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Families in a frenzy over Disney’s ‘Frozen’

  • This undated image released by Disney shows Disney characters Anna, left, and her sister Elsa, right, from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hall with a young fan at a meet-and-greet at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Wait times to meet the sisters stretches for hours and reservations are snapped up as soon as they become available, part of a frenzy for all things "Frozen."  (AP Photo/Disney, Matt Stroshane)

    This undated image released by Disney shows Disney characters Anna, left, and her sister Elsa, right, from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hall with a young fan at a meet-and-greet at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Wait times to meet the sisters stretches for hours and reservations are snapped up as soon as they become available, part of a frenzy for all things "Frozen." (AP Photo/Disney, Matt Stroshane)

  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by the tour company Adventures by Disney shows a Norwegian fjord that is part of an itinerary based on the movie "Frozen." The film's fantasy kingdom of Arendelle was based on Norway's Geirangerfjord. The movie's popularity has spilled over into demand for "Frozen"-related merchandise, trips and visits with "Frozen" characters at Disney parks. (AP Photo/Adventures by Disney)

    FILE - This undated file photo provided by the tour company Adventures by Disney shows a Norwegian fjord that is part of an itinerary based on the movie "Frozen." The film's fantasy kingdom of Arendelle was based on Norway's Geirangerfjord. The movie's popularity has spilled over into demand for "Frozen"-related merchandise, trips and visits with "Frozen" characters at Disney parks. (AP Photo/Adventures by Disney)

  • In this May 31, 2014 photo made available by Kristin Calder, shows her daughter Caroline Calder at her seventh birthday party themed after the Disney movie "Frozen," in Boca Raton, Fla. Caroline is wearing a hard-to-find dress based on Princess Elsa’s attire from the movie, and is holding a stuffed snowman named Olaf, who is a character in the film. The Disney movie has proven extremely popular, leading to sold-out fan merchandise and long lines at Disney World to meet characters from the movie. (AP Photo/Kristin Calder)

    In this May 31, 2014 photo made available by Kristin Calder, shows her daughter Caroline Calder at her seventh birthday party themed after the Disney movie "Frozen," in Boca Raton, Fla. Caroline is wearing a hard-to-find dress based on Princess Elsa’s attire from the movie, and is holding a stuffed snowman named Olaf, who is a character in the film. The Disney movie has proven extremely popular, leading to sold-out fan merchandise and long lines at Disney World to meet characters from the movie. (AP Photo/Kristin Calder)

  • CORRECTS AGE TO 7 - In this Saturday, May 31 photo, Caroline Calder poses at her 7th birthday party with Devin Tupler and Hannah Solimini, performers portraying princesses Elsa and Anna from the movie ‘Frozen.’ Caroline’s family hired the princesses and decorated their home in a “Frozen” theme for the party. The Disney movie has proven extremely popular, leading to sold-out fan merchandise and long lines at Disney World to meet characters from the movie. (AP Photo/Kristin Calder)

    CORRECTS AGE TO 7 - In this Saturday, May 31 photo, Caroline Calder poses at her 7th birthday party with Devin Tupler and Hannah Solimini, performers portraying princesses Elsa and Anna from the movie ‘Frozen.’ Caroline’s family hired the princesses and decorated their home in a “Frozen” theme for the party. The Disney movie has proven extremely popular, leading to sold-out fan merchandise and long lines at Disney World to meet characters from the movie. (AP Photo/Kristin Calder)

  • This undated image released by Disney shows Disney characters Anna, left, and her sister Elsa from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hal at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Princess Fairytale Hall features walls of stone and stained glass windows, a spacious gallery adorned with portraits of Disney princesses and elegantly finished rooms where guests can meet Anna & Elsa, Cinderella, Rapunzel and other princesses. Wait times to meet the sisters stretches for hours and reservations are snapped up as soon as they become available, part of a frenzy for all things "Frozen."  (AP Photo/Disney, Matt Stroshane)

    This undated image released by Disney shows Disney characters Anna, left, and her sister Elsa from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hal at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Princess Fairytale Hall features walls of stone and stained glass windows, a spacious gallery adorned with portraits of Disney princesses and elegantly finished rooms where guests can meet Anna & Elsa, Cinderella, Rapunzel and other princesses. Wait times to meet the sisters stretches for hours and reservations are snapped up as soon as they become available, part of a frenzy for all things "Frozen." (AP Photo/Disney, Matt Stroshane)

