In the summer of 1988, EPCOT was celebrating the arrival of Norway – World Showcase’s 11th pavilion. The pavilion had soft-opened that May, with a grand opening celebration following in June. So by the time of Walt Disney World’s 4th of July parade, it was time to give people a glimpse of the pavilion and its new ride, the Maelstrom. And who evokes the spirit of Norway better than… Willard Scott? Really? Oh well, let’s take a look:
I vividly remember watching this for the first time. Jeff and I had taped the old Walt Disney Presents classic From the Pirates of the Caribbean to the World of Tomorrow off of the Disney Channel, and watched it approximately a billion times afterward. That was the high water mark of park promotion; with full filmed ride-throughs of attractions, it was like being in the park! So with that precedent set, I had high hopes when we tuned in to the annual 4th of July parade and found out they were going to preview the new Norway ride. Remember, I was an EPCOT freak at even that young age, and a whole new pavilion and attraction was about the most exciting thing possible. I was so ready to see footage of this new ride.
You see what we actually got. What’s hilarious is that I remember being so livid at the time; it was my “drink more Ovaltine” moment. But actually, when watching this video now, it actually does pretty much show the entire ride. It’s just blended up some, and the dialogue isn’t there. But that’s pretty much it. Of course, without the internet I had no way of knowing that. I thought we had a grand new EPCOT E-ticket, and they were pulling the old bait-and-switch on me.
In a way, it’s funny to think that not so long ago we had to depend entirely on Disney News to shape our perceptions and awareness of new projects until we were lucky enough to visit the parks again. Of course, there was also the annual report – a once-a-year arrival that was greeted with just as much excitement as Santa Claus.
For more insight into the grumpy young man I was, I always remember being furious at the irritating lady for the kind of ridiculous line about how much she enjoyed the “tour of the North Sea.” I really had it in for that lady. For some reason, I don’t really remember realizing how kind of scary and disingenuous Willard Scott was, with his weird bug-eyed patronizing responses to the guests. I did, however, pick up on how uncomfortable the poor Norwegian cast member was.
Twenty-two years ago! It’s hard to believe we haven’t had a new pavilion, or even an updated Norwegian film, since.