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Vote Of The Week: Should Disney Change Epcot's Norway Pavilion To Frozen?

Anna and ElsaVote of the Week: Should Disney change Epcot's Norway pavilion to Frozen? Written by Robert Niles Published: July 18, 2014 at 11:26 AM Building a new attraction based on Frozen makes too much sense for Disney not to do it. The film soon is on track to become the highest-grossing animated movies of all time, passing Pixar's Toy Story 3, Disney's The Lion King and the previous champ, Dreamworks' Shrek 2. When Disney opened a meet-and-greet with Anna and Elsa in Epcot's Norway pavilion, the hours-long queue of fans forced Disney to move the duo to the Magic Kingdom's Princess Fairytale Hall . But the crowds kept coming, and now Disney's rolled out a special Frozen-themed summer event at the Disney's Hollywood Studios in an attempt to satisfy the crowds. Photo courtesy Disney Clearly, guest demand justifies a permanent new home for the entire Frozen franchise, not just a character meet-and-greet and a sing-along show. So the question isn't whether to build a Frozen attraction, the question is... where? We've offered some suggestions on where Disney might have the best opportunity to add Frozen to its theme parks. But speculation continues to focus on Epcot's Norway pavilion, the original theme park home for Anna and Elsa. The placement makes sense, at first glance. Frozen's fictional kingdom of Arendelle sure looks like Norway. And the pavilion's current attraction, the Maelstrom boat ride, hasn't drawn people to the park in decades, and only started regularly drawing a significant queue due to crowd-shifting under Disney's new MyMagic+ system. But bringing Frozen to Epcot's World Showcase would mark a significant departure from Epcot's original purpose as a non-fiction theme park . And yet, Disney seems eager to move away from non-fiction themed entertainment, as it builds a new Avatar-themed land at Disney's Animal Kingdom, moves the Lion King show into that park's Africa section, contemplates Frozen in World Showcase, and spitballs more plans for adding Pixar and Disney animation characters throughout Epcot. Let's not forget, however, that Disney isn't the only party with an interest in what happens at Epcot. Those national pavilions are there because nations and corporations paid a lot of money to build and sponsor them. People in Norway have heard the rumors about a Frozen makeover for their nation's pavilion, and some of them are questioning whether Norway, one of the world's richest countries per capita (richer than even the United States), should put up some some extra money to keep the pavilion Frozen-free. Watch this recent report from Norwegian television: The report implicitly raises an interesting question, however: Is it better for Norway to have an Epcot pavilion filled with outdated information and cultural stereotypes, or to allow Disney to reimagine it as unapologetic fiction? It is easier to justify abandoning a non-fiction theme when the non-fiction isn't that accurate anymore, after all. But why must those be the only two choices? What about Norway, or, more likely, a Norwegian company, putting up the cash to renovate the Norway pavilion into something more exciting, more entertaining, and more accurately reflective of Norway today? Yeah, that's not as conceptually easy as just making the whole thing into Arendelle, Florida, but theme park design pros usually rise to a challenge when given the opportunity and means to do it. And Norway is rolling in money, thanks to North Sea oil. So let's make this our Vote of the Week. Let's play theme park designer and share your ideas for Epcot's World Showcase, in the comments. And if you'd like to stretch your theme park design muscles a bit more, remember that we are now taking sign-ups for our Theme Park Apprentice game over on the Discussion Forum. Previously: From Terri Pierce on July 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM Yooo hoooo! Big summer blowout! From O T on July 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM Walt envisioned what is the current world showcase and almost each and every pavilions movie or representation is outdated. That doesn't mean the public don't want to visits these countries and eat and drink around the lake. Sure it's easy to "Magic Kingdom" World Showcase and sell the last bit of integrity left behind by Walt to NOT create new and relevant rides in parks where this ip belongs (MK of DHS) and fix the outdateness of WS, I'm sure all the overpriced food, dinks and souvenirs must be enough to handle these costs. If not all parks eventually lose their uniqueness. From Flavio de Souza on July 18, 2014 at 12:01 PM Please keep EPCOT free of fictional characters!!! The only place where they should be allowed is the Imagination Pavilion. From Rob McCullough on July 18, 2014 at 12:12 PM This is such an interesting problem. I have no issue with characters who come from a nation's history of storytelling, such as Snow White in Germany or Mary Poppins in the UK, appearing in a World Showcase pavilion. Frozen is loosely based on a story from Denmark. As such the Frozen characters really have no reason to be in Norway. It would make about as much sense as building a Pocahontas river rafting attraction at Epcot's Canadian pavilion. The US and Canada are in the same region of the world, but her story is uniquely American. I am a big fan of Frozen, and believe it deserves an attraction of its own. It's a shame it hadn't been released back when plans for New Fantasyland were in the works. That would have been the obvious location for this kind of story. So - Why not build a new Epcot Pavilion for Denmark? It could feature other Hans Christian Anderson characters (except for the Little Mermaid, she's already at MK) and it would add something desperately needed at Epcot - A new pavilion. I love Maelstrom. Yes, it needs some loving and updating, as does the movie at its exit (as do most World showcase attractions). I believe the mission of Epcot should continue to be the presentation of non-fiction themes as the primary goal, but it?s OK to include characters when appropriate. Frozen