I am guessing, seeing as you are reading my blog, that you don’t live under a rock, or shun all technology. So I am also guessing you have heard of Disney’s latest movie, Frozen. Who knew it was going to be THIS BIG? Seriously. Who would have guessed that this movie would be everywhere? Those of us with young kids, girls especially, are used to princess talk. We are used to singing Disney songs over and over and over and over. But wow, Frozen is really blowing everything out of the water!
I admit it, I was excited when I saw the previews for this one. And I love Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel (or Adele Nazeem if you’d like) so I was in just for them! I took our then almost 5-year-old daughter on Thanksgiving for a little mommy/daughter time to see the new Disney movie Frozen. She loved it, thought Elsa was AMAZING, Olaf was so funny, and Anna was awesome. She told daddy all about it when we got home, talked more about it over the next couple of days, but she really is/was a Rapunzel girl.
Then in December, we walked through the gates and stood looking down at Main Street in Disney World. As it was her 5th birthday trip, we did make this trip “All About the Princesses”. We had meals planned to meet the Princesses, as well as her own special princess transformation at the Bibidi Bobidi Boutique. I had planned to be sure to meet as many princesses as possible. (Pintrest/the blogosphere is awesome for how to plan a princess themed trip!). From the moment we walked into Magic Kingdom, my daughter asked me when she could meet Rapunzel, so that became my one big goal…make sure she met Rapunzel. We found out she was only available in Magic Kingdom, at the Princess Fairy Tale Hall. But we did get to meet her…and it is one of the things my daughter still talks about. “Mom, I got to hold Rapunzel’s HAIR!”
In all my planning, there had been no mention that Anna and Elsa were actually already IN the parks for autographs and photographs. The movie had only been out about 2 weeks when we went to Disney World. Generally speaking it takes a little longer to get that oh-so-important “Character in the Park” status. So, we were surprised when we stepped out of a princess themed breakfast in Epcot’s Norway to see a sign (and a slight line) forming to meet the newest Princesses in the Disney ‘verse. We were sixth in the line, though it was still an hour to wait until the meet-and-greet opened. I asked my daughter and hubby what they wanted to do…wait in line or go explore. Both thought we should wait. I admit, I was really hesitant…wait an hour? really? There was so much we could do in that hour. But my monkey was sure this what she wanted to do and since this was her birthday trip (and her brother was snoozing in the stroller), wait we would!
Luckily, not much in Epcot was really open yet, so there was not a lot else we could have done. And hubby took the two kids to wander and check things out, see some sites, while I waited and chatted in line with other parents doing the same thing. This is when I learned that the line could reach as long as 2-3 hours for a wait…not including this hour prior to the start time itself. This did put things into perspective for me…maybe it wasn’t so bad! And really, it wasn’t. There was a cute gift shop that had tons of Frozen merchandise. In hindsight, I kind of wish we had bought more since now it can be impossible to find! And my monkey got to meet Anna and Elsa. She was so happy. And we still go to enjoy our day at Epcot without missing out of anything because we were stuck in line. I also appreciate it more now as well, as I realize how polite, how patient, how kind, how friendly everyone waiting in line to meet these newest princesses were to everyone else waiting in line. We actually had fun chatting, sharing Disney stories, suggestions of things to do, places to eat.
Do a quick search for Frozen merchandise, and you will see that it is almost impossible to find right now. Disney can hardly keep it in stock! Look at any Disney Blog and you will see that the wait times for a meet-and-greet with these two alone can be up to 5 hours long! And now DisneyWorld has started a new process of guiding guests back to FantasyLand to their meet-and-greet spot at the rope drop because the crowd was so unruly as parents pushed/shoved/trampled anyone and anything in their way to get back and in line for this meet-and-greet. Really? This is supposed to be the “Happiest Place on Earth”. I get it, if you don’t get in line, if your child does not get to meet their favorite princesses, it will make Disney NOT the happiest place on Earth, at least for a moment. But running, pushing, trampling, basically teaching your child that “hey, as long as we get there first, it doesn’t matter HOW we got here or who we had to step on to get here, we got there first!” Is that really the message you want to give your kids? Take some time and read the comments on Facebook on the Disney Store page. They way some parents are going on you would think an Elsa dress will cure world hunger..or cancer…or provide world peace.
Now, could Disney do more to help with this frenzy? Sure, but honestly, I don’t think they were quite expecting this phenomenon. No other princess has exploded into popularity the way Anna and Elsa have. They are working, so I hear, to build a better spot for them at Norway in Epcot. They do allow fast passes to this meet-and-greet (which are snapped up faster than you can FROZ…EN – too late). But I am sure there are other things they could do. Like have these two (and Rapunzel please!) be a part of the Princess Breakfast at the Akerhouse in Norway and Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. Both of these are great opportunities for families to meet and get pictures/autographs with the princesses. I am sure there are other ideas…and I would guess that Disney is currently working to put these in place. They are there to make money after all, and Frozen is raking it in! I will give Disney credit though, they are not going to just throw something together, they will make plans, figure out as many of things that can go wrong as possible, and try to plan for that as well.
At the end of the day, as the parent, we have to set expectations. I am not going to fault anyone who is willing to wait in a line for 5 hours to meet a character. That is a personal and family choice as to how to spend your vacation. But if you are willing to make that sacrifice (because you WILL sacrifice other parts of your vacation including rides, treats, other character meet-and-greet opportunities) then you better have a positive attitude about it. Don’t get nasty, or rude, or confrontational with cast members or other guests, simply because you choose to stand in that line. Don’t ruin the magic and the experience for those in line with you, or those who are passing by enjoying their day in Disney World. Everyone is there for the same reason…because Disney is magical. Doesn’t matter if you are 2, 7, 12, 18, 22, 52, or 92. There is magic there. Is it going to be perfect? No. Is it going to be crowded? Heck yes! But you have to expect that. Be prepared for that. And always remember…there are a million kids watching you whether you realize it or not. What example do you want to set? What image do you want to present to the world? At the end of the day, when you walk through the gates back to your car/hotel room…what are you going to take with you?