Theme Park Insider

Will 'Frozen' kill Epcot?

September 16, 2014, 9:26 PM · Is replacing Maelstrom with a Frozen-themed ride going to kill Epcot? That's the fear expressed on social media by many Disney fans ever since Disney made the switch official last week.

Yes, Disney's crossing a new line in creating a fictional setting for a World Showcase attraction. From Epcot's opening in 1982 until now, the theme of World Showcase has been a celebration of real countries from around the world. Although elements within attractions in those lands might be fictional, the setting of those attractions always have been someplace real.

World Showcase

But let's keep things real by acknowledging that, while this is a new line for Disney to cross, it's not as if Disney hasn't been crossing lines in Epcot like a kindergartner who ate three Twinkies before sitting down to color. While Arendelle might be the first fictional setting to come to World Showcase, Frozen won't be the first Disney cartoon characters to take over a World Showcase attraction. The Three Caballeros did that in the Mexico pavilion's "Gran Fiesta Tour" in 2007.

And that wasn't the first time that Disney revamped an Epcot attraction with its cartoon IP. Earlier that year, Future World's "The Living Seas" became "The Seas with Nemo and Friends," from Pixar's Finding Nemo.

Two years before that, Disney duped "Soarin'" from Disney California Adventure into a new theater in The Land pavilion, the first World Showcase attraction that didn't even nod in the direction of being at least a little bit educational.

Disney long ago established a precedent for swapping an attraction for something more commercial. To keep its General Motors sponsorship, Disney in 1992 gutted the original, whimsical World of Motion pavilion to instead create the glorified car commercial that is Test Track.

For the ultimate in a commercial sell-out, who remembers the Barbie's birthday show in the American Adventure pavilion back in 1994? Sorry, but I'll take Anna and Elsa in Norway over Barbie anywhere in the park.

As envisioned by Disney's Imagineers when the park opened, Epcot offered something unique to theme park fans -- a non-fiction park that provided themed entertainment that celebrates science, technology, history, and culture. Yet Disney doesn't really seem interested anymore in creating theme parks with distinct identities. "Walt Disney World" is the destination now -- not Epcot's "permanent World's Fair" or Hollywood Studios' "working film and television studio" or Animal's Kingdom's "Naht-a-Zu." (Really, that last one happened.) For years now, Disney's been moving toward positioning itself as a lifestyle brand. Its travel product is the Walt Disney World Resort, where you go to spend time with Disney's franchises while enjoying as luxurious a vacation as you can afford. (And yes, that's a whole 'nother column there.)

In the "new" Disney world, the individual theme parks function more as platforms for spending time with the company's franchises than as brands or destinations unto themselves. (Remember that the next time a cast member hands you your purchase in a "Disney Parks"-branded bag.) Disney's adding Frozen to Epcot not to try to extend the park's appeal so much as it is doing so to try to meet the expectations of fans it is attracting to the WDW Resort -- fans who expect to be able to spend time there with their beloved Disney franchises, which now include Frozen. If Disney's theme park attractions can't grown into multimedia franchises, as Pirates most notably exemplifies, they become targets for redevelopment into franchise-driven attractions. Disney must meet the demand that it has created across its many media platforms.

Does that stink for fans who loved the "old" Epcot, and who still long to visit a non-fiction park that celebrates science and culture, instead of schlepping through yet another park filled with cartoon characters and superheroes? Sure. But Epcot's attendance has been rising with the rest of the Walt Disney World Resort's over the years that Disney's been crossing the lines from non-fiction park to a more traditional, IP-driven theme park. People love Disney franchises. And Disney's making a smart business move by using the Walt Disney World Resort to cultivate and strengthen that adoration -- including at Epcot.

Perhaps some other theme park company might step up and create an Epcot-like experience? Maybe, but don't hold your breath. Over the 30+ years since Epcot opened, America changed. The nation not longer rallies around science and scientists. For many Americans, science and foreign cultures are things to be mocked. At this point, there's only one theme park company that's embraced non-fiction as a theme: SeaWorld. And look what goodwill that has brought them. If the old Epcot were a better business bet for Disney, Disney would have kept developing the park in that thematic direction.

