Remember the long lines for the Princess Plass meet and greet with Disney “Frozen” sisters Elsa and Anna in EPCOT’s Norway pavilion? At times the queue was 5+ hours long to see Disney’s latest stars. Have you explored the “Norsk Kultur: inspiration for Disney Frozen” exhibit inside the Stave Church? It’s not much, but it’s the perfect exhibit to show how the movie and the pavilion are inextricably linked.
The movie obviously drew a lot of its inspiration from Norway, but was set in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle. Fictional, because that’s what fairytales do, they use fantasy to shine a light on reality.
With Friday’s announcement, it’s official; Disney is planning to replace Maelstrom with a Disney Frozen themed attraction. The issue, has sharply divided fans. While Norway pavilion wasn’t my first choice for a Frozen attraction (I think it would fit better in Magic Kingdom with the other animated princesses), I’m not opposed to a movie that is so obviously Nordic inspired being placed in Norway.
One of the arguments I’m hearing against adding Frozen to the World Showcase is that cartoons aren’t realistic enough for a theme park that is supposed to represent various nations. The whole cartoons ruin EPCOT World Showcase thing just hasn’t shown to be true. The world didn’t end when Donald and pals appeared in Mexico and having Belle & Aurora walk-arounds hasn’t destroyed France. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if this announcement was for a Ratatouille attraction, like just opened in Disney Studios France, the fans would be 90% in favor of it.
Stories are central to a nation’s culture. Disney has always been famous for incorporating those stories into its animation litany. Maelstrom, as it exists today, incorporates many of that nation’s myths. So too will the Frozen attraction, just one lens removed. The Disney lens, but you can still see Norway through it.
Here’s the best reason for the change, worse than France or Mexico, the country of Norway has not been paying for pavilion maintenance or upgrades for some time. It does not have a strong restaurant to anchor it (it’s filled with other Disney princesses) and frankly, when is the last time you stopped and watched that 7 minute movie at the end of Maelstrom. They don’t even bother to close the doors any more.
“Frozen” will bring life back to a pavilion that has been neglected to the point where the only thing that still resembled Norway were the Lefse in the bakery. I realize this is not a popular position. It if turns Disney’s attention back to rest of the World Showcase and maybe gets us a new country or a Ratatouille attraction in France, then it’s a terrific move. EPCOT hasn’t been living up to its potential and it’s time to move forward with new ideas and new life for the park.
I can totally see your point and am sure that the Frozen ride will be great. My daughter will love it! However, I have a different opinion because I also strongly dislike the Three Caballeros in Mexico. I’m not a purist in thinking there should be no characters in World Showcase. I’m just upset because I feel like EPCOT needs so much love, especially in Future World. Instead, they’re replacing a ride that was out of date but was not the most pressing need (in my humble opinion) at the park. I feel like this will be the one big change at EPCOT, and it will draw huge crowds. However, I just don’t get the sense that the EPCOT that I love will return to glory anytime soon.
I disagree with you on the Three Caballeros in Mexico, as it is an excellent fit and injected much-needed life into a very dated ride.
Plus, you shouldn’t waste your time wishing for the Epcot of the past that you want back. It also makes you sound rather selfish as well.
Hoping for a second Pixar attraction at Epcot isn’t really aiming high, is it? We’ve moved on from the days of hoping that Disney will educate us in a whole new way that shares the existing culture of another nation, or the hope for our future (like Future World). We are resigned to hoping that the introduction of another movie-based attraction at Epcot will bring us…another movie-based attraction (and not even a new one, it would be a copy from another park).
What has happened in the 21st Century at Epcot? Wonders of Life shutdown. Spaceship Earth got a refurb that to many still feels unfinished. Soarin’ was copied from California, without even getting a new introduction recorded (as if we would never notice the edit to clip out the Over California dialogue). The sea cabs came back at Living Seas, but only as “Clamobiles” that drive you through an attempt to turn an actual aquarium into an animation theater. Any real attempt at science has largely been abandoned there. El Rio del Tiempo was redone into a shorter ride that is difficult to enjoy (even for a Three Caballeros fan like myself) as Donald & friends run through and babble over everything. We get more festival time, which has largely turned into more drunken street party time.
