growing up, but never did. These girls were messy, quirky, and strong yet vulnerable. Going forward, she wants to continue to push the boundaries of storytelling with new movies.
8. Myth Vs. Fairy Tale
Interestingly, of the two sisters, Anna most represents a classic fairy tale princess. She believes in happily-every-afters and true love, and she sees the good in people and believes that good can conquer evil. Elsa’s inspiration is much darker. Instead of a fairy-tale format, she follows the more adult and cynical “myth” format: She’s less happy-go-lucky, and doesn’t believe good always wins out.
9. Anna’s Challenge
Kristen Bell is not just the voice of Anna. The star had a huge part to play in the character’s development as well. Bell has said she had given Anna some of her own quirks in Frozen, like the phrase: “Wait, what?” as well as sleeping with her mouth open. Bell also said she could relate to Anna because, like her, Anna was very attached to the people she loved.
10. The Conversation
When the creators asked Kristen Bell what she wanted Anna to go through in this movie, her response changed the course of the film. Bell wanted Anna to deal with her co-dependency on Elsa, and to start to learn how to live for herself and not just for other people. Bell’s idea even inspired Anna’s solo song “The Next Right Thing” in the film.
“The Next Right Thing” is not just a song to mark Anna’s journey, though. It also has a heartbreaking background. Co-director Chris Buck tragically lost his son in 2013, in the very week that the first Frozen came out. Then it got even worse: music producer Andrew Page also lost his daughter around this time.
In light of these events, “The Next Right Thing” is also about acknowledging both pain and strength. As Bell said, the song is about asking, “What do you do when you don’t know what to do? How do you do it? You just put one foot in front of another. Do the next right thing.”
12. The Research Life
Who said making a Disney movie would be a walk in the park? Tons of research and preparation went into shooting for Frozen II. The directors and producers felt they had to find out more about the places where Elsa and Anna’s story took place, so they went to Norway, Finland, and Iceland for research. Lee admits the trips allowed them to have huge “breakthroughs” in the story.
13. Culturally Correct
Frozen might have been a smash hit, but not everyone loved it. One Nordic indigenous tribe, the Sámi, were whitewashed out of the first film even as it opened with a musical spin on one of their traditional chants. They were understandably upset that Disney had used their traditions without explicitly even referencing their people in the movie.
This time around, Disney decided it was essential for the Sámi to be on board with the project, and they officially collaborated with them to ensure their culture was respectfully depicted in the film. Disney based the Northuldra tribe on the Sámi, and the directors were constantly in touch with Sámi experts who would act as “cultural consultants” for the animators.
14. To(e)tally Weird
Okay, this one is really bizarre. The Elsa in Frozen didn’t have any toes! Since she was never going to be shown barefoot, the animators just didn’t bother making her digits. However, they couldn’t have her toe-less in the sequel, since her feet would be visible in some scenes. So, they just had to remodel her feet, this time with the toes of course.
15. A Question of Wardrobe
Animators sure have their work cut out for them. Brittany Lee and Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay were the animated artists responsible for creating Elsa’s and Anna’s looks in Frozen II, which are much different from their original clothing. For two whole years, they were immersed in creating their costumes, and they had a ton of things to keep in mind.
Firstly, they had to make sure that the fabric they were choosing to show in the film would “perform” in the same way it would work in real life. Secondly, the costumes had to be a visual representation of who the princesses were, and lastly, they had to come up with something that little girls in the real world would want to dress up in as well.
16. A Dress to Remember
The costume designers’ results are hard to argue with. Though they went through a whopping 122 iterations of Anna’s clothing, they settled on a dress that showed she had matured, but that she was also still her happy-go-lucky self. Elsa provided a different challenge. She’s a lot more on the move in this film, so she couldn’t have a long flowing train, yet she still needed to look queenly. They compromised by coming up with a double-panelled cape.
17. Strength in Numbers
There were 80 animators working on Frozen II. As for Elsa and Anna, why of course the princesses had their own separate animation supervisors.
18. Every Breath You Take
In order to make their animations as realistic as possible, the animators have to put in a lot of research. Hyun-Min Lee, the animation supervisor for Anna, revealed that they would hear the actors’ voice recordings “hundreds and hundreds of times” to make sure they were aware of every inflection, every breath, and every expression.
19. Every Move You Make
Elsa’s animation has a surprising inspiration. Wayne Unten, who worked as the animation supervisor for Elsa on both the original and the sequel, wanted to show the power, grace, and “queenliness” in her movements. To get the result, the team actually studied modern dance, drawing special inspiration from the work of Martha Graham.
20. Dub Deal
To honor the Sámi culture that appears in the Frozen films, Disney is releasing a special Northern Sámi dubbed version of Frozen II. After The Lion King and Moana, this is the third Disney film to receive special dubbing.