So if you want a non-fiction theme park experience, look instead to museums, which have embraced storytelling techniques from themed entertainment over the years that Epcot's moved more toward fictional IP. A while back, our Anthony Murphy visited the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, which offers an Epcot-like experience in telling the story of America's 16th president. Which makes sense, as the museum's exhibits were developed by the same creative team that developed Epcot's "Impressions de France" and the post-show at the old World of Motion pavilion. Even if Disney and other theme park companies resist developing attractions based on science, technology, history and culture, institutions that have long been dedicated to promoting those causes have been embracing the tools and techniques developed by theme parks. The experiences that Epcot's long-time fans crave are still out there -- just in different places than before.

Will Frozen kill Epcot? No, because the Epcot that the park's fans long for is already long dead.

Replies (51)

September 16, 2014 at 9:34 PM · I don't think it will kill Epcot, it just seems like a pathetic attempt to build a newer attraction.
September 16, 2014 at 10:43 PM · Forget not that Disney also totally jumped out of the realms of pure science/history/culture with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Captain Eo... neither of which really had any place amongst the factual entertainment that was the park's m.o.

No one can condemn Disney for self-promotion at all. The entire reason we all go to and enjoy Disney in the first place is that we love what it stands for and to experience the wonder and excitement of imagination. Anyone can go ahead and poll their own children... Ask them what they're most looking forward to on the next visit to Disney. Go ahead! If a single one of them tells you it's The American Adventure or O, Canada! and NOT Tower of Terror, Space Mountain or Expedition: Everest, then you've been raising a C-Span editor.

Don't get me wrong; I love the immersive environment Disney has been the leader of for oh-so-long. I'd be sad to see most of the formula tinkered with. I still patronize all attractions; thrill-ride or detailed walk-through (except for Tomorrow Land Speedway... Go ahead and re-purpose that footprint stat!). Just sayin' that new blood - as crafted by the unrivaled Imagineers, remember - isn't always a bad thing. Tying it into Norway in the World Showcase makes sense AND keeps the tykes hanging around that section of the park a little longer; read: maybe learning a little something extra about Norway which is the ultimate point of each stop in the WS.

September 17, 2014 at 12:45 AM · Even the LegoLand parks which were originally designed to showcase what can be done with Lego (largely in MiniKabd which shows landmarks made from Lego) are changing to keep up with commercial demand (and to sell more toys) there are more rides at Legoland parks and more items based around specific franchises (Lego Chima, Ninjago & Star Wars).
September 17, 2014 at 12:59 AM · Great article and unfortunately true.
What happens these days is not building for the whole family but focus testing. Most Disney fans adults like going to because it's a path travelled many times, it's a no brainer and although quality of the hotel and theme park experience had dwindled down over the year, like the frog in boiling water, the effect is slow and by adding to the already steep prices customers expect it's still worth it. Due to the whole life style nonsense they also don't try anything else so the frog can be cooked.
The focus testing is on boys and girls that have the whine factor and will influence a vacation and the crap that will be bought along the way. That's the reason that a mediocre movie with pop tween songs like Frozen is injected in as many aspects in the parks. NOT by building an awesome ride with themed food and merchandise offerings, that's the theme park business and Disney isn't in it anymore, no by a stupid sing along, a cheap castle projection, meet and greet by underpaid actors and now the make over of Norway.
Disney is taking a year to remake Norway. They are going to repaint the façade so the link with Frozen is more apparent, on top of the rockwork will be snow and a miniature ice castle and the exact, overly short ride, will stay the same with the popular characters in there. Is that all you ask, no, there is a meet and greet and a character dining. Illuminations will include Let It Go (great gay anthem by the way) and money will keep poring in.

I'm ok with repurposing Epcot, the theme is as confused as a transvestite in a biker bar, but it would be nice if what Disney would do would be up to the standards they once had and lost about 15 years ago. I think it's great if every country gets a character ride. I think it would be great if the future world part would become Star Wars Land, Marvel Land and Villain Land. But again not remaking on a level of Finding Nemo (as done in the former Living Seas) but on the scale as Splash Mountain or Tower of Terror, but that won't happen.
I would like things to change at Disney. They only thing to do that is stop going and that's what I have done and I don't miss it.

September 17, 2014 at 4:11 AM · This is an amazing, analytical blog post! I really enjoy your intellectual approach to theme parks. That's why I keep returning to this site!

Being from Europe, I have to say that the World Showcase has never been an accurate representation of foreign cultures. In my opinion, the countries are all "Americanized". They present the (European) cultures like the average American imagines them to be and not how they really are. That's why I think that the implementation of Frozen doesn't make a big difference since World Showcase has never been accurate.

