EPCOT Norway Pavilion | Frozen Ever After | Maelstrom

The Norway Pavilion at EPCOT (including Frozen Ever After and its predecessor, Maelstrom) is full of authentic details that speak to the culture, history, music and cuisine of Norway. Opening in 1988, the pavilion features a table-service restaurant (Akershus), a quick-service bakery (Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe), a main attraction (Frozen Ever After), a meet-and-greet (Anna and Elsa’s Royal Sommerhus), and shopping. The pavilion has a rich history, and this episode is devoted to the Imagineering, the details, the music, and the culture and history that make up the EPCOT Norway Pavilion in World Showcase.What do you love most about the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT? Tag me and join the conversation below.

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Episode Transcript:

You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last. That’s because Disney fans love the Norway pavilion at EPCOT. This beloved attraction was the eleventh and final World Showcase pavilion to open at the park, debuting on June 3, 1988, and its design exemplifies how Walt Disney Imagineering can create an adventurous experience brimming with story-driven details and historical authenticity.
With World Showcase, the Imagineers centered each pavilion around a core principle drawn from its home country’s folk history and culture. For example, the France pavilion captures the essence of the streets of Paris, drawing inspiration from La Belle Epoque, an era spanning the years 1850 to 1900. In addition, the Germany pavilion draws its focus around a German platz—similar to an American town square—with Bavarian architecture drawing inspiration from the 13th to 17th centuries. In the case of the Norway pavilion, the Imagineers looked to the enduring seafaring heritage of Norwegian culture and drew inspiration from villages and towns along Norway’s 63,000-mile coastline.
Replete with shops, dining, and two popular attractions (one meet-and-greet and one indoor water ride), the Norway pavilion stretches across 58,000 square feet (about 1.3 acres) and feels authentically Scandinavian because of its architecture, signage, rockwork, references to Norse mythology, music, and of course its Cast Members. In addition, Disney worked closely with Norwegian partners on the pavilion’s design.
Collectively known as NorShow, the partners were a conglomerate of 11 companies who sought to increase Norway travel and tourism as a result of their Floridian pavilion. Altogether, the sponsors contributed $33 million to the pavilion, which included a $2 million contribution from the Norwegian government itself. In exchange, according to an Orlando Sentinel article from June 2, 1988, Disney would provide NorShow with 60% of the Norway pavilion’s food and souvenir sales after first sending the sponsors 100% of the pavilion’s first $3.2 million in profit. The government was also involved in the grand opening and dedication ceremony for the pavilion, which was broadcasted on prime time Norwegian television. King Harald V, who was the Crown-Prince at the time, dedicated the pavilion alongside his wife, Queen Sonja, saying “wishing the best of luck to Disney World and those who will be responsible for the operation of the pavilion.”
NorShow’s involvement seemed to have paid off in the short-term when it came to Norway travel, as tourism was reported by one source to grow 500% to 700% the year after the pavilion opened, although I was not able to validate this information. Nevertheless, this growth was only the beginning, which I was able to confirm as tourism was better documented online after the year 2000. Frozen debuted in theaters in November 2013, inspiring a massive overhaul of the pavilion’s main attraction, and CNBC reported in June 2014 that hotel bookings increased 37% and flight bookings increased 152% in the first quarter after the film opened in theaters. According to Statista, tourism would continue to climb an additional 30% through 2017. The movie has since inspired an Adventures by Disney excursion to Norway, and even fans of Marvel’s Thor franchise might enjoy a trip to this European country as the comic is loosely inspired by Norse mythology.
While much of this attraction is inspired by real places in Norway, perhaps the most prominent is the Stave church at the center of the pavilion. At one point during the Middle Ages, over 1,000 Stave churches existed across Norway. Considered one of the most important examples of wooden medieval architecture in Europe, the Stave church design combined elements of Christianity and Viking symbolism. As a result of the Black Death and the reformation period in Norway, Stave churches slowly began to disappear. Today, only 28 Stave churches remain, and the oldest one is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage site.
At EPCOT, the stave church was built as a ⅘ scale replica of the Gol Stave Church in Oslo. Inside, guests can learn more about Viking folklore and Norse mythology. In fact, according to the Walt Disney World website, some of the historical items on display are presented outside of Norway for the first time. As the website describes the experience, “Uncover the stories that guided the Vikings, beginning with the creation myth that explains how the world was created from the bones of giants, held together by a gigantic tree and populated by bold gods who inspired heroic and ruthless deeds. Marvel at their heroic ancient deities, including Odin, ruler of Asgard, Thor, the mighty protector god, Loki the trickster and Freya, goddess of love.” If you haven’t visited the exhibit before, it’s certainly worth seeing at least once, and the entire one-room attraction can be experienced in just a few minutes.
Across the way, guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Akershus, which today is known as the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, offering character dining with Disney Princesses in a medieval castle. While there are some familiar American offerings for guests seeking a more recognizable menu, guests who want a taste of Norway can sample more Scandinavian-inspired fare, including KjØttkake (a Norwegian meatball dish), Kylling og Melboller (Norwegian chicken and dumplings), bratwurst, red cabbage, and for my fellow fans of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, you can even try the lefse, which is a Norwegian flatbread.
Akershus is not just a dining location worth trying if you’re at EPCOT. It’s also a nod to another Oslo landmark, the Akershus castle. According to VisitNorway.com, “The building of Akershus Castle and Fortress was commenced in 1299 under king Håkon V. The medieval castle, which was completed in the 1300s, had a strategic location at the very end of the headland, and withstood a number of sieges throughout the ages. King Christian IV (1588-1648) had the castle modernised and converted into a Renaissance castle and royal residence.” If you’re a fan of European history, the castle has a much greater history that’s worth exploring. Of course with EPCOT, the Imagineers used the real location as inspiration for the design, helping guests once again feel the medieval history of Norwegian culture.
Speaking of dining, it’s also worth mentioning the famous Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe behind the Stave church. This scrumptious bakery serves classic Norwegian delicacies, including Norwegian Kringla (a pretzel-shaped pastry with assorted toppings), rice cream, and of course the Disney fan favorite school bread (a sweet roll filled with custard and dipped in coconut). 
One of the unique features of the Kringla Bakery is its sod roof. More than just a fun aesthetic, this type of roof was common in Scandinavian culture on rural log houses, a tradition dating back hundreds of years, which helps to reduce water runoff from storms. In addition, the sod roofs help to trap heat inside during the colder months and keep the home cool during summer months. Furthermore, it makes for a quieter home as the sod and vegetation absorb sound from the outside world. Including this type of roof in EPCOT serves as an authentic nod to Norwegian culture.
Adding to the authenticity of the Norway Pavilion, the Imagineers also arranged background music that features some traditional Norwegian folk music. It’s what you’ve been listening to in the background of this episode, and I’ll turn up the volume for just a few moments so you can hear it a little bit more clearly.
[Turn up Norway background music]
Of course, a conversation about the Norway pavilion is never complete without discussing its signature attraction. Today the ride is known as Frozen Ever After, but in 1988, the Norway pavilion featured a water ride called Maelstrom, although that wasn’t its first intended name. Originally, the Imagineers planned to call this attraction SeaVenture. In fact, footage from the ride’s construction even shows the attraction marquee with this name, but the Imagineers changed direction on the name before the ride opened, likely to avoid confusion with the Living Seas pavilion. Ultimately they settled on the name Maelstrom. A maelstrom is a powerful whirlpool, something that would be disastrous should a ship encounter one, and the name conveys a sense of adventure and a certain level of thrills.
Originally, Maelstrom was planned to be more mythological in nature. Charting a course for the rainbow bridge of Vallhalla, guests would journey on long boats and encounter trolls, gnomes, and other creatures from Norse mythology. The Imagineers even tapped the Sherman Brothers to create an original song for the attraction. Knowing this prolific duo penned such iconic tunes as “it’s a small world” and “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room”, I could only imagine what they would have created for this ride. Nevertheless, in reviewing the concept for Maelstrom, the sponsors at NorShow were not thrilled with the idea and instead wanted the attraction to focus on the country of Norway itself, taking guests through various parts of the country in the hopes that it might drive increased tourism to this European nation. In the end, the Imagineers created a compromise, taking guests through various landscapes of Norway while infusing some Norse mythology. As it turns out, the final concept art for these show scenes, which depicted the scenic backgrounds and the various tones for each sequence, were designed by Imagineer Joe Rohde, who was just a few years into his tenure at Imagineering at that time. Meanwhile, Imagineer Bob Kurzweil came up with the final ride concept.
Entering the queue for the attraction, guests would first pass a waterfall at the back of the pavilion. Here, they’d catch their first glimpse of the viking-style longboats, which would stop at the very edge of the waterfall as if just a second away from plummeting out of a cave down to the ground. Moments later, the boat would reverse direction and disappear into the darkness, revealing a rather unique feature that was rather innovative for the ride, but I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit.
Entering the building, guests would walk down a short hallway and turn right, entering the load area for the attraction. Although the room was mostly unthemed and rather plain in its design, the one feature that many Disney fans still remember and adore was a giant mural that was painted across the entire span of wall behind the loading dock. The mural depicted a spectrum of motifs across Norway and foreshadowed a few you would soon experience on the ride. From left to right, the mural depicted a mountainous forest with a troll’s face emerging on the side of a mountain; a mountainous and icy landscape filled with polar bears, reindeer, and wooden sailboats navigating floes of ice, a quaint seaside fishing village, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship at the edge of the coast, a group of oil rigs out in the Norwegian sea, and rock climbers scaling the edge of a fjord. In today’s version of the ride, this whole room occupied the space that now houses the “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” scene from Frozen Ever After.
Guests would board the Viking-style boats in front of the mural, then head into a dark left turn and up a pitch black incline. After a few moments, a light would shine down from above the top of the lift hill as Odin would open his right eye, telling guests of the beauty and potential perils of Norway. It’s also here that guests would hear the iconic line, “you are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last.”
At the top of the lift, the boats would turn left and navigate through various show scenes depicting the Viking Age, sometime between the years 800 and 1000 of the Common Era. As the majority of the ride took place in a nightime setting, this scene was rather dark and ominous. A few moments later, a door would open in front of the boats, and guests would suddenly find themselves coming face-to-face with a monstrous three-headed troll.
Heading straight for the troll, the boats would then come to a complete stop just a few feet from their station. Meanwhile, the trolls would express their vexation of our presence, declaring this land to be “troll country”. They cast a spell on the vehicle, causing the boats to pivot to the right onto an alternate track. In a first for this kind of ride, the boats would then be pushed backwards as the trolls would cast the spell to send us down a waterfall.
Moving swiftly backwards through an icy landscape, a giant polar bear would then stand on its hind legs over the boat as we moved backward through the scene.
Passing through another door, guests would enter a mountainous forest as the boat raced toward the edge of a waterfall, the same one seen from outside the attraction. The boat would come to a complete stop as another troll would emerge, once again expressing its displeasure of us being in their land. This troll, however, would instead catapult us forward, casting a spell to send us down to the North Sea. It’s at this point that the boats would travel down the main drop of the attraction into the next room, a stormy night on the north sea in the middle of a group of oil rigs.
While this scene was a bit frightening, it was originally a lot more violent. In the first version of the ride, which debuted on opening day, intense winds and drenching rain would engulf the room. As the boats reached the bottom of the drop, a real bolt of electricity would be sent through the room using a tesla coil effect. The scene was so rough that reportedly one journalist was knocked out of the boat. Some footage even shows guests wearing full ponchos on opening day, which one report states was provided to guests riding the attraction. Of course, safety takes priority at Disney, and the Imagineers soon realized that this scene, as adventurous and realistic as it might have been, was perhaps a bit too intense. It’s likely the Imagineers also second-guessed the lightning effect, realizing it was not all that safe for a water environment. Shortly after opening, the ride scene was toned down, removing the wind and rain from the room and changing the lightning bolt to a simple strobe effect.
Moving around the oil rig, boats would then head through another door and enter a seaside fishing village, the unloading dock for the attraction. This room today occupies the “In Summer” scene, the load/unload area and part of the queue for Frozen Ever After. It’s here that guests would disembark from the vehicles and exit the attraction into a 6-minute show about Norway, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
Before we get to the film, however, I’d first love to take you with me for a ride on Maelstrom. For those who remember the attraction, I’m sure this will serve as a nostalgic look back at the original ride. For those who do not remember or did not experience the attraction, I hope this audio will give you a brief glimpse of what the ride was like. With that, let’s head back about 10 years and enjoy Maelstrom.
[Play Maelstrom audio]
After disembarking from the boats, guests would then enter a waiting area near a group of automatic doors. What followed was a quick film about Norway. While many classic Disney attractions would feature a movie or show before a ride (a preshow), this ride was unique in that it featured no preshow but a post-show experience. The 6-minute film was known as “The Spirit of Norway”, which was directed by Paul Gerber. Paul also directed The Seas, which was the preshow in the Living Seas pavilion, and Symbiosis, the original film in the Land Pavilion that would later become Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable and Awesome Planet.
To give you an idea of what this film was like, here’s a brief clip of the experience.
[Play Spirit of Norway]
After many years, The Spirit of Norway became quite outdated, so the film slowly became a smaller part of the experience. After a while, once guests entered the theater they were given the choice to sit down to watch the film or simply head straight for the exit doors. By the end of Maelstrom’s existence, the automatic doors remained open completely, allowing guests to come and go through the film as they pleased.
After 25 years, NorShow’s sponsorship formally ended, and the conglomerate did not express much interest in renewing the deal. Fortunately for Disney, the year was 2013 and a film called Frozen was about to hit theaters. Loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, “The Snow Queen”, Frozen tells of two sisters, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa of Arendelle…. Actually, maybe I’ll turn this one over to Olaf…
[Play Olaf clip]
[Switch to Frozen Ever After queue music in the background]
Thank you, Olaf! As many of you know, the story of Frozen isn’t quite a Norwegian folktale, but it does include some Norwegian inspiration. In fact, according to Fjord Tours, a leader in the Norwegian tourism industry since 1982, “Most of the places depicted in Frozen are based on actual Norwegian destinations. These towns contain all the magic of a fairytale, so when you visit them, you’ll feel like you’re entering the world of your favorite ice queen.” These towns include Bergen, Oslo, Nærøyfjord, and Røros, two of which (Bergen and Oslo) served as inspiration for the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT.
During its theatrical run, Frozen earned over $1.2 billion in worldwide box office revenue, overtaking Toy Story 3 to become the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Its hit song, “Let It Go”, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, became the first song from a Disney animated musical to reach the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 in 18 years, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media, and a Critics Choice Award for Best Song. With the tremendous success of the film at the box office and among Disney fans, it became clear to Disney how the Norway pavilion could remain financially viable at EPCOT, and the first step was to test out a new attraction, and no, it wasn’t Frozen Ever After—it was a meet and greet.
Giving Disney fans the chance to meet Anna and Elsa, Disney unveiled a new meet-and-greet character spot for these beloved characters. The experience was so popular that wait times often reached 2 hours, even exceeding 5 hours during the holidays. By February, Disney extended the operating hours by 2 hours in the morning, opening the experience at 9am instead of what was then the traditional 11am opening for World Showcase. Still, fans flocked to this attraction, showing Disney how popular Frozen experiences could be at the parks. Their test was a definite success.
In April of 2014, Disney announced that the Anna and Elsa meet-and-greet would be moving from EPCOT to the Magic Kingdom, occupying a new space in Princess Fairytale Hall, allowing for FastPass+ to be added to the experience. Of course, this was just the beginning, as the Imagineers worked on plans for a blizzard of Frozen content at EPCOT.
In September 2014, Disney formally announced that Maelstrom would be taking its final bow in October to make way for a new Frozen-themed attraction, which would later become known as Frozen Ever After. While some EPCOT purists demurred, citing the loss of a beloved classic and the dilution of World Showcase’s original concept, it was not the first time an original World Showcase attraction was changed in this capacity. In fact, 7 years earlier, El Rio Del Tiempo at the Mexico pavilion was changed to Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. The attraction is based on the 1944 film of the same name, following Donald Duck on an adventure through Mexico alongside his pals Panchito Pistoles and Jose Carioca. With this ride, the Imagineers were able to use Disney content to tell a story about Mexican culture, creating an experience that even 16 years later Disney fans still adore.
One could argue that while Arendelle is not a real place, Frozen makes for the perfect addition to the Norway pavilion, especially given its Norwegian inspiration. More importantly, the attraction has helped drive increased attendance to the Norway pavilion, giving its home country a boost of interest and tourism without the need to sponsor the pavilion. Disney content, even fictional content, can be a great starting point for diving deeper into the real history and culture of places around the world, and Frozen is an excellent example of this kind of content.
Given the immense popularity of the Anna and Elsa meet and greet that once made its home at EPCOT, Disney’s Imagineers decided to create not only a water ride but also a permanent meet-and-greet location in the Norway pavilion. Located in what was otherwise mostly unused land at the far northern end along the Mexico pavilion, Anna and Elsa’s Royal Sommerhus opened on June 21, 2016, the same day that Frozen Ever After opened its doors. Designed to be a summer home for Anna and Elsa, the attraction’s architecture was inspired by the Detli House in Trondheim, Norway, a cabin that was built in 1817 in Oppdal and moved to Trondheim in 1924 to become a part of an open-air folk museum. The Detli House serves as an authentic example of how many Norwegians lived for centuries and also stands as a great example of Norway’s traditional architectural style. As a fun fact, the Royal Sommerhus also includes a nod to Maelstrom, a tapestry in the queue that features the three-headed troll you once encountered on the attraction. If you’ve never visited this attraction, the queue itself is worth the experience as you navigate your way through Anna and Elsa’s summer home. The home is grounded in Norwegian architectural design along with some homey touches that make it feel like the sisters truly spent their childhood vacationing in this abode.
Of course, the main attraction and largest draw to the Norway Pavilion is Frozen Ever After, which was designed as a retooling of Maelstrom, featuring an additional 30 seconds of ride time thanks to the Imagineers turning what was once a backstage portion of track between the unload and load areas into a new show scene, moving the new load area back to the unload docks.
In a sense, Frozen Ever After acts as a sequel to the film, or more like a spin-off short, something you might watch on Disney Plus. According to Disney Parks Blog, “Frozen Ever After offers guests an adventurous boat tour through the kingdom of Arendelle. Guests are first transported to the “Summer Snow Day” Celebration where Queen Elsa embraces her magical powers to create a beautiful “winter-in-summer” day for the entire kingdom. Next, guests will pass Troll Valley on their way up the icy North Mountain to Queen Elsa’s Ice Palace before their return trip to the Bay of Arendelle.”
When you enter the queue, you are essentially entering the Kingdom of Arendelle, and your first stop is a visit to the workshop of Arendelle’s official Ice Master & Deliverer, Kristoff. On the right is the entrance to his shop, Chisel & Pick, and on the left is an extension of Kristoff’s shop, complete with the proprietor’s photo alongside his trusted reindeer, Sven and the pendant he received in recognition of this service.
Next, you head down a hallway passing a bulletin board of Easter eggs, including a poster bewaring visitors of the Duke of Weasletown (I mean Weselton), a flier for Oaken’s Toakens’ Summer Snow Day Blowout (in fact if you buy one clog you get one free and the first 10 customers get a free sauna session), and an article from the Southern Isles Gazette about what happened to Prince Hans, along with a few additional materials to peruse at your leisure.
At the end of the hallway, a poster of Queen Elsa serves as a royal decree to mark the cause for your visit. It reads, “Hear ye! Hear ye! The Kingdom is invited to a Summer Snow Day Celebration in honor of the day that Princess Anna saved her sister Queen Elsa with an unselfish act of true love. All shall be welcome to a royal reception inside the palace of ice.”
At this point of Maelstrom, guests would turn right into the large queue space occupying the load area, but Frozen Ever After’s queue turns about 45 degrees to the left, as the Imagineers removed the old Spirit of Norway theater to make way for an expanded and more immersive queue space, a large room navigating an Arendelle courtyard (where, like in the Mexico pavilion, it’s always nighttime). This room occupies not only what was once The Spirit of Norway theater but also the old unload area and seaside fishing village. Now, it acts as the largest part of the queue and the load and unload area for the attraction. After navigating the cobblestone courtyard underneath charming street lights and lanterns, your next stop is Oaken’s Tokens and Sauna. The shop not only features some of Oaken’s famous goods for sale but also a digital window in the sauna door that displays a series of short sequences as Oaken interacts with his customers from behind the steam.
Exiting Oaken’s shop, you then head toward the dock and load into the refurbished viking longboats from Maelstrom. Before we get to the main attraction, it’s once again worth mentioning the music. The queue for Frozen Ever After features about an hour’s worth of music, much of which includes instrumental versions of various songs from Frozen and its spin-off short films, all recorded with traditional Norwegian instruments to ground the attraction in its country’s culture. It’s what you’ve been listening to in this part of the podcast, and I’ll turn up the volume here for a few moments for you to enjoy.
[Turn up volume of Frozen Ever After queue music]
Boarding the boats, our first stop is a left turn into the old load area for Maelstrom, as the Imagineers converted this room into a new show scene and expanded the track to lengthen the attraction. Here, we enter the “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” sequence, passing under a group of glittering icicles (similar to the ones Anna and Kristoff encounter in the film when they first meet Olaf). Up ahead, an animatronic Olaf on a hillside sings “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” to boats passing by as Sven smiles and nods along to the music.
Passing around the hillside, we turn to the left and see the lovable trolls from the film on the side of a mountain. Here, Pabbie tells of how Princess Anna saved her sister with an unselfish act of true love as he casts an image along the rockside thanks to digital effects. From here, we start making the journey up the main lift hill. The song “Vuelie” from the film can be heard as we head up to Elsa’s ice palace at the north mountain. On either side of the lift hill, projections cast images of Elsa’s magic and snowflakes making their way up toward her castle as well.
At the top of the lift, we enter Elsa’s palace and turn left. The song “For the First Time in Forever” plays as we pass Olaf skating through a large room. In the next room, animatronic Anna and Kristoff are seen singing “For the First Time in Forever” out on an ice balcony as Sven sits nearby with his tongue stretched out stuck to an ice railing. Anna and Kristoff ask if we’re ready to meet Elsa, and the doors open to the next room, where the three-headed troll once confronted guests. Of course, the Frozen Ever After scene is a bit more approachable.
Up ahead, Elsa can be seen on a balcony moving her arms to cast her magic as reflections on the ice on either side of the boat project Elsa’s magic. As she sings the lyrics to Let It Go leading up to the chorus, the boat pivots to the right onto the alternate track, and just as she begins to sing the words “Let It Go”, she sends the boats backwards down a small drop.
The backwards sequence takes us through Elsa’s palace in reverse as we see images of her in the ice casting her magic. All the while, “Let It Go” continues to play, concluding with the famous line, “the cold never bothered me anyway” as we pass through a mist effect and through a pair of open doors into the next room.
In this next sequence, we see Marshmallow, Elsa’s giant snow-monster, surrounded by a group of lovable snowgies. We come to a stop, and the boat once again pivots to the right onto a new track. While this was once the point at which it would look like guests would fall backwards over a waterfall into the outside courtyard, the Imagineers enclosed the cave to no longer show the boats to the outside world. I have not been able to confirm exactly why this view was closed off, but my best guess is that it likely has to do with the addition of the on-ride photo at the drop. As the cameras face the back of the room, sunlight behind guests might have made it more difficult to get a clear photo of guests descending down the main drop. Again, this is not something I have been able to confirm, but it’s my best guess as to why the Imagineers felt the need to close off this part of the experience.
In either case, once the boat pivots to the right onto the next track, we descend down the drop back to the main level as Marshmallow shouts “Let It Go”. This sends us back down to the Bay of Arendelle, where we see fireworks being set off behind Arendelle Castle. Turning right and heading through another set of doors, we then catch a glimpse of Anna, Elsa and Olaf on our right singing “In Summer”. Since the boats will sometimes stop in this room as they await clearance in the unload area, it makes for a fun way to end the experience. It’s at this point that the boats proceed back to the dock, letting us off to go around the back of the queue into another series of hallways, which take us directly into the old gift shop. As another tribute to Maelstrom, the original troll inside The Fjording Shop still stands and remains a popular photo spot with fans of Maelstrom and the Norway Pavilion.
As a Disney fan who grew up going to EPCOT in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when Maelstrom was at its peak, and as a Disney fan who has spent more time at EPCOT than any other park, I’m sure many might expect me to be in the camp of wishing Disney would have kept Maelstrom untouched. Of course, many of you know me much better than that, and I do believe that the switch to Frozen Ever After was a very smart decision on Disney’s part. It led to a spike in popularity for the Norway pavilion, keeping much of the same cultural heritage as its original version while infusing a Disney story that, as fictional as it might be, can inspire kids and adults alike to learn more about this Scandinavian country, and hopefully to take the trip someday as well. Having been on Maelstrom more times than I can count and always really enjoying that attraction, I truly love Frozen Ever After and would happily wait even longer to ride the attraction (yes, even without my daughter). Of course, having Maggie around makes the attraction all the more enjoyable, as she loves anything Frozen related and is another aspect of Disney we have bonded over in the last several months of her toddlerhood.
At this point, I’d love to take you for a ride with me on Frozen Ever After thanks to some binaural audio I recorded at the parks. As with all scenic audio recordings, this experience is best enjoyed with headphones or earbuds, but listening on another device should still provide a fun way to enjoy this part of the podcast. With that, let’s head to the Norway Pavilion and enjoy Frozen Ever After.

Published by Matthew Krul

Host of Imagination Skyway.

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