EPCOT’s Shabby Norway Film making waves in Norway

It’s taken a few years for word of the retro and outdated status of the cinematic climax of the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT Center to percolate back to the rocky and troll infested shores of Norway itself. But finally, reality is sinking in and people are realizing that the show and movie, as it exists today, is not a good advertisement for Norway at all.

The Norway pavilion opened in 1988 with investment from the country and some investors. Four years later the investors sold their stake back to Disney and abandoned the pavilion. The Norwegian Government continued smaller payments through 2002 before finally deciding not to renew their contract with Disney.

Since 2002 very little has been improved in the pavilion. The Stave Church has had its exhibit updated a few times, a playground was removed, and the Restaurant Akershus has been changed to a princess buffet (whether that is an improvement depends on your point of view, I guess). One of my favorite entertainment groups that used to perform, Spelmanns Gledje, were discontinued a few years ago as well.

But the real criminal activity is the failure to update the film that supposedly highlights Norway’s achievements as a nation while also serving as a marketing piece to attract tourism to the country. It’s failing a both those goals spectacularly.

The media in Norway has now taken up the cause (read in English courtesy Google Translate) and their finally appears to be some movement. As usual there are politics involved, but perhaps there is some hope. Disney, however, has reportedly insisted once again that since the film is essentially an advertisement for Norway, the country should foot the bill for an updated film.

What do you think? Is Disney obligated to keep up a quality show in every pavilion? Or would footing the bill here, cause other countries to similarly abandoned their pavilions leaving Disney with much larger upkeep costs.

Update: The EPCOT Explorer’s Encyclopedia has found an film that WDI was reportedly considering as a replacement for the Norway film.

It would require a bit of editing, but it seems like a good improvement on the existing film.

There’s also a Facebook page you can like if you want to lend your support to the cause. Of course, it helps it you can read Norwegian.

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28 Responses to EPCOT’s Shabby Norway Film making waves in Norway

  1. Anonymouse says:

    NORVAY! I love that film but for the wrong reasons.

    Anyway there’s an easy fix. Just play the Thor trailer or get some hammer toting beefcakes carving that canoe.

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  5. Craig Anderson says:

    The one I’d like to see an update of is France, although I absolutely love the current film (can I buy it!) it needs updating.

  6. Vanessa says:

    I think the Norwegian government is being a bit ridiculous in its demand that Disney – a private company – update the film AND foot the bill. This seems to be a freedom of speech issue: if Disney doesn’t want to spend the time and money to update the film (personally, I feel those funds could be put to better use – ahem Journey Into Imagination ahem), it can’t be forced to do so. If Norway wants to control the message of the pavilion, it should pony up the dough, so to speak.

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  9. I have just returned from a trip to Norway and it is such a beautiful country. The Epcot movie really just doesn’t do anything to promote the country as a great destination and really should be replaced. Who should pay for it? A difficult question, but I would have thought that as at the moment the only effect the movie has it probably a negative one, then Norway really should think about the cost of not replacing it.

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  11. Aimee says:

    For the life of me I cannot understand why Disney is being so hard-nosed about the film while refusing to foot the bill. It’s in their own best interests to have a quality film, as a poor product is far more detrimental to Epcot than it is to Norway in this case. I don’t see Norwegian tourism suffering too much because of the crappy movie. Besides, as an entertainment company, Disney is in a much better position to make it then Norway, and they certainly know how to operate within their own standards. And if there is no contractual agreement in place, then Disney really has no choice, IMO. Personally I think this is there way of evicting Norway in favor of having another country down the road.

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  13. The Watchamacallit says:

    NOOOOOOOOO!!!

    The Spirit of Norway is my favorite attraction in all of WDW! Getting rid of it would be like getting rid of the castle!

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  15. wesley69 says:

    Of all the parks, Epcot, containing Future World and the World Showcase have been in decline. The Norway Pavilion, as well as the other pavilions, should be renovated from time to time. The idea of a mini-worlds fair is something unique among theme parks. In fact, Disney should be pursuing countries like Russia, Brazil, India and Australia to have them represented in the World Showcase.

    As for Future World, there have been many changes, not all for the good. Horizons is what the future is all about. That is gone. CommuniCore is a mere shadow of itself. The Wonders of Life is closed. Energy is rarely open. Improvements NEED to be made here such as restoring Horizons, CommuniCore and the Wonders of Life. Land & the Sea need updating. Rather than build a new pavilion for Horizons, Imagination should be given over to Horizons. And Mike Jackson in 2011??? Come on.

  16. Chason says:

    I think the issue with the Norway movie is another indication that Disney’s sponsorship policies for World Showcase (and really, Epcot at large) need to be updated, especially if primary financial responsibility is supposed to be provided by the sponsors. New policies should address changes in immigration policy (this could also be an avenue to improve relationships with current workers and pavilion sponsors) and better articulate the mutual benefit of pavilions, especially since the world is more globally connected than it was in the 1970s and 1980s.

    If I had my say (warning, backseat imagineering in progress), I would tell Disney to consider international affairs and diplomacy and actively pursue sponsorships for countries currently thrust into the public eye (is my political science background showing?). These relationships would be of mutual benefit: increased diplomatic and economic ties between the US and the country, increased exposure for the country, job possibilities, etc…

    I would then actively court rising regional hegemons. China is already represented, which would leave Brazil, Russia, and India.