However, I dislike that Epcot's mission has been watered down for years.

September 17, 2014 at 5:18 AM · Since the countries represented by their pavilions must pay to maintain them, does Norway get any say in this? I can't imagine the government of Norway, who no doubt sees their presence in Epcot as an effective tool to promote tourism and travel to Norway, are too happy to see the pavilion focusing on a mythical land.
September 17, 2014 at 5:26 AM · Frozen will not kill EPCOT. Bob Iger's reign has already killed Walt Disney World. This just another standard operating practice that was changed to accommodate the opportunity to milk every penny out of a successful movie. In the case of Frozen, even Disney wasn't prepared for its' success. Just look at the lack of merchandise that normally follows a blockbuster movie.

Perhaps, it could be argued that Eisner started the process by moving the model of the Swan and a Dolphin hotel on the topography model at WDI. This casual move broke the standard that protected the views from within a land. In essence, now you can stand in Paris France in World Show Case and see the Eifell Tower with the Swan and Dolphin behind it thus ruining the special effects and the guest feeling they were in Paris.

Characters were not always involved in World Showcase. After customer complaints, characters became Special Ambassadors of the various countries. Unfortunately, the general public will believe their is a place in Norway called Arrendelle. It reminds me of when they played the song Edelweiss as President Reagan received the Ambassador of Austria at the White House as Austria's National Anthem. Unfortunately, Edelweiis was the National Anthem in the Sound of Music and was never the Anthem in Austria. So, now people will be looking for Arrendale and Weasletown Norway. Perhaps, Disney should build a fake port in Norway for their next park.

We are no longer considering WDW as a vacation destination. The standards have dropped all over the place. Hospitality is a word that has been forgotten at the hotels. The food quality is at best average although the the prices are high. Now, disney wants to invade our privacy with these Magic Bands.

We will go to the mountains or the beach from now on. We loved WDW and seeing it go downhill is not fun for us.

September 17, 2014 at 5:34 AM · I think the biggest effect will be on us old timers who thought of EPCOT as the "adult" park and Magic Kingdom as the "kiddie" park. That line will be totally erased and we can now expect many more small children during our Flower and Wine festivals, which were geared for the adults, and other times. Oh well.....progress
September 17, 2014 at 5:44 AM · I think what concerns me is this: immersive theming of the different "lands" or areas is one of the things that truly seperates Disney parks from your standard local amusement park or Six Flags. Without the theming, you have just a bunch of random attractions with no rhyme or reason to placement, etc...granted, the attractions are going to be state of the art and some of the best in the world. Magic Kingdom is of course a great example, as each themed "land" transitions seamlessly to the next...Adventureland to Frontierland to Libery Square, etc...That's my big concern with this...Disney seems like now, if they have a hit movie on their hands, will just rush an attraction into an area that has zero to do with the theme just becuase that particular "land" has some unused real estate or an old attraction that can be closed down and re-imagined. And when that happens, a little of the magic dies, as you don't feel like you are fully immersed in a particular land or country or city or time period, but that you are in a huge amusement park with a bunch of rides... awesome rides, no doubt, but the idea of being transported when you walk into that area of the park sort of disappears. Just my 2 cents, I know this was rambling...
September 17, 2014 at 6:09 AM · What is not discussed is the politicized science and the poisonous multiculturalism. Science, technology, and foreign cultures are no longer safe subjects to explore. Also, there is a failure to acknowledge the beliefs of those who have a contrary opinion.

Epcot's only true choice is to abandon it original mission as an acknowledgement of reality, which was also why they didn't pursue its original design of a living community. People just won't conform to a fantasy community.

Disney couldn't force the Norway government to support its pavilion. Why can't people acknowledge reality? It requires big bucks to create attractions. I guess Disney only woke up to reality that only Disney can fix it and earn a return on its investment.

Epcot is dead, long live Epcot.

September 17, 2014 at 6:52 AM · I absolutely agree with the post. The place to experience science and philosophy is no longer in Disney's theme parks. Museums over the past few decades have created much more engaging, theme park-esque experiences that focus on edutainment. The responsibility of a Disney theme park is to provide a physical environment for Disney characters. I was always confused at to why EPCOT lacked a major presence of Disney characters as a child; it seemed like a completely independent theme park experience, and even at that two wholly separate themes jammed together. I think the placement of a Frozen attraction in the park, as well as the recent repurposing of other attractions, marks a change in focus for EPCOT and hopefully means that guests can actually experience Disney there.

