Donny Osmond in Arendelle? 16 Things We Learned from the Making of 'Frozen' Special

Donny Osmond in Arendelle?

Photo: Inset: Ethan Miller/Getty

In case you’re wondering what caused a sudden spike in Frozen trivia this week, ABC aired a special called “The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic” Tuesday night that gave a legion of fans a look into the film’s path to blockbuster success.

Given the heights that Frozen fandom has reached, we don’t doubt that more than a few viewers were nudging the people on the couch next to them bragging, “I actually already knew that.” For all but the top-tier Frozen-philes, however, the special offered a ton of trivia. Here’s what we learned.

1. Disney had been trying to adapt "The Snow Queen" for more than 70 years.

Creatives at Disney toyed with the classic Hans Christian Andersen story back in the Snow White era, and then again in the Little Mermaid era, but only the success of Tangled made way for Frozen to finally happen. “A lot of people felt the world had grown too cynical for a sincere fairy tale,” explained John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar. Take that, cynics.

2. Kristen Bell helped give Anna a less standard "princess personality."

“I kept pushing for her to be quirkier and goofier because that’s how I felt growing up,” the actress explained. Also, some of Bell’s gestures and facial expressions helped inform Anna’s, as the entire time she performed her lines, she had two cameras recording even her most subtle movements, in order to help animators.

3. Idina Menzel thinks of her voice as a superpower (and rightly so).

As she explained in an interview regarding Elsa’s secret ice magic, “When I was a kid I had this voice, and I would hide it all the time. So I completely related to the character.”

4. When Menzel joined the cast, Elsa had blue, spiky hair and a coat made of living weasels.

No, really. The Elsa character changed dramatically over the course of production. Check out the "bad Elsa" concept art for a look at the various proto-Elsas that never came to be.

5. The movie has a hard-to-spot Donny Osmond reference.

Check around the 1:38 mark in this video of “Love Is an Open Door,” right after Prince Hans steps out from behind the waterfall. According to Hyrum Osmond, one of the film’s animators and also Donny Osmond’s nephew, Hans’s pose is directly inspired by his uncle’s signature pose while belting out notes. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

6. It wasn’t always a movie about sisterly bonds.

In fact, in the early drafts of the Frozen script, Elsa and Anna weren’t even related. Anna was a peasant girl, and Elsa was a more fearsome snow queen.

7. "Let It Go" changed the entire creative direction of the film.

Songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez felt inspired when writing Elsa’s big song and ended up turning out an anthem about freedom and empowerment instead of the traditional Disney villain number. When they played the rough cut for the creative crew, all involved collectively realized that they needed to rewrite the entire script to fit the song. “That song came at the right time, and it fundamentally changed the entire movie,” explained Lasseter.

8. And since, "Let It Go" has been recorded in 41 different languages.

This video features just a handful.

9. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" almost didn’t make the cut.

It’s probably the film’s second-most famous song, but “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” was edited out of the film almost up until the last minute. Employees working on the film started asking why, and in Bell’s words, it was only at the very last moment that it was put back into the film. By the way, the actress playing young Anna – singing the “through the keyhole” part – is Katie Lopez, daughter of the movie’s songwriters.

10. That song follows Kristen Bell, but she’s cool with it.

As she explained it: “People do often ask me if I want to build a snowman. Or sing, ‘Would you like to build a snowman?’ And I always respond with, ‘Yes.’ So, I have a lot of snowmen to build. A lot.”

11. Arendelle is Norway, essentially.

In order to get the right look for Frozen‘s fictional setting, the crew went on an adventure. “The first thing I told everybody is get on a plane and go to Norway,” explained Lasseter. The county’s fjords inspired the body of water on which Arendelle sits.

12. The animators also got a trip to Jackson Hole out of this.

Given that the animators are based in Southern California, many of them needed a refresher in the physics of snow. Thus, the team got sent to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, essentially for a snow day – literally to just play in the snow so they’d be able to animate it correctly. They were even given a formal ball gown that they could trudge through the snow in, just so they’d know how to draw Anna as she ventures out in her dress. (Yes, the male animators wore it too.)

13. Rosemaling, rosemaling, rosemaling.

Rosemaling, for those of you unfamiliar with traditional Norwegian folk art, is a decorative motif seen throughout Frozen – on woodwork in the background, on clothes, and even in architecture. Think abstracted flowers. Rosmaling even helped inform the design of Elsa’s ice magic.

14. The design of Elsa’s ice castle isn’t random.

Snowflakes have six sides, and that basic structure inspired the animators to have Elsa’s crystalline castle grow and to have a pattern that branched out in sixes. That scene where she creates the castle, by the way, took nine months to create. Yes, just like a baby.

15. The guy who voiced Oaken is directing the next Disney animated film.

Yep, Chris Williams not only served as story artist on Frozen but also provided the voice of Oaken the shopkeep. And he’s one of the two directors behind Big Hero 6, the first feature film resulting from the Disney-Marvel Comics partnership.

16. And finally, there’s more Frozen coming.

At the end of the special, we were promised a new short with new songs. We don’t know the specifics of it, but we know it’s coming. For you Arendelle addicts, this just might be the fix you need until confirmation of Frozen 2: Frozener. Frozen 2: Thawed? Frozen 2: Cubed? Hmm

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