Maelstrom was a boat cruise and traditional film attraction in the Norway pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase. Visitors rode boats that were patterned after Viking ships and passed through scenes with audio-animatronic figures. The attraction featured a 28 foot drop near the climax of the boat ride.
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 re-used in the attraction itself, standing on the rocks after the last drop.