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Easter eggs you missed in Frozen 2

Frozen II is an exception at Disney, where animated sequels rarely earn a theatrical release — but then, the original Frozen isn't quite like other Disney movies. It deeply infiltrated the culture, from trick-or-treaters dressing up like Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) to the enduring popularity of the show-stopping musical number "Let It Go." Frozen II picks up where the previous film left off, with the characters wondering what the future holds while grappling with some well-concealed secrets from the past. Also, there's a talking snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) and a very expressive and hilarious reindeer.

Frozen II is a fast-paced, rollicking adventure that takes place in a beautiful and lushly animated world that's dazzling even by Disney standards. There's so much to look at (and think about) that it's easy to overlook the many jokes, references, and shoutouts hidden throughout. Fortunately, we're here to help you make sense of it all with this look at some of the best and most memorable Easter eggs in Frozen II.

Elsa makes her own Disney merchandise

It's almost as obvious that Frozen II is a Disney movie as it is obvious that it's a movie about a queen with magical powers who turns stuff into ice and belts out "Let it Go" as a form of emotional catharsis. Yes, the House of Mouse signed the paychecks for all the animators and voice actors who worked very hard to make Frozen II a dazzling cinematic experience, and the crew said thanks by dropping in a number of brief and cute references to Disney projects old and new. 

The film begins with a pre-Frozen flashback to when Anna and Elsa are kids. Although they live in a magical fairy tale kingdom of yore, they do what kids of any time would do: they play with dolls. The difference is that these dolls are made out of ice, courtesy of Elsa's fast-acting magical powers. One of the figures we see is a little elephant with a long trunk and oversized ears — Dumbo from Dumbo, in other words. A slightly hulking, rounded one is a dead ringer for Baymax, the friendly robot at the center of the 2015 Disney/Marvel hit Big Hero 6. There's also one who looks like adorable monster Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro. (That's a Studio Ghibli film, not a Disney one, but Disney controlled American distribution rights for that 1988 animated classic.)

There's a mouse in the house

Sorry to Dumbo and Baymax, but the most recognizable character in Disney's long filmic history is Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney's first successful creation is so recognizable and so popular that the silhouette of this high-voiced star of "Steamboat Willie" and The Mickey Mouse Club is a lynchpin of Disney's iconography. Disney theme parks are full of "Hidden Mickeys" — those three black circles that comprise the mouse's head and big ears are real-life Easter eggs to be found on the ground, walls, and inside rides. Just like Disneyland, Frozen II is sprinkled with a few Mickeys. During a game of charades, Olaf cycles through several poses, one of which involves placing coals on top of his head and one in his nose region. The clue he's acting out is "mouse," and he chose to look like Mickey the mouse. Later, when Elsa sings "Into the Unknown," she spins and leaves an ice circle in her wake. Very briefly, two circles appear atop that circle, forming the well-known Mickey shape.

Straight out of Denmark

Perhaps part of the reason Disney movies resonate with audiences is because they're based on material that's familiar, relatable, and even profound. So many Disney animated movies, like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mulan, and Cinderella, have scripts based on really old folk tales, legends, and fairy tales. Frozen is based on Snedronningen, or The Snow Queen, a fairy tale-type story first published in its original, Danish language form in 1844. The author: Hans Christian Andersen, who also wrote the source material for another Disney classic, The Little Mermaid. He lay the narrative groundwork for Frozen, but Frozen II was created entirely by modern-day screenwriters imagining new adventures for the characters inspired by Andersen's. The author's presence is still felt in Frozen II, however — at one point, as an affectionate passing reference. Toward the end of the movie, audiences see a flashback to when Elsa and Anna's parents — Iduna and Agnarr — were children. Iduna runs over to Agnarr and inquires about the book in which he's happily engrossed. He explains it's "a new Danish author." He means Hans Christen Anderson.

And in other Newts...

Animation studio Pixar is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney, bringing computer-animated feature films into the mainstream the way Disney did with traditionally animated films in the 1930s and '40s. Disney distributes Pixar films like Toy Story, Cars, and Newt. That last one isn't some obscure or yet-to-be-released Pixar project. Announced in 2008, Newt was about the world's last male and female blue-footed newts that must breed to save their species... only they don't get along. Pixar had no choice but to cancel the film — Fox's 2011 cartoon Rio hit theaters first, with virtually the same plot as Newt. (It was about mismatched macaws, not newts.) Frozen II just may have paid homage to this forgotten obscurity of non-cinematic history. One of the cutest new characters introduced in the film is a big-eyed magical salamander named Bruni who can spread fire the way Elsa spreads ice. He bears more than a strong resemblance to the newts introduced in the concept art of the ill-fated Newt.

She sounds familiar

The original Frozen was a massive hit. Upon its release in 2013, it earned $1.2 billion at the box office, which indicated there was plenty of interest for more Frozen projects. As it's a movie full of memorable songs — "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" and the Oscar-winning "Let It Go" especially — adapting Frozen into a Broadway musical like it had done for The Lion King and Aladdin was a no-brainer for Disney. That live version of Frozen opened on the Great White Way in 2018 and earned three major Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. Co-starring in the challenging role of conflicted, heartbroken young Anna in that production: actress Mattea Conforti. When Frozen II producers put its cast together, they brought Conforti on board. In an extremely subtle Easter egg that only the most hardcore of Frozen franchise fans were likely to notice, the former young Anna gave voice to young Elsa in the movie sequel. 

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Apart from Elsa and Anna's epic quest, the main "B" plot in Frozen II concerns Kristoff wrestling with his romantic situation. His relationship with Anna is seemingly so solid that he wants to propose marriage, but every time he gets a chance to pop the question, he messes it up. Before long, he wonders if he and his love are drifting apart, and he expresses these feelings in a big musical number called "Lost in the Woods." It's performed in the style of a 1980s power ballad, and the sequence makes use of the kinds of things one would see in a vintage '80s music video for such a song. For example, he goes to hug Anna, but she disappears right out of his arms. There's also one very specific reference to a well-known video from the 1970s. The face of Kristoff, partially shadowed against a black screen, appears in the bottom of the screen, while three reindeer, singing backup, show up in the top half. It's a facial tableau straight out of the clip for Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Show me the snowman!

Frozen II is surprisingly dark and emotionally raw for a Disney cartoon aimed at grade-school-age kids. It finds Elsa and Anna coming to terms with (and discovering some secrets about) their family's history and legacy, while Olaf the goofy snowman seems to be going through an existential crisis brought about by aging and being able to live in environments other than snow. Still, he maintains his purpose from the first Frozen: a sidekick, comic relief, and weirdo all in one. 

When Elsa heads out into the Enchanted Forest to find the source of some creepy voice only she can hear, she's aided by her sister and protector Anna, whose boyfriend Kristoff follows, and since all the other main characters are leaving, Olaf might as well go, too. For a few moments, Frozen II turns into a road movie, with the gang piling into a reindeer-drawn cart. Olaf tries to help pass the time and entertain his friends by reciting a seemingly endless litany of fun facts (or odd bits of information or observation he believes to be facts). He's having so much fun he doesn't care if anybody wants to hear them or not. This whole sequence is a pretty faithful re-creation of the famous scene from the 1996 dramedy Jerry Maguire in which Jerry (Tom Cruise) and Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) patiently listen to Dorothy's son (Jonathan Lipnicki) recite trivia bits like "Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?"