This brings up another question, and that is what may happen to the remaining attractions in the park that have not yet been rededicated to explicit Disney properties. Granted, it is not necessary for all attractions to scream Disney, but I have to think that there is a wealth of opportunity within this park to re-theme attractions. I mean, Mission Space? Ellen Degeneres' Adventure thing? Mission: Space? Okay, maybe not Mission: Space because it's the best, but these dated attractions represent a major opportunity for Disney in my opinion.

September 17, 2014 at 8:23 AM · I can see it now.... drunk food and wine festival patrons vs parents trying to get their kids onto the new frozen ride. Love it! Lets have another margarita!
September 17, 2014 at 8:27 AM · I'm disappointed more in the overall direction of EPCOT, and the move to Frozen is just another example. While I recognize that today's visitors aren't going to get as thrilled by the old Universe of Energy and slow-moving AA rides like World of Motion, it would be nice to have more balance. I just hope that Disney gives some love to Future World in the future, and it isn't just adding characters. The recent success of Cosmos showed that there is an appetite for science and the feelings of discovery, if they're presented in an entertaining way. I'll try to stay optimistic, but it isn't looking great.
September 17, 2014 at 8:47 AM · Brilliantly written & contemplative piece.
EPCOT has never been my favourite park and a Frozen attraction will not draw me back (I will eat my words in 4 years time when I have a 5 yr old niece begging me to take her in).
Another issue with EPCOT though - in those 30 years the world has gotten smaller. A lot more people can now see the real thing rather than 'just' a World Showcase pavillion.
Younger attendance is going to soar at this park.

On another note, just had my 1st visit to SoCal and the DLR parks were SO very different to WDW. I was amazed to see characters just roaming around and no one thrusting their children forwards to hog them.
The level of maintenance seemed to be much higher too - very impressive. (And to stick with EPCOT theme, Soarin' was a walk on in DCA!)

September 17, 2014 at 8:52 AM · Well said. Here are my thoughts on the Frozening of Norway... http://stephenkg.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-maelstrom-of-response-to-frozen.html
September 17, 2014 at 8:53 AM · "Lets have another margarita!"

I prefer it Frozen. A Frozen margarita please!!!

September 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM · So many people seem to be very unhappy with new things at Walt Disney World, yet the people keep coming. The attendance is up every year. The bottom line is that Disney will do what they think is necessary to keep things good and relevant. I think the answer to the question is no.
September 17, 2014 at 9:09 AM · "I prefer it Frozen. A Frozen margarita please!!!"

Touche!

September 17, 2014 at 9:33 AM · Arendelle will actually be the second fictional country. You forget Canada is in the World Showcase and we all know Canada isn't really a country.
September 17, 2014 at 9:46 AM · My issue isn't with the Frozen coming to Norway

Its with Frozen eliminating a working ride...I would much rather it be taking over an unused Sound Stage at DHS

or if Disney had a new attraction for Wonders of Life pavilion.

While Frozen will drive a crowd to be sure, at the end of the day it is a zero sum gain in amount of attractions in the park.

September 17, 2014 at 3:03 PM · I prefer the original Epcot.
September 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Maelstrom is a weak attraction with a horrible post show. We've been asking for something to be done about it for years, and now when Disney does something we scream that they should leave it alone. Look, I agree that there are plenty of other places in WDW for a Frozen attraction (and why can't they add more than one provided the experiences are different?), but for whatever reason enhancing Norway made the most sense. So, go for it, I say. But, Disney can't stop with one new attraction, they need to make a concerted effort to rebuild Epcot into the amazing park it once was and can be again.
September 17, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Mr. Niles writes: "Will Frozen kill Epcot? No, because the Epcot that the park's fans long for is already long dead."

I Respond: If you had added the words "some of" between the word "that" and "the" I would agree with you.

I've been a fan of EPCOT since I attended the cast preview night in September 1982. Since then, whenever I spend the day at EPCOT I have a great time. It is unlikely that the departure of 'Maelstrom' and the addition of 'Frozen' ... or Remy ... or Pinocchio ... or R2D2 is going to change that.

