Thursday, June 02, 2016

Frozen at DCA

Crowds outside the Hyperion theater, waiting to see Frozen
I have a confession to make: I'm not that big a fan of the Disney movie Frozen. Sure, we saw it when it was first released in theaters, but only once. And, as much as I like the main song, "Let It Go," I've never memorized the lyrics and so can't sing along, like everyone else I know.

Still, when I read the review of the new Frozen musical at Disney California Adventure (DCA), I immediately told Tim we had to go before school lets out for the summer. So I emailed my BFF Karen, who loves theater, and the three of us agreed to go today.

We left the house at 9AM, to avoid the bulk of early rush-hour traffic. By 10:30AM, we were standing in front of DCA's Hyperion Theater, trying to figure out where to line-up for the first show of the day, two hours later. We were told to either pick-up a Fastpass ticket, for which we were already too late, or come back at 11AM to get on the stand-by line. I noticed that people were already seriously loitering around the theater in hopes of getting on line; so I sent Tim and Karen off to ride "Soarin Over California" one last time,* while I waited for the official Frozen queue to begin.

Ten minutes later, I was told to wait across the street, which I dutifully did, as more and more people started to crowd in front of the Hyperion. At 11AM a cast member announced that the official line would start forming at 11:30AM. I stood under a tree with two young women, never taking my eyes off the closed entrance to the official waiting area. Fifteen minutes later, the doors opened as I yelled to the gals, "The doors are opening! We've got to go right now!"

Too late. About 50 people, who had been milling around the doors, shoved their way in as we squeezed into the flow. I called Tim and warned that they needed to get back to the theater ASAP. I then advanced to the point-of-no-return where, we were admonished, all members of one's party had to be present or they could not get in. I proceeded and hoped for the best for Tim and Karen. Turns out they were too late to join me. Instead, they decided to wait at the very end of the stand-by line, though their chances of actually seeing the show were slim at best.

 Fastpass-holders inside the official waiting area

Stand-by for Frozen is exactly that: seats are guaranteed only for Fastpass-holders. If there are empty seats once everyone else has filed in, then the stand-bys get to go in, one party at a time. We became more and more discouraged as more and more Fastpassers lined-up within the queuing area.

Finally, at 12:20PM—10 minutes before the show was supposed to begin!—the theater doors opened as the ticket-holders rushed in. The rest of us held our collective breath, awaiting our fate. Then, with a loudpeaker announcing overhead that show time was only two minutes away (!!), a Disney employee came over and started letting us in, counting each person so not to overrun the seating. I waved to Tim and Karen as I trudged up three enormous flights of exterior stairs. Once inside the theater, it was everyone for her/his self as we scrounged for open seats. I found one on the end of an aisle—perfect! I then texted Tim. He and Karen had given up and were heading to lunch.

The stage: first view of Arendelle
The show was highly entertaining, with lots of dancing, singing, and a special brand of Disney effects. Olaf, the snowman, and the reindeer Sven were life-sized puppets and particularly fun, adding humor to a story that can be a bit sad. But the highlight was Elsa's big number—"Let It Go"—which the audience was obviously awaiting in anxious anticipation. As soon as the first notes of the song began, there was an audible buzz in the theater. Frozen fans were not disappointed. 

 Final scene

The Hyperion's last show, Aladdin, played there for 13 years, so you've probably got lots of time to see Frozen. However, if you're chomping at the bit, I advise getting to the park early enough to grab Fastpass tickets, so you won't have to suffer the trauma of standing by. I got in, but am guessing the other 300 people in line behind me did not.


*On June 17, one of Tim's favorite rides, "Soarin Over California," will be replaced with an international version called  "Soaring Over the World." A sad day, no doubt, in our household . . .

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