“Frozen” director Jennifer Lee cried over Disney movie's new theme park land amid sequel reveal

Lee exclusively talks with EW about Hong Kong Disneyland's World of Frozen, where CEO Bob Iger announced third and fourth 'Frozen' movies are simultaneously in development.

When the universe, Disney Imagineers, and a bit of Elsa's ice magic combined to bring a story from Frozen director Jennifer Lee's mind into reality, she had to let her emotions go, as the filmmaker exclusively tells EW that setting foot inside Hong Kong Disneyland's immersive World of Frozen land for the first time had her fighting back "literal tears" of pure joy — all amid an announcement that Frozen 3 and 4 are simultaneously in the works.

"I think emotional is the first word I said: 'I’m so emotional.' It was that," Lee, who co-directed and wrote the Oscar-winning animated film Frozen for Disney 10 years ago, recalls Thursday at a preview event inside the Hong Kong park, with a life-size recreation of various franchise iconography she initially wrote into the films' screenplays framing her from behind.

<p>Joey Nolfi</p> 'Frozen' director Jennifer Lee and Disney Parks' Josh D'Amaro at Hong Kong Disneyland's World of Frozen

Joey Nolfi

'Frozen' director Jennifer Lee and Disney Parks' Josh D'Amaro at Hong Kong Disneyland's World of Frozen

What’s amazing about the experience here is it’s completely immersive. I’m walking in Arendelle. I have [personal] stories about why there’s a clock tower in the film, and the clock tower is here. I remember how we created Wandering Oaken, and he’s here," she says.

There's very little franchise fare that isn't here at World of Frozen. Seven years of work under the leadership of Michel den Dulk, an executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, led to a new land that compliments and lightly expands on the Frozen lore, with even bigger plans in the works for the park and the screen.

<p>Joey Nolfi</p> World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland

Joey Nolfi

World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland

"I think beyond, because I hear there's more room, because I'm like, 'You're going to need it," Lee teases when asked where fans should look to find clues about Frozen 3 inside World of Frozen. "There's a lot more story coming."

Set in a world that celebrates the sisterly love between Anna and Elsa, a pair of musically inclined sibling royals in the fictional Nordic kingdom of Arendelle, World of Frozen boasts two rides (Frozen Ever After, a boat attraction following the film's narrative, and Wandering Oaken's Sliding Sleighs, a family coaster journey through the mountains), dining locations, shops, and ample meet-and-greet opportunities with characters ranging from Mossy the troll child to Elsa herself.

<p>Joey Nolfi</p> Elsa and Anna at World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland

Joey Nolfi

Elsa and Anna at World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland

When Disney set out to bring the films' iconic locales, residents, and even food to life (including the central clock tower, Arendelle Castle, Elsa's Ice Palace, and more), the process involved not only minds on the park's side, but also members of Lee's creative team at Disney Animation Studios, whom CEO Bob Iger also confirmed to be hard at work on future Frozen stories while speaking at a presentation during the Hong Kong event.

The result of their collaboration is both a nod to the last decade of Frozen fever (complete with returning voice actors who recorded new lines for the attraction, namely Josh Gad as snowman Olaf and Jonathan Groff as Kristoff), as well as a look to the series' ever-evolving potential future — including an overarching message of inclusivity and shared joy exemplified by a brief (but no less effective) change in the iconic lyrics to "Let It Go" inside Frozen Ever After.

<p>Joey Nolfi</p> Hong Kong Disneyland's World of Frozen at night

Joey Nolfi

Hong Kong Disneyland's World of Frozen at night

"For me, it’s this feeling of everything we’ve done over these 10 years, and now it’s real," Lee says, reflecting on her own legacy while literally standing inside it. And, just as her films' signature tune suggests, she refuses to conceal the feeling she gets when coming face-to-face with ideas that began in her own mind.

"Today I thought I would make it through," she continues. "And we went in and got to meet with Anna and Elsa, and Elsa brought her magic to life right in front of us, and I was like, WEll, there I go again."

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