By Jennifer Davis-Lamm The minute we turned onto Field Street on our way to the American Airlines Center for Disney On Ice: Frozen, I knew I was in trouble. My four-year-old, who had been told only that she was going to get to stay out past bedtime for a surprise, suddenly rocketed forward in her car seat: "MOM! LOOK! They're all in Elsa dresses!" And indeed, hordes of small children were walking down the street in aqua-blue polyester gowns--one of which hangs in my daughter's room, 15 miles away and decidedly not on her body.
I catch myself feeling kinda bad about this oversight. Despite the fact that repeated viewings of Frozen incite me to fantasize about installing a flux capacitor in my mommy SUV and heading to a time when Arendelle was just a glimmer in a Disney exec's eye, I've come to accept Anna and Elsa as frequent interlopers into our household. I've also been suckered into more merch than I care to admit.
Luckily, my kiddo has gamely decided that the lack of an Elsa dress is not going to hamper her evening...particularly since the entire arena is filled, packed, and brimming with all the Frozen goods you could ever conceive of. We explain that she will be allowed to pick out one souvenir from the evening, and her head swims with possibilities as we find our seats--which were graciously comped by the local company promoting the event.
What becomes pretty clear before things even get started is that this night is not all about the show itself: the merch is as much a star as Elsa herself. Vendors flood the aisles, hawking Anna dolls, coloring books, Olaf hats, and light-up wands. Our little one fixates on a sno-cone in an Olaf cup, and decides that is where her heart lies. It's $16. My husband asphyxiates as he hands over the cash. I tell him to let it go (GET IT?), and my daughter begins to consume the frozen brains out of Olaf's plastic skull.
The show begins, and the wands come out in force. The little girls beside me are employing blinking LED wands that I am fairly certain are going to cause a seizure. The woman in front of me hikes up her iPhone and hits record, beginning a two hour video binge that will drive me to distraction.
A fitness-themed warm-up, extolling the virtues of yogurt, kicks things off and is followed with a revue of Disney favorites: Mickey and Minnie, Goofy, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Nemo and Woody glide onto the ice, prompting the little boy behind us to cry indignantly "That's NOT Elsa and Anna". They circle around the rink a few times, waving and getting the crowd primed for the frost-themed event to follow. And, despite my misgivings with the onslaught of merchandise, that event really does deliver.
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Disney On Ice: Frozen is an abridged version of the film, slightly reworked to fit the production medium, and--importantly--it features all the songs. As the sound system launched "Let It Go", there was an audible gasp from the audience and a chorus of baby voices filled the auditorium, singing along to every word and melting any remaining cynicism. The skating was pretty tight, which I mostly know because a group of choreographers from the production were sitting across the aisle from us, and they seemed pretty jazzed. A couple of numbers really stood out: the aforementioned "Let It Go" shimmered thanks to beautifully produced lighting and snow effects, and "In Summer" was an exuberant and funny romp, featuring a brightly-costumed kick line. The timing of the performers was impeccable--and Sven the Reindeer was a total scene-stealer, lumbering about for comic effect, evoking smiles from parents and kiddos alike.
Ultimately, we all got what we came for: enthralled, happy children. My fidgety four-year-old barely shifted in her seat throughout the production, totally besotted with the icy exploits of the beloved characters (and with the rapidly melting ice in her Olaf cup). The atmosphere outside of the AAC afterward was festive and fun: little girls in costume posing for photos, a street musician playing "Do You Want to Build A Snowman" on his saxophone. It was a magical evening from my daughter's perspective and I'm thrilled to have been able to give her the experience.
That said, there is some relevant recon to consider as you make your way to Victory Park for Disney On Ice: Frozen between now and Sunday: the vendors are ruthless. Many of them asked our child directly if she wanted something, and of course, you know what happened next. It's probably best to have that conversation before you get there. Don't walk away from your $16 Olaf sno-cone cup. Someone will steal it out of your seat, and before you know it, you've spent $32 on an Olaf sno-cone cup. Also: nobody at Disney on Ice has figured out the one piece of merch we'd happily shell out for: a massive, alcohol-infused Frozen™ margarita. There is beer, however. And finally: whatever you do, don't forget the Elsa dress.
Disney On Ice: Frozen continues with multiple performances daily through Sunday, March 29. Tickets are $25 to $100 at ticketmaster.com; associated merchandise is probably equivalent to your car payment.