Parents brace for another dose of Frozen fever
Dazed parents wander the aisles of the Disney store in a manic search for the right Elsa dress or Anna doll, the endlessly repeated refrain of "Let It Go" ringing in their ears. Are they ready for another instalment of "Frozen fever"?
"I bloody well hate them all," says one man, staring at the 60-euro ($70) price tag on a shiny turquoise dress.
He was one of many grimly determined parents making a dash through the Champs Elysees branch of the Disney store in Paris on Friday, looking for more merchandise to sate the bottomless hunger of their charges back home.
The prospect of a Frozen sequel, officially announced a day earlier by Disney, does not fill them all with instant delight.
"More songs, more marketing? Yes, we're certainly worried," said Sylka Pax from Belgium, who has an eight-year-old girl.
"It drives us a little crazy but it has some advantages," she added on reflection.
"We took part in a quiz the other day and I immediately recognised the Frozen song in the music section."
- 'No light at end of tunnel' -
The parenting world has yet to recover from the sensory and financial assault launched by Disney in late 2013, when Frozen burst out of nowhere to become the single most important thing in the lives of millions of children.
That has meant several hours of Christmas Day lost to the construction of a Frozen castle -- whose broken pieces then become hidden booby traps around the house.
It has meant many mornings of struggle to convince a daughter she should wear her school uniform rather than an Anna dress.
And it has meant hearing the song "Let It Go" more times than is medically advisable.
"We've got a five-year-old who sings it at the top of her lungs all day -- Let it goooooo!" says Disney store shopper Carol Austin-Groome, from Britain.
"And she does not have a good singing voice."
She is not alone. Even Prime Minister David Cameron admitted last month to having heard the song "more times than I care to remember" thanks to his four-year-daughter Florence who regularly "launches into song" in front of his security detail.
London's Little Rascals children's entertainment company says the will to organise Frozen parties has slowly melted away in the past year.
"It's diminished recently, not really among the kids, but among the parents," says founder Andrew Bloomer, adding that Frozen parties still account for around a quarter of his business.
He fears for the sanity of some customers if the sequel triggers another wave of "Frozen fever".
"They saw a light at the end of the tunnel and now it's gone," he said.
- A desperate search -
In another aisle at the Disney store, Yusuf Sogul is desperately looking for an Elsa doll before he catches his flight back to Istanbul.
"My daughter is seven years old. She has phoned us twice today and I have many messages on Whatsapp telling me to get it, but they only have the big one -- it won't fit in my luggage," he says, slightly panicked.
At the London branch of the store, some parents put a more positive spin on the Disney cash-cow, which has become the fifth-highest grossing film of all time.
"It's the only movie she has watched all the way through," said Anna, from Gothenburg in Sweden, buying a Frozen bag for her seven-year-old daughter.
"Normally she has ants in her pants but with Frozen she sits and watches it. So it's a good thing. And I love the music."
While some fathers may be dreading the coming ice storm of a Frozen sequel, they also know they will have their revenge when an even more powerful force hits the screens.
"I couldn't care less," said London-based father Graeme Harrison. "Because the boys and I have now got Star Wars Episodes XII AND XIII movies to look forward to."
© 2015 AFP