“Maelstrom no longer has FastPass,” Mark noticed as we were planning our upcoming trip to Epcot. Amy’s first reaction was a sinking feeling, but then her optimism reflex kicked in: “Hey, maybe that means its popularity has diminished and we can have the ride to ourselves again!” It was a nice thought, but no. Maelstrom has been retired, allocated to the lore of Norway, like trolls and Viking gods.
Mark and Amy shared a minute of silence, recollecting its multitude of charm and character that indellibly infused our hearts with the Norwegian spirit: the seafaring past that brought communication across great distances to light; the magical and mysterious mythology of creatures and gods; puffins and polar bears; the modern, mammoth oil rig that defies the sea’s most fierce of currents in order to tap a deep and rich source of energy; and the allure of the fishing village, both a safe harbor and symbol of Norway’s culture past and present. We’d get off the ride and never want to leave. “We love you, Norway!” we’d proclaim with a final glance over our shoulder as we filed into the gift shop.
Understandably, not everyone was as enchanted as we were. It was an old ride and one in need of love or work—and really, both. It lacked the Disney art of storytelling, some complained, and the fact that Norway had stopped sponsoring their Epcot presence meant they no longer had a commitment to maintaining the attraction. It made sense, therefore, that Disney should step in and update the Norwegian experience with the same high presentation values and commitment to education through entertainment as the other attractions in Epcot’s World Showcase.
Disney’s solution is Frozen, which at first came as a disappointment. But to be fair, it’s important to remember that change is always hard, and other than re-making Maelstrom into an even better Maelstrom, probably anything would have been hard to accept. Get past that, and the Frozen concept makes a lot of sense: Disney’s highest grossing animated film happens to tie right in with Scandenavia. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit. And look at how successful The Mexico pavilion is for having added Donald and his dos amigos. For Epcot purists, who view the infusion of Disney characters as a pollutant, similar to Captain Hook and Peter Pan doing a meet and greet in front of Space Mountain, their peace of mind would benefit from accepting that Disney isn’t likely to keep the Disney out of Disney, particularly when they get something so right as Frozen—and it has trolls!
All right, we forged our acceptance of having to say goodbye and move on, knowing that our Maelstrom memories will forever bind us, to Epcot, to Norway and to each other.