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Norway Pavilion in Epcot - Part Two

Yesterday, I provided you with a brief history of the Norway Pavilion and started describing some of the sights. Today I'll complete the tour.

When the Imagineers and the pavilion's sponsors got together for the first time to brainstorm ideas for an attraction, they quickly came to an impasse. The Imagineers wanted to present Norway's exciting history of Vikings and fantasy realm of trolls. But the investors wanted the world to know that Norway was a modern, industrial country. It soon became obvious that some sort of compromise was needed.

A maelstrom is a very powerful whirlpool. Legend has it that these swirling vortexes can swallow ships whole. The Imagineers felt that the name Maelstrom would help set the mood for the voyage that lie ahead.


Maelstrom/Whirlpool

Maelstrom Entrance

Maelstrom Sign


The queue for Maelstrom is rather unremarkable. Norwegian flags line portions of the line and a large map depicting Viking exploration routes is affixed to the back wall. But the most striking detail in the queue is the huge mural located behind the loading dock. Here we see depictions of Norwegian life, both historical and modern.


Maelstrom Queue

Viking Exploration Map


Norway Mural

Norway Mural


I don't usually point out Hidden Mickeys. I leave this to the expert, Steve Barrett. But in the case of the Maelstrom queue I will make an exception. If you examine the Viking ship on the mural very closely, you can see that one of the warriors is wearing mouse ears.


Viking with Mouse Ears


The boats used on the Maelstrom attraction were modeled to look like ships Eric the Red might have used. The ship's prow was designed to resemble the head of a dragon, a common symbol used on Viking vessels. The third picture below was taken of an actual brow at the Viking Ship Museum in Norway.


Maelstom Boat

Maelstom Boat Prow

Authenic Viking Prow


Larger-sized people take note. Do not let the cast member seat four of you in one row. If even one of you is carrying a few extra pounds, it will be a tight fit.

Our voyage begins with an ascent up a waterfall. The Norse god Odin speaks to us. “You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last. Those who seek the spirit of Norway face peril and adventure. But more often find beauty and charm. We have always lived with the sea, so look first to the spirit of the seafarer.”


Viking God


As we reach the top of the hill, we see a Viking woman patiently waiting for her menfolk to return from the sea. As we travel further, we encounter a group of men unloading supplies for the village. And further along, we pass a harbor and a villager signaling ships at sea with his horn. Disney was very careful to portray a Viking's everyday life rather than their bloody and ruthless conquests.


Viking Woman

Unloading Cargo

Gaurding the Harbor


We travel next to troll country. Trolls originated in Norse and Scandinavian mythology. They are supernatural beings who dwell in isolated mountains, forests, rocks, and caves. They usually live in family units and are rarely supportive or friendly to human beings. In fact, they are considered dangerous. Depending on the legend, trolls can be grotesque and ugly or very human like. But their disagreeable disposition remains constant.

On the Maelstrom attraction, we encounter a three-headed troll. They tell us, “This is troll country. Go away. Be gone. Aye. Cast a spell. Yes. Yes. You disappear, disappear, disappear. Aye. Back. Over the falls.” Their disagreeable nature is all too evident.


Three-Headed Troll


With their warning, our boat begins to sail backwards. First we pass by several polar bears, one ready to attack. As Norway reaches into the arctic region, polar bears are a part of their heritage.


Polar Bear

Polar Bear


Leaving the bears behind we continue our backwards adventure through a Norwegian forest " another area populated with trolls who lurk upwards from the water and rocks. Suddenly, we find our boat at the edge of a waterfall overlooking the outside village below. These are the same falls the trolls mentioned earlier and magically sent us toward. But fortune intervenes and we once again reverse course " only to be faced with yet another waterfall.


Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

Troll

Waterfall

Waterfall


As you take the 28 foot plunge, be sure to notice the cruise ship sailing in the fjord. Norwegian Caribbean Lines were once one of the pavilion's sponsors.