I realize my problems with all of this are my problems and I have to own them. I understand that I believed (and was hopeful about) the ideas in the old books about EPCOT Center more than most Disney fans and guests do, and certainly more than Disney itself does.
I also realize that what I want EPCOT to be is not what Disney wants for the park. I’m not a naive person who says “bring back Horizons!”, though I did love it. I’m fine with new things; I just want something that does justice to the concept of Future World and World Showcase. Cosmos is a perfect example of the type of approach I’d love for them to take. Make it entertaining but keep the amazement to it. Frozen is good, but it doesn’t fit in my view. But what can we do?
I love Maelstrom and am sorry to see it go. However, everything changes and I completely understand Disney wanting to capitalize on Frozen’s phenomenal success. With Avatar land announced for AK, a larger Star Wars presence rumored for Hollywood Studios and new Fantasyland opening in the MK; EPCOT deserves some love from the imagineers. I only hope that Norway is just the start of revitalizing the World Showcase. Ideally, adding a new country would be fantastic. But at a bare minimum adding the Frozen attraction and sprucing up the other countries is what’s best for business. Most of us who read Disney blogs view Disney World as a second home and have a very proprietary view of the parks. But the reality is that it is a business.
I will miss Maelstrom, but I’m also willing to give the Imahineers the benefit of the doubt. I’ll wait and see what the new attraction is like. After all, in my mind, Disney has far more hits than misses. Of course, I do think they messed up Journey into Imagination, so they do occasionally whiff.
Disney established what the park was supposed to be. They sold us those ideals. Then they largely abandoned them. I know Disney is only interested in cash. I get that I was a chump who believed it was about more than that.
What happened to the new film Norway shot five or so years ago and offered to Disney but the company wanted nothing to do with it?
The company just up and refused it, and countered with “give us 9 million dollars or we turn your pavilion into a movie tie-in.”
Okay, I admit it, I was one of the original NOOOOOOO people when I first heard of this. Already not a big fan of the 3 caballeros I felt this was the beginning of the end of Epcot. But I’m changing my tune. I watched some POV videos of both the old and newer Mexico rides and it did not lessen the ride at all. In fact it probably made it more attractive to children. Then I watched a POV video of Maelstrom. Now I haven’t ridden it in many years so it was almost with fresh eyes. My impression? Blah. A short ride with a few trolls, a couple or polar bears, some dark caves, North Sea oil rigs and then the village. In other words, not much history or geography there. If I were a child, booorrrrriiiiiing. If the new ride incorporates both Frozen and Norway it could possibly generate even more interest in Norway as a tourist destination. What I don’t want to see is World Showcase being taken over by the Disney movies (which I love). That being said, the addition of the characters in small doses could be a good thing for Epcot, since it seems to be struggling to maintain or renew it’s identity.
Then they better put the ice rink in there or it will be a big floppola. Enjoyed the pavilion at Hollywood studios and would love to see a permanent ice rink with a show and public skating. Great exposure for Disney related ice shows.
They’ve been putting the characters out in small, but increasing, doses for a long time now. It used to be something around a corner, or off the beaten path, for those in the know. Then they started making it a little more obvious. Then they started putting them into attractions…
This isn’t the one thing that breaks Epcot. It is one more thing in a growing list. Sadly, the golden age for this park was in the early 90s when there were the most attractions and the vision was still clear. They then started playing around with the name and the decline was set in place.
As to the drunken street parties, I ran into this my visit 2 weeks ago. More control needs to be executed over the situation. Maybe security needs to be paid better so some police with training could afford to work there and control the drinking crowd.
They made the decision to sell World Showcase as a place for food & drink. It will be hard for them to get that genie back into the bottle, if they even wanted to do so. They will have to believe that the change in atmosphere is actually costing them revenue first.
Oh well. Goodbye to Maelstrom, which wasn’t an original EPCOT attraction but sure felt like it after 26 years. It had gotten much dated, but I’ll still miss it not being there the next time I’m in the park.
“You are not the first to pass this way…but now, you shall be the last.”