Frozen’s “Arendelle.” (Photo: Walt Disney Pictures)
You were not the first to pass this way, but you might be the last. Walt Disney World guests arriving before October 5 will have one last chance to ride Maelstrom, the beloved Epcot attraction, before it is replaced with an attraction based on the movie Frozen. The Norway Pavilion Viking boat ride, which features a story detailing the history and development of its namesake country, is a fan favorite that has become even more popular since the announcement that the refurbishment based on the hit movie, would aim to be opened by 2016.
The Maelstrom Ride at Epcot (Photo: Lisa Jacobs/Flickr)
"It’s always sad when a beloved attraction closes, but Maelstrom was always the little ride that could," says Andrew Tipton, one-half of the blog Disney Hipsters. “I doubt anyone would rank Maelstrom up there with Pirates of The Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion, but for 26 years this ride has been a consistent part of peoples lives. When other attractions struggled through a decade Maelstrom kept chugging along, and in the last few years became a modern classic.”
WATCH: The Maelstrom Ride at Epcot’s Norway
The ride is one of only a handful of in Epcot’s World Pavilion, which features façades themed for countries across the world including China, Italy, and Mexico, many of which serve alcohol and exotic meals; of all the parks within Walt Disney World, this section of Epcot tends to be a bigger draw for adults than the children who love Princess Elsa. It also represents a Disney World less centered on trendy animated features and more focused on the ideals, dreams and memories of the past, a mission statement so loved by Walt Disney that he dedicated his first park to this idea.
On Twitter, concerned park goers took to the hashtag #savemaelstrom to tweet over 2,000 times, a protest that has also extended to Disney fan message boards and podcasts, the corporate Disney Facebook page and even phone calls to the House of Mouse.
— Disney Parks Memes (@DisParksMemes)September 13, 2014
— Jessica Catherine (@WritingJC)September 17, 2014
— AtomMobile (@MgtyMicroscope)September 18, 2014
Much to the chagrin of passionate theme park fans, Disney World Imagineering isn’t always known for making decisions that they agree with; one infamous example is the Journey into Imagination refurb at Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion, which notoriously displaced fan favorite Dreamfinder with a lackluster dark ride led by Figment the dragon. Will Maelstrom be the next Epcot attraction to receive a less than glossy new coat of paint?
But Frozen, the top-grossing animated film in history, might be a natural fit for the pavilion, which already hosts a popular princess-themed breakfast and a meet-and-greet with Frozen’s Scandinavian characters. The ride even features trolls that could easily be replaced with the Pabbie, Bulda and Cliff from the movie. And, call it the “Frozen effect,” but interest in Norway has been spiking, we reported in July, thanks to the movie. Disney Cruise Line is already cashing-in on the flick with 7, 9 and 11-night Norwegian Fjord voyages.
“As far as a Frozen attraction, I’m all for it, however context is everything,” Tipton says. “It seems as if the Disney company is jumping on a fad before the dust has settled.”
WATCH: Frozen Tourism Takes Off