21. A Questionable Snowflake
When Frozen II released its first posters, scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson questioned the authenticity of the snowflake on it, commenting that snowflakes usually have six points, while this one only had four. But he didn’t know there was an ingenious reason for this. Without spoiling the film, director Jennifer Lee only commented: That’s not a snowflake.
Now that the movie is out, we know it’s a symbol that represents the four elemental spirits, while the center represents the fifth spirit—Elsa.
22. Always a Princess, Never a Queen
Not many princesses get to have their coronations in Disney movies. In fact, Anna’s coronation in Frozen II is only the second time a princess celebrates a crowning on screen. Interestingly, the first time it happened was for Elsa, in Frozen.
23. “BeLeaf” It or Not!
Artists spent a lot of time on creating the fictional location of Arendelle, trying to make it look as close to a place in the real world as possible. They tried to keep the foliage and trees as true to Scandinavian nature as they could. In fact, they were so particular about authenticity that the team brought in a botanist to endorse what they had created.
24. Audition Rendition
Evan Rachel Wood plays Queen Iduna, Elsa and Anna’s mother, for Frozen II—and her audition is the stuff legends are made of. When Wood went into the Disney panel and sang her audition song, the members were actually so touched that they cried and gave her a standing ovation. After that, she definitely had the job in the bag.
25. Are You My Mother?
One person who was particularly overjoyed about Evan Rachel Wood getting the part of Queen Iduna was her young son. As Wood later joked, “I’m a really cool mom right now, for a brief moment.”
26. Meant to Be
Further proof that Wood getting the role was written in the stars: When she got the call to let her know she would be playing Queen Iduna, she was on her way to Disneyland.
27. The Good Beginning
Frozen II started with one single but powerful question. That is, how did Elsa get her powers? Apparently, fans of the first movie kept on asking Disney that one burning question, which makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever seen the original Frozen. With this in mind, the team at Frozen II decided to finally answer it.
28. Attention to Detail
Nokk, the water spirit, appears in the form of a horse. In order to give the illusion of reality, animators had to study “horse anatomy, locomotion, quadruped motion” and equestrian etiquette to make sure they knew exactly how to animate the scenes with Nokk. In other words…they really weren’t horsing around. I’ll see myself out.
29. A Lesson in Vocals
It wasn’t just horse-related research, though. The animators also had to take singing lessons to understand how their characters would look and breathe while singing and moving in the film. You can see they really did their homework when you observe the characters taking deeper breaths when hitting a high note or when they’re running and singing.
Clearly, some animators enjoyed this research more than others, because they even continued lessons after work on the film was done.
30. The Lovable Olaf
It turns out that Josh Gad, who voices the adorable and whacky snowman Olaf, is just as sweet as the character he plays. But on the night of Frozen II’s release, Gad really went above and beyond the call of duty. The excited actor surprised audiences by going to different cinemas where they had come to watch it.
31. Improv Hit
One of Olaf’s funniest lines in Frozen II is when he is looking for his friends and calling out to them. Being the slightly ditzy Olaf we know and love, he also calls out for someone named “Samantha” before realizing he doesn’t even know anyone by that name. Incredibly, Josh Gad admits that he came up with this line as an improvisation.
32. Nordic Myth
Elsa’s ice powers hold a fascinating secret. To emphasize the mythic nature of Elsa’s story, the writers drew inspiration from Nordic mythology, and the ice crystals that she creates in the sky contain strange symbols on them when you look closely. These are runes, an ancient alphabet belonging to old Germanic and Norse people.
33. Olaf’s Journey
Gad actually had an incredible inspiration for his character Olaf’s development in Frozen II: his daughter. An adorable and bittersweet video Gad recently shared on Instagram showed his daughter crying when she learned she couldn’t stay a kid forever. Gad says when this moment happened, he used it to build out Olaf’s own fears about getting older, which also shows up in his song “When I Am Older.”
34. A Queen of Ice and Snow
One Easter egg in the movie is in a scene where the young King Agnarr is reading a book, and a young Queen Iduna skips up to him and asks what he is reading. It’s a book by a new Danish author, he says, which is a nod to Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author who wrote Snow Queen, the story Elsa’s character comes from.
35. Monroe Remembered
The film also gives a nod to the Old Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe, particularly the iconic image of her pushing down her dress from The Seven Year Itch. At one point in Frozen II, the wind spirit blows out from under Olaf and he makes a motion with his hands that will immediately remind viewers of Monroe. Classic Olaf, right?
36. Pranking the Princess
All work and no play would make the animators a dull set, and who would want that? To liven things up, the animation team once played a hilarious prank on Kristen Bell. While showing the actress a touching and serious pre-visual scene where Elsa and Anna are having a heart-to-heart, they inserted a loud flatulent sound.
