Why Frozen coming to Epcot is a bad thing

Call me old fashion, but I think Disney’s decision to replace Norway’s Maelstrom attraction with one inspired by the massively popular Frozen is a bad idea. A really bad idea. And it’s not that I’m a huge fan of trolls or particularly care about Norway or have an irrational dislike for Frozen (in fact, I rather enjoyed it.)

Here’s my objection. Frozen has nothing to do with Norway itself. The movie is set in a fictional, vaguely Scandinavian land called Arrendelle. It may have been inspired by Norway, and I’m sure there’s several Disney obsessive types who will be quick to point out why I’m wrong here. To me though, the great thing about Epcot was that it was one of the few popular attractions in the U.S., or in Disney World for that matter, that bothered to care about other cultures. Part of the attraction of the place (pun very much intended) was that you could walk around the World Showcase, have a drink or two, actually talk to folks who lived in the different countries represented, and maybe learn a thing or two about some place that wasn’t ‘Merica.

That may seem a lame or flimsy excuse in the face of thousands of screaming Elsa wannabes (and the millions of dollars that they and their families will likely spend at “Fro-way” on cheap tiaras and Olaf plush toys), but it was a very real experience and kinda/sorta the whole point of Epcot in the first place. It’s akin to replacing the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom or The American Experience with Lightning McQueen and Mater (Wait, forget I mentioned that. Don’t blame me when that happens next year.)

And yes I realize that Disney has integrated other fictional attractions and characters into existing countries before (think Mary Poppins in the UK and maybe Mulan in China), but at least these fictional characters were set in very real places, even if Dick Van Dyke’s English accent was the greatest American insult to our former colonial masters since some tea was dumped into Boston Harbor a few hundred years ago. Frozen doesn’t even have this kind of connection.

Anyway, the decision has been made. I’m sure it will be wildly popular, make a gajillion dollars, be sold out for months in advance, and help the inevitable Frozen 2 open to record numbers. And that’s fine. Just don’t call it Norwegian, and don’t pretend that it’s part of what Epcot was meant to be.



Posted on September 12, 2014, in Tao of JLo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Jimmy, excellent points as always. I have always enjoyed the divide between Magic Kingdom and the world showcase. Put as much Disney commercialization as desired in MK, but allow that side of Epcot to be a pure (and admittedly somewhat syrupy, glossy) version of world culture, with any Disney branding bleeding over to the other part of Epcot. It chaps me even more considering Maelstrom was probably my favorite attraction to escape the heat in that part of the park.

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