If you want to get me riled up about something, all you have to do is mention Maelstrom. For those of you who don’t know, Maelstrom was an attraction about Norway’s heritage and legends at the Norway pavilion in Epcot at WDW. In October 2014, Disney closed the boat ride with plans to create a Frozen attraction, and recent news has confirmed that there will be an Anna and Elsa meet and greet at the pavilion as well. Of course, I understand where Disney is coming from: Frozen has been an immensely popular film, and both children and adults all over the world pretty much know the song “Let It Go” by heart. However, I just don’t believe that the Norway pavilion was the right place to put a Frozen themed area.
Epcot’s World Showcase is supposed to be a representation of the eleven countries currently there, and the last time I checked, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf were neither a part of Norway’s history nor even based on real people. Sure, Maelstrom was a bit of a quirky ride, but at least viewers got to learn about Norway’s past and mythology. Imagineers could have easily updated the attraction if that was the problem, but the decision to close Maelstrom was obviously more about marketing than old animatronics.
To add salt to the injury, the Stave church that used to house ancient Norwegian artifacts and historical figures has now been turned into a homage to Frozen and how Norway served as inspiration for the film. I don’t believe that the Norway pavilion shows any sign of “the spirit of Norway” any more, and I would be embarrassed to visit the pavilion with my friends from Norway. There is a time and place for everything, and while Disney may have gotten the timing right with their Frozen takeover, a pavilion that is supposed to represent a real country just isn’t the place for a fictional tale with talking snowmen.
Some might argue that Mulan meet-and-greets in China, or that Belle and Aurora can be seen in France, but Disney didn’t replace the ancient Chinese artifacts in the Temple of Heaven with recreated costumes from the film or put Disney princess merchandise in the shops. Sure, the characters are there, but the pavilions still represent each country and their heritage. Instead of Norway being a part of the World Showcase’s museum-like learning experience, it has become another part of Disney sacrificed for Frozen.
I’m not saying that Frozen doesn’t have some great messages, or even that it isn’t a good movie, or even that Maelstrom was the world’s greatest ride, but I think that with this decision Disney has chosen the more lucrative path over than the “right” path. Even though this might be a good decision for the company as a whole, it doesn’t sit well with my standards, and with many other people’s as well. The hashtag #savemaelstrom has been posted over 1000 times on Twitter and Instagram, and hundreds of people have joined in the protest by sharing pictures of themselves knocking on the forever-closed doors of the late Maelstrom. Even though it may be too late to save the attraction, I know that it will take me a long time to get over the Frozen takeover.