The Magic Behind Merchandise at Disney Parks: Creating Elsa’s ‘Frozen’ Dress

June 14, 2014

Here’s a little something for you Frozen Fans, courtesy of our friends at the Disney Parks Blog!

I know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the ever-popular Elsa dress (from the Disney animated hit “Frozen“) at Disney Parks, so I wanted to bring you this special behind-the-scenes look at how merchandise at Disney Parks & Resorts is created. Let me start by asking you this important question: Do you want to build a snowman, costume?


Much like producing a film or designing theme park attractions, creating a memorable item requires careful planning, creativity, attention to detail and, of course, teamwork. The entire development process for a single item can take anywhere from six months to over one year. With the help of our talented team from Disney Theme Park Merchandise, I uncovered all the details on what makes the Elsa dresses from “Frozen” so special and the magic behind the merchandise. So, let’s get started!
What does it look like?

The artist reviews artwork, which allows them to see the original dress from multiple angles and understand the overall color scheme and design. For this particular dress, Disney Design Group artist Cody Reynolds worked closely with Walt Disney Animation Studios to capture the most recognizable elements of the dress from the animated film to translate into a wearable costume.


What makes it special?
According to Cody, the next step is for the artist and the merchandiser to work together to finalize and approve the costume concept prior to production. The team explores a variety of fabric swatches in an effort to find the perfect match and examines how the fabrics will comfortably fit on an actual person. The final materials chosen were able to emulate a delicate, icy and sheer appearance. Here’s a quick look at the some of the fabric swatches used to create the dress.


When I asked Cody and merchandiser Katie Patton about their favorite part of the development process, here’s what they had to share. “It’s seeing the first sample for the first time,” said Cody, “when something that has been in your head actually comes to life.”
Of course there’s a lot of logistical planning that goes hand in hand with all of the creative development, buying the dress, figuring out which store will offer them and determining how they’ll get there. Once the dress arrives in the location, our Merchandise presentation team goes to work, ensuring that the item fits the look, feel and the story.
For nearly 60 years, it has been the mission of Disney Theme Park Merchandise to provide an experience that goes far beyond your expectations and extends the storytelling into your homes.
What’s my favorite part of the process? It’s easy! It’s that moment when you see a child smiling and beaming as they exclaim to Elsa, “I’m wearing a dress just like yours!” As you can tell, it’s a rather integrated process that involves collaboration throughout The Walt Disney Company.


*Thanks to Michelle Harker, Manager, Merchandise Marketing & Communications, Disneyland Resort

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One thought on “The Magic Behind Merchandise at Disney Parks: Creating Elsa’s ‘Frozen’ Dress”
  1. It is good that they keep in mind that not just a CM will wear this but a child will to. Love it. I wonder how many adults will want it for thier wedding dress.

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