Frozen 2 – An adventure at Hamleys Magical Castle
A friend of mine with three kids once said that if she heard the song “Let It Go” one more time she would pierce her eyes with an icicle. You know, for added dramatic effect. “They have it on ALL THE TIME,” she said through gritted teeth. I concurred and nodded politely, as you do, sprinkling it with a customary solidarity sigh. “They play it like three times a week!” Wait, what? This time I felt like offering a big, fat “your kids need a lesson in true fandom, lady.” You see, the beauty of autism is that Thomas’ laser focus on a particular interest means that in our household we get through at least five viewings A WEEKEND, and then there are re-enactments of Princess Anna waking her sister Elsa up to build a snowman some 15 times in a row, plus exact lines from the film told to people in the park, at the supermarket till and to random strangers on the street.
We pretty much own Frozen, folks, and have been spreading its magic to friend and foe alike for the past six years. I actually think that if #FrozenPhilosophy isn’t a thing already, it should be. The world needs to tap into Anna’s enthusiasm and belief in what unites us, Olaf’s selflessness and willingness to melt for the right people, Elsa’s altruism and self-sacrifice, Kristoff’s heart and of course Sven’s mega reindeer perceptiveness. Take that to the United Nations and you’d be able to deal with all of the world’s Prince Hans’s in one fell swoop, with an Anna punch or two thrown in for good measure. Unlike my mum friend I don’t just endure Frozen. I actually love it, sometimes even more than my little boy, Thomas. So when I heard that the Hamleys toy store in Regent’s Street were unveiling a new castle installation ahead of Frozen 2‘s release on November 22 we just had to be there.
This is a fully immersive experience that starts with the Town Crier leading visitors to the second floor of the Hamleys toy shop, where the castle itself, a mighty installation standing at 2.8 meters tall and 9.5 meters wide, is located. As soon as you cross the threshold, you arrive at an autumnal inspired town scene where merry townsfolk offer an array of experiences such as learning to speak “reindeer”, face painting, dressing up with the castle’s Tailor and Seamstress and helping the castle’s bakers with a special cake recipe.
Inside the courtyard all manner of Frozen toys are on display, including some super hugable plush toys, an Elsa singing fashion doll with a glittering light-up outfit and a child-sized interactive Sven reindeer that can be ridden. All Hamleys locations throughout the UK including Lakeside, Glasgow and Cardiff will also play host to a number of exciting in-store activities and offer an extensive range of Frozen 2 inspired products.
I’ll be honest, whilst this is a fabulous experience for neurotypicals, it’s a bit much for autistic children _lights, bells, loud voices and loud music _ and I wish maybe an Autism Hour could be introduced to give them a chance to enjoy this amazing experience without the added sensory overload _ but if your child is a sensory seeker like mine and isn’t impacted by a bit of bustle in moderate amounts, this is doable. I would skip taking part in the bits with the actors playing towns folk as that can be a bit too much in the social interaction department, but the face painting is a good shout if they like the sensory experience, and the lifesize Elsa dolls just can’t be beaten for a good squeeze.