Disney frequently includes Easter eggs in their productions, and Once Upon A Snowman — the new Frozen short film that tells Olaf’s origin story — is no different. The short film bridges the gap between the moment that Elsa recreates Olaf and the time that Olaf meets up with Anna, Kristoff, and Sven. Though Once Upon A Snowman is just over seven minutes long (not including the unusually long credits), all seven of its Disney Easter eggs are found in one scene.
Once Upon A Snowman’s hidden references to other Disney films occurs at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post. After Olaf is separated from Elsa, he realizes that he is alive and wants to know more about himself. Olaf aptly wanders into Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post where Oaken takes a liking to Olaf. Olaf wants a nose, so Oaken gives him various items to try on, including a fish, a bottle, a snowglobe, a toilet plunger, and a stereoscope.
Olaf immediately falls in love with the idea of summer when he looks through the stereoscope and sees photographs of beaches, flowers, and sunshine. Six of those photographs will look familiar to attentive Disney fans, while Once Upon A Snowman’s first Easter egg is more obscure than the other six, but it is also in Wandering Oaken’s.
On the table at Wandering Oaken’s, there are several wood carvings. A few are of bears while others are of troll-like creatures. The carvings don’t seem to resemble the rock trolls in Frozen, but Disney’s concept art for the trolls shows a bit more of a resemblance. These small wood carvings also appear in Frozen.
This is the first of two photographs that Olaf sees in his stereoscope are from Moana. The first is the shot from a scene where Moana, Disney’s most recently added princess, and her grandma are dancing together on the beach.
Once Upon A Snowman‘s second reference to Moana is very brief. It is a flipped image of the background shown of Motunui at sunset while Moana and her grandma walk down the beach — and even includes their footprints.
Once Upon A Snowman also uses scenery from Tangled. This scene occurs just after Flynn Rider sees his wanted poster and the castle guards catch up to Flynn and the Stabbington brothers – they flee into the woods.
The second Tangled reference is from the scene where Rapunzel is torn between joy and agony after escaping her tower. Rapunzel rolls herself inside her hair down a hill in front of a tree. The tree, hill, grass, and flowers from this scene appear in Olaf’s stereoscope.
The longer Olaf looks into the stereoscope, the faster the images flash by. This shot from Zootopia is shown so briefly that it’s difficult to see, let alone identify. In Zootopia, Judy Hopps takes the train from Bunnyburrow into Zootopia to start her new job as a police officer. The train passes under a waterfall into a tunnel. The train and tracks were removed, but the waterfall was used in Once Upon A Snowman.
Though this shot was not taken directly from Frozen 2, the picnic scene that Olaf sees in his stereoscope includes a familiar picnic blanket. Near the beginning of the movie, Anna and Olaf lay on a blanket under a tree, pondering life. The bordered red-gingham blanket appears identical to the one that Olaf sees in the stereoscope, though it also features baskets of food and is surrounded by flowers and ferns rather than pumpkins.
Olaf, the somehow sentient snowman, has been a divisive character since Frozen released seven years ago – but, love him or hate him, Olaf probably isn’t going anywhere. One of two Olaf-centric shorts available on Disney+, Once Upon A Snowman answers several questions that weren’t exactly burning, but it is a fine addition to the Frozen franchise. Once Upon A Snowman is an adventurous and warmhearted origin story for a character who is likewise adventurous and warmhearted.