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You Are Not The First To Pass This Way…

The great Martin Smith pops up again with the latest of his EPCOT tribute videos; this time we get to take a look at Norway – Gateway to Scandinavia, the 11th and (to date) final World Showcase pavilion. Originally slated to be a Denmark pavilion, the concept evolved into a Scandinavian Showcase before being winnowed back down to focus solely on the nation of Norway. There are a lot of mysteries in this pavilion’s past: the abandoned designs for the Denmark pavilion, the first unrealized concept for the Maelstrom which featured a song by the Sherman Brothers, and whatever we as a society have done to be punished by another princess meal in the stunning and unique Akershus.

Enjoy the movie and, while you’re at it, check out our classic, acclaimed, riveting expose on the Lost Water Closets of Denmark as well as our recent video from the opening of the pavilion in 1988.

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9 comments to You Are Not The First To Pass This Way…

  • The restroom wasn’t just there to be a restroom, it also contained the equipment room needed to control the parades and special events for that part of World Showcase. When the Norway Pavilion was constructed it had to be built around the existing equipment room without breaking anything.

    A bit of trivia: there is more water on the Norway ride than will fit in the reservoir at the bottom, so the weir dams that split the trough into sections need to be put up if the pumps ever stop, or the water ends up in the gift shop. I can’t tell you how many times we verified this during testing.

  • Ooh! I didn’t know you worked on that pavilion or I would have grilled you previously. There’s something that wasn’t addressed in Martin’s video, and coincidentally I was actually searching around online for more information about it lately with no luck. In fact, I can’t find mention of it anywhere.

    I recall that the Maelstrom’s opening was delayed – or maybe that it even opened briefly and closed back down for a while. There was some technical problem going on, and I remember this well because we’d had a WDW trip booked for after the pavilion had opened and the ride was down when we got there. I did Wonders of Walt Disney World that trip – riding around behind EPCOT was a religious experience for young me – and I vividly remember all the longboats sitting out in the parking lot behind the attraction. The word was at the time that the boats had been flipping over, and we would have had to have gotten that from someone at Disney because there was no WWW back then!

    It’s odd because so much of EPCOT’s construction was pretty well documented, but stories aren’t usually told about Norway because it came later. Lovely pavilion, though. If the ride was longer and on a grander scale it could have been one of the all-time greats. The unloading area has such wonderful atmosphere…

  • If you can find old renderings of the boats, you’ll notice that they used to have much more pronounced prows that stuck up much higher above the gunwales. Hmmm.

  • Oh so… I’ve seen the renderings but just figured any difference was just due to the nature of concept art…

  • Steve – do you have any idea how long the delay was? I can’t recall, and my memory is skewed by the fact that any delay seems like an eternity when you’re 11…

  • Don’t really remember, probably several months.

  • Thanks. I’ve wondered about that for years. I remember it being a pretty big delay, but then suspected I’d conflated it in my mind. And I figured the “boats flipping over” info might have come from a bus driver, which is solid gold information when you’re a kid but later on you realize that it really, really isn’t.

    Besides, when you’re only going once every 1-2 years, one day’s delay can make all the difference.

    I just remember seeing those boats back there in the parking lot and thinking that it was by far the coolest day of my life…

  • Another Voice

    Again through the fog machine of memory, but wasn’t the water issue related to the pumps that needed to recycle the water up to the second floor? I do remember that water level was a constant problem with the attraction. The boats weren’t tipping over, but if the water level was too high they try float out of their guides and get stuck. This is especially true of the “Disappear, Disappear” turntables (which was temperamental on their own). It’s whispered that some of the larger orcs were forced to put on wadders, stand in the water and shove boats around when certain VIPs were visiting before all the mechanics were worked out. I think there may also have been some issues with the ride controls, as WDI was trying out some new computerized systems.

    The biggest problem wasn’t so much the delays but that Eisner felt WDI wasn’t being honest with him. Eisner was anxious to get a “thrill ride” in the hated “boring stupid” park (especailly after all the money had been pissed away on Frank’s “fish tank”).

    Disney had gotten money from several companies and some from the Norwegian government. They were the first of several sponsor groups Eisner hoped to get money from to rebuild EPCOT Center into a “better” park. But each missed deadline, he felt, chipped away at his reputation. With Euro Disney looming, he was afraid of having a bunch of european EPCOT investors saying that Disney couldn’t delivers.

    Naturally, Eisner being Eisner, needed someone to blame. That became Imagineering. And the situation wasn’t being helped at all by even more serious problems with Disneyland’s Splash Mountain. Eisner never, ever, trusted Imagineering again.

  • Ashley

    The video says nothing about a song by the Sherman Brothers, as the description on here said it would.

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