TIME weather

Winter Storm Is Turning the Northeast Into a Wonderland

It's cold and getting colder

A winter snow storm that blanketed the northeastern United States early Saturday morning shows no signs of letting up. The storm delivered some nine inches of snow in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, while New York City got five inches according to Weather.com. More northern parts of the state got as much as 9 inches. In the afternoon, rain turned to snow creating slushy conditions. Another cold front is expected in the region on Monday.

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.

  • 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 Environment

Official Wants Frozen to Teach Kids About Climate Change

FROZEN
Arendelle Disney

Apparently Disney didn't go for it

The U.S. special representative to the Arctic said this week that he told a Disney executive educators should use Frozen to teach kids about climate change—but the idea didn’t go over so well.

Admiral Robert Papp told an audience at this week’s Arctic Frontiers conference that after realizing his granddaughters were obsessed with Frozen, he approached Disney executives about making PSAs about climate change starring Anna and Elsa to raise awareness about the disappearing ice. “I said you’ve taught an entire generation about the Arctic,” Papp said he told the executive. “Unfortunately the Arctic that you’ve taught them about is a fantasy kingdom in Norway where everything is nice. What we really need to do is educate the American youth about the plight of the polar bear, about the thawing tundra, about Alaskan villages that run the risk of falling into the sea because of the lack of sea ice protecting their shores.”

Papp said the executive was receptive, but skeptical. “‘Admiral you might not understand, here at Disney it’s in our culture to tell stories that project optimism and have happy endings,'” he told him.

But who knows what’s in store for the rumored Frozen sequel that may or may-not be happening.

[h/t National Journal]

TIME Television

Lea Michele Threw Up While Singing ‘Let It Go’ on Glee

She really did let it go

When Lea Michele sang “Let It Go” on Glee, she took the song’s command literally—and threw up on set.

“The day didn’t start off so well,” she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday. “I was singing, there was snow falling. I looked up, trying to make it magical and beautiful, and ended up choking on the snow and vomiting.”

The camera crew got the whole thing all on film—in slo-mo, no less. But Michele eventually got well enough to perform sans barf—and to pretend to be Elsa for the crew’s kids.

“I was like, ‘I am God right now!” she said, referring to the moment she realized the children thought she was actually the star of Frozen. “I am a Disney princess god!”

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Toys

These Are the Toys Kids Will Be Screaming for in 2015

Frozen toy castle Lego

This year's new films will provide most of the fodder for Santa Claus in December

As anyone who has ever handed over a credit card at Hamleys or FAO Schwarz already knows, toys aren’t just fun and games — they’re big business. Which is why the 260 exhibitors at the London Toy Fair, which runs from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, are keen to promote the Next Big Thing in the toy world. The Toy Fair is now in its 62nd year, and each year it showcases thousands of new toys, which will also be available in the U.S. and around the world, to retailers looking to stock their shelves. And for a hint of what’s to come, take a look at the box office.

Just a few steps into the exhibition, visitors quickly see that the toy industry expects Minions will be everywhere in 2015. Everywhere one turned, Minion-related toys and products appeared. The small, yellow creatures from the Despicable Me franchise are getting their own film this summer and toy companies are clearly banking on the characters being fresh on kids’ minds — and wishlists.

Rory Partis, a senior account manager for NPD Group, which does market analysis for the toy industry, says that “the toy market can be very unpredictable,” and pre-judging which products will be best-sellers can be tricky. Yet looking at past trends can some clue as to what kids are after — and which toys will fall in line with those desires.

MORE The All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys

In 2014, toy sales in the U.K. saw a 4.4 percent increase from the previous year, with around £3 billion ($4.5 billion USD) spent on some 416 million toy products. Based on sales figures from last year, the Minions-push makes sense: according to research from NPD, 28 percent of 2014’s sales were toys that were licensed from a franchise.

And Minions-themed products weren’t the only toys with a film tie-in on show. The fair also displays the winners of the annual Best New Toy Awards, in which a panel of independent toy retailers appraises the crop of new toys, predicting which products are most likely to be best-sellers. The winners, which fair coordinator Majen Immink, describes as the “hot launches” for 2015, included movie-themed toys such as Lego’s Minecraft: The Dungeon set, Hasbro’s Jurassic World Growlers collection and Hornby Hobbies’ Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5 model.

A representative from toy giant Lego also told TIME that the company is also expecting big things from its Ninjago sets, which are tied to the cartoon series Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu. The fourth season of the cartoon will launch this year and a film, from the co-writers of The Lego Movie, is in the works for 2016.

Nerf N-Strike Modulus ECS-10 Blaster Hasbro

Hasbro’s new products for 2015 include licensed toys from the Marvel’s Avengers and the Transformers franchises. The company will be releasing Optimus Prime Mega Step, a toy car that transforms into the beloved character. Then there are the Iron Man Arc FX Gloves, a pair of wearable gloves with motion-activated technology. Non-film related toys that Hasbro thinks will be hits this year include the Nerf N-Strike Modulus ECS-10 Blaster, which kids can customize with additional kits, and the Furreal Friend’s JJ My Jumping Pug, a Big Eyes-esque toy dog that can jump on its hind legs. The latter also bagged a spot on the fair’s Best New Toys list.

Iron Man Arc FX Gloves Hasbro

Noticeably absent from the fair were toys tied to an upcoming film which targets girls specifically. The big films represented in the displays were, again, Minions, but also Big Hero 6 and Age of Ultron, while representatives were quick to note their upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World-themed products. Of course, girls can and do enjoy action and adventure films — and their affiliated toys — but products tied to franchises with inspiring leading ladies didn’t appear to be plentiful.

