Recently, an imaginative redditor proposed a theory that connected the worlds of Frozen and Tangled.
Below I have compiled what I think are the best pieces of ‘evidence’ raised in support of the theory, as well as one key detail that I believe changes everything.
But first, the theory:
The Frozen Theory
It didn’t take long after the release of Frozen for the internet to spot a certain cameo during the song ‘For The First Time In Forever’.
In this screenshot from early on in the film, we see a certain Disney princess attending the rare event of Arendelle opening its gates.
Judging by Rapunzel’s hair colour and style, we can see that this is set after Tangled because that film ends with Rapunzel cutting off her golden locks.
This is not the only proof that Frozen is set after Tangled. In fact, we know exactly how much time has passed between them.
You see, in Frozen, Anna and Elsa’s parents board an ill-fated ship that sadly never returns.
We are then told that three years have passed since the ship sank. This is when the main plot of Frozen takes place. Three years later.
It is, of course, no accident that Frozen was released three years (almost to the day) after Tangled.
Because Anna and Elsa’s parents died on their way to Rapunzel’s wedding.
How do we know this?
Well, in The Disney Theory I point out that the King and the Grand Duke appearing at the wedding in The Little Mermaid isn’t surprising as many European dignitaries would likely be invited to a European royal wedding.
(Since I wrote this article, Frozen writer and director Jennifer Lee has actually confirmed in a Reddit AMA that Elsa’s parents were on their way to a wedding. Co-director Chris Buck added that they survived the accident, and may be Tarzan’s parents.)
But Anna and Elsa’s parents were not just invited because they were royalty.
They were invited because one of them was related to Rapunzel.
The family resemblance between Tangled‘s Queen and Frozen‘s King is striking, and it makes sense given the setting of the films that a Norwegian princess (the Frozen animators have acknowledged Norway is basis for Arendelle) would end up married to a German king (‘Rapunzel’ was written by German authors, The Brothers Grimm).
It also explains Elsa’s magical abilities, and how the King is so prepared for a magical child. Clearly the blonde daughters of this royal family are somehow susceptible to developing magical abilities. (When Rapunzel cuts her hair it turns brown like her mother’s and she loses her magic. Unlike her sister, Frozen‘s Anna is a redhead and never displays any magic.)
(Elsa’s not the only member of Disney royalty with control over the elements. To find out more, you should read The Lion King Theory.)
So of course when Elsa magically injures Anna, her father immediately knows where they have to go, retrieving a book on trolls and how they can help cursed youngsters. The troll chief even asks ‘Born with the powers or cursed?’ as if he is aware of their family history.
Having seen his magical niece kidnapped by a jealous witch, it’s understandable that Elsa’s father wouldn’t want anybody to know about his daughter’s powers. This is why he teaches his daughter to hide her abilities, and later decides not to bring her to her cousin’s wedding for fear she might reveal them. Poor Anna was then also left so Elsa’s absence wasn’t so suspicious.
Three years later, when Arendelle opens its gates for Elsa’s coronation, it’s actually the first chance Rapunzel will have had to pay her respects to the previous king and queen – or rather, her aunt and uncle.
It Goes Deeper
Like all great conspiracies, the Frozen theory doesn’t stop at the easy connections. Not content to link just Frozen and Tangled, the threads stretch even further to connect to another Disney fairy tale that also shares an author with Frozen.
Because the sunken ship of Elsa’s parents has appeared in the Disney world before.
It’s the wreck that Ariel explores in The Little Mermaid.
OK, so cynics might point out that this could be just about any ship. So let’s bring in some geography to explain the crazy.
You see, to travel from Frozen‘s frozen Norway to Tangled‘s Germany, you have to sail past Denmark.
Denmark is of course the home of Copenhagen’s ‘Little Mermaid’ statue and is the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, who wrote both ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Snow Queen’, which is the fairy tale Frozen is based on.
If the ship sank between Norway and Germany it would be lost somewhere in the North Sea that Ariel calls her home. That’s how it appears in The Little Mermaid, after years of degradation.
(For a different explanation of how Ariel finds the ship, read:)
And so ends The Frozen Theory.
In The Disney Theory I used a certain scene from Tangled to support my theory.
This scene shows three Disney films that clearly exist as fairy tale books in the world of Tangled. In the top left we see Sleeping Beauty, below that is Beauty and the Beast, and over on the right…
So, the question: how can Ariel find the ship from Frozen if it exists as just a fairy tale in the connected world of Tangled?
The simple (and boring) answer would be that it doesn’t.
But What If It Does?
In the conclusion to The Disney Theory I argue that the fairy tales and recurring characters of the Disneyverse are archetypes in a grand repeating narrative of:
‘Daughters who dream of freedom, parents who die tragically and evil relatives who seek to control them.’
Like a computer trying to solve some cosmic puzzle, the Disney universe keep taking the same pieces and combining them in different ways in an attempt to find some great answers.
So maybe Ariel doesn’t find Elsa’s parent’s ship. Maybe the ship belongs to some other ill-fated Disney parents. Maybe the ‘Little Mermaid’ book in Tangled isn’t simply the story of Ariel’s life but is one of the many pre-defined narratives that a princess’ life can follow in this repeating Disney universe.
Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place for answers.
Because as exciting as the Little Mermaid connection is, it has almost completely distracted theorists from a far more interesting unified Disneyverse connection.
Perhaps the ‘one big computer program’ The Disney Theory imagined is more literal than anyone realised, and the Disney universe is actually a collection of Disney games (and no I don’t mean Disney Infinity).
But that will have to wait for…