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

Michelle Harker

by , Manager, Event Programming

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.


While I know that our “Frozen”-inspired merchandise at Disney Parks is quite popular and often hard to find, I encourage you to keep an eye out for returning favorites and more to come. Shipments from Arendelle continue to arrive, so be sure to check with us on your next visit.

Quick Tip: Purchasing limits apply


  • Will this dress return to the Disney Parks and/ or to the new Frozen Boutique opening in Downtown Disney (CA) in the fall or winter of 2014?

  • Can this be ordered from the parks? I am a Travel Agent and heading down in a month and need one for my daughter. Where are they available once we arrive if we can not order and have shipped?

  • We are going to WDW in two weeks can I purchase an Elsa dress in the parks? It is not online on the Disney store and we love the quality of the Disney made dresses.Help.

  • Hi Vanessa, will there be more dresses available for the little fans before the movie looses it’s momentum? I have several little God-daughters dreaming of either of the dresses. Thanks so much!

  • My family has a Disney vacation planned in Aug. and I had planned on purchasing an Elsa dress for my 6 year old who is in love with Frozen, as with all of us. Do you know if there are certain stores that do carry this on a regular basis? Or maybe that would provide us with the best chance? Can a person call a Disney store and purchase it over the phone and have it shpipped?

  • I would love to have a dress like this for me. What kind of material do they use? Would love to know

  • We just got home from a 2 week disney vacation. What a magical vacation. Unfortunately, I did not see any Anna or Elsa costumes. Can I order them on-line or call one the stores that has them to mail to me?

    • Hi Vanessa! I bet you had a wonderful vacation. I’m so sorry to hear that you were unable to locate any of the dresses during your stay. Unfortunately at this time, we are not offering them through Merchandise Guest Services or online. But if that changes I will surely let you know.

  • My teenage daughter and I were at Walt Disney World last month and saw many girls wearing the Elsa dress around the parks. We both said that is was the prettiest princess dress we had seen, and that it actually looked very comfortable for a day at the park as well. Well done!

    • Thanks Megan!

  • This is a well recreated dress, however, I am very upset that there is no Frozen merchandise for adults.

  • We love this dress. It is our favorite of all the Elsa dresses available for retail sale. It is beautiful and well made. We had the joy of taking our 5 year old granddaughter to Disneyland for a Halloween party last October, before the movie came out. She picked this Elsa dress over all the other dresses in the boutique. She looked so cute. I wish I could post a picture of her in it. She was ahead of the fad. She was the only Elsa in the park. We look forward to being able to purchase a larger one, kids grow fast, when they become available again. Note for parents: these dresses are not meant to be large skirted or drag on the ground. They are made so that little kids can run around the park safely while wearing them….

    • Hi Cindy! That’s so fantastic. I hope she continues to enjoy it.

  • Cute article, but it’s spelled Arendelle.

    • Good catch, Bradley! That correction has been made.

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