Yesterday, it was reported by The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia Facebook page about changes coming to the Norway Pavilion:
The international program Cast Members at the Norway Pavilion have been informed that attractions and merchandise positions at the pavilion will not exist beyond the end of September. CM’s with contracts in October and beyond are being offered transfers and training in Food/Beverage. Recruitment for Fall/Winter attractions/merchandise has been canceled.
Just word of this rumored change caused a spike in the wait time for Malestrom to 60 to 80 minutes as people assume the rumored changes going to convert the Norway Pavilion into the Kingdom of Arendelle with Anna and Elsa taking over the area.
This information sounds like Disney has come to a decision about the future of the Norway Pavilion. Disney and Norway had been in discussions about who should pay for any future changes/upgrades/refurbishments to the pavilion. Norway was balking at paying $9 million for the upgrade to the pavilion. I wrote an article about this situation a couple of weeks ago: Who Should Pay for Any Changes to the Norway Pavilion?
The conclusion that I came to was: who ever pays for the changes has the right to make the changes as they see fit. If Norway paid the $9 millions either directly from the Norwegian government or from sponsors, they have the right to dictate the changes and keep Arendelle out of the pavilion. If Disney paid the $9 million and they want to change Norway into Arendelle, that’s their right. Now, it looks like, nothing has been confirmed nor denied by Disney, that Disney is footing the bill. As a result, they dictate what changes/upgrades/refurbishments are made to the pavilion. Those who have the gold win.
In my opinion, this is a bad idea
Disney would set a very bad precedent in this case. The World Showcase is meant for people to tour the world and learn about other cultures that they may not have the means to experience without the World Showcase. The World Showcase and EPCOT is FOR LEARNING not for promoting Disney movies and tv shows. Yes, you may find a Disney character or two in a pavilion. But they do not take over the pavilion. The country is the star of the show not the film. This decision now make the film and characters the star of the pavilion.
Disney would holds the remaining 10 countries of the World Pavilion hostage. If a situation like this arises again, Disney can remind the country about what happened to the Norway pavilion and do they really want that to happen to their pavilion. Mulan could become the star of the show in China, Snow White and Rapunzel in Germany, The Aristocats in France, and Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco. A battle royale could ensue in The United Kingdom between Merida, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, and Winnie the Pooh for the rights to the star.
Again, this was not Walt’s intent or even the original purpose of EPCOT. Disney characters need not enter EPCOT. I believe in the early days of EPCOT, you could not find characters in EPCOT. They were only in the Magic Kingdom. As time went on, the characters started to enter the park as a way to keep children entertained at EPCOT. I remember going to EPCOT, as a kid, and being bored after about an hour. There was nothing engaging about the park. It was big science and history museum. This was in the mid 80’s.
Now flash forward 20 years and I return to EPCOT with my family and it’s an entirely different park. There were characters to keep my daughter entertained through good portion of the day and the KidCOT stations helped as well. There was still science and history in the park and it sat side-by-side in a healthy balance with the Disney characters.
Should the Norway pavilion become Arendelle, this balance will have been lost. Arendelle is a fictional place. There is nothing historic or scientific about Arendelle. Arendelle is a fictitious place from a movie. This makes it better suited for Hollywood Studios or even Fantasyland.
What is this potential decision really about?
This potential decision, in my opinion, is about what a lot of decisions….$$$$$. Frozen has made a lot of money for Disney. The Frozen Summer Fun has proved to be a great success in Hollywood Studios. Disney wants to continue this success and money train going. There really isn’t room to add an attraction in New Fantasyland especially with the completion of New Fantasyland occurring earlier this summer when the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was completed. Hollywood Studios also makes sense to put in a Frozen attraction and continue the Frozen Summer Fun into Frozen Fall/Winter Fun. However, Disney has hinted that a Star Wars expansion could soon becoming to Hollywood Studios. Disney may not want to add so much so soon to one park. That leaves Animal Kingdom and EPCOT as landing places for Frozen.
As a result, Disney decides to play hardball with Norway over upgrading/refurbishing the pavilion. Disney knows that if Norway balks or can’t find sponsors to pay the $9 million, then Disney can turn Norway into Arendelle. But in doing so, they are completely going against the philosophy that EPCOT was built on.
In conclusion. I see this move as Disney going for short term gains over the long term image and direction of the park. Frozen is and will continue to be popular but for how long. Will Disney be in the position of having really long lines for any new Frozen attractions that come to a new Norway/Arendelle pavilion but then in a year or two after everyone has had the experience the lines and wait times become much shorter. This proposed change should pull away from the Anna and Elsa meet and greet and into EPCOT. However, tearing out one of the things that makes EPCOT unique should not be a by-product of this proposed change.
What do you think about this rumored changed now that is getting closer to reality than rumor? Answer our poll question.
The Dad For Disney Facebook group will be have a giveaway when the group reaches 500 members and I return from my Disney trip at the end of the month. The giveaway, at this time, is undetermined. More details will be announced as we get closer to the giveaway.
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