Oh, Maelstrom. How I love you.
Maelstrom- the "High Seas Adventure" found in Epcot's Norway Pavilion - opened 25 years ago today.
I can't exactly put my finger on why, but this attraction has always been one of my absolute favorites in all of Walt Disney World. Let's see...
Is it the quaint entranceway? The maps overlooking the queue? The epic mural (including a favorite Hidden Mickey) in the loading area?
Could it be the excitement of climbing that first hill, bound for "adventure and peril", seeing the eye, and hearing "You are not the first to pass this way..."?
Perhaps it's the ancient Vikings...or the trolls...or the polar bears? How about that open precipice- that you approach backwards- visible through the outdoor rock face, just before Epcot's only flume drop?
Maybe it's the slightly bizarre notion of dropping down the falls and being deposited next to an oil rig. Yup- a theme park attraction that features an oil rig. Where else can you find yourself in a replica Viking ship, floating in a stormy sea, in the midst of an oil field? I'm guessing this is the only place.
We've heard rumblings about a possible refurb coming to Norway, which could spell the end for the oil rig scene. Rumor has it that the oil rigs no longer send the desired message. I really hope they stay. They add to the quirky charm for me.
After the oil rig, we disembark into a quiet Norwegian fishing village, which leads into... the movie.
(Side note: Does anyone remember when they used to hold you captive in the fishing village, until the movie cycled around to its next start? So glad they stopped that practice...)
Many people glide right through the movie room, not stopping to view this cinematic offering.
I actually like the Norway movie. There, I've said it.
Sure, the movie is a bit old and outdated. But...all of the Epcot movies eventually feel old and outdated- it's the nature of this type of attraction. It's short, and it grabs my attention right from the start. I like the child peacefully looking at Viking relics, interspersed with loud, quick cutaways to intense Viking days of yore. It catches you off guard (the first time, anyway), and I think it's exciting. Did I mention it was short?
Of course, it's not just one or two of these things that makes Maelstrom so special- it's a classic case of the sum being greater than its parts.
Disney Parks Blog featured a post today, highlighting Maelstrom's 25 Years of Sending Guests "Back, Over the Falls". It includes some fun facts about the attraction. Did you know the yellow-eyed river troll is called a "Nokken"? I didn't- but I'm going to try to remember that for my next visit.
Happy Birthday, Maelstrom.
Have you ridden Maelstrom? How do you feel about it? How about that movie? Let us know in the comments...