Originally inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s short story “The Snow Queen,” Disney’s Frozen film franchise has quickly blossomed into a saga of its own, with its own mythology and backstory. With every film, animated short, and live action adaptation, fans get to learn a little bit more about Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Kristoff, Sven the reindeer, and everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf.
With Frozen 2 finally streaming on Disney+, now’s a great time to take a look back at all the animated and live action stories parents and children can enjoy about the Kingdom of Arendelle. Read closely! Odds are, we may have found a few Frozen tales you haven’t seen!
By now, practically everyone knows the story of the original Frozen movie (or at least listened to their kids sing multiple versions of “Let It Go”). As children, Princess Elsa’s magical ice powers accidentally injure her little sister Anna, creating a rift between the two girls. Years later, an adult Elsa loses control of her powers and freezes her kingdom in an eternal winter. To save their people, Anna teams up with mountain man Kristoff and happy snowman Olaf to show Elsa she still loves her and that they can fix her mistake together.
Where other Disney movies featured classic romances between princes and princesses, Frozen broke new ground by focusing on the family love between Anna and Elsa. Audiences loved the movie’s empowering theme of self-acceptance, the catchy songs, and its fairy tale inversions (Anna’s charming boyfriend Prince Hans turns out to be the movie’s unexpected villain).
Frozen has since been adapted into two live musical plays, not to mention a Disney on Ice skating show. The original movie, however, was only the beginning of a much bigger story the filmmakers wove through later animated shorts, featurettes, and feature films.
Frozen Fever (2015)
While the success of Frozen practically guaranteed a sequel, Disney chose not to rush things – instead teasing audiences with a couple animated shorts. Frozen Fever was the first of these, playing in theaters before Disney’s live action Cinderella (2015).
The seven-minute-short brings back all the voices from the original American cast, including Idina Menzel as Elsa, Kristen Bell as Anna, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, and Josh Gadd as Olaf. On its surface, it plays like an irreverent comedy with Elsa throwing Anna a surprise birthday party to make up for the ones they couldn’t spend together as children. Unfortunately, Elsa catches a cold which makes her magically sneeze mini snowmen (or as Olaf calls them, “little brothers!”). Anna finally coaxes her sister to bed – but not before Elsa sneezes a giant snowball that travels across countries to knock Anna’s treacherous ex-boyfriend Prince Hans into a cart of manure.
Frozen fans love this short because it shows the normally serious Elsa acting hilariously goofy as her cold worsens. The two sisters also continue bonding, with Anna assuring Elsa that taking care of her big sister is “the best birthday present ever.” Elsa’s mini snowmen also proved popular and appear in later Frozen stories. Fans can find Frozen Fever streaming on Amazon.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017)
The Frozen family reunites again in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a 21-minute featurette that had a 3D theatrical release in front of the Pixar movie Coco and is currently streaming on Disney+. This animated story is pure holiday fun as Olaf the snowman goes in search of family traditions after learning Anna and Elsa never had the chance to develop any as children. As Olaf makes his own comic observations on the holidays (“Breaking and entering… okay on Christmas,” he notes after learning about Santa coming down the chimney), Elsa and Anna re-explore their past and discover they do have a special tradition – thanks to Olaf.
A fun movie to watch during the holidays (or Frozen movie marathons), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure also features four original songs, including the stand-out “When We’re Together” sung by Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, and Josh Gadd.
Frozen 2 (2019)
The latest film in the Frozen franchise, Frozen 2 debuted six years after the original movie. The film embraces this by letting time, growth, and maturity be this film’s major themes. Elsa and Anna uncover their heritage by learning Elsa’s ice magic came from their mother, a Northuldran woman from the Enchanted Forest. The sisters attempt to right a major wrong committed by Arendelle’s king toward the Northuldra tribe, but learn it may require them to separate. Meanwhile, Kristoff struggles with finding a way to propose to Anna and even Olaf has to deal with the new feelings that come with growing up.
Celebrated for offering a darker tone, gorgeous animation, and stirring new songs (Elsa’s new showstopper “Into the Unknown” has become almost as popular as her breakout hit “Let It Go”), Frozen 2 proved a satisfying new chapter for its fans. And having earned over $1.4 billion dollars at the box office, there’s every chance fans will get to see Frozen 3 down the line.
Once Upon a Time: Season 4 (2014-2015)
Frozen 2 may provide the “official” continuation of the Frozen saga, but audiences also got to enjoy an alternate look at Anna and Elsa’s story much earlier in season 4 of ABC’s Once Upon a Time live action television series. The fourth season had Elsa (Georgina Haig) and Anna (Elizabeth Lail) travel to modern times where they interact with alternate versions of Snow White, Captain Hook – and a new Snow Queen who turns out to be their aunt.
Although considered non-canon, the dark story is definitely one for older Frozen fans as it takes place shortly after the first movie with Anna about to marry Kristoff. The show also offers a different take on the sisters’ family history (and frequent nods to Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” short story). Audiences can find Once Upon a Time on Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, FandangoNOW, and Amazon.
LEGO Frozen Northern Lights
Although Frozen hasn’t received a full-blown animated series like Disney’s Hercules or Aladdin, fans can still see Disney’s LEGO Frozen Northern Lights miniseries currently streaming on Disney+. The miniseries is (very) loosely based on a Frozen book series published by Random House and follows LEGO versions of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf on their journey to restore the Northern Lights.
More comedic and tongue-and-cheek than the movies (at one point, Elsa loses control of her magic and starts creating ice sculptures of Mickey Mouse), the miniseries nonetheless reunites the original American voice cast and offers a charm of its own. It’s mostly irreverent fun, but for Frozen fans hungry to see more of their favorite characters, it’s a definite win.