Disney’s ‘Frozen’ phenomenon goes far beyond the movie

06/08/2014 12:00 AM

06/08/2014 6:49 PM

If the words “Do you want to build a snowman?” start you singing at the top of your lungs, then this story is for you.

“Frozen,” the Disney animated film that features Princesses Elsa and Anna – the latter of whom plaintively sings the above line – has jumped off the screen and into cars, living rooms and parties everywhere. It’s a phenomenon that has created such a huge demand that there’s a new trip to Norway inspired by the movie, and Elsa dresses are so hard to come by that one recently was listed on an online auction site for $1,300.

A post on The Modesto Bee’s Facebook page about the craze elicited swift and enthusiastic response.

“My 3-year-old tells everyone she meets that she is Queen Elsa,” Erin Woffard wrote. “She insists that I braid her hair every day.”

Ana Cortes posted a photo of her 4-year-old daughter at a birthday party. The youngster was decked out in an Elsa dress, wig and tiara, and accompanied by a stuffed Olaf (he’s the snowman in the film).

And Raquel Raygoza said her 5-year-old has gone so far as to change her name to Elsa. “And every night she wishes on a star for ‘Frozen’ powers and white hair!”

For the uninitiated, “Frozen” – which tells the story of how Anna and Elsa overcome Elsa’s terrible power to turn everything into ice and snow – has become the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time, raking in $1.2 billion in box office earnings worldwide.

The huge demand for anything “Frozen” has created a shortage of merchandise on Disney Store shelves all over North America. It’s also led to hours-long waits to see the princesses at Disney parks in Florida and California.

Lindy Collins experienced the latter, she wrote in a comment on The Bee’s Facebook post. “We just returned from Disneyland where people were waiting two to four hours to meet Elsa and Anna,” she said. Even though her family got into the park an hour early, they still waited 40 minutes in line.

At the Florida park last week, the wait to meet the sisters at the Magic Kingdom’s Princess Fairytale Hall was listed on a park sign as 300 minutes – five hours – by 9:30 a.m., a half-hour after the park opened, according to Deborah Bowen, a Tampa resident and longtime Disney parkgoer.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, the fury, the popularity that these two princesses have had,” Bowen said.

“Frozen” has boosted Disney’s bottom line; in May it posted second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company’s consumer products revenue grew 16 percent to $885 million, lifted by “Frozen,” with its merchandise accounting for nine of the top 10 best-selling items in Disney Stores.

The trend is true locally, with shoppers plucking up “Frozen” merchandise nearly as soon as it hits the shelves. On Friday, The Disney Store in Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall offered an assortment of items, including an Anna doll, Elsa’s nightgown and some dishes featuring the characters.

Envy, a clothing store with locations in Modesto, Turlock and Atwater, advertised Elsa and Anna dresses on its Facebook page. A planned visit by the princesses, at each store site, is proving wildly popular, with spots available for purchase selling out in 20 minutes, and people clamoring to take part in contests for others.

“It’s been crazy,” owner Darlene Dover said. “Anything we get in that’s related to ‘Frozen’ gets sold immediately.” She’s even had personal friends hitting her up to take part in the princess visit.

“This has to be the first time something like this has happened to Disney,” she said.

The appeal isn’t limited to little girls.

One 6-year-old boy in Turlock knows the movie by heart and regularly belts out an overly dramatic version of “Let It Go,” Elsa’s anthem when she releases her powers at last.

Said Rita Nesan, “My boys, 4 and 2, can recite the entire movie word for word. Recently, our 2-year-old cried hysterically at the mall and the grocery store when he was walking on the shiny tile floors. He was afraid of falling through the ice! It’s obviously time for a break from ‘Frozen.’ ”

But not everyone is a fan. Antonio Osequeda’s response to The Bee’s query about whether “Frozen” has taken over the house: “YES IT HAS AND IT’S DRIVING ME NUTS!”

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