US tourists plan trips to Disney’s Frozen land

American tourists look set to descend on Norway by the planeload this summer to see with their own eyes the majestic landscape depicted in Disney’s Golden Globe-winning animation, Frozen, which has now taken more than $1 billion in the box office.

US tourists plan trips to Disney’s Frozen land
The stunning Norwegian landscape in Disney's Frozen - The Walt Disney Company

With landscapes inspired by Norway, the film set a new box office record for a debut on the US's Thanksgiving weekend, taking $66.7m in its first weekend. This week it became the 13th biggest grossing movie of all time, as box office receipts surged to $1.05 billion.

And already Norwegian tourism officials are witnessing the effects of the exposure.

“We’ve seen a 350-percent increase in visits to our site from the US,” Innovation Norway’s tourism chief, Per-Arne Tuftin, told public broadcaster NRK.

“A number of our partners have also had big increases on their sites. We will gradually start to see more concrete economic results but this is looking good,” he said.

On its Adventures by Disney website, the movie giant talks up the country’s scenic charms as it sells trips that take in Bergen, Oslo, the fjords, stave churches, trout fishing, river rafting and folk dancing.

“Experience all the beauty and majesty our tour of Norway has to offer as you explore the quaint villages and majestic landscapes that make up this scenic country that served as the inspiration for the animated comedic-adventure, Disney's Frozen,” it says. 

At the height of the tourist season in July and August, the eight-day tours are priced at an eye-watering $6,279 for adults and $5,969 for children. 

“We don’t know exactly what this will mean for Norway yet but Disney says the tours are selling well,” said Tuftin.

The film, which retells the story of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, is set in a world of icy fjords, Norwegian stave churches, traditional costumes, the Northern Lights, gløgg (mulled wine), and even lutefisk.

Disney sent some of its cartoonists to Norway for two weeks to soak in the local sights as they dreamt up the visual world of the film.

Innovation Norway, which runs the Visit Norway site in the US, has paid a large but unspecified sum to Disney as part of a partnership which sees the film used in all marketing material by travel companies arranging trips to Norway. 
The film has pride of place on Visit Norway's home page.  

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Local Norwegian choir behind ‘Frozen’ soundtrack set for global album launch

They inspired one of the biggest films in box office history, and now the women of Cantus – the Norwegian choir who sang the opening track to Disney’s animated hit 'Frozen' – are releasing their first album.

Local Norwegian choir behind 'Frozen' soundtrack set for global album launch
Photo: Decca Records

During their first research trip to Norway, as they drove around the country hoping to be inspired by the beauty of the landscape, Frozen’s producers stopped at a shop and picked up some CDs for the journey.

In turn, the producers discovered the ethereal sound of Cantus, the then-hidden voices of Norway, and the yoik – a traditional form of song from the Sami people of the Nordic countries.

Cantus – 32 women from the northern city of Trondheim – not only provided the opening music to the film, but also inspired the costume design with their traditional dresses (bunads) and themes of strong female characters and sisterly love.

Comparable to the chanting of some Native American cultures, the yoik often mimics the sounds of nature, and this is evoked in many of Cantus’ recordings on the new album. The lead track, ‘Vuelie’ – or ‘Earth Song’ – weaves the voices of the all-female choir with steady chanting reminiscent of repetitive rain or snow as in the familiar opening to the hit film.

Written by composer Frode Fjellheim, the involvement with Disney has given the choir and composer much attention across the globe. Since the film’s release in 2013, Disney enthusiasts as well as music and culture lovers have flocked to the country to experience the real Frozen.

 “With this new album, we hope to expose the world to the rich heritage and music in Norway. I’m so proud of the choir, who've worked tirelessly on the recordings. It has been a truly wonderful project to work on,” said Fjellheim via a press statement.

Since its establishment in 1986, Cantus has been led by one of Norway's most acclaimed conductors, Tove Ramlo-Ystad. A singer herself and the choir’s Artistic Director, Ystad focuses on pure and simple vocals, honing in on the beauty of the natural tone, while still maintaining homogeneity. This sound lends itself well to contemporary and traditional Norwegian folk music, for the harmonious yet personal sound for which Cantus have become renowned.

 “We have a saying in Cantus that we give from our hearts to your hearts. With our music, we have the opportunity to give something to other people, to give joy and happiness, and to be a part of that is very special.  I am tremendously proud of everything the girls have achieved,” Ystad said in a press release.

The choir members are women aged between 20 and 40, and all have day jobs outside the choir, ranging from student to nurse, hairdresser, lawyer and architect. The powerful female bond between choir members and their charismatic conductor is evident in their live performances and recordings, and is one of the secrets behind their success, says Decca Records, the record company now bringing the group to an international audience.

The album was recorded in Trondheim, and produced by Jon Cohen, who has 21 top five classical albums – including 14 number ones – and 17 Classical Brit awards to his name.

The album will be released on May 12th ahead of Norway’s national day on May 17th, which sees processions and celebrations throughout the streets, with women all donning the traditional bunads worn by the choir.

The recent signing to Decca Records sees the choir embark on a new chapter in their musical journey, bestowing audiences with their harmonious sounds and reflecting the musical heritage of Norway.