Cruise Ship


As we splash down, we find the time period of our adventure has changed. We are now in present day Norway " in the turbulent North Sea to be exact. Lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, and waves crash. Overhead and in the distance we see large off-shore oil rigs.


Oil Rig

North Sea and Oil Rig


We continue our journey and sail into a peaceful seaport. Gulls can be heard squawking and buoys ringing. You may also notice a number of signs adorning the various buildings. These companies were all sponsors of the pavilion before their contract expired. It is also in this picturesque village that we disembark. Our adventure lasted just over four and a half minutes.


Seacoast Village

Seacoast Village

Seacoast Village

Seacoast Village


Something new was tried with Maelstrom. On all past attractions, if a film was to be shown, it was presented before the ride began " as a sort of preshow. A good example of this was the movie seen at the “Living Seas” pavilion (before Nemo and his friends took over).

For the Norway Pavilion, the Imagineers decided to reverse things and place the film at the end of the movie to better continue the modern story of Norway. Unfortunately, this didn't work out quite as well as they had hoped for. If riders disembarked just as the six minute movie was beginning, they were forced to stand around in the seaport waiting for the doors to open and the next showing to begin. This did not please people. Once the theater doors finally opened, over half of the guests dashed through the hall and skipped the movie altogether. Recently, the Imagineers decided to leave the theater doors open all the time, allowing guests to either exit the theater immediately or take a seat and enjoy the show. And since the movie doesn't really have a storyline, you can start viewing at any time without losing continuity.


Spirit of Norway Movie

Spirit of Norway Movie

Spirit of Norway Movie

Spirit of Norway Movie


I like the “Spirit of Norway” movie. And I enjoy taking a breather occasionally and watching this creative film. However, I'm as guilty as the next guy and more often than not, skip the movie. However I always feel guilty when I do this. I worry that the Norwegian cast members will think I don't care about their country.

If you read some of the Disney bulletin boards, there is a lot of chatter about the “Spirit of Norway” movie. This film is almost 24 years old. It no longer depicts the modern nation the corporate sponsors and the country itself wanted to present to the world. Computers are big and boxy. Flat screen monitors are nowhere to be seen. And cell phones haven't even been invented. Both the China and Canada Pavilions have updated their movies. Many think it's time for the Norway Pavilion to do the same.

Being only one of two rides in World Showcase, Maelstrom is popular. Lines can be long here on busy days. FastPass is available.

Like all good Disney attractions, guests leave Maelstrom and enter a gift shop. But before you do, be on the lookout for this cute little troll. His sign tells us that the South Pole is 8,157 miles (13,157 kilometers) away and the North Pole is 4,251 miles (6,857 kilometers) away. This charming corner makes a great photo op.


Troll and Sign Post


Puffin's Roost is a collection of shops, each selling a different assortment of merchandise. The first stop brings us to a clothing mart. Here you'll find a large collection of winter apparel. Jackets, sweaters, and scarfs are in abundance. Living in Florida, I rarely spend too much time here, but I'm sure the rest of the country could easily find a few items that would be useful back home.


Clothing Store


People probably spend the majority of their time in Puffin's Roost in this next shop. It's not because the merchandise is so appealing, but because it features the best photo op in the Norway Pavilion. I had to arrive soon after opening to snap this picture without a group of people milling about.


Troll Photo Op


This section of the store sells Norwegian souvenirs. A large array of trolls is available as well as Viking helmets (plastic) and swords (wood) and other goodies.


Souvenir Trolls

Souvenir Viking Helmets

Souvenier Viking Swords


While looking at the various mementoes, a bit of my childhood came rushing back to me when I found a book from my youth, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” I hadn't thought of this book in years and a flood of memories filled my head and thoughts of my 2nd grade teacher reading this tale to her class. I had to fight my instinct to buy the book, but ultimately decided I really didn't need it. But I was sure tempted.

For those of you not familiar with this Norwegian fairy tale, it goes something like this.

