What's the deal with FROZEN merchandise anyway?!


The Frozen Summer Fun LIVE! Event debuted at Hollywood Studios yesterday and based on the reviews from some of my favorite Disney bloggers it looks amazing! One of the features is Wandering Oaken's Trading post which yesterday was fully stocked with Frozen merchandise! That's almost a bigger feat than choreographing a new parade in two weeks' time!  

I don't have to tell you that FROZEN is a big, big hit. I grew up in the 90's when the previous wave of big Princess movies came out (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Mulan) but I don't remember it being anything like this. And watching the angst surrounding the Frozen merchandise has been truly fascinating. (No, seriously, read this article!)

Before I get into the Frozen stuff, allow me to take a step back: when Tangled came out a few years ago, my eldest daughter was only just starting to go to movies and she wasn't all that entranced by the film for whatever reason. Our finances were tight back then, and so we didn't splurge on merchandise for a movie that she was only luke-warm about. All that changed when we visited Walt Disney World in 2011. In an unplanned confluence of circumstances, Rapunzel went from being Meh to the #1 princess in our home. It all started with an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique which we had scheduled on a whim after Viola started pointing out all the beautiful princesses scattered throughout the park. While we went to do that, my husband offered to stand in line (at the nearby grotto) for Rapunzel, who's line we'd never seen dip below 2 hours, because he is a saint. I let Viola choose a princess dress-up set from those available at the Boutique, fully expecting she would choose Cinderella, her favorite princess. I was surprised when she chose Rapunzel instead. The Boutique was a great experience, and then we hopped over to meet my husband who was by then near the front of the line. Rapunzel made a sweet fuss over Viola and her dress, which made quite the impression on Voila because from that moment on there was only one princess in her mind and everything had to be Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Rapunzel! 


The problem was that by this time the Rapunzel merchandise was dropping off. The costumes were into their third or fourth release (and not nearly as cute as the originals, in my opinion) and Rapunzel stuff was somewhat scarce. I turned to eBay, and was exposed for the first time to the Disney Merchandise Speculating that takes place. That is, folks buy up gobs of merchandise and then resell it at quite the markup as soon as it sells out: double, triple, sometimes quadruple the original price. Seriously, I once saw a plastic Rapunzel crown that retailed for $9.00 sell for over $300! This has led the DisneyStore.com to add some quantity limits to it's shopping carts, but that doesn't seem to curb the black market in princess goods.

That said, the Rapunzel resell market was nothing compared to what I've watched happen with Frozen. Wanting to hedge my bets after the Rapunzel experience, I bought costumes and toys when they were first released in October prior to the movie in November. I wanted to get them before they retired, I had no idea that once the movie hit theaters the merchandise --- all the merchandise --- would sell out, and stay sold out. You want an Olaf mousepad? Sure. Anything with the princesses on it? Not so much.

I check the Disneystore.com a few times daily because I am still looking for an Elsa toddler plush doll. Because of this I've gotten a feel for the ebb and flow of the Frozen merchandise. Essentially, when anything Elsa gets restocked it's gone in a matter of hours. The costumes especially don't last more than an hour in any size. It got so bad that a few weeks ago Disney Stores started holding raffles to purchase dresses... that is, customers were lining up for the chance to get a raffle ticket for the chance to win the opportunity to buy an Elsa dress.

Does that sound crazy to you? That's because it is! It is totally insane! I haven't attended the raffles because, as I said, we already have our Frozen stuff, but I've read about them and find the whole thing fascinating, and a little heartbreaking! The stories of parents trying desperately to get an Elsa dress ahead of a trip to Disney World is exceptionally sad for me to hear. Dressing up and meeting a favorite princess was such a huge part of both of our trips; I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for parents desperate to provide this experience for their daughters only to be thwarted over and over again by this supply&demand problem. 

Which brings me to this deep dark confession: 


We have three Elsa dresses.


And I feel really guilty about it! We have the "regular" deluxe Elsa dress as well as the Limited Edition Elsa dress as well as another deluxe Elsa dress that I picked up during one of the rare instances when they were in stock a few weeks ago for a friend of ours who was desperately looking for an Elsa dress for her daughter. The extra dress ended up being too small for our friend, so we're "stuck" with it. I could return it, of course, but when I called about returning it the customer service rep warned me that I may not be able to get another one in the foreseeable future. Her response gave me pause.

