TIME Television

Meet Disney’s First Latina Princess

PRINCESS ELENA OF AVALOR
Princess Elena of Avalor Disney Junior

Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in 2016

There’s a new Disney princess in town – and for the first time, she’s Latina.

On Thursday, Disney Junior announced that Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in 2016 on a special episode of Sofia the First, the network’s hit show for preschoolers.

Princess Elena is “a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore,” the network said in a statement.

After her introduction on Sofia, 16-year-old Elena will star in her own spin-off series, Elena of Avalor, also set to debut on Disney Junior in 2016.

Dominican Republic-born Aimee Carrero of ABC Family’s Young & Hungry, 26, will voice Elena, whose backstory is connected to the magical amulet Sofia wears on the show.

The story goes that Elena was imprisoned in the amulet by an evil sorceress, Shuriki, decades ago while Elena was trying to protect her little sister, Princess Isabel. Decades later, Sofia “discovers the truth . . . and sets out to restore Elena to her human form and help her return to the kingdom of Avalor.”

In 2012, Disney executives responded to questions about Sofia’s heritage after early hints that she had Hispanic roots.

“Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” said Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Read next: How 7 Disney Princesses Could Change the World

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Infectious Disease

The City of Phoenix Is Monitoring a Thousand People for Measles

The unvaccinated among them are being asked to stay home for 21 days

Health staff in Arizona are monitoring 1,000 people, including around 200 children, who could have been exposed to measles at the Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center after a woman who visited the medical facility came down with the disease.

The woman is thought to have contracted the illness from members of a family from Pinal County who had visited the Disneyland theme park in California, the Associated Press reports. After California, Arizona has the highest measles incidence related to the recent outbreak at Disney parks, and the fear is that the outbreak could now increase dramatically.

As a public-health precaution, officials are asking all unvaccinated individuals in the group being monitored to remain homebound for a 21-day observation period, or at the very least don face masks if they venture outside.

“To stay in your house for 21 days is hard,” said State Health Services director Will Humble. “But we need people to follow those recommendations, because all it takes is a quick trip to the Costco before you’re ill and, bam, you’ve just exposed a few hundred people. We’re at a real critical juncture with the outbreak.”

Authorities are currently trying to track everyone who visited the Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center from Jan. 20 to 21. The number of unvaccinated people who may have entered the center during that time remains unknown.

[AP]

 

TIME Opinion

The Trouble With Disney’s Teeny, Tiny Princesses

BRAVE
Queen Elinor and King Fergus in Brave Pixar/Disney

A culture populated by absurdly small princesses and hulking male heroes can change the way men and women see themselves

Disney has taken a lot of flak for perpetrating sexist stereotypes in its princess movies. In today’s competitive, every-moment-counts child-rearing culture, American parents want their kids’ entertainment to be not just fun, but also fulfilling. So if a movie sends the wrong message, many parents stay away. That’s why the company has responded to the criticism, shaping more recent princess movies such as Frozen and Brave around female characters for whom romance is not the primary motivation.

I welcome this evolution. But there’s still a lot to wonder about — and even complain about — in today’s animated children’s movies, especially in the radical differences between male and female bodies.

Yes, on average real men’s bodies are bigger, and more muscular, than women’s. And yes, animation is an art form not restricted to the boundaries of realism, which is what makes it great. But the exaggerations in these children’s movies are extreme, they almost always promote the same image of big men and tiny women, and they are especially dramatic in romantic situations.

Consider just the differences in hand size. Here are the hands of romantic couples in (clockwise from top left): Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Gnomeo and Juliet, Hercules, Tangled and Brave.

Disney (4); Dreamworks; Touchstone Pictures

The differences between men’s and women’s hands and arms in these pictures are more extreme than almost any you can find in real adults. The men’s hands are routinely three or four times larger than the women’s. For comparison, I checked a detailed report that the Army commissioned to design its equipment and uniforms. In real American adults, for example, men’s wrists are on average only about 15% larger in circumference than women’s. In that scene from Frozen, not only is Anna’s hand tiny compared with Hans’, but in fact her eyeball is wider than her wrist.

Disney

In the Hercules scene, his bicep is about 2.8 times wider than hers, while the very biggest man in the Army report had a bicep just 2.1 times bigger than the very smallest woman (that bicep difference is also greater than that observed between Shaquille O’Neal and his former wife, Nicole Alexander). The same is true of their neck and wrist measurements.