September 17, 2014 at 1:14 PM · A step in the right direction. Epcot was dead anyway. Hopefully the Frozen ride will spread crowds a little more evenly throughout the parks and contribute a little towards reducing the insanely long wait times for the best rides. Now Disney needs to bring the international rides like Mystic Manor and Ratatouille to Epcot. How many families can afford the airfare to Japan or China or France?
September 17, 2014 at 1:30 PM · If the Norwegian government no longer sponsors the Norway pavilion why does it have to continue to be the Norway pavilion? Couldn't it be re-named the Scandinavian pavilion or the Denmark pavilion so the purists can find one less thing to nitpick about when Frozen replaces Maelstrom?

Considering the investment that Disney has put into Epcot and that it is the third oldest Disney park and that it draws less than 70% of the attendance (can't lay hands on the latest TEA/COM attendance figures) that the Magic Kingdom does, I'd say that Epcot needs some serious upgrading and "Disneyification."

September 17, 2014 at 1:49 PM · My family and I love Maelstrom and will hate to see it go. It was always one of our favs. And all the Maelstrom haters can go back, back, over the falls.

But we will return to WDW soon and I'm sure we'll enjoy the new Frozen attraction.

BTW- Disney missed a big chance to incorporate a "Frozen" drink in the movie, a la Butterbeer. Imagine the lines for that!

September 17, 2014 at 1:50 PM · I can see the $$ in the account bean counters eyes. EPCOT needs something, but this overlay (if that's what it is) will come off cheap and short. (The ride is a joke now) This just seems so desprete. I won't be getting another annual pass...just blah for WDW.
September 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Like I had mentioned earlier, according to the 2013 attendance numbers posted earlier this year on this site, Epcot is only has a million visitors more than Disney Hollywood Studios (which is a smaller, half day park) and Animal Kingdom (obviously larger, but closes early). The company needs to bring in more attractions into Epcot and along with that, higher quality ones. This would alleviate some overcrowding in the other parks and would bring in more revenue to Epcot. Unfortunately it's going to be at the expense of what Epcot as a park started out to be and is quickly becoming no more. I would almost bet that if the Flower Festival and the Food/Wine Festival weren't held, Epcot's attendance would definitely be lower than the other two parks and would be sitting at the #3 spot, if not #4.

I will miss Maelstrom and its quirky version of a boat-dark ride. As I had mentioned before, it's an even better ride if you're slightly sloshed. I actually liked the post show with the Norwegian girls running through fields of daisies in the springtime. Or at least that's what I remember from when I stopped to watch the show. I have to say that even the Norwegian cast members that stood at the exits of the theater always seemed to have a bored look on their faces from having to endure that for 8 hours a day.

As long as the frozen margaritas are available in Mexico and the Grey Goose Orange Slushes in Paris, I am willing to embrace the change. Hopefully the Imagineers have some great future plans for the park that don't involve just a Frozen overlay and adding more theaters for Soar'in. If that's all they have, then it's not going to help for the long run.

For me, the true test for where Disney's future stands is with this Frozen attraction (and Avatar whenever that will be completed. 2025?). Are they going to assemble a high quality ride within a year and a half (Universal can)? Or is it going to be a simply overlay with "Let it go" blasting loudly through the ride? If it's the second one, then they have truly lost their way.

September 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM · I am not sure if I read it correctly, but the Land is in Future World, not World Showcase.

Anyway, I don't think it is going to kill EPCOT. As you mentioned, the Grand Festa Tour has been in Mexico for awhile and outside of that, nothing really changed.

I always felt that Norway was the weakest in the storytelling of their country, especially since they had a freakin ride!

Look at it this way, more Helly Hensen sweater sales! Woo Hoo! Big Summer Blowout.!

September 17, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Yes, this kills EPCOT. A temporary Barbie show, or fictional characters placed in non-fictional areas never changed a real place into a fake one. Changes to Test Track and Living with the Land made changes to Future World to represent the actual future, this turns a real place into fantasy. RIP COT.
September 17, 2014 at 5:04 PM · A Thor ride would fit perfectly. Too bad they can't do it in Orlando.
September 17, 2014 at 5:55 PM · Why couldn't they do a Thor ride in Orlando? As long as it is not attached to the Marvel logo ... Thor is a mythological character and not a licensed entity. In fact, the eye of Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) exists on the current Maelstrom attraction.

Hell, Universal could do a Thor attraction outside of its Marvel IP contract if it wanted to.

September 17, 2014 at 6:48 PM · Save EPCOT by sending it to China! People there love science, are commited to the future and curious about other cultures.