  17. Jones says:

    I just love that movie – yes, there are good reasons to replace it, but I would hate to see it go – it´s sth unique, and I´m sure the replacement would be just a generic promotional piece like the one above…

  18. Greg Maletic says:

    It’s Disney’s job to make sure their guests have an entertaining experience, not Norway’s. Imagine if you went into a Disney theme park restaurant, had a lousy meal. You complain to Disney, they shrug and say, “hey, it’s so-and-so company’s food, not our fault.”

    It’s Disney’s responsibility.

  19. JEANY SANCHEZ says:

    I love the Norway film it’s very interesting! And I love it! Updated this film to make more interesting!

  20. Jason says:

    I agree the Norway film is dated, but it is also one of my favorite films in Epcot. I also often wonder about the people in the film. What are they doing now, what do they look like now? If they updated the film like they did to the China film, I think it would be more acceptable. I just request that they keep the music from the ending. Music is one of the aspects that can pay homage to attractions, without feeling dated. Think about how much better Spaceship Earth could be with the addition of Tomorrow’s Child, or how living with the Land would be if they added a snippet of Listen To the Land. It would be a great way to bring back old EPCOT memories for those of us who have visited since the beginning!

  21. RickJM says:

    Of course Disney shouldn’t pay for a new . If Norway won’t pony up, then I’d remove the film entirely if I were Disney. If you were a business owner, would you pay to advertise another businesses product? Of course not.

    And Aimee, of course Disney has a choice – they can chose not to update the film. Epcot won’t be hurt at all by an old film about Norway just like it won’t be helped by a new film. I think the overpriced Helly Hanson stuff and those foul smelling cremes and perfumes hurt more than that film.

    And Disney could do the film as long the Norwegian government or someone from Norway pays for it. Actually, I’m surprised Disney can’t find a Norwegian company that’s looking to expand or get more name recognition in the U.S. to pay for this.

    Honestly though, as long as the bakery is there, does anyone really cares what else goes on with this pavillon?

  22. Jones says:

    “Honestly though, as long as the bakery is there, does anyone really cares what else goes on with this pavillon?” – yes, a lot of people do care…

  23. Vanessa says:

    Amen Rick. Disney’s main objective, as a business, is profit – NOT international relations. It’s pretty clear that there are more effective ways for Disney to improve its product and achieve the intended results (more profits for the company) than updating the Spirit of Norway. It is not Disney’s job to advertise for Norway. And it seems that Disney has no problem with the film. Norway is the entity whose job it is to self-promote, and Norway is the entity that has the problem with the film. It is clear that Disney has no problem with the film (or if it does, that there are other, more important priorities that Disney wants to address first). The one making the complaint – indeed, the ONLY ONE making the complaint – (i.e. Norway) is the one who should pay for the fix.

  24. Aimee says:

    All valid points. And I do agree that Norway cannot force Disney to change the film, I guess I missed that component of this story. I still believe it’s a dated film, and that it falls on Disney to update the film, particularly if they aren’t satisfied with the quality of the content. The country should not bear the burden unless there is a previously negotiated agreement for the country to do so. But, as much as we love Epcot and the parks, it is time for some updates. Every year we find making the decision to renew our annual pass more difficult because of projects like this, that in my opinion, are way past their prime.

  25. Daniel says:

    Oh my freaking god…if they git rid of that film, they better have a private viewing area so I can go in there and watch the old one. Seriously. That film holds so much nostalgia and is actually a good film. Not every film has to be digital HD and 3D you freaking mainstream band-wagoners. That film is very endearing and is one of the FEW attractions at Epcot today that still holds EPCOT Center’s original spirit and vision. Oh man I will be pissed….

  26. Kevin says:

    Have just seen it again – no need to replace it, period.

  27. Jonas Å says:

    It’s been in the media here in Norway, and a lot of people think it should be replaced, due to it’s outdated image of Norway. The fact few people take into consideration is the effect the pavilion (and, hence, the movie) has on general tourism to Norway. The governmental tourism bodies in Norway have – and found that the representation of Norway at Epcot does little to nothing (most likely the latter) to help make people come visit Norway which is the first and obvious intention. This was done through studies, and so there is little scientific support for why Norway should go on and pay the $4 million Disney demands for a new movie. Also, Disney sets terms (!) for how the movie is to be made, which makes for other obstacles since there may different goals for all adjoining parties.

    For the time being Norway is directing it’s tourism advertisments towards other markets than the US, for all sorts of reasons. This, I believe, just makes it harder to argue for our state to fund a new movie for Epcot.

    I personally feel the private sector should invest in the pavilion to promote Norwegian brands in the US – like Moods of Norway did!

    And I agree wholeheartedly on the perfume. No one wears it in Norway, let alone knows what it is.

  28. Six says:

    I’m a former member of the band that played there. I was there for almost 7 years. The music was fun, the pavilion was great and the people loved us. But alas, like most things in Disney, musicians are seen as only an expense. We got the classic “24 hour notice” that all Disney musicians are familiar with. Those were good years.

    Perhaps one day we can dust off the blue vests and return. I doubt it, but one can hope.

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