Maelstrom was a boat cruise and traditional film attraction in the Norway pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot. Visitors rode boats that were patterned after Viking ships and passed through scenes with audio-animatronic figures. It featured a 28 foot drop near its climax.
When a Norway Pavilion was put into development for Epcot, a boat ride based around Norse mythology was proposed, given the name Sea Venture. Taking the form of a journey through mystical lands and trolls to find a rainbow bridge to Valhalla, with a theme song written by the Sherman Brothers. However, the Norwegian sponsors desired something with a broader scope, turning into a history of Norway from folklore to the present. With limited ride time however, much of these elements would be compressed into a journey strung together by the narration of Odin. A post-show film would cover additional travelogue material.
The North Sea storm ending was originally set to feature more ambitious effects with pouring rain, wind, crashing waves, and lightning provided by a functional Tesla coil, though the latter was deemed too much of a safety hazard and was replaced by simple strobe effects. The Sea Venture name remained very late in development, far enough that a marquee with the name was produced and briefly installed, before the final name change to Maelstrom.
The ride first took guests back to a mythological version of Norway's Viking days, travelling up a waterfall. The boats passed through scenes of seafarers and Vikings.
The boats then entered an enchanted swamp where they were forced backwards down a waterfall by angry trolls. The boats then floated rapidly past scenes of polar bears and living trees before coming to a stop on the edge of another waterfall, exposed to the Norway pavilion's main thoroughfare.
After rotating back to a forward-facing position, the boats plunged forward into the stormy North Sea. The boats passed dangerously close to an oil rig and the ride came to an abrupt end in a calm harbor.
After the ride, the guests disembarked and had the option of watching a 5-minute film highlighting the history and folklore of Norway.
See Hidden Mickey
- In the ride's loading area, a large painted mural included many people and elements from Norway's history. Hidden in this painting was a Viking whose helmet had Mickey Mouse ears, and another figure wearing a Mickey Mouse watch.
- Inside the church, King Olaf II had a Mickey embroidered on his tunic, near his right thigh.
- Though the ride has since been retooled into Frozen Ever After, references to Maelstrom can now be found in the queue for the Meet-and-Greet with Anna and Elsa next door; most notably a tapestry depicting the three headed troll and the rock ogre. Additionally, puffin figures were reused in the attraction itself, standing on the rocks after the last drop. Also, the swirling light effects on the ceiling when the boat is sent back during the "Let It Go" sequence was the same one used for the "Troll Valley" scene where the guests are pushed back over the falls by the troll's spell.