I decided to keep the dress so that I could give it to someone else, and in my own little way undermine the Merchandise Speculators who are taking advantage of desperate parents. (For the record, I'm fine with turning a profit on eBay, I just don't think you should do it with children's toys that are meant to be played with and enjoyed!)

This decision has led to a bit of a dilemma. If I wanted to make a profit off it I know I could sell it on eBay for hundreds of dollars. But, I think that making a profit off parents who are trying to delight their children is wrong and that is not my intention. For that matter, if I wanted to make a quick buck, it would make more sense to let go of the Elsa Limited Edition dress which I've seen sell for upward of $1,000. I'm not going to sell that one either, and I am going to continue to let my daughter wear and enjoy it, because that's what it's for. It's not a commodity or a museum piece, it's a child's costume meant to be enjoyed.

Note, the Elsa dress is NOT for sale, I want it to end up in the hands of a little girl, to enable her make believe play, and hopefully provide the kind of magical moment Viola had with Rapunzel that led to that very special memory that will last a lifetime. But how do I get this Elsa dress to that little girl?  If I try to sell it on ebay at the retail price, there's a greater likelihood that it will get purchased by one of the eBay resellers.

So, in honor of the Frozen Summer Fun LIVE! event (and because I'm trying to clear out the basement of unnecessary clutter) I've decided to give it away here on my new blog! 

I've never done this before, so I hope you will bear with me. I'm using a service called PunchTab to manage the entries. I want to be very clear about a few things: 

  1. This is a personal blog. I don't represent any corporate entities or sponsors or anything like that. I started writing this blog to chronicle my experiences and share info with friends who were interested in hearing more about the Princess parties and crafts I have done with my girls. There's no advertising on my site and I'm not profiting from this giveaway in any way.
  2. The Elsa dress is from the Disney Store with original tags. It was purchased on 5/19 for $50. It has never been worn. It is a size 5/6.
  3. I am asking that you share my blog in order to be entered to win. In addition, I'm asking that you write a brief paragraph describing why you want the dress and what you will use it for. I'm asking you to do this because I do not want this dress to end up with someone who will be reselling it for profit, I want it to go to a little girl who's been wishing for an Elsa dress of her very own! I'm hoping these steps will help weed out the eBay scalpers.
  4. I will be choosing the winner based on the # of entries and their story.
  5. Once again, this Elsa dress is NOT for sale. Please don't contact me with offers or bids. 

And who knows, if this Giveaway goes well I might do some more of these raffles in the future. Goodness knows, we've received enough duplicate princess stuff as gifts that I could do a couple more at least!

Just a note about the dress: As I mentioned, this dress is a size 5/6 that we bought for a friend's 5 year old daughter that ended up being too small. Below is a photo of the Giveaway dress next to Viola's size 7 dress. As you can see it's a big size difference. Another difference I noticed is that the cape on the size 5/6 is shorter than the one of the size 7. I called the Disney Store and asked about whether this was a mistake and they were unsure (because so few Disney Stores have had the dresses physically in stock to be familiar with them). The customer service rep I spoke with said she thought that the smaller sizes might have a shorter cape for safety (tripping) reasons. I know that Disney often removed small jewels and embellishments from shoes in smaller sizes for safety reasons, so this may be the case. I actually prefer the shorter cape because the longer cape drags on the ground and gets frayed/filthy! It also has a new style broach with Elsa in a snowflake instead of the traditional oval cameo.

Size 7/8 on the left has a longer cape.

Size 7/8 on the left has a longer cape.

Size 5/6 (the giveaway dress) as a shorter cape.

Size 5/6 (the giveaway dress) as a shorter cape.

 Can you believe that they haven't branded the tags yet!?

 Can you believe that they haven't branded the tags yet!?

The deluxe Elsa dress is one of my favorite Disney costumes. I actually think the Deluxe dress is prettier than the more expensive Limited Edition costume. For a full description of the Elsa costumes, check out my Frozen Costumes Review.