There are three goats, one small in stature, one medium in size, and the last large and strong. On their side of the stream, all of the grass has been eaten. But across a bridge is a green meadow. Living under the bridge is a mean and ugly troll who eats anyone who tries to pass to the other side. The smallest goat attempts to cross first, but is stopped by the troll who threatens to eat him. The sharp-witted goat tells the troll that his larger brother will be along soon and to wait for a meatier meal. The troll agrees and allows the small goat to pass unharmed. When the medium sized goad attempts to cross the bridge, the same scenario plays out with the second goat suggesting the troll wait for his even larger brother. Once again, the troll agrees and the second goat is allowed to cross the bridge unscathed. Finally, the largest goat attempts to gain access to the green meadow on the other side of the stream. The hungry troll meets him on the bridge, this time, determined to have his meal without any trickery. However, the last goat is large enough to easily toss the troll into the stream below where he is washed away, never to be seen again. With the evil troll vanquished, the three goats live happily ever after in their new green field.


Book - “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”


A KidCot station can also be found in this section of the shop. This is where children can relax with some arts-and-crafts and have their Epcot Passport signed.


KidCot Station


From rustic to sophistication. The next shop is beautifully decorated in soft blues and whites. Gingerbread woodwork and glass shelves highlight fine jewelry and perfumes. Showcased here are fragrances by Geir Ness.


Jewelry and Perfume


The last shop in the Puffin's Roost arcade features more Norwegian souvenirs.


Norway Souvenirs


Although most people enter Puffin's Roost after riding Maelstrom, there is nothing to stop you from entering through the front door. If you notice, above the entrance is an Atlantic Puffin, a cute little sea bird that is found throughout the North Atlantic, including Norway.


Puffin's Roost Main Entrance

Puffin


The exterior of Puffin's Roost was modeled after structures in Bergen, Norway.


Norway Pavilion Exterior

Bergen, Norway


Next to Puffin's Roost is Kringla Bakeri og Kafe. As you can probably make out by the name, this is a bakery and café. Beside a large selection of pastries and other baked goods, sandwiches like Ham & Apple, Roast Beef, Salmon & Egg, and Norwegian Club are available. It is very easy to get a satisfying meal here. But my favorite is the soft pretzel covered in white frosting and slivered almonds. Yum.


Kringla Bakeri og Kafe

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe


The exterior of this shop was modeled after structures found in Setesdahl Valley. Sod roofs were once common in this part of Norway. Before the sod is placed on the structure, birch bark is laid across the roof as the watertight element. The main purpose for the sod is to hold the birch bark in place. In addition, sod is an excellent insulator and its heavy weight helps stabilize the structure.


Setesdahl Valley Dwelling

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe

Sod Roof


Behind Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is a covered area with plenty of tables and chairs. This is the perfect spot to enjoy your treats and escape the sun (or rain).


Dining Area


Near this seating area is a statue of Grete Waitz. This Norwegian marathon runner won nine New York City Marathons between 1978 and 1988, more than any other runner in history. She also won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki. Grete passed away last year on April 19, 2011 at the age of 57.


Stature of Grete Waitz


At one time, a recreation of a Viking ship provided children with a wonderful playground. They could swashbuckler to their heart's content on this imaginative structure. Unfortunately, safety concerns came into play and the ship was dismantled. Now, only remnants of this once glorious vessel remain.


Viking Ship Playground

Remains of Viking Ship Playground


A Kim Possible Recruitment Center is also located at the Norway Pavilion. If you haven't already tried this interactive game, I strongly suggest you do. Although intended for kids, adults can have a great time as well. Using Kimmunicators, you and you fellow secret agents decipher clues to thwart super villains and activate hidden rewards. That game takes between 30 and 45 minutes to play and there is no additional cost.


Kim Possible Recruitment Center


That's it for the Norway Pavilion. In researching this article, I learned a few things I didn't know before. I hope you picked up a few tidbits as well.

As always, I've created a video of the pavilion. It's about nine and a half minutes in length.




The previous post in this blog was Norway Pavilion in Epcot - Part One.