In the case of Hercules, we can actually compare the Disney depiction to ancient renditions of the demigod and his mistress. From 4th century mosaics to Alessandro Turchi’s 17th century painting, the demigod is portrayed relative to Megara in much more normal human proportions. I know Hercules is not supposed to be a regular human, but if he’s really a different species, maybe Disney shouldn’t feature him kissing a girl in a children’s movie.

(There are exceptions to the Disney/Dreamworks model of couples, even in modern animation. Consider, for example, the teen couple in Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s magical film Kiki’s Delivery Service, Marge and Homer Simpson — or, of course, Charlie Brown and Lucy. Even the older Disney classics, like the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, had much more normally proportioned couples.)

Because humans reproduce sexually, there are obvious differences between males and females, called sexual dimorphism. However, in the grand scheme, as the sociologist Lisa Wade puts it, “men and women are overwhelmingly alike”; our similarities outweigh our differences. Still, we choose whether to highlight the differences that are apparent. And the amount of energy we devote to emphasizing and acting on the different qualities of men and women changes over time and varies across cultures.

Artists have been pairing men’s and women’s bodies for millennia. And even in art that was not intended to be realistic, the sex differences were usually not as dramatic as those seen in modern children’s movies.

Consider these three works of art. The first is Seated Man and Woman, a sculpture from Mexico about 2,000 years old, showing obvious but modest differences in body type. The second is Michelangelo’s famous rendition of Adam and Eve from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, completed in 1512, in which Eve’s robust physique is comparable to Adam’s. And the third is the classic American Gothic, by Grant Wood, from 1930.

Dallas Museum of Art; Getty Images (2)

I wouldn’t argue that differentiating the sexes in animated movies is the most pressing problem we face today. But I do think the choices that artists and producers make — and the popularity of their choices — gives us a window into important cultural dynamics.

In my own area of research, families and gender, many of our modern debates revolve around the different roles that men and women play. Can men warmly nurture children and work as nurses? Can women successfully lead families and companies? The differences between mothers and fathers can create comfortable compatibilities with obvious benefits. But unless we see that men and women have physical, emotional and cognitive qualities in common as well, we will continue to treat single parents — and same-sex couples — as fundamentally deficient instead of evaluating them as complex people with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Having written about this subject frequently in the past few years, I know many people will disagree, arguing that the fundamental differences they perceive between men and women are natural and should be embraced. But what we think of as normal is not simply natural; it’s a product of the interaction between the natural world and our cultural ways. When the beautiful and romantic stories we grow to love in childhood set a standard that exaggerates gender differences and makes them seem natural — built into our very bone structures — it gives us a more limited, and less complex, vision of our human potential.

TIME feminism

How 7 Disney Princesses Could Change the World

Without a magic wand

After a U.S. official suggested this week that Anna and Elsa from Frozen could be good ambassadors for fighting climate change, we got to thinking about how some other Disney Princesses could wield their mighty influence on young American minds.

Princess Diana raised awareness about AIDS and land mines after her fairy-tale wedding glow faded, so why shouldn’t Disney Princesses be do-gooders, too? Here are some ways these fictional characters could change the world.

Read next: Alan Menken Tells the Stories Behind Your Favorite Disney Classics

  • Mulan (from Mulan)

    Disney

    She could fight for increased protections for women in the military, especially when it comes to being sexually assaulted or filmed in the shower. She could also fight to reform the hairstyle rules for military women, so that no female soldier ever has to give herself a terrible haircut with her dad’s sword ever again.

  • Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)

    Disney "Beauty & the Beast 3D" Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
    Disney

    She could campaign for child literacy programs and for more online education options for people who live in boring towns. She could also be a vocal advocate for increased social security and adult-home-care programs to reduce wolf attacks among the elderly.

  • Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)

    Disney

    She could be an spokesperson to clean up the oceans and save the diversity of species under the sea. She could also fight for immigration reform, so that evil witches stop taking advantage of anyone who wants to cross a border. And she could do it all in mime.

  • Pocahontas (from Pocahontas)

    Disney

    Her conflict resolution skills could make her an excellent candidate to be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, especially in areas with indigenous tensions. She could also fight to eliminate corporal punishment and serve on the board of Save America’s Forests.