Companies are willing to sponsor attractions in China due to is big unexplored market, and countries want to attract chinese tourists.

In Orlando transform future world In Star Wars and WS into world of Disney.

September 17, 2014 at 7:28 PM · So many people say they won't go to Epcot with Frozen in Maelstrom. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I predict the rabid fans of Frozen will have the counter effect of goosing attendance. It won't even be close. I am sure Disney has analyzed the effects of frozen in DHS and it helped a lot. Just move along.
September 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM · Epcot in my opinion will start to transform more into the imagineers plans for WestCOT. You're going to see more generic regionally inspired themes as opposed to the individual country inspired themes currently supported. Expect to see Norway transform more into an idealized "Scandinavian" styled pavillion. Mexico in turn will become more Latin American themed, while still maintaining its "Mexico" moniker. China, Japan, and Morocco are the only "safe" pavilions currently as they are still the only three that are independently operated by a third party company. It will be a very slow change but uniqueness is out, generic is in. It sells a lot better.
September 18, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Agree with the rest of the article, but when you wrote "...Disney in 1992 gutted the original, whimsical World of Motion pavilion to instead create the glorified car commercial that is Test Track" it sounds very...biased? As if you're looking for something to criticize about Epcot. World of motion was really bland, in my opinion. Test track was, at the time it was built, innovative, and I really liked the "build your own car" refurbishment awhile ago. Sure, there were great things about the old Epcot - but don't assume that everything old was awesome and everything new is terrible.
September 18, 2014 at 6:35 PM · I agree with the article, but doesn't anyone remember that the original ride is not based in historic fact, but legends, and includes tree trolls? Did we really learn anything about Norway on this ride? Not really. Vikings, trolls, oil rigs in the paintings.

I was eleven in 82 when I saw the Mexico ride and even at eleven thought the original version was offensive and was surprised by the representations in it. I haven't seen the current version.

Change is good. Let them evolve the parks. It's amazing that the Films in France, Canada and China lasted so long.

Yes, The ratatouille ride in the French pavilion would be great. The video ride through on YouTube shows that it's a fantastic dark ride.

September 19, 2014 at 1:40 AM · Frozen in Epcot is like people watering crops with Gatoraide in Idiocracy, it's the breaking point where it all falls apart. Hopefully some day people will become enlightened again and embrace a park that showcases the evolution of man and how to build a better future.
September 19, 2014 at 8:06 AM · I don't think this development ruins EPCOT, but it is an indictment of Disney and their lack of vision for their parks. It seems like they want to keep with the trends, but because of their slow pace of development, they can find themselves out of touch with their guests before bringing a product to market. If reports are true and the Frozen attraction is merely an overlay of Maelstrom, why does it take nearly 18 months or more to complete. Universal built an entire land complete with 2 from scratch attractions in a little over 2 years, yet Disney needs 18 months for an overlay? Also, why did it take Disney almost a year to decide that the highest grossing animated film of all time needed an attraction, and the best they could come up with was an existing attraction overlay? Also, why is it taking Disney years, and counting, before expanding the role of Lucasfilm in their parks?

Those are the things fans need to consider, not whether EPCOT is irreparably harmed. All theme parks go through evolution, and the original concept of EPCOT simply no longer works in today's market. It's trying to be a cross between a museum and a theme park, and it simply doesn't work with museums (with many having admissions as expensive as a day at a theme park) expanding their interactivity and becoming more like theme parks, EPCOT has no way of competing while staying true to its original mission. EPCOT needs to change, and perhaps needs a DCA-esque change to reach the current audience. Sure, people will be upset to see old favorites go away or lose their visibility, but the park cannot continue to be stuck in the 80's and 90's and expect people to continue to visit. Bringing fictional lands into the World Showcase will help the most glaring criticism of the park in that small kids find it boring. The park needs to shake the criticism of being an adults only park, and the years of mocking from the likes of the Simpsons, SNL, and others. EPCOT is a great theme park, but it must change to continue to be great, or it will itself become a museum to a theme park concept that is no longer relevant.

