Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Ode to Maelstrom

By Ryan Reed

The loss of the Maelstrom has affected every Disney fan, young or old. With the news of Frozen coming in and replacing a classic, and somewhat underrated attraction, the announcement has been met with an overwhelming amount of opposition. I could go on and on with the politics, opinions, and traditions people have raised when arguing against this decision but I want to avoid that. So much negativity has come from this, and I understand why. Disney fans are passionate about this wonderful place; the negativity is spawning from this passion. The opposition isn’t all negative, the fact that so many people care tells me it’s coming from positive intentions. Today, though, I simply want to go back and take a look at Maelstrom and why it was on my “Must Do” (multiple times) list every time I made my trip to Disney World. Continue after the page break for more...

Originally titled “SeaVenture” as shown here during construction.

My sister and I always got a kick out of the kid in the blue knit hat.

This was such a unique attraction. It’s a classic Disney dark boat ride but it has such an original feel to it. Stumbling upon this ride as a kid made it something special to me. I never knew of it; I didn’t think there were rides in World Showcase. It quickly became a must do on every visit. It offered a breathe of fresh air, something exciting instead of walking around and looking at things; as a kid, Epcot didn’t excite me too much. It was a ride not many first, second, third, or even fourth time visitors knew about. To me, it felt like an unknown attraction that only us Disneyphiles really appreciated.

The waterfront village was so well done.

Like so many places in Walt Disney World, Maelstrom offers a sense of nostalgia for me, just as Space Mountain or Haunted Mansion does. I get this because of the great memories created with my family on this ride. We loved the trolls, we loved the Polar Bears, we LOVED the little village at the end, and, my personal favorite, the scene with the Oil Rig. We shared so many laughs exiting through the gift shop. Between the Viking hats and big-nosed Troll, we captured some priceless pictures that I’ll always cherish.

My favorite scene.

I wanted to have my sister share her thoughts on the attraction as we have always loved it and have talked about its closing in depth. She echoed many of the opinions I have....


"Maelstrom was such a unique ride that was achieved through its environment and setting (which Disney excels at in all of their rides and parks). It was almost a hidden gem that many Disney fanatics knew about but new Disney fans may miss. Just walking up to Norway, seeing the waterfall and the back of the passenger’s boats as they turn around was something I was excited to see. Even things as little as the voiceover throughout the ride and the little town you’re in when you exit the boats was awesome. I’m sad to see it go."

This used to terrify me as a child.

The polar bears will be missed.

Opened on July 5th 1988, Maelstrom was added just a month after the official opening of World Showcase’s newest pavilion, Norway. With its closing date set for October 5th 2014, it will have been in operation for just over 26 years. It’s not the longest ride, with a duration of about five minutes. It’s not the tallest, the highest drop is 28 feet, and it isn’t an E Ticket attraction but it’s one of the most unique in Walt Disney World. These original attractions, versus attractions based on an existing franchise, are something I hope Disney keeps around. I won’t get into this now, as it is a topic I would like to save for another day, but the closing of Maelstrom for a movie franchise only adds to my concern. For now, those of you who can experience this great attraction before it closes, do so! It will soon just be a memory, a picture, and a legend of Walt Disney World. The closing of an attraction has never affected me as much as this one; it will truly be missed. I’d love to hear your favorite memories, or parts of the ride in the comment sections below. But now, let’s raise our School Breads, Mickey Bars, or Dole Whips and toast to an attraction that will never be forgotten or duplicated: to the Maelstrom!


  1. Nice tribute. I'm in agreement. Maelstrom was a classic in keeping with what World Showcase was and should be about.

  2. Is Epcot moving away from its "permanent world's fair" theming to become another Disney merchandising park? Sad. Very sad.

  3. I just don't understand the need to take something that depicts Norwegian history out and replace it with a land that doesn't exist in Norway. The World Showcase was supposed to showcase different countries and what makes each of them great. It's wrong. You want to add Frozen to Fantasy land, great or make a whole separate park for it, good too, but this just doesn't make sense to me.

  4. I don't get it. Put "Frozen" in Fantasyland, keep this. Maybe we can get a particular character in the ride to tell the Imagineers to "GO BACK!"!!!

  5. How many annual pass holders does it take to change a lightbulb at a Disney Theme Park? Well, it only takes one. But it takes hundreds to commiserate about how they liked the old burned out one better.