  • Cinderella (from Cinderella)

    Disney

    She could fight for a higher minimum wage in the service industry and advocate for increased protections against child labor. She could also secretly fight to lower estate taxes so that other children of rich parents don’t end up poor like her.

  • Tiana (from The Princess and the Frog)

    Disney

    The star of the New Orleans fairy tale could demand a larger investment in small businesses and an increased environmental commitment to global warming to reduce the rising waters that threaten her hometown.

  • Jasmine (from Aladdin)

    Disney

    She could be a vocal advocate for the rights of women in the Middle East, and could fight for an expansion of girls’ education in that region. She could also oppose any laws that forbid women to drive cars or operate magic carpets.

TIME Music

Alan Menken Tells the Stories Behind Your Favorite Disney Classics

attends a PBS SoCal Holiday Celebration with David Foster and Friends at Dolby Theatre on December 10, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
Composer Alan Menken attends a PBS SoCal Holiday Celebration on December 10, 2014 in California. Mathew Imaging—2014 Mathew Imaging

Composer gives background to iconic tunes from Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and more

If you’ve ever loved a Disney song, chances are 65-year-old Alan Menken wrote it. With Oscars, Grammys, and Tonys to his name, he’s now set his sights on TV with ABC’s medieval musical comedy Galavant (which concludes Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC). EW asked the legend to recount the stories behind some of his most iconic songs.

“Part of Your World,” The Little Mermaid (1989)
“There had never really been an ‘I want’ number before in a Disney film. Subsequently everybody at Disney would ask, ‘Where’s our “I want” moment?!’ But it’s that important moment where you engage the audience in the quest of the central character so you know what you’re rooting for. We jokingly used to call this one ‘Somewhere That’s Wet,’ like ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ [from Little Shop] but underwater. My favorite part is that motif [that sounds like] water flowing, which beautifully set up the tone and became the central theme. We knew the whole score was going to a Caribbean place, so we toyed with the idea of reggae [for the rest], but we landed on calypso because it’s poppier and more interesting. Sebastian is more of a Trinidadian crab than Jamaican, certainly more of a Harry Belafonte type.”

“Belle,” Beauty and the Beast (1991)
“The story behind this is that Howard Ashman was HIV-positive and wasn’t telling anybody—he had been very quiet. And here we had written this crazy seven-minute opening number that was much more ambitious than anybody had asked for, and I remember his fear [about everything] in that moment. I remember Howard was very, very reluctant to send it out, thinking that we were going to be laughed at. He delayed sending it for two days. Finally, of course, we sent it, and Disney loved it. You didn’t open an animated movie with a seven-minute number, but it redefined the form. We wanted to keep it very classical Mozart, very She Loves Me, with a quiet opening—’Little town, it’s a quiet village…’ And then it explodes. ‘Bonjour!’” [Beauty and the Beast was dedicated to Ashman, who died eight months before the film’s release.]

Read the rest of the interview, including stories about songs in Aladdin and Pocahontas, at EW.com.

TIME movies

Disney Announces Release Dates of Four Eagerly Awaited New Movies

And all four will be released in 3D

Disney has announced the release dates of four of its upcoming films.

A remake of its 1977 animated musical Pete’s Dragon, with Oakes Fegley in the title character, is set to hit theaters Apr. 15, 2016, Variety reports.

DreamWorks’ adaptation of Japanese anime film The Ghost In The Shell, starring Scarlett Johannsson, is set for Apr. 14, 2017.

And John Favreau’s reboot of The Jungle Book has been pushed back six months to Apr. 15, 2016.

Its all-star cast includes Neel Sethi voicing Mowlgi, Idris Elba as Shere Khan the tiger and Bill Murray, who will voice the loveable bear Baloo.

Finally, The Finest Hours, an ocean-rescue disaster film directed by Craig Gillespie, will now arrive this coming Oct. 9.

[Variety]

TIME viral

Watch What Happens When a Little Girl Challenges Gaston to an Arm-Wrestling Contest at Disney World

It's over the top!

Gaston is quickly becoming the biggest viral attraction at Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland in Florida.

Not only did the big-haired, big-talking character get his comeuppance from a sassy little girl who refused to stand idly by as he delivered his sexist drivel, but also he recently bested a foolhardy challenger at a push-up contest.