in Norway just isn?t appropriate. From James Rao on July 18, 2014 at 12:18 PM There definitely needs to be a Frozen attraction. Either add Frozen to Fantasyland (is there any more room?), or to DHS (add Star Wars, too!). From on July 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM My girlfriend has often said that frozen could be incorporated into blizzard beach, which would explain the snow in the sunshine state alot better than they already do. Anyone feel the same? From Anon Mouse on July 18, 2014 at 1:13 PM One word, Akershus. I love this restaurant, but in my last visit, they already appropriated it for Disney Princesses and marketed it as the Royal Banquet Hall. Although the food is still Norwegian, it just has a different ambience to it. When I viewed the video, it universal studios orlando packages is clear that the Norway government doesn't want to contribute $9 million to the project. The Norway tourism office isn't convinced it is the right expenditure of funds. Norway government officials don't care to be involved. The Norway-Disney employee said the Norway-sponsored rehab funds are returned (not being spent), thus ensuring Disney is already making plans to do the conversion to Frozen. The details are still not entirely clear to me. The popularity of Frozen means Disney won't let the opportunity to go to waste. There is no time to solicit bids from Norway's government or business sector to fill the void. The only question is how fast can Disney react. Will the rehab be a mere Frozen overlay or will there be a bigger makeover with a new track ride system for Maelstorm. Then what happens to the other World Showcase pavilions? Will China get a Mulan makeover? Will Germany get Snow White? (Unlikely with the new dwarf's coaster.) Maybe France should get Ratatouille. Epcot has long suffered from an identity crisis. Maybe Frozen is a way for them to finally come up with a new solution to design and marketing the park. From on July 18, 2014 at 1:25 PM There's a ton of room behind and next to Norway to keep the cultural and historic aspects of Norway in its current form intact, while expanding to include and idealized "Arendale" type land or attraction attached to the current pavilion. So where's the option to vote for doing both? If the new Ratatouille ride proves anything it's you can have a fictional character set in a real world setting still done tastefully. Why not here? Personal Note: It'll be sad to see the merchandise get axed though. Norway has some of, if not the best clothing at the Pavilions. It's not all gimmicky or tacky T-Shirts, its clothing you can wear without looking or feeling like a total tourist. From Daniel Etcheberry on July 18, 2014 at 1:46 PM Change Maelstrom into Beowulf. From Robert Niles on July 18, 2014 at 2:02 PM FWIW, I think the Frozen conversation is a done deal, but I wanted to see if there was any popular support among readers for alternatives. Ultimately, I think the next question will be: Does Disney still call the refurbished pavilion "Norway," or does it abandon that title altogether and call the pavilion "Arendelle"? From Anon Mouse on July 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM For Disney to show respect for Norway, they just won't call it Norway anymore or Arendelle as that doesn't make sense either. You might see Arendelle in the new ride. They will call it "Anne and Elsa's Frozen palace and ride", or something like that. It is disappointing that they will reduce the country count by 1, but perhaps we will get a new country replacement instead. Akershus will still exist as a character meal with Anna and Elsa as the featured characters with some other popular characters like Kristoff and Olaf. Maybe they will have a "Let It Go" sing-a-long in mid-meal. They currently have a princess processional, which is quite fun. From James Rao on July 18, 2014 at 4:02 PM If it is a done deal, Robert, I guess I can live with it. Eventually all the pavilions will probably get a Disney-fied update and the World Showcase will be reborn as a series of fantasy lands from the many popular Disney properties. While not my preference, it is a better solution than having the World Showcase remain stagnant. From on July 18, 2014 at 3:26 PM I would prefer a Tangled Kingdom in the middle of the EPCOT lake and re-theme ALL the EPCOT countries to Disney Major Movies. Tangled on an island in the middle, Aladdin in Morocco, Ratatouille in France, Brave could work well in Canada, Arendel could be in Norway, Lion King in Africa, etc. Then you can trave from Kingdom to Kingdom seeing the characters. My only concern is Walt did not want EPCOT to be a Theme Park, but a vision of the future. But...times do chance. From Rob McCullough on July 18, 2014 at 3:27 PM So, let?s say it is a done deal. My feeling is it needs to be a complete recreation of the ride. Maelstrom is such a unique track with the lift at the start, two stops with directional changes and the backwards motion it?s hard to imagine how they would shoehorn the Frozen story onto that building?so I?d like to throw that out to the other folks posting here. If you were Disney Imagineering, and unable to change any of the ride system at all, how would you tell Frozen?s story with the current ride? And?Go! From on July 18, 2014 at 5:29 PM Refurbish the Norway pavilion. Keeping it Norway. But re theme maelstrom to a frozen theme. From on July 18, 2014 at 9:04 PM Having a Frozen ride in the Norway Pavilion is not a big deal, but don't start doing mythical pavilions in the World Showcase. It would kind of deteriorate the credibility of the whole concept of the World Showcase. Previous article: Disneyland celebrates its 59th birthday with plans for its 60th Enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Insider's Pick: There's only one place in America to where you can enter the world of Harry Potter: the Universal Orlando Resort. With Universal Orlando 2014: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure , you'll learn everything you need to know to save money and time while enjoying Harry Potter and all the other world-class attractions at Universal Orlando.
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