The next post in this blog is The Good Stores.

Comments (29)

Rob Crawford:

The "god-like Viking" is Odin, more or less chief of the old Norse gods.

Jack's Comment:

Thanks Rob. You are correct. I've changed my blog to reflect this.

Scott C:

Another great pavilion history, Jack. I, like many others, was upset when the Viking ship disappeared. Did someone actually get injured somehow? Seems a little overzealous in the elimination of that great element of the pavilion.

Jack's Answer:

I have no idea if someone was actually hurt on the Viking ship or if Disney was just playing it safe. In my opinion, the ship didn't strike me any more dangerous than some of the children's playgrounds found at the various Disney Resorts. Go figure.

disneycathy@yahoo.com:

Hi Jack,
Oh I loved the story "The Three Billy Goat Gruff" too! When I was teaching kindergarten we would act this story out and we would have to do this acting many times because everyone wanted to be the troll and the Big Billy Goat.
Thanks for another interesting blog.

Megan:

Hello!
Great Article on Norway!
Thank you sooo much for pointing out the hidden mickey. I have always been wondering where the mickey was on the mural since I heard it was on there. :)

John P:

Jack,

That was a wonderful presentation. The video showed lots of great editing. I enjoyed seeing one of Snow White's Dwarves in Viking Gear. It was very nostalgic. I remember buying some of the perfume even after the Norwegian Castmember confided to me that it is not one of the fragrances commonly purchased in Norway. They go for non-Norwegian ones like Chanel.

The playground was a lot of fun. I would guess (and it is only a guess) that one of the reasons that it was closed is that it is beside and almost behind the attraction and not supervised by Castmembers.

We used to use the restrooms, get a drink of water and let the kids climb all over the ship. Even when we were just passing by Norway and not going into it.

Thanks for describing all the small details that make the experience at Disney special.

(Epcot could use a play area like there is in Animal Kingdom. It takes pressure off some of the rides and also gives the parents a chance to just sit.)

Do you know if there are still trolls scattered throughout the Norway pavilion on window sills and ledges? I don't see them in your pictures, so I'm wondering if they were removed. In January 2010 we had a lot of fun searching around the pavilion looking for them, just as you would hidden mickeys.

Jack's Answer:

I was at Epcot yesterday researching my upcoming China blog. I stopped in at Norway and checked every window. I could find no trolls. Sorry.

Great post, Jack. I'm a big fan of Maelstrom and try to ride it every time we go. I wish it was a bit longer, but it's still a solid attraction. It's always been empty when I've ridden, but we go during off-peak times.

You're right to point out the error in the set-up of the film coming after the ride. I like the movie and don't mind that it's out of date, but it's sometimes tough to wait behind the doors for five minutes and then resist just walking right out.

Brygida:

Hi Jack!

I have always loved the Norway pavilion! I have also been a longtime fan of Akershus and it was our favorite WDW restaurant for many years. While I can take or leave the princesses, what I wish most is that they would restore the food they used to have. These were some of my most memorable and sorely missed favorites of WDW. Do you remember the hot red cabbage dish with caraway seeds? The meatballs? The dill fish? The cold chicken? The fruit/creme cake roll? Some I have tried to make at home, but alas I am not a chef and it tasted nothing like it. Suffice to say, I miss the old Akershus!

Susan:

"But my favorite is the soft pretzel covered in white frosting and slivered almonds. Yum."

Jack, I totally agree! It's so rare for anyone to know what I am talking about . . . that sweet pretzel with almonds is by far my favorite treat in all of WDW! Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is lovely hidden gem! Thanks for a wonderful review.

