June 6, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Families in a frenzy over Disney's 'Frozen'

Caroline Calder poses at her ninth birthday party with Devin Tupler and Hannah Solimini, performers portraying princesses Elsa and Anna from the movie 'Frozen.' (AP)

St. Petersburg, Fla. — 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, Florida. “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.”

Recently, the family had a “Frozen”-themed birthday party for Caroline with life-sized 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 all over North America. It’s also led to hours-long 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 inspired by the movie. 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 Disney World.

Deborah Bowen, a Tampa resident and long-time Disney park-goer and a member of Disney Parks Mom Panel, says a saner strategy for seeing the princesses is to use the MyDisney app to book a FastPass appointment, which assures access within a designated time window.

“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.