Update on September 12, 2014: The rumors are true. Disney announced a Frozen attraction will be replacing Maelstrom.

“You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last!”

Unfortunately, the second part of that famous line from Epcot’s Maelstrom might not be true somewhat soon. A storm of rumors has been swirling around Maelstrom all year. If they are to be believed, Norway’s boat ride will close sometime this fall and will be replaced with a Frozen attraction. These rumors have been picking up steam lately: Jim Hill commented on the plan in a recent MouseChat podcast, a Norwegian news report talked about the changes to the Norway Pavilion (turn on English subtitles), and, today, Disney guests reported on Twitter that they were no longer able to make FP+ reservations for the attraction after September 28. (Thanks to Tim Brooks from DadForDisney.com for letting me know about that last bit).


Typically, I don’t write about rumors beyond the speculation/predictions piece I did at the beginning of the year. I’m not a Disney “insider,” and I have no way of finding out how accurate the rumors are. Most of the rumors out there just don’t pan out. Sometimes it’s because plans change. Sometimes it’s because the rumors were just made up to begin with. Ultimately, most of the rumors out there don’t end up affecting the guest experience.

However, when there’s this much smoke, there’s usually fire. Or in Norway’s case: ice, seeing as Frozen is rumored to be featured heavily throughout the pavilion. It’s a move that makes a lot of sense. Frozen is one of Disney’s five most important franchises, and Frozen’s setting was inspired by Norway. The movie has even bolstered tourism to Norway, with travel from the US increasing 37% earlier this year. Frozen deserves to have a ride at Disney World. It probably deserves to have its own land. If the hours-long waits for Anna and Elsa are any indication, a Frozen boat ride would definitely be more popular than the Maelstrom.

But I still have mixed feelings about the rumored change. Maelstrom is a one of a kind attraction, and it has Epcot DNA flowing through its waters. It invites guests to experience another culture, with a bit of adventure and excitement thrown in. It’s trick of sending guests backwards in the middle of the ride has been replicated by Disney in a couple of their recent attractions: Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at Hong Kong Disneyland. Maelstrom is a little cheesy, a little odd, but it’s 100% Epcot, and there’s value in that.

The new Frozen overlay for the attraction could be great, and I’m sure it would be popular with guests who want a Frozen ride. As with anything related to Disney rumors and announcements, I won’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing until I’ll be able to experience it for myself. And, who knows, even if these rumors are true today, things could change. But the thought of not being able to go “back, back, over the falls” again makes me a little bit sad.

So, if you’re going to Disney World in the following couple of months, make a point of going on Maelstrom. Heed the trolls’ warning, notice the skinny polar bear, and even watch the post-ride film. Soak it all in, because it might be your last chance to do so.

Note: This story originally ran on August 4, 2014.

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James
James

James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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