Steve Smith:

Another gloriously detailed blog and video. I doubt that the Mountain King had a banquet hall as fine as Akershus.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! Thanks for Part 2. Maelstrom is one of my most favorite rides in Epcot. I never miss it, and always ride it several times in one visit. It has a certain charm to it. I know most people would say Test Track or Soarin', but Malestrom never tires me. I always laugh when the troll says "Disappear, Disappear, Disappear" before plunging backwards over the falls. Plus, it's a nice escape from the hot Florida sun... :)

Kameo:

Jack,
Amazing blog as usual! Your pictures, video and elaborate descriptions make me feel like I am in Epcot while right here at my desk at work in Arizona! Thank you so much!! Sadly, my first trip to Disney World was after the boat was removed. I had seen it in a promotional video and then when I went, it was gone :(

Mandy:

I have always loved the Norway pavilion - it is probably my favorite! Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is my ABSOLUTE favorite place to get a snack in all of WDW, and I also have a soft spot for Maelstrom.

I do have a warning to all riders: be careful how you arrange your party in the boat. I was once in a boat with a group of about 10 adults, and they all sat on one side of the boat. Once we went down the final waterfall near the exit, the boat got completely stuck. A burly cast member had to get into the river with Wellingtons on and yank us out! Everyone had a good sense of humor about it though, even the CM. :)

Josh:

hey jack
i always take time to visit the norway pavilion and always take time to watch the movie at least once. when it comes to the bakery i love the cloudsberry horn but the pretzal is also great. can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Johnny:

Hi Jack!

Just when I think I've read your best blog ever, you manage to outdo yourself. Norway is one of my absolute favs. You and I feel exactly the same way about Akershus; I have been very upset that they took away my fav Epcot restaurant as well.
I really miss the times when we would make it a "Norway Night."
The "Night" started off with dinner at Akershus, followed by a ride on Maelstrom (w/film), and then into Kringla for my Cinnabon. Unfortunatly they changed the Cinnabon and now it has a sugar glaze drizzled on top instead of the delicious caramel colored glaze. All I know is that whenever I ordered one, it was always taken out of a warming box or brought out from the back and it would just melt in my mouth.
The only way we differ is that I've never skipped the film at the end of the ride. Now, since the doors are kept open, I even sneak into the theater from the Puffin's Roost when the wait is too long for the ride portion.

Thanks again for the excellent job..... Johnny.

Wendy Crober:

Hi Jack,

Thanks for another wonderful blog. We love Norway especially the bakery (rice cream is our fav!). We love Akershus especially in the morning - we will eat breakfast there on February 17th (can't wait!)

We're definitely guilty of skipping the movie...in fact I can't remember the last time I've seen it.

The kids were thrilled to play a trick on Grandpa the first time he rode Maelstrom because he thought he was going to go over the edge backwards.
Wendy

gina:

I am so excited to see this. I have only been to Epcot a few times, but somehow have always missed Maelstrom! I am going to be there in April, so this is now on my 'don't miss' list!! I love Epcot. Every time I go I discover something new. Thanks for the great article.

Jamie:

Thanks for the great article and photos. I have always had a soft spot for this pavilion. This is also a great place to get a counter service that is closer to a meal than a snack. It is good you live in Florida because the Jackets, sweaters, and scarfs, while they are very high quality, are very expensive and make Disney apparel pricing look like a 10 t-shirts for five bucks store.

Connie:

This is one of my favorite Pavilions and I love the food; especially the cold salad buffet. I do however miss the full buffet instead of the limited menu. I do admit to enjoying the Princess dining. But the breakfast is awful. They should make it a Norwegian breakfast.
I also love the idea of having a character dining experience at Morocco pavilion.

I would actually LOVE a Tinkerbell & Fairies dining experience. I am surprised that has not come to fruition; considering how popular they are.

Shea Hunt:

Hi Jack,

Great job as usual. I agree with the restaurant. When my family and I went we became ill and sent back the food several times. I promised to never eat here again. we went for our niece and we paid the non premium price. I am also thankful for my Tables in Wonderland. I belive China should put Mulan and friends into the restaurant. Lunch only though. Also, any thoughts about the movie being redone. I heard a rumor a long time ago that it was too expensive and Disney wanted Norway to pay for it.
Thoughts?

