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July 8th- Happy 25th Anniversary to Epcot's Maelstrom

Posted by hughrandle@gmail.com on July 8, 2013 at 2:40 PM

“You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last. Those that seek the Spirit of Norway face peril and adventure. But more often find beauty and charm...” So begins your four minute journey on the Maelstrom, a family “thrill” ride located in the Norway pavilion of EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Florida. The ride first came on line 25 years ago today, July 8, 1988. Sitting comfortably in a 10th century warrior ship with a dragon head bow, you enter a realm of ancient Norway, a land of trolls and mystery. As you see the Viking ships in the distance you are pulled away from the view by a yellow eyed “Nokken” a river troll and its three headed companion. You are invading their world and you are sent backwards over a waterfall to the polar regions. As your ship floats backwards, you encounter the native polar bear, one peacefully navigating the ice, the other on its hind legs, a full 10 feet tall. As you continue your backwards trip, you stop just short of a cliff which separates the ride from the rest of the Norway pavilion. You are then greeted by another Nokken who again send you down a waterfall into the modern North Sea, where you encounter a severe thunderstorm surrounded by modern off shore oil platforms. Finally, you drift peacefully into a typical Norse town of undetermined age, where you exit your boat and have the opportunity to choose between a film on Norway’s culture and people or simply exploring more of the pavilion. While the Maelstrom is hardly a thrill ride in the vain of Splash Mountain or even Expedition Everest, it is an immersive ride, that will have you longing to learn more about Norway and its people. Other highlights of the Norway pavilion are The Akerhaus restaurant which holdsa “Princess Storybook” meet and greet experience for all three meals. The food is served a combination of buffet ( for the cold appetizers) and family style for the entrees. Dessert is then brought family style for everyone to share. For lighter appetites, the Kringla bakeri og Kafe has sandwiches, pastries and specialty coffees. Shopping is also a treat at Norway with a large gift shop carrying troll merchandise, Hans Christen Andersen books and fancier candies and perfumes from Norway. There is fun for the whole family at Norway. A replica Viking ship is available for burning energy off of excited kids and great photo opportunities. A beautiful replica of a stave church from the thirteenth century usually holds some imformative information on Norse/Viking history. As I mentioned, a trip here usually inspires dreams of visiting the real place someday. If you find yourself in Epcot Center, be sure to wish the Maelstrom a happy 25th. With the purchase of Marvel by Disney and the upcoming THOR sequel coming out this November, don’t be surprised if Maelstrom gets a “character upgrade” in the coming years. In the meantime, enjoy Maelstrom....and beware!!


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