Frozen Ever After Could Be the Savior of Epcot
EPCOT – Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Once envisioned by Walt himself as a working and living community always working towards the future and improving upon itself, the concept was soon adapted to a theme park shortly after his death and opened on October 1, 1982 as EPCOT Center. The park was split into two parts: the front half named Future World and the back the World Showcase. Since its opening, Future World has always set out be celebrate technology and communication, among other things, while the World Showcase promotes world culture and helps Guests learn about countries through their exhibits, food & drinks, and perhaps even an attraction such as a boat ride or video.
Up until recent years, Epcot has remained pretty unique from the other Disney parks. Many may not remember, but when the park first opened, Mickey wasn’t even meant to be in the park, which is what incidentally created the Hidden Mickey. Eventually that changed and the Fab 5 did get a meet and greet and soon enough, you could meet other Disney characters throughout the park, such as Marie in France and Snow White in Germany. This was all fine because the original attractions remained intact.
Then, in the late 2000s, Disney began incorporating Disney characters into existing attractions. One of the most notable ones is The Living Seas pavilion. In 2007, it was over hauled and became The Seas with Finding Nemo & Friends. The attraction reopened with characters from Finding Nemo interwoven into the ride. It was a slightly controversial change. Many Guests found the addition/changes appalling, while others found it to breathe fresh life into the dated attraction.
It’s no secret Epcot is broken as a theme park. Buildings once used for attractions now stand empty and deserted, or are only used for seasonal events such as the Flower & Garden Festival. The park severely lacks in the number of attractions it has, with only two (soon to be three) true E-ticket options making FastPass+ a nightmare for the park. Ironically, most of the other attractions, you don’t even need FastPass for because not many Guests ride them unless the park is very busy. And many of the attractions the park has are dated or in a serious need of a refurbishment.
Also, did you know that some of the original concepts for the World Showcase pavilions had rides in mind for them? Japan was supposed to have a Mount Fuji roller coaster! Even a Soviet Union pavilion was almost constructed in the 1990s with two attractions. The World Showcase would be a very different area if it had more than just two boat rides and three video attractions. So what’s happening now almost ten years later?
The Seas with Finding Nemo & Friends is moderately successful. And the change of the El Rio del Tiempo boat ride to Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros inside of the Mexico pavilion is mildly entertaining, but for the most part, the World Showcase has been able to remain separate from being intermixed with Disney characters…until now.
If somehow you haven’t heard by now, Epcot’s Norway pavilion’s attraction Maelstrom permanently closed in October 2014 to be completely overhauled and transformed into a new attraction based on the hit animated film, Frozen. When this was announced, there was tremendous uproar and push-back from fans for many (valid) reasons. For starters, the Maelstrom was a beloved Epcot attraction which did have a cult following. On average days, the line was anywhere from a 20-45 min wait and on busy days, it was crazy high. A second main reason was that Disney was merely adapting an existing, low-capacity ride for one of their most popular films/characters since The Lion King. Lines for the ride already weren’t great when it was just Maelstrom and I can’t even imagine how long they’ll be now that Elsa as moved in.
The third and biggest reason behind Guests being upset is Disney is now officially permanently adding in Disney characters into a World Showcase pavilion. You might argue it was already done with the Gran Fiesta Tour, however, my rebuttal to that is the characters are not largely popular or extremely well known by most Guests and they add to the ride
experience which is still very much about Mexico, whereas Frozen takes place in Arendelle, an area based on Norway and not actually Norway, and the ride will be about the Frozen characters instead of Norway.
So after my own bitching and moaning about the blasphemous change to the Maelstrom (yes, I’m one of those who enjoyed it), I accepted it and got to thinking What if? Adding Frozen into the World Showcase could and probably will be a good, if not a great thing for it and Epcot as a whole. Here’s why.
As mentioned above, Epcot is in dire need of some TLC. I’m sure Disney has plans to do this, but probably not until Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are close to being complete. People complain enough about the construction currently going on in and outside of the parks. No need to pile onto that. So basically, focus on Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, then work on Epcot in full force!
So why did we need Frozen to help improve the park? Well, it’s time for Epcot to evolve. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have attractions about technology, communication, and culture, but we need to stop treating Epcot as a means to educate. It’s time to bring more ‘Disney’ into this Disney park. They tried to keep it out, and it hasn’t worked. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Epcot, but I never ever go for the rides or attractions. I go for the food & beverage and the atmosphere. Epcot has a LOT of potential and it definitely wouldn’t be hard to mix in Disney characters while keeping the current themes. We just needed Elsa to break down the metaphorical frozen wall that was keeping that from happening.
Imagine a Future World where Wonders of Life returns with characters from Inside Out. The Body Wars simulator could return, but expanded for capacity and now with Joy and Sadness for a whole new adventure! Not to mention the exhibits there could be about emotions.
A brand new pavilion could be built about robots and A.I. and could be split in two featuring two attractions; one with Wall-E and the other Baymax. Plus, we could go inside a computer and ride the Tron lightcycle. Sure, we have Test Track where they took the original concept of actually testing a new car and put it into a computer system, but come on! It’s TRON and Epcot needs more E-Ticket rides. Besides, there’s a rumor GM could be returning as sponsor for Test Track and might want to change it back. (It’s no secret the revamp was a test for the effects that went into the Tron Lightcycle ride at Shanghai Disneyland.
Then in the World Showcase, there are really numerous possibilities and options for
Disney. A Mulan attraction can be added into China, which would be perfect to help promote the new live-action film coming out. Germany could add an adventurous Tangled ride starring Flynn Rider and Maximus, or go classic and give Snow White her own attraction again.
The African Outpost refreshment area would most likely go away to add in a more specific country, but what if it didn’t? A Tarzan or Lion King attraction is much overdue. Sure, they have/had shows in the past, but an actual ride would be great!
Moving along, Italy could add in a Pinocchio dark ride, similar or updated to what Disneyland has. And the American pavilion, being dated to colonial times, could easily create a Pocahontas ‘canoe’ boat ride. Sure, she meets at Animal Kingdom and also had a show in the past, but think about how pretty a dark ride could be!
An obvious ride idea that could never happen is an Aladdin flying carpet ride in Morocco. This is because the Morocco is the only pavilion to be fully funded by its country. However, in France, the most obvious ride to bring in is the Ratatouille attraction from Disneyland Paris. It would fit in perfectly! And with the UK pavilion, the possibilities are endless.
As you can see, much can and probably will be done to Epcot in due time. Not to mention the addition of new country pavilions. There’s space for seven to nine more! Of course, this is all speculation and with how Epcot works, Disney would need approval by the corporate sponsors of most of the pavilions for the ride additions. But it’s still fun to hope and imagine! So what are your thoughts of evolving Epcot into a true Disney-fied theme park? Should Disney do it? It’s only a matter of time really. What characters and films would you like to see added into it? Frozen Forever After and the adjacent Royal Summerhaus area opens June 21 in the Norway pavilion.