Jack's Comments;

I'm sure Disney wanted Norway to pay for a new movie. However, now that Disney is solely responsible for this pavilion, it will be up to them to foot the bill. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Fatima:

HiJack,
Thank you for another great blog. My family and I love the Norway Pavillion, and my husband cannot resist riding The Maelstrom. He always makes us sit through the film at the end, even when our boys are desperate to move on. Recently, my son was looking at old Disney commercials and promotions on youtube, and we came across one that mentioned "ride the fury of The Maelstrom." We found that funny, being the thrill seekers we are. We were so glad that we had not seen that promo before riding, because we probably would have been disappointed. Having rode first, we can now saw that it is one of our favorite rides, even if it isn't as furious as the promo commercial suggests. :P
Have a great day.

Rob Dickinson:

Great blog as always Jack. Thanks!!!
Rob

Franca:

Another Fantastic blog Jack!

My boys and I love Norway and we too were disappointed when they removed the playground area. Funny you mentioned how outdated the movie is..my oldest son said the same thing. Have you tried the School Bread? This is raved about on message boards and we just tried it for the first time last year! It is sooo good!! Can't wait to read your next blog! I really look forward to them.

joey Fender:

Great piece once again Jack. Normally, I don't comment; but..... how could Norway pass by without School Bread????? The best dessert in EPCOT and possibly best buy at $1.99 each. we have a tradition of Illuminations in front of Norway with Dinner of a ham and apple sandwich and school Bread. Usually we will get a few extra to take back to the resort for breakfast the next morning as well.

Margret:

I really enjoyed story of norway we stop there all the time love malestrom going in march will try the hot pretzel!! Is it true if you are the first person to ride malestrom for the day they give you a viking helmet??

Jack's Answer:

I have no idea about first riders getting helmets. I've never been first and I've never heard this from someone else. But that doesn't mean it's not true.

ClareC.:

Jack,
I love your Epcot country blogs! Thanks especially for the photos of the Viking Ship. We miss seeing that. When we were there several years ago, the ship was still there but you couldn't climb anywhere on it. I have priceless photos of my tall father holding up each of my 4 kids one at a time on his shoulders so that they could each see what the inside of the ship looked like.

Adam:

I love the Norway pavillion without reservations. I do wish they could get sponsorship again, though. The Norway movie is in desperate need of an update. I'm not saying they should do a major reconstruction and replace it with a 360 degree Norway extraveganzdanavia (though that would be awesome!) but right now the movie looks like something straight out of the 80s. Because it is!

Oh, I believe that the second troll you meet, the one who appears just as you're about to go over the falls, is meant to be Odin. Check out his eye. Or lack, rather.

Hi Jack:

Great article! I remember thinking that Maelstrom had changed somewhat from when I rode it as a child. If I recall correctly, the boat used to "peer out" of the "hole" in the show building to make it seem like it was going to fall off, but then of course it stopped short of that. I remember hearing that Disney changed that because some guests got scared enough to jump out of the boats, so now the boats do not "peer out" anymore.

Is there any truth to that? Has the Maelstrom ride changed since its inception, or is my memory faulty? :-)

Thanks for the awesome articles!
Rafa

Jack's Answer:

The boats have always "peered" out of a hole in the Maelstrom attraction. NOTHING has changed on this ride. There is absolutely nothing scary about this section of the attraction and there is no fear that people will jump out. In fact, from the boats vantage point, you hardly even notice the opening to the outside.

Hey! Learned something from your posts about the pavilion!!! Thanks!

Whats the last song in the movie called? I did like it.
I worked in Norway last year, best year of my life.

Hope to return for another program next year. Hopefully we have a new movie by then... the pavilion will have its 25th anniversary. :P

Jack's Answer:

Sorry. But I do not know the name of the last song I used in my video of Norway. I have a lot of Disney background music. This is just one of the songs that was played at the old Skyway attraction at Disneyland.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 17, 2012 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Norway Pavilion in Epcot - Part One.

The next post in this blog is The Good Stores.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.