37. You Had One Job
Believe it or not, one person’s entire job is to render Anna’s braid.
38. Long Hair, Don’t Care
It isn’t just the princesses’ dresses that visually represent who they are and who they are becoming. Their hairstyles also play a role in showcasing their character development. Anna’s hair was in two pigtails for most of Frozen, but she’s more mature now, so her hair is half open, half tied in a crown braid. Similarly, Elsa’s hair also tells her story.
Neatly pinned up when she’s queen, it is pulled down and braided when she has “let it go” and eventually it flows freely when she finds out who she truly is.
39. Who Am I?
Idina Menzel, who plays Elsa, says that she has an intimate connection to the character. Elsa’s not sure who she is, and Menzel also had to do the same when she was younger. Her whole identity was tied to her singing, so at one point when she had laryngitis and couldn’t sing, she felt very insecure and unsure about herself.
40. Anna Becomes Elsa
Between Frozen and Frozen II, there was also the Broadway musical version of Frozen. Mattea Conforti played the role of young Anna on stage, and when the directors needed someone to voice the character of young Elsa in Frozen II, they felt she was the best person to do it. Not many girls can claim to have been two princesses in the same story.
41. Are You Smarter Than a First Grader?
Immediately after Kristen Bell read the script for Frozen II, she made a huge mistake. She told her children all of it. It only occurred to her right after that she was in breach of her Disney contract. Plus, her kids were not the best secret keepers in the world. Luckily, they seemed to keep their end of the bargain.
42. Twinning and Winning
Probably unsurprisingly, there were some very famous faces in the audience at the Frozen II premiere. Selena Gomez even took her little sister to see it, and put up a picture on Instagram of her and her sibling dressed in identical gowns. In the caption, Gomez said she hoped she was now the best big sister ever. Uh, I think so Selena.
43. Wrong Princess
Bell’s daughters are big Elsa fans, despite the fact that Bell actually plays Anna in the film. In fact, one Halloween, her daughter forced her to dress up alongside her as the ice queen. Still, Bell sometimes uses their Elsa-love to her advantage when disciplining her daughters. As she says, “I will go like, ‘Well, Elsa would have never said that to Anna.’”
44. Mickey Was Here
If you’ve been to the Disney Parks, you must have seen the many hidden Mickeys everywhere. Frozen II has a lot of Mickey references thrown in, too. But in one particular place, it’s incredibly touching. If you look carefully, a hidden Mickey appears as a hole in the top left corner of Queen Iduna’s and King Agnarr’s wrecked ship.
45. I’m Blue
When Frozen was still in the planning stages, Elsa’s character design was completely different. And when I say “different,” I really mean it. As one crew member reported, in the early days of the franchise, everyone’s favorite pale, white-haired ice queen was actually “blue [skinned] and had black spiky short hair.” Whoa.
46. A Songless Kristoff
Fans of the first Frozen movie might remember that the character Kristoff doesn’t really sing in the film—which, if you know his voice actor Jonathan Groff, is super surprising. You see, Groff is an acclaimed Broadway star, and has featured in shows like Glee as well as the smash-hit Hamilton. As one songwriter confessed, “We are ashamed, and will be for the rest of our lives, that he didn’t sing in Frozen.”
47. Kristoff’s Song
However, Groff got his time to shine in Frozen II. His song, a kind of 80s power ballad, takes its cues from classic tunes like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and really uses Groff’s range. As in, Groff even recorded the parts for Kristoff’s reindeer backup singers. That’s right, Groff sang the track 18 times, once for Kristoff and 17 times for the reindeers.
Jennifer Lee is one accomplished woman. For one, she co-directed and wrote screenplays for both Frozen and Frozen II. She was also named Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios while the Frozen sequel was in progress, and is the first female to occupy this post. Guess it takes an empowered woman to write about empowered women.
49. Amazing Facts
In the film, Olaf regales Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff with some facts while they start off on their adventure. Not all of these are correct, but some seemingly outlandish ones are. For instance, wombats do poop in squares, and some turtles actually breathe through their butts. Bigger question: How does a snowman know that, though?
50. Oscar Snub
Although there was a lot of hype surrounding the sequel and it did so well at the box office, Frozen II didn’t end up nabbing a coveted nomination for “Best Animated Film” at this year’s Academy Awards. It did, however, get nominated for best original song, but this is small consolation for its fans. Justice for Frozen II!
51. Three’s Company
Fans are wondering if this is the last they’ll see of Elsa and Anna, or if the directors will eventually make their stories part of a trilogy. Sorry to disappoint, but co-directors Buck and Lee have no current plans for a third film, and have said that the story they told in the second film feels like “the end.” But there is some hope: They also know it’s “never say never” in Hollywood. Fingers crossed!