The animated character voiced by Josh Gad has a starring role in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a new short debuting with Pixar’s Coco, which hits theaters Nov. 22. And a day later, Olaf will debut as one of four new giant character balloons in the 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City (broadcasting on NBC at 9 a.m. ET/PT).
“Having an Olaf balloon alongside Mickey, Elmo and Big Bird is a dream come true and something that, because (the parade’s) so storied and has such a long tradition, I now get to share with my own kids,” says Gad.
He recalls watching the parade with then-girlfriend (and now wife) Ida Darvish in 2005, when Gad was living in an apartment near Macy’s and starring in his first Broadway production, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. “We were standing there on this rooftop watching all this in the rain, and it was just such a magical experience,” Gad says. “To now have one of my own characters inspire one of those iconic floats is pretty surreal.”
Chris Buck, who directed the first Frozen movie in 2013, drew a sketch for the balloon that was used as inspiration for the Macy’s Parade Studio design team.
While Gad admits he’s biased, Olaf now reaching the rarefied air of such pop-culture icons as Spider-Man and Spongebob Squarepants is “a very humbling honor” and one that speaks to the way Frozen’s snowman has struck a chord with kids, which the actor sees on a daily basis. “Whether it’s his purity, innocence or naïvete, there’s something they all can relate to or have some sort of entertaining response to,” Gad says. “I absolutely treasure that.”
Gad has officially started voice work on the anticipated Frozen sequel due in November 2019. “It really is spectacular — the stuff I’ve seen, the stuff I’ve heard and the stuff I’ve read,” he says. “I’m truly excited.”
But before that, fans can catch up with Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel) and the whole gang in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. The 22-minute featurette is a continuation of the original Frozen, and with holidays on the horizon, Anna and Elsa figure out they don’t have any family traditions, so Olaf scours the kingdom to find the best ones for a magical Christmas.
“In the first movie, he sings an entire song about the fact that he thinks that summer and warmth are great things for someone like him,” Gad says. “But in this short, he’s seeking knowledge, which is sort of a unique thing. He wants to know about these things called traditions that everyone in Arendelle has and not only embrace those traditions but find the ones that will directly help the people closest to him — these two sisters who are the very reasons why he’s alive.”