  • This undated image released by Disney shows Disney characters Anna, left, and her sister Elsa, right, from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hall with a young fan at a meet-and-greet at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Wait times to meet the sisters stretches for hours and reservations are snapped up as soon as they become available, part of a frenzy for all things "Frozen."  (AP Photo/Disney, Matt Stroshane)
  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by the tour company Adventures by Disney shows a Norwegian fjord that is part of an itinerary based on the movie "Frozen." The film's fantasy kingdom of Arendelle was based on Norway's Geirangerfjord. The movie's popularity has spilled over into demand for "Frozen"-related merchandise, trips and visits with "Frozen" characters at Disney parks. (AP Photo/Adventures by Disney)
  • In this May 31, 2014 photo made available by Kristin Calder, shows her daughter Caroline Calder at her seventh birthday party themed after the Disney movie "Frozen," in Boca Raton, Fla. Caroline is wearing a hard-to-find dress based on Princess Elsa’s attire from the movie, and is holding a stuffed snowman named Olaf, who is a character in the film. The Disney movie has proven extremely popular, leading to sold-out fan merchandise and long lines at Disney World to meet characters from the movie. (AP Photo/Kristin Calder)
  • CORRECTS AGE TO 7 - In this Saturday, May 31 photo, Caroline Calder poses at her 7th birthday party with Devin Tupler and Hannah Solimini, performers portraying princesses Elsa and Anna from the movie ‘Frozen.’ Caroline’s family hired the princesses and decorated their home in a “Frozen” theme for the party. The Disney movie has proven extremely popular, leading to sold-out fan merchandise and long lines at Disney World to meet characters from the movie. (AP Photo/Kristin Calder)
  • This undated image released by Disney shows Disney characters Anna, left, and her sister Elsa from the animated film "Frozen" at Princess Fairytale Hal at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Princess Fairytale Hall features walls of stone and stained glass windows, a spacious gallery adorned with portraits of Disney princesses and elegantly finished rooms where guests can meet Anna & Elsa, Cinderella, Rapunzel and other princesses. Wait times to meet the sisters stretches for hours and reservations are snapped up as soon as they become available, part of a frenzy for all things "Frozen."  (AP Photo/Disney, Matt Stroshane)

For the Calder family, the Frozen frenzy began when the Disney movie came out in late 2013 and they took their 7-year-old daughter Caroline to see it in the theater.

Caroline then saw it again, with a grandparent. Then with the other set of grandparents. Then came the Disney cruise to the Caribbean with the Frozen sing-along, the purchase of Frozen-themed pajamas – instead of Frozen dolls, which were sold out – and waiting in line at a Disney store to obtain a raffle ticket for a chance to purchase a Frozen dress.

“We’ve become the Frozen family,” said Caroline’s mom, Kristin, 41, who says the Frozen CD or DVD plays daily in her vehicle or home in Boynton Beach, Fla. “It is part of our everyday life.”

Her daughter Caroline describes her love of the movie like this: “I really like Elsa because of her frozen power. And I really like Anna because she’s really nice a lot.”

Caroline added that the ice-blue dress worn by Elsa when she sings “Let it Go” is her favorite part of the movie.

Recently, the family had a Frozen-themed birthday party for Caroline with life-size cutouts of the animated film stars, a plush toy depicting the movie’s snowman, Olaf, and Frozen-themed invitations downloaded from the craft site Etsy. For $350, the Calders even hired performers to portray Anna and Elsa, the sisters from the movie, to sing and play with the kids for an hour. It was the performers’ sixth Frozen-themed birthday party that day.

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 across North America. It’s also led to hourslong waits to see the princesses at Disney parks in Florida and California.

It’s even become an international phenomenon. The tour company Adventures by Disney added Geirangerfjord, Norway, to a new itinerary this year. The film’s fantasy kingdom of Arendelle was based on the fjord. Calder looked into Disney’s Norway cruise for 2015, but shelved the idea over cost – $15,000 for her family plus airfare.

She also figured hiring the princess performers for her daughter’s party was cheaper and easier than taking the whole family to Walt Disney World Resort. One day 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, said Deborah Bowen, a Tampa resident and longtime Disney park-goer.

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

Bowen, a member of Disney Parks Mom Panel, which provides vacation advice, says a saner strategy for seeing the princesses is to use the My Disney Experience mobile app to book a FastPass appointment, which assures access within a designated time window.

But Jessica Becak, 33, of Long Island, New York, wasn’t able to reserve a visit using the FastPass system – other visitors had snagged the appointments before she booked a June trip to Disney with her 3-year-old daughter. So she’s downplaying the possibility of seeing Anna and Elsa at the park because she knows it might not be realistic. Waiting in the standby line just isn’t an option, she said.

“My daughter’s not going to be able to stand in line for two to five hours in the heat,” she said. “So right now, we’re glossing over it. If we walk by and it doesn’t look too traumatic, we might try it.”

She’s thankful that Anna and Elsa have been added to Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, so her daughter will likely be able to at least spot the princesses while in the park.

But Becak was persistent enough to snare a hard-to-find Elsa toddler doll earlier this year – though she had to spend an entire day literally calling every Disney Store in the United States to get one. Finally, a store in Pittsburgh came through. No luck with any other Frozen merchandise, though: “We haven’t been able to find anything since,” she 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, whose merchandise accounted for nine of the top 10 best-selling items in Disney Stores. Iger said Frozen had become one of Disney’s best franchises. The company plans to increase the film’s characters in its parks, develop a Broadway show and is working on books and interactive products.

He said he expects the effect of the hit to last for at least the next five years.

Note to parents: If your kids want Frozen gifts for Christmas, better start hunting now.

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