Does Disney's New Frozen Ever After Ride Make Mockery of EPCOT?
DISNEY’S VISION IS FROZEN
When he created the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Walt Disney had a dream. He envisioned a world that was infused with learning and fun, and thus, that dream became EPCOT, my favorite Disney World theme park.
Now the Disney company has let that dream go.
Pun intended, because Disney demolished Maelstrom in the Norway Pavillion to make way for a new one starring everyone’s favorite ice queen and princess. The Wall Street Journal unveiled the first look and description today of the Frozen Ever After ride:
Set during the Winter Festival (which takes place in summer) in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, the “Frozen Ever After” ride begins while visitors are still waiting in line as they walk by Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, in which an animatronic Oaken clears steam on the windows and yells “yoo-hoo!” to people walking by. Once onboard log transports, riders will see snowman Olaf and reindeer sidekick Sven at the Winter Festival, then to Troll Valley where Grandpappy Troll tells the story of how Anna and Kristof met, then up a ramp where Olaf sings a song while ice skating with Anna and Kristof and their friend Sven. A set of doors will open next to Elsa on her ice castle balcony singing “Let It Go” with simulated snow crystals around the room. Visitors are also transported past Marshmallow, the giant snowman and the Snowgies (from the short film Frozen Fever) before the log finally travels through mist towards a fireworks display and a wave from Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Sven and Kristof.
Why Did Disney Make a Frozen Ever After Ride AND PUT IT IN EPCOT?
I realize that Disney has a lot of rides and needs to add new ones to keep guests coming back for more. But why does this exist in EPCOT?
I get that Disney has to make money, and to make EPCOT exciting, they have to add in the character elements. It’s fun to see Alice wondering the gardens of England or Mulan in China. However, where are their rides? Tangled was certainly a hit, but it didn’t get a ride. Why can’t the new Frozen Ever After ride be placed at The Magic Kingdom, with the other Princesses?
Arendelle isn’t a real place. It’s based on Norway. I understand the need to have entertainment and merchandise based on your latest cash cow, but why EPCOT? Will this just serve to confuse people that the countries are the same? Doesn’t it also lessen the knowledge people will have for Norway, as a country? Frozen has taken over the Christmas celebrations (Elsa lighting the castle), the parades, and the shows, and now this ride.
My last trip to Disney World in October 2014, I was dismayed to see that every square inch of the Norway gift shop was covered with Elsa, Anna, and Sven. Little existed for the actual country of Norway, save some cold weather gear, books, and statutes of the now departed trolls. What I soon found out was that Disney employees aren’t that happy about the change either. EPCOT staffs its pavilions with natives of each country. The cashiers in Norway told me that they didn’t realize they would be selling lip balm, t-shirts, and singing Olafs to schoolchildren, but instead thought they would be representing their country. They were delighted that instead of a Frozen crispy treat (yes, it’s a thing), I bought a book of troll tales of Norwegian culture. [pullquote] If you go to other countries in the World Showcase, you don’t see the uber Disney influence. China isn’t full of Mulan merchandise, and there’s only a bit of Alice in Wonderland in the English gift shops.[/pullquote]. The theming in the World Showcase is so consistent to the point where at times, you feel as if you’re in those countries.
When I was eight years old and first heard about EPCOT’s World Showcase, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I still love the idea of it, but this doesn’t feel like the same spirit that existed when EPCOT was founded. Granted there were reports that the Norwegian government no longer wanted to pay for the upkeep of the Norway Pavilion, but those payments stopped in 2002, years before Frozen existed. The reason behind it doesn’t matter, however, because the fact remains Disney has dismantled a beacon of Norway’s history and shoved a princess in, at a time when other princesses are owed their due. Where’s the ride or feature for Tiana? Or Rapunzel? Merrida? And what of the people of Norway, who once had their history showcased in Maelstrom?
What are your thoughts? Will you ride it? Are you excited? Or do you wish Maelstrom hadn’t gone on to join The Scary Adventures of Snow White, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and other departed Disney attractions?