Now, YouTube user Peyton Kays has uploaded a video going viral that shows his brave 11-year-old sister challenging the heavily-muscled man to an arm-wrestling contest. Gaston thinks she doesn’t stand a chance, but within seconds, he is been defeated, and the young woman is grinning from ear-to-ear. She earned lifelong bragging rights, while Gaston, whining, retreats to Gaston’s Tavern in shame.

 

MONEY Shopping

You Haven’t Even Heard of Some of the Best-Selling Stuff of 2014

OK, so you probably guessed that some "Frozen" stuff would be among the year's best sellers. But a Jack White record, a 7-year-old self-help book, and generic bottled water?

In no particular order, here’s a compilation of items that proved to be top sellers for 2014, including more than a few head scratchers.

  • Book

    StrengthsFinder 2.0
    StrengthsFinder 2.0 Brian Pope—Gallup, Inc.

    The year’s best-selling book at Amazon.com may come as quite a shock, starting with the fact that it wasn’t released in 2014—but seven years earlier. It’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, a research-driven book about assessing one’s natural talents and building them, from author Tom Rath and publisher Gallup Press. In fact, many of the 2014 top 20 best-sellers at Amazon may be surprises, including several kids’ books (two Frozen-related titles, one Whimpy Kid), some classics (To Kill a Mockingbird, Oh the Places You’ll Go!), and the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide. There’s a fair amount of overlap with the list of 2014 best sellers from Barnes & Noble, including The Fault in Our Stars, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Patton, and Diary of a Whimpy Kid: The Long Haul in the top 20 for both.

  • Packaged Beverage

    soda cans
    Andrew Bret Wallis—Getty Images

    Soda slumped in a big way in 2014. Among other measures, Coca-Cola felt forced to cut jobs, partner with energy drink Monster Beverage, and launch a high-end milk brand in order to cope with declining sales of classic Coke soda brands. But guess what? According to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation, carbonated soda is still tops in the U.S. in terms of packaged beverage sales, accounting for 20.9% of all sales in 2014. Fast on soda’s heels, however, is bottled water, which captured 17.8% of the beverage market this year, up from 14.4% in 2009. By 2016, it’s expected that bottled water will surpass soda as the country’s best-selling packaged beverage.

  • Bottled Water

    Bottle of water
    Getty Images

    Per Statista, the all-things-statistics site, the best-selling water brand in the U.S. in 2014 was “Private Label,” which was purchased at least twice as often as any other brand. What, you’ve never heard of “Private Label”? There’s good reason: It’s simply the collective term used to lump in all generic store brands of bottled water—the cheap stuff that’s apparently quite popular with American consumers. (The nation’s best-selling ice cream is also “Private Label.”) Rounding out the top five are bottled water brands you’re probably more familiar with: Dasani, Nestle, Aquafina, and Poland Spring.

  • Surprise Marijuana Product

    Freshly packaged cannabis-infused peanut butter cookies are prepared inside Sweet Grass Kitchen, a well-established gourmet marijuana edibles bakery which sells its confections to retail outlets, in Denver. Colorado is now selling more recreational pot than medical pot, a turning point for the newly legal industry, tax records released Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 show.
    Freshly packaged cannabis-infused peanut butter cookies are prepared inside Sweet Grass Kitchen, a well-established gourmet marijuana edibles bakery which sells its confections to retail outlets, in Denver. Colorado is now selling more recreational pot than medical pot, a turning point for the newly legal industry, tax records released Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 show. Brennan Linsley—AP

    When recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado (and later, Washington state), it was assumed that sales would be strong for pot you could smoke. Much more surprising have been the impressive sales of pot you can eat or drink. A recent report estimates that in Colorado, edible marijuana accounts for 45% of all pot sales. One explanation for high demand for edibles is that local laws ban public smoking, while pot-infused brownies or soda can be consumed out in the open without calling attention. (Keep in mind: It’s still illegal to consume marijuana in public in any way in Colorado.)

  • Album

    Executive producer John Lasseter (C) and the cast of Disney's "Frozen" were presented with gold records commemorating the success of the "Frozen" soundtrack.
    Executive producer John Lasseter (C) and the cast of Disney's "Frozen" were presented with gold records commemorating the success of the "Frozen" soundtrack. Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images for Disney

    The “Frozen” soundtrack had a huge headstart, but “1989” from Taylor Swift has been coming on strong in recent months, with sales boosted no doubt by her decision to remove her music from Spotify. Just before Christmas, the New York Times reported that “Frozen” had sold 3.46 million copies in the U.S. thus far in 2014, versus 3.34 million for Swift, and that it was too early to declare a champ: “The victor will be decided in the next few days as stockings are stuffed and iTunes gift cards are redeemed.” Meanwhile, a few months ago, Billboard posted a fascinating comparison of the top-selling albums from 2014 versus 1994: Through October, 2014 had only one album that had sold more than one million copies (“Frozen,” of course), while every album at that point in 1994’s top 10 had sold more than 1.8 million copies.

