I know what you may be thinking right about now. You may be thinking that here is another blogger that is writing about his distaste for what Disney is trying to do with the Maelstrom attraction at Epcot. That’s not really correct. Read on… and see what I mean.
A little background on my thoughts on each of these three items.
The movie Frozen.
Loved it. I think it was one of the greatest animated movies in a long time next to classics like The Lion King and even The Little Mermaid. I think the story was great, it has an epic soundtrack, and I think it will go down as a long time classic.
Maelstrom, the ride
This simple water fume ride always seemed to be underrated by those who dont understand the theme of the Norway pavilion or even what World Showcase is all about. Its not an overall “exciting” ride and I am not even sure why it even had a Fast Pass available for it. But it was fun. It gave you a small sample of “The Spirit of Norway” as the ride would say.
Epcot, the park.
Again, I think that some people underestimate the greatness of this park. I mean, I can understand that it has fewer “rides” and more “attractions” which may not be exactly what some guests expect. At the same time, I think there is a lot of detail with many themes within the park that blends attractions with education and many times, without guests knowing it. This form of “edutainment” is popular with many, including my family. Even with all our visits to the park, there is always something new to see.
What does all of this have to do with whats going on with these three subjects? Quite a bit, actually.
There seems to be quite an uproar lately about changes at Epcot. A few weeks ago, they announced that several of the different entertainment groups would be leaving the park. Yes, this was disappointing and different efforts immediately went into play to see what can be done to keep the groups from being replaced. (Some are really hoping that the new additions will really refresh parts of World Showcase.) Now, Maelstrom seems to be the target of the popularity of the Frozen scene. Some may have not even noticed that it slowly made its way into the Stave Church building at the Norway pavilion. But now that Maelstrom is in line to get changed into a Frozen themed ride, many are up in arms. The thing is – we don’t really know what sort of ride will go in its place. At least not at this moment.
I might be a cheerleader for all things Disney, but at the same time, I am not a big one for change for change’s sake. There has got to be a purpose for the change and the change has to really plus the overall guest experience. I know that characters from movies play a strong role in many of the attractions and I think it would be silly to think that would stop any time soon. But Epcot tends to get overlooked, and for once there is something in Disney’s deck of cards that can really bring guests in droves and keep them there for a while. I mean, think about it – Disney has tried to keep people exploring the countries for some time now with things like the Kidcot stations and even Agent P’s Showcase Adventure. I know that adding Frozen to Norway is only a slice of the overall World Showcase experience, but it is something.
I think back when Disney announced the planning for Avatarland at Animal Kingdom which is based upon the movie Avatar, of course. Now, I loved that movie as well, but really found it confusing when Disney was going to build a whole new section of park based on the film. It just did not seem to make sense. Though, I will admit, my curiosity was brewing on what will come of it. I know that many people really poo-poo’ed the idea all together. But then Lou Mongello made a comment on his webcast after the announcement and said “If there is one thing that Disney and James Cameron both do well – it’s tell a story.” (I’m going off memory, but you get the idea.) And the fact is, Lou is correct in that aspect. Disney does things well and they really try to think through things before the first guest experiences it. Now, granted, some smaller projects have flopped and were revamped. (First version of Habit Heroes, for example.) Overall, though, if they are going to spend big bucks revamping a major portion of a World Showcase pavilion, its going to have to have some serious wow factor. (And dare I say with the possible intention of quieting the critics.) And being that we still don’t know what sort of attraction it will be, all the negativity is based solely on the idea that they either don’t want to see a classic fade away and/or they don’t want to see two animated sisters take over the entire complex, no matter how much they are loved.
I think the concerns about too many Frozen changes are justified, especially how nearly a year later Disney still has a hard time keeping some Frozen-themed items on the shelves at the parks and your local Disney Store. I’m sure that Disney wants to keep this wave of interest going and take advantage of what is yet to come. That’s understandable. After all, many other movie-based attractions are doing very well and are very popular, years after release. But like listening to a great song on the radio, it would be a shame to have a Frozen-based attraction fail due to overkill.
What does this all mean? I means that I think we should wait to see what is being dreamed up for the Maelstrom attraction space. It’s going to be a while before it opens again and I am willing to bet that when it does open up it will be nothing like what we expect today – and I say that in the most positive manner. When we all see it open again it really will feel like the first time in forever and I bet it will have us wanting more all over again.
Till next time – Keep on dreamin’!
PS… a prediction… do you think that they could possibly replace the Norway film with some sort of interactive attraction where the guests get to ask Anna and Elsa questions like you can do with Crush over at Turtle Talk? Well, that is my far out possible prediction* – and you heard it here first!
*Subject to change without notice.