So it wasn’t all that surprising to see a smorgasboard of Frozen-themed toys on display at the fair. Everything from Frozen jewelry, hair accessories, hula hoops, backpacks, plush toys, stationary and figurines were showcased, despite the fact that the film was released in 2013. NPD’s Partis tells TIME that “Frozen has slightly bucked the trend of a [traditional] movie license,” which sees strong sales when the movie is released and another bump when the DVD is released. Yet Frozen drove a significant portion of sales last year, as the number one license for 2014. In the U.S. alone, NPD estimates that Frozen led to $531 million in toy sales.

Toy industry insiders are clearly expecting the trend to continue. Lego’s new Disney Princess Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle was chosen as one of the fair’s Best New Toys and Lego spokeswoman Corinna Henson predicts it will be popular “without a shadow of doubt.” Yet even when the Frozen mania does eventually subside, there will be plenty of more kids movies and franchises to license out.

Read next: See How One Artist Dramatically Changes Bratz Dolls to Look Like Real Girls

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TIME psychology

The Science of Why Your Kids Can’t Resist Frozen

Frozen
Frozen Disney

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

A preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of 'Frozen' heroine Elsa’s internal struggle

Disney’s Frozen, which earned more than $1.2 billion at the box office, is not only the first “princess” movie to make the list of top 10 grossing animated films, but also the number-one animated film of all time. Its songs and characters are culturally ubiquitous.

Little girls have long been drawn to princesses. But what is it that makes Frozen so much more appealing than previous princess movies—and why does it enrapture young children in particular? As psychologists (who happen to be sisters just like the heroines in the film) and the mothers of princess-loving daughters, we decided to consider this question.

First, a preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of Frozen heroine Elsa’s internal struggle: Her emotions are strong, passionate — and seem uncontrollable. Preschoolers too, are driven by their impulses. When Elsa laments that she’s afraid that there’s “no escape from the storm inside of me,” it resonates with young children (and perhaps their patience-tested parents, as well).

Second, preschoolers’ imaginations can make the world a wondrous place filled with the possibility of excitement and adventure. Children respond to stories that employ magical realism, so Elsa—as a superhero with what one of our daughters (Maryam’s) and her friends call “ice powers” (the ability to create a whole castle of snow and ice using only her fingers)—has special appeal. Perhaps because they are so in awe of her magic and power, children are less likely to get caught up in Elsa’s experience of isolation and desperation when she is locked away in her room as a girl and hides herself in a remote castle as a woman.

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But with the allure of magic and the sense that anything is possible comes a high potential for terror. Maryam’s daughter particularly liked that there isn’t a witch in Frozen. Though she adores other Disney princess movies, the witch-like characters (like Mother Gothel in Rapunzel) are all too real. The scary parts in Frozen are minimal and temporary, and the villain is an ordinary guy who sings a catchy love song.

Thirdly, Elsa has a genuine connection with her sister, Anna. Despite Elsa’s repeated rebuffs to Anna’s attempts to develop a friendship throughout most of the movie, their bond underscores dedication to family above all. Preschoolers are deeply entrenched in their families and tend to demonstrate a strong in-group attachment, meaning that they favor members within their social circle. Even when Frozen viewers are rooting for Anna to form a relationship with her love interest Kristoff, the love between the sisters is much more appealing. The heroines of Frozen are authentic and real, and no longer solely focused on finding a prince. They preach sisterly love and girl power.

Finally, the sing-along music seals the deal. Maryam’s 4-year-old daughter and her friends love to sing the anthem “Let it Go,” wagging their fingers at each other: “Be the good girl you always have to be!” They stomp in unison, pretending to be Elsa stomping on the ice to create her castle. Even Maryam’s 1-year-old son gets into the act, mimicking their behavior.

When asked what she thought the song was about, Maryam’s daughter smiled and put it succinctly: “It’s about Elsa being happy and free, and nobody bothering her.”

So there it is, the crux of the matter: a universally appealing desire to be happy and free.

Perhaps understanding the perspective of a preschooler can help us appreciate some of what draws us all to this movie: We all feel internal struggles with our impulses. None of us really wants a (too) scary villain. Most of us are pretty loyal to our families, despite their eccentricities and the emotional challenges that we face at times. And all of us want to be happy and free.

Maryam Kia-Keating, Ph.D. and Yalda T. Uhls, MBA, Ph.D. are sisters, psychologists, and, most importantly, moms. Maryam is an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Yalda is a senior scientific researcher at the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA at UCLA and the Regional Director of the non-profit Common Sense Media. They wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Read next: Frozen Director Now Apologizes to Parents for ‘Let It Go’

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Music

Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ Beats ‘Frozen’ as the Top Selling Album of 2014

Taylor Swift performs during New Year's Eve 2015 in Times Square at Times Square on Dec. 31, 2014 in New York City.
Taylor Swift performs during New Year's Eve 2015 in Times Square at Times Square on Dec. 31, 2014 in New York City. Michael Stewart—WireImage/Getty Images

It's a very happy new year for Ms. Swift

Taylor Swift’s 1989 has beaten out Frozen for 2014’s top selling album.

After only nine weeks on sale, Swift’s slick pop recording pipped Disney’s blockbuster soundtrack to the post, selling 3.66 million copies, according to Nielsen Music.

Frozen held the title for every other week in 2014 but in the final week came in second place with 3.53 million copies sold, Billboard reports.

It’s not the first time Swift has taken the top-selling title. In 2009, her second album Fearless took her to the number one spot, shifting 3.22 million units.

[Billboard]

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 THE WALT DISNEY CO. DIS -0.4519% 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.

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