September 19, 2014 at 8:21 AM · Too bad. I always enjoyed the Norway attraction and was always frustrated that people just walked past the educational if not emotional video they showed at the exit to the ride. I will miss it and always enjoyed going through Norway Maelstrom. It won't kill EPCOT but it will always be different for me.
September 19, 2014 at 10:25 AM · You are clueless??? Epcot is already dead! The masses dont Frozen in Epcot just as much as no one wants Avatar in Animal Kingdom! Disney is just out of ideas for all parks except Magic Kingdom. Instead of being a business and invest, build, and grow. They instead refurbish and patch until that goes stale. Thats why the parks attendance is never consistent. They get ideas that hit hard but fade fast. Where as universal just continues to grow and steal attendance.
September 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM · @Russell

Why, Why, Why? You proceeded to answer your own question in the second paragraph. Why?

Disney is not out of touch. Its the competition that rose up; however, it seems like only Universal was the one that brings the anguish from the Disney fans.

Why 18 months when Dragon Alley took 2 years? That's inaccurate. Diagon Alley was planned as soon as Hogwarts was completed. It was 4 years from start to finish.

The ride was filmed. Very little set construction. The lobby was well done with animatronics. So 4 years versus 18 months is reasonable.

We focus on the "cheapness" of Maelstrom makeover while the whole Disney World has tons of projects in development (Avatar, Star Wars). Avatar has broken ground. Phase 1 will open in 2017.

Another rumor is Ellen's Energy Adventure might have a makeover to coincide with the Nemo sequel featuring Dory. (Ellen is most available/eager now with her increased popularity.) Don't forget the addition of the third Soaring' theater. All these Epcot projects (Frozen, Soaring', Ellen) will début on 2016. Coincidence or slow?

September 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM · Why do you get so defensive when posters criticize the speed of Disney development? We all understand that Rome wasn't built in a day, but Disney-speed when it comes to development of attractions at their parks is becoming the punchline to many jokes. Do you realize that the newest ride in DHS is Toy Story Mania completed 6 years ago, the newest ride in Animal Kingdom is Expedition Everest completed 8 years ago, and the newest ride in EPCOT is Soarin' (re-inventing TestTrack and overlaying the Living Seas with Nemo doesn't count) completed 9 years ago. Aside from New Fantasyland, WDW has been stagnant for nearly a decade, and won't be officially getting a truly new ride/attraction until 2017 when Avatar opens. That's pathetic.

If you want to really say that it took 4 years to develop and build Diagon Alley (it's probably closer to 3.5 years if you assume that they began planning 4-6 months after the first phase opened in summer 2010), then your argument is still weak since it will take Disney nearly 2 years longer to develop just the first phase of Avatar since they began planning in 2011 (and perhaps sooner) when Disney officially announced the agreement with Cameron. Even the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter (that was about 50% overlays) was only 3 years from initial development to opening.

Face it Anon, Disney is slow, and their lethargy is frustrating even hard core fans. The 3rd Soarin' theater (along with the rumored takeover of the sound stage adjacent to TSM in DHS to increase throughput) is not "development". Those are subtle improvements that most guests won't even notice to increase capacity like adding extra cars to a roller coaster or a second Dumbo ride. The new movie, that has seemingly been filming for nearly a decade when Soarin' debuted at EPCOT, will revive interest, but it ultimately does not provide something truly new to get guests to come back to the park. I had not heard the Energy rumor, but if it's true, that's a good start. What about the 100,000 square feet of pavilion space that has been mothballed for 7 years (Wonders of Life) and the rotating empty spaces within Innoventions? The recent announcements and rumors concerning EPCOT seem more like panic than a park carefully calculating a reinvention of itself like what happened at DCA.

"Avatar has broken ground. Phase 1 will open in 2017."

You prove my point right there...Disney broke ground just before the beginning of the year, along with 3+ years of planning. That's 6+ years from pen to paper to butts in seats. Entire theme parks have been designed and built in that amount of time, and Disney is supposed to be the industry leader with all of the experience. It's sad that they piddle around developing amazing things that never see the light of day, yet when they're under pressure to develop something, they take 18 months to overlay an existing boat ride. Guests deserve better.

September 19, 2014 at 3:18 PM · I'm not a Frozen fan to begin with, and I'm sad to see Maelstrom go. I really loved that ride.
September 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Maelstrom was a nice little respite from the heat and humidity on a hot steamy Florida day. I will miss it. But just like in our lives evolution is a part of the business cycle as well. But let's look at Frozen from a basic business point of view. Companies (Disney, Universal, Six Flags, etc.) are in business to make money from their products, so if Frozen is making Disney big bucks then it's a no brainer for them exploit ALL avenues that they will believe will produce revenue and meet demand. That's what business is supposed to do. Don't forget- and this is VERY important, there are stockholders to please.

