What 4-and-a-half-year-old girl wouldn't want to spend a day with Elsa from Frozen? Certainly not Ariel Shipp of Jacksonville, Florida. And luckily for her she had the opportunity to do just that last month, though Elsa bore a startling resemblance to her mother, Amy. As 25,000 YouTube viewers know, Amy surprised her Frozen-obsessed daughter by dressing up as the main character and then dressing Ariel as her mini-me for the day.
The motivation for the mother/daughter Frozen Day on a hot day in Florida had relatively sad origins: Ariel's father was laid off from his job at a mortgage company and so her fourth birthday passed without much of a celebration. A trip to nearby Disney World -- a dream for the entire family which also includes a baby sister -- was simply out of reach and so was a large party. But memories are made for children in the smallest ways, and a day of wearing a gown and a long blonde wig fit the bill.
In the short YouTube video of the day, the look on Ariel's face as she sees her mother as Elsa is precious. And, once she is similarly gowned, her smile is high wattage. When asked how she feels about her mom, Ariel responds, "I love her 'cause she gave me the Frozen dress and wig and shoes." But merely dressing up wasn't enough for the Shipps. The entire family -- with dad Joel filming while baby Arianna was strapped to his chest -- headed for the local mall. Amy admits to some nerves as she approached the front door. But, she says, "Once we were in there, I got into the mode of just being Elsa."
The duo caused quite a stir, with adults and children alike wanting their pictures taken with them. They visited the Disney Store where Ariel's parents bought her a stuffed Olaf doll, and of course dined in the food court. Later the family headed to the beach where their antics were met with stunned looks by sunbathers.
It isn't surprising that the Shipps documented the special day and posted it online -- Amy admits to being a solid Citizen of the Internet. "I've posted videos on YouTube since Ariel was born," she says. "At first I did it so my family could see her. But then I saw that there are families who vlog their normal days, and some who make a living from it." She also credits the Internet with keeping the family afloat: "During the six months that he was unemployed, it was really rough. We set up a gofundme page which helped a lot. Without the Internet, it would have been impossible to get the help we got, especially since we live far away from our families."
Now that Joel is gainfully employed again, Amy is able to breathe easier but is not willing to spend money taking the two little girls to Disney World: "We are putting $50 from each paycheck into savings now," she says. "But things are still really tight." So she is hoping that someday they will be financially secure enough for vacations and trips to the Magic Kingdom.
In the meantime, her eldest daughter walks around the house in her Elsa costume and says she wants to be Frozen when she grows up. Children around the world are entranced by this film about two fearless sisters, and the power of love. And in one corner of Jacksonville, Florida a little girl was literally transformed for one glorious day by the power of her parents' love.