5 Similarities Between EPCOT’s Frozen Ever After and Marc Davis’ Enchanted Snow Palace

frozen ever after

Frozen lovers will recognize EPCOT’s Frozen Ever After attraction right away, but do you know the classic Disney history which inspired some of your favorite scenes? Back in the 1970s, Disney Legend Marc Davis devised a now-abandoned Fantasyland dark ride at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park.

The Enchanted Snow Palace would have adapted Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” something Disney had infamously tried to do for film since the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Unfortunately, with the pressure to add more thrill rides to the Walt Disney World Resort and build EPCOT Center, Disney Parks scrapped Davis’ passion project… but it would not be the end for the stunning concept.

A Look Inside Frozen Ever After at Epcot | Disney Parks Blog

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

RELATED: Everything We Know About Disney Parks’ New ‘Frozen’ Land

Here are five similarities between EPCOT’s Frozen-inspired attraction in the Norway Pavilion and Davis’ unused ride:

Driven By Music

First, Davis conceived the ride “as a musical adventure through the icy kingdom of the Snow Queen,” set to the Nutcracker Suite and an original score by composer Buddy Baker, which certainly would have created a sweeping, cinematic tone if Fantasia (1940) is anything to go by! Likewise, by reworking the classic soundtrack from the film, Olaf introduces the ride’s premise: Elsa wants to “give us all… a snowy summer day,” with adapted renditions of “For First Time in Forever” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” driving the storyline to completion.

frozen ever after marc davis

Credit: Disney

Introduces Smaller Characters First

As Frozen Ever After embarks, Guests immediately enter the frozen willow forest where they discover Olaf in the film; accordingly, Guests encounter sidekicks Olaf and Sven before anyone else, followed by the Trolls, then Anna and Kristoff. Similarly, Davis’ ride was filled with charming animal animatronics enjoying a winter’s day: penguins, rabbits, walruses, polar bears, and snowy owls, to name a few.

frozen ever after and enchanted ice palace

Credit: Disney

RELATED: Then & Now: Walt Disney World’s Maelstrom and Frozen Ever After

Ice Giants

Furthermore, concept art by Marc Davis depicts hulking giants made of ice and snow, likely referencing Norse and Danish mythology, engaged in interactions with delicate frost fairies and charming “Snowballs,” bearded gnome-like creatures with fluffy white bodies. If this all sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’ve experienced the part of Frozen Ever After featuring the gentle giant, Marshmallow, who protects Elsa’s North Mountain and a hoard of Frozen Fever’s adorable Snowgies.

frozen ever after marc davis ride

Credit: Disney / Ryan Kirkpatrick

Elaborate Ice Magic

Inspired by the famous frosty fairytale, of course, both versions of this ride feature ice magic – specifically, elaborate structures intricately crafted from snow and ice. In fact, these breathtaking set pieces have some elements in common, such as

enchanted ice palaces

Credit: Disney / Inside the Magic

Finale Scene

Throughout the Guests’ cruise, both rides’ storylines build up to a grand culmination of the entire journey: a final encounter with the Snow Queen herself. Of course, in Davis’ version, she is an ethereal and ambivalent queen, elevated by her supernatural mystique to a realm untouchable by ordinary Guests, making the rendez-vous itself a rare sight to behold. In contrast, EPCOT’s version emphasizes a communal element between the Guests and Elsa, where everyone is equal in celebrating Arendelle and invited into her Ice Palace as her kingdom’s friends, her powers no longer a reason for her to stay apart from others.

elsa thew snow queen disney

Credit: Disney

RELATED: 5 Disney Movies to Watch Before Your Next Visit to EPCOT

BONUS: Interactive Elements

While Davis planned for Guests to exit the Enchanted Snow Palace in a flurry of real snow, as any true EPCOT fan will know, Maelstrom/Frozen Ever After’s ride track ends with each boat “pushed” backward through the fog into a 28-foot drop… and yes, you do get wet!

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Credit: Disney

All in all, it’s clear how the brilliant mind of animator and Imagineer Marc Davis impacted the Frozen film and facets of its now iconic EPCOT attraction, Frozen Ever After, with dreams of his own dark ride.

About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.