Disney, like Universal, wants to be able to meet the latest and greatest trends within the parameters of the theme park, what analysis has been done and what projected expenses and profits can be. Also what rights to intellectual property they can promote so they can keep the turnstiles spinning and gift shop registers filling up with credit card receipts.

Never forget, whether we like change-good, bad, or indifferent, it is going to happen. We can embrace it or not. But remember you have a voice in how change happens. It's YOUR money they want and you speak the loudest when you spend YOUR money in their parks, products, hotels, restaurants, etc. OR somewhere else on something else. Spending your money at EPCOT and/on Frozen related items is your voice telling Disney if they got it right-or not!

September 20, 2014 at 6:57 AM · "Diagon Alley (it's probably closer to 3.5 years"

Wow, its amazing how you don't know. You're just speculating.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAwtCCdr4FM

The Making Of Diagon Alley - Universal Studios Orlando Resort

4:30 min - implied Dragon Alley started soon after Hogwarts completed four years ago.

8:00 min - attraction was filming two years before Diagon Alley is set to open, but storyboards and planning was started two years prior, thus four years. You're suggesting they took a break. They were in full alert and ready.

It was clear that the attraction filming did not start until the last Harry Potter film was completed (2011). They brought the actors back in a year after the last film opened.

Avatar was announced on 2011, broke ground on 2014, to open on 2017. 6 years possibly. Regardless is you think this is slow, this comes after the 7 dwarfs ride was finished and I agree they took too long for that since the New Fantasyland opened in Fall 2012.

I'm still unconvinced the 18 months timeline for Frozen is a long time since it was a last minute decision and their construction is impeded by not yet finishing its design.

The complaining is like wondering when things will arrive when things are arriving. Yet people just don't want Frozen in Maelstrom so its not like there is agreement on what they do want except quicker and NOT that (Avatar, Frozen, 7 Dwarfs).

"Disney is supposed to be the industry leader with all of the experience."

The best course of action is visiting Universal. But.... Disney... should.... be like Universal? Get over what Disney should be.

September 19, 2014 at 9:49 PM · I dont know what everyone has against EPCOT

I've always enjoyed epcot..

the world showcase is fine. and its a nice change from the commercial rides and attractions at Disney to have some education stuff as well that you get at EPCOT along with some of the rides there.

Overall I've enjoyed EPCOT ..I just wish they'd add a few more rides. There isn't enough at EPCOT for a full day IMHO

September 20, 2014 at 2:37 AM · The basic reality with EPCOT is, that it was founded with industry corporate sponsoring at the one side, and country's government support on the other side.
Clearly, both are dropping out, one after the other, the industry corporations AND those governments, because... most probably Disney foulded them, or should I say, scammed them? Because, if all the money corporations and countries spent there was ONLY bringing Disney a revenue, yet zero pay off for them (measured in more sales or in vacations undertaken to the listed countries), then they OF-COURSE go to cut the cable, and leave Disney alone.
That's the real "backstage" story of Epcot. Disney scammed relentlessly on their "business partners (sic)".
And now, Disney is left alone, in their ghost-theme park.
September 20, 2014 at 2:52 AM · Epcot = not Epcot anymore, and it does not know "yet", what it will or would be... a 100% makeover, including the name, could be a long term option...
Let's face it:
The basic reality with EPCOT is, that it was founded with industry corporate sponsoring at the one side, and country's government support on the other side.
Clearly, both are dropping out, one after the other, the industry corporations AND those governments, because... most probably Disney foulded them, or should I say, scammed them? Because, if all the money corporations and countries spent there was ONLY bringing Disney a revenue, yet zero pay off for them (measured in more sales or in vacations undertaken to the listed countries), they then OF-COURSE go to cut the cable, and leave Disney alone. In the category "Not-a-trustworthy-partner".
That's the real "backstage" story of Epcot. Disney scammed relentlessly on their "business partners (sic)".
And now, Disney is left alone, in their ghost-theme park. Trying to resell it cheap.
September 20, 2014 at 9:41 AM · I will only say this. Agree 100% with the second comment which is from 70.187.35.112
September 20, 2014 at 4:35 PM · I am posting from the Rose & Crown at EPCOT .... There are 19,999 people in the bar. And they are all saying "Did you hear about Frozen replacing Maelstrom? Yeah ... I am never coming back here again ... Unless I come back here again ... Off Kilter rocks!"

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