  • Song

    Pharrell Williams performs onstage during 93.3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball 2014 at Amalie Arena on December 22, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.
    Pharrell Williams performs onstage during 93.3 FLZ¬ís Jingle Ball 2014 at Amalie Arena on December 22, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Gerardo Mora—Getty Images North America

    On both iTunes and Amazon, the 2014 crown goes to a tune that seems like it was released ages ago: “Happy” by Pharrell.

  • Vinyl Record

    Jack White performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.
    Jack White performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. Kyle Gustafson—The Washington Post/Getty Images

    The Wall Street Journal dubbed the vinyl record as the year’s “Biggest Music Comeback” after LP sales surged nearly 50%. Record sales were especially strong among hipsters and younger clientele at retailers like Urban Outfitters, Whole Foods, and Amazon. As for the year’s best-seller, it looks like the award goes to Jack White’s “Lazaretto,” which became the biggest vinyl record in 20 years after 60,000 copies were sold within two months of its release. “Lazaretto” has gone on to sell more than 75,000 copies in vinyl format so far. White also broke the record for the fastest released record ever in 2014, with a special limited-edition 45 of the album’s title track that was printed and made available for sale less than four hours after the song was recorded.

  • iTunes Paid Apps

    Minecraft on an Apple iPad
    Minecraft on an Apple iPad Veryan Dale—Alamy

    MineCraft and Heads Up! hold the top two spots. The $7 pocket edition of the former reportedly made more money on Christmas than any other iOs app. The latter is a 99¢ guessing game introduced in 2013 by Ellen DeGeneres, who plays it on her show.

  • Video Game

    Call of Duty 4
    Alamy

    “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” sold roughly 5.8 million units in the U.S. in 2014, the most of any video game. The others in the top three (“Destiny” and “Grand Theft Auto V”) were also heavy on guns and violence.

  • Video Game Console

    Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 4 (PS4) game console and controller
    Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 4 (PS4) game console and controller Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Thanks to some deep discounting, Microsoft’s Xbox One reportedly outsold the Playstation 4 and all other consoles on Black Friday and throughout all of November. But in the grand scheme, Sony’s PS4 has been pretty dominant. The PS4 reached 10 million global sales by August 2014, less than one year after it hit the market, and the console crossed the 17 million mark in December, far outpacing Xbox One sales.

  • Vehicle

    2015 Ford F-150
    2015 Ford F-150 Ford

    The Ford F series has been America’s best-selling truck for 38 years, and the best-selling vehicle period for 33 years—including 2014. This is the case even as Ford sales fell off in autumn because buyers have been waiting for the new aluminum-body F-150 to hit the market. Perhaps more interestingly, Car and Driver compiled a list of the year’s worst-selling cars, which includes the Porsche 918 Spyder and the teeny-tiny Scion iQ. No doubt the former sold only 57 units at least partially because of its $800K+ starting price.

  • Luxury Auto Brand

    2014 CLA45 AMG.
    2014 CLA45 AMG. Mercedes-Benz USA—Wieck

    Bragging rights for the year’s top-selling luxury automaker will come down to the wire. As of early December, BMW and Mercedes had each sold a smidge under 300,000 vehicles in 2014.

  • Electric Car

    2015 Nissan LEAF
    2015 Nissan LEAF Nissan—Wieck

    Through November, Nissan had sold 27,098 Leafs in the U.S., by far the most of any plug-in in 2014. Overall, however, electric car sales have underwhelmed lately, which isn’t surprising considering that gas prices have plummeted, negating some of the savings electrified vehicles provide compared to traditional cars. For the sake of comparison, Honda sold more than 32,000 CR-V crossovers in November 2014 alone.

