'Frozen' Ride Announced For Epcot, Will Replace Maelstrom

Since the huge success of Disney's Frozen, one of the constant rumors around the theme park forums is that Disney Imagineering were planning to retheme Epcot's Maelstrom ride based on the new Disney animated classic. Well confirmation has come, and that is exactly what is happening. After the jump, find out more about the Frozen ride, DisneyWorld's plan to transform their castle for Elsa, and the history of Epcot and the Maelstrom attraction.

Here is more information straight from Disney:

We've made "Frozen" a part of the guest experience in a number of ways already and our guests have both loved them and asked for more. So I'm pleased to say that we're starting construction at Walt Disney World Resort on a brand new "Frozen" attraction at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. The new attraction, which replaces Maelstrom, will take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests. We think these "Frozen" elements are great compliments to the Norway Pavilion, which showcases the country and region that inspired the film.

Frozen Ride Maelstrom

Maelstrom opened in July 1988, and is located in the Norway pavilion of the World Showcase at the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World Resort. The ride is a mix between a log chute and a traditional dark ride film attraction which involves park guests ride small Viking ships through various scenes with audio-animatronic figures. Maelstrom is one of the best rides in Epcot's World Showcase, and involved a section where the viking boat vehicle travels rapidly backwards. Here is a description of the attraction from wikipedia:

As the boat departs from the dock, it turns a corner into a dark tunnel and up the flume's lift hill. A voice tells the riders that those who seek the spirit of Norway find adventure and peril. As the boats arrive at the top of the hill, they pass under a mysteriously lit face of the God Odin. Visitors find themselves transported back to a mythological version of Norway's Viking days, passing through scenes of seafarers and maritime villages in order to demonstrate the importance of the sea in Norwegian culture. The boats then enter a marsh where they are found face to face with audio-animatronic depictions of Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar. The trolls, angered by the trespassing boat, cast a spell onto the riders which causes the vehicle to start the rapid backwards portion of the ride, accelerated by hidden conveyor belts underneath the water's surface. The boats float briskly past scenes of polar bears and living trees, before coming to a stop on the edge of another waterfall, exposed to the Norway pavilion's main thoroughfare. The backwards edge of the boat peeks out through the facade as the track pivots to let the vehicle travel forward again. Correctly oriented, the boats plunge forward down a 28 foot (8.5 meter) flume into the stormy North Sea. The boats pass dangerously close to an oil rig and the ride comes to an abrupt end in a calm harbor, where the narrator again announces the attraction's thesis, "Norway's spirit will always be adventure." After the ride, guests disembark and then have the option to watch a 6 minute tourism film that highlights Norway's adventurous attractions, including skiing and hiking, as well as intrinsic icons, like Kjerag mountain and oil rigs.

Here is a video from the Maelstrom shot sometime last year:

I'm guessing that Walt Disney Imagineering will not be completely redesigning the ride, and will likely use the vehicle and layout as the bones for the new attraction which will be skinned with animatronics and story from Frozen.

Epcot's World Showcase was envisioned as a permanent world's fair containing eleven pavilions, each themed and dedicated to represent a specific country. This section of the theme park is almost completely devoid of Disney movie tie-ins. Worlds Showcase has pretty much been its own thing since the park opened in October 1982, but over the years Disney has slowly tried to add their characters to the various worlds — there are many character meet/photo opportunities that are themed to each land, kids can have fun with Agent P's World Showcase Adventure, an interactive electronic scavenger hunt based on Disney's Phineas and Ferb. In 2007, the Mexican Pavillion's El Rio del Tiempo (The River of Time) boat ride which showed aspects of Mexican life, history, and celebrations, was rethemed as Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (featuring Donald Duck).

I can definitely understand why Disney would be headed in this direction. I visited Epcot as a young kid and loved the future world but was bored by the World Showcase. But as an adult I have more than a couple times, and have loved exploring the different pavilions and trying out the different food options from around the world. But children are where the money is, so that is a smart bet. I just wish Disney would build some new rides and attractions in Epcot's World Showcase. They have the room and the plan was always to add more than they have at this point.

frozen disney world concept art

Disney has also announced plans to have Queen Elsa use her powers to transform Cinderella Castle into an ice palace every night during the Christmas holiday season starting in early November (see the concept art above). Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf will also appear inin "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade" as part of the ticketed Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party park events.