Following on from the success of the animated “Frozen” film, Disney has converted the “Maelstrom” water ride in the Norway pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase into “Frozen Ever After”. It opened on June 21, 2016 with record breaking queues following some technical issues. Standby wait times peaked at around 5 hours at one point but Fast Passes were available.
It uses the re-themed viking boats from Maelstrom with an extended ride path and is set in Arendelle during the “Winter in Summer” celebrations where Queen Elsa uses her icy powers to bring winter to summertime, in a “Summer Snow Day”.
The attraction is a family-friendly dark ride on water through various scenes from the blockbuster animated movie, “Frozen” and the “Frozen Fever” short including the Troll Valley, the icy North Mountain with Queen Elsa’s Ice Palace and the Bay of Arendelle.
Several of the well known songs from the movie including “Let It Go” are featured along with some new lyrics. Anyone who rode Maelstrom will remember the backwards drop, will enjoy the new backwards drop as Elsa sings “Let It Go”.
The ride itself uses amazing state-of-the-art animatronic technology to bring the characters to life, including Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, Sven plus the giant Marshmallow and Snowgies from Frozen Fever. Several of the characters use the new projection method of facial animation first introduced on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
During the queue, guests walk through Oaken’s sauna and past Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post with some video gags by Oaken through a steamed up window. You also get the chance to sing along to instrumental versions of some of the songs from the film.
The World Showcase has always been a more adult orientated entertainment venue whereas Frozen Ever After will definitely appeal to children.
Frozen Ever After Ride Access Details
Height restrictions: None
Ride Time: Approximately 4 minutes
Accessibility: No wheelchair access to the boats, guests must be able to get out of wheelchairs before boarding
As well as the new ride, the Norway pavilion has being re-themed to include an Anna and Elsa permanent meet and greet in a new beautifully decorated Royal Sommerhus cabin. The cabin is wheelchair accessible.
When the Royal Sommerhus opened, Anna and Elsa left the Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom. At the Princess Fairytale Hall, Cinderella and Rapunzel are now joined by Tiana and Aurora.
You will still be able to see Anna and Elsa at the Magic Kingdom in the Festival of Fantasy Parade and the new Cinderella Castle stage show, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire.
In 2014, when Disney announced that Maelstrom was to close in favour of Frozen, many hardened Disney fans were disappointed as they thought Disney was moving away from the whole cultural purpose of the World Showcase, replacing the pavilion of a real country by a Disney animated film set.
The new ride has extended the original ride but the moment where the Viking boat used to appear outside through a hole in the wall has gone. Also gone is the film about Norway at the end of the original ride, replaced by the Wandering Reindeer gift shop.
Maelstrom opened in 1988 (when the last pavilion in the World Showcase opened) and it closed in 2014. Norway stopped contributing to the pavilion in 2002.