In Disney’s new animated feature, Frozen, sisters Anna and Elsa live in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, nestled by the edge of the water at the foot of a majestic mountain range. It’s a fantastical, secluded place where magic is real and trolls lurk in the wilds beyond the capitol city. It’s also a breathtaking place to behold, with vistas and views unlike the setting of any animated film that has come before. To achieve such a feat, the creators of Frozen took inspiration from the Scandinavian nation of Norway, letting the beauty of that country’s landscape and history inspire and eventually inhabit the visuals of their film. Now that the film is arriving in theaters and audiences will see for themselves, the adventure vacation specialists at Adventures by Disney have created a trip that will let you explore the lands of Norway in person.
Early in 2013, just as the final story for Frozen was coming together, the trip development team at Adventures by Disney went over to the Walt Disney Animation Studios to meet the producers and filmmakers of the upcoming film. They got to see concept art and early storyboards, and heard all about the research trips that the Frozen team had taken to Norway that influenced the film’s look and sense of adventure. Adventures by Disney has dozens of trips that take curious travelers all over the planet in search of unique experiences and incredible stories, and recently found great success with a Scotland-based itinerary inspired by the Disney/Pixar film Brave. After hearing the creators of Frozen speak of Norway, they knew that there was great potential in a similar trip exploring the land behind this film as well, and so they set out on a three-week trip to see it for themselves.
“Around every corner in this country, my jaw dropped,” Adventures by Disney director of trip development Heather Killingbeck told us. “It was so breathtakingly beautiful and dramatic–and different. Meaning that around every corner I saw something that I hadn’t seen in the previous mile, from the landscapes to the seascapes.”
“In addition to all of the natural beauty, I think what captivated us the most was the local people and their sense of storytelling, which was astonishing,” added Monica Yukopila, who worked with Heather on developing the trip. “They all had a story to tell us which helped us connect with Norway and understand their culture and how much they recognize and value the natural beauty of their country.”
It’s very important to Adventures by Disney that its trips not simply be sight-seeing tourism–though the sights on a journey like this are certainly part of the appeal–but that they provide immersive, authentic experiences and engage the people and the history of a destination. They’re offering adventures, after all.
The Norway itinerary begins in Bergen, where travellers will meet each other and their pair of dedicated guides for a dinner overlooking Bergen’s Bryggen, or wharf area. It’s here that it will immediately become apparent to fans of Frozen that Adventures by Disney has placed you in the footsteps of that film’s artists and designers, as this area is the specific inspiration for the setting of Arendelle.
Then it’s off to fjord country, to travel on the luckily not-so-frozen waters of Norway’s famous fjords. “The fjords bring a sense of drama to both the landscapes and the seascapes throughout the entire western part of the country,” Heather told us. “In the movie there’s a sense of adventure throughout the entire story, and that ties very much to our entire itinerary.” By day two, travelers will be river-rafting down waterways tucked between the area’s stunning mountain vistas, on their way to a night at a historic local farm turned rustic hotel.
On day three, travel by RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) will bring travelers to small villages with local architecture reminiscent of the film, and day four will include a private tour (just one of many private tours on the trip) of the Borgund Stave Church, the best preserved historical building of its kind. These Stave Churches were cited by the Frozen team when we recently spoke to them as the basis for the design of Anna and Elsa’s castle and are some of the last remaining representations of a style that once stretched across Europe. The Borgund Stave Church is built in dragon style, which includes gargoyle-like faces and representations built directly into the church’s edifice and a black tar paint that gives off a haunted, spooky appearance.
As the trip continues on through the Norwegian landscape, travelers will encounter numerous local storytellers, artisans, and experts, and will get personal insight into what makes the local culture of the area unique. A lunch during one of the excursions on the RIB, for example, will be hosted by a local cheese maker and folksinger who will teach visitors some stories of Norway’s mythical trolls and illustrate the importance that Norwegians place on storytelling throughout their heritage–and that’s just the beginning. The trolls will be back again, and again, showing up in stories and experiences throughout the trip.
Another of Frozen’s signature visuals is the waterfall, a formation that is abundant in Norway and gives a truly cinematic feeling to the countryside there. Adventures by Disney will take its travellers to the Briksdal Glacier, surrounded by waterfalls as they travel, and later on to the Seven Sisters Waterfall, which consists of seven independent streams cascading down the mountainside of the Geirangerfjord.
While Adventures by Disney’s Norway trip follows the footsteps of the film’s creators, it was also designed to allow guests to share experiences with Anna and Elsa, the stars of the film. Crafting the itinerary was about more than just getting travelers to the right places at the right times; Adventures by Disney’s development team are intent on capturing some of the emotional essence of Frozen’s story as well. While that doesn’t mean there will be any monstrous snowmen to battle or icy ledges to dangle from, you’ll need to pack a sense of adventure, discovery, and fun on this trip. And like the sisters at the core of the film, family is an important part of every Adventures by Disney experience. Each trip has guides and experts who make sure the experience is interesting and authentic throughout, but the adventure is all yours.
To celebrate the launch of this brand-new Frozen-inspired itinerary, Adventures by Disney and Frozen are giving away a free trip for four to Norway! Enter the Disney’s Frozen Norway Getaway Sweepstakes on the official Frozen website for your chance to win. The contest ends on January 6, 2014, so enter now!