  • NFL Jersey

    Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos in action against the New York Jets on October 12, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
    Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos in action against the New York Jets on October 12, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jim McIsaac—Getty Images

    According to NFLShop.com, the best-selling jersey from April 1 to October 31, 2014, was Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, followed by Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seahawks, and then two quarterbacks whose teams didn’t reach the playoffs this year: the Cleveland Browns’ Johnny Manziel and last-year’s jersey-selling sensation, Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers. Interestingly, while Dick’s Sporting Goods also has Manning’s jersey as its top seller, the best-selling jersey among women is Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts. Perhaps they appreciate the incredibly sportsmanlike way Luck congratulates the opposition whenever a player slams him to the ground.

  • Movie

    Guardians of the Galaxy
    Guardians of the Galaxy © Walt Disney Co.—courtesy Everett Collection

    After being pulled from theaters and then released online, the controversial Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview” quickly became Sony’s top-grossing online film of 2014, snagging $15 million in digital revenue in a single weekend. As for traditional movies actually released widely in 2014, “Guardians of the Galaxy” came out on top in what was called a “confounding,” lackluster year at the box office, with overall sales down 5% compared to 2013. “Frozen,” the top-grossing animated film of all time and #10 among all movies, doesn’t qualify as the biggest movie of 2013 or 2014 because it was released in late 2013 and ticket sales were spread over both years. As for the top-selling DVD of 2014, the contest isn’t remotely close: Nearly 10 million copies of “Frozen” have been sold, roughly three times more than the #2 film, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

MONEY Tourism

Why Disneyland Closed its Doors on Christmas

142912_EM_CLOSEDDISNEY
Buddy Mays—Alamy

Disney had to close its flagship parks because they reached maximum capacity. Shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.

It might have been a rough Christmas for tourists visiting Disney’s WALT DISNEY COMPANY DIS -2.4244% flagship theme parks on both coasts, but that is ultimately welcome news for the family entertainment giant’s shareholders.

Disney had to temporarily close Disneyland in California and Magic Kingdom in Florida on Thursday morning after both theme parks reached their maximum capacity. The two have become popular Christmas attractions, and it only helps that Disney-owned ABC keeps the buzz percolating by airing its annual Christmas morning special showcasing parades at both iconic parks. This year’s installment — Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration – was the 31st annual airing, and the House of Mouse again cashed in on the success of last year’s animated blockbuster Frozen.

Guests arriving too late at Disney’s Ticket and Transportation Center in Florida — the parking lot gateway to the Magic Kingdom — were advised to head to one of the resort’s three other theme parks. Things didn’t get any easier on the West Coast, where resort guests were told to hit up Disney’s California Adventure adjacent to the original theme park.

Those who got in might not necessarily consider themselves the fortunate ones. A couple of hours into the operating day, the wait for the Magic Kingdom’s new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was 180 minutes. Waits for Space Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight peaked at two hours. It’s no fun being in a crowded theme park as everything from getting around to grabbing a bite to eat become patience-rattling challenges.

Shareholders don’t mind. They’re the ones laughing all the way to the bank. Naysayers who argued that Disney would drive potential guests away by raising prices earlier this year could not have been more wrong. The only question that remains is how much higher Disney’s theme park tickets go during next year’s inevitable hike.

Disney’s theme parks have been on a roll lately. The media behemoth’s theme parks and resorts division’s revenue climbed 7% to $15.1 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September. Given the high fixed costs associated with operating a theme park, it’s no surprise to see the division’s operating profit fare even better with this scalable model, soaring 20% to nearly $2.7 billion in fiscal 2014. If the turnstiles are clicking and folks are spending money at the parks, it’s going to pay off exponentially as you work your way down the income statement.

Then again, the turnstiles don’t click at Disney World anymore. They chime and flash green as guests scan their RFID-backed admission tickets of MagicBand bracelets. Disney has reportedly spent roughly $1 billion on the MyMagic+ and MagicBand technology, in which guests scan bracelets to access reserved ride times and order ride photos, among other goodies. More important, Disney is learning more about the behavior of individual guests, arming it with the ability to better monetize the experience while at the same time eventually offering up more customized and optimized outings for guests.

In that sense, a crowded theme park is like an optimal lab of guinea pigs for Disney to dissect. If a three-hour wait for a family friendly roller coaster or waiting nearly as long for a snapshot with Frozen sisters Anna and Elsa create disgruntled guests, MyMagic+ will steer the theme park leader to offer more tailored itinerary suggestions for guests. The House of Mouse always wins.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser