Epcot has always had its rides that had avid fans as well as detractors who don’t “get” the magic of the ride. Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Captain EO and Maelstrom all fall into that category of sometimes underappreciated rides. Yesterday marked the retirement of one of my favorites of these, Maelstrom.
Maelstrom opened in 1988 in the Norway pavilion. It is a celebration of Norwegian heritage, legends and history. It’s a ride that sometimes you can just walk onto and sometimes had waits of around thirty minutes or more. Disney added the FP+ option to the ride, so it certainly wasn’t neglected by park visitors.
In the loading area, where you get onto your viking ship for your journey, there are murals to represent Norway’s past:
And Norway’s present (ok, present as of the late 1980’s but still…):
You go into a dark tunnel, and up an incline while the one-eyed god Odin warns you about seeking the spirit of Norway and finding danger and adventure. Dark doors open and you pass through into Norway’s history. First you go past a viking village:
And then some trolls cast a spell to send your boat backwards:
You quickly pass by polar bears as your boat goes backwards towards a water fall.
And then you stop with the back of the boat peeking out of a cave by the waterfall in the Norway pavilion:
And another troll pops up and causes your boat to rotate and to start moving forward again and go down down down over the falls (not the ones outside!):
After a moderate drop (28 feet per Wikipedia), you sail through the North Sea, past an oil rig.
And end up in a small Norwegian seaside village where you get off the viking boat.
Originally, this is where you’d have to wait for the doors to open for the Norway movie. About 80% of people (according to my memory) would hustle through the movie theater before the exit doors closed, while the remainder would find a seat and enjoy learning about Norway in the 1980’s. Several years ago, they changed this part so that the doors leading into and out of the theater stayed open all the time, giving you the choice of whether to watch the movie or just to pass through.
The movie is actually pretty funny, with 80s style hair and outfits.
After the movie, you can enjoy the gift shop with very nice but very expensive Norwegian clothes, shoes, perfume and lotions.
Where else can you get wool sweaters and hats in Central Florida?
And there are lots of fun trolls to take pictures with:
And trolls to take home with you:
There is also Norwegian jelly, sardines (about six different varieties…for real), kippers and chocolate for sale.
It’s a great ride (short and campy but still a ton of fun) and the gift shop has a wide variety of items that can’t easily be found in the U.S. The ride is officially closed as of today, destined to be revamped into a Frozen ride, expected to open in 2016. I’m not sure if the gift shop will continue to exist in its current state or if it will be come completely dedicated to Frozen merchandise.
I’m sad to see Maelstrom go. I’m sure the Frozen ride will be great, but I can’t help but think that there is plenty of land on Disney property and that Frozen belongs in the Magic Kingdom, not in Epcot. Sadly, Disney doesn’t consult with me before these decisions are made.
So, this is my “Farvel” to Maelstrom. I’ll miss finding the adventure and peril while adventuring in mythic Norway.
Did you get a chance to say farewell to Maelstrom? Are you glad to see it replaced by Frozen or are you going to miss it? What was your favorite part?
Want more Disney in your Monday? Check out Mickey Mondays with John from run. geek. run(disney).