For the first time: Frozen Ever After

If you look closely at the photo below, showing my ecstatic children out front of the brand-new Frozen Ever After ride, you’ll spy the posted wait time for the standby entrance reads 15 minutes. 15 minutes, folks. Practically unheard of for an attraction based on a blockbuster movie that had opened its doors just a few weeks prior. No wonder those kids are grinning – they weren’t subjected to a two-hour-plus wait in line for the chance to float through Elsa’s ice palace. Not uncommon in the early days of the attraction if the riders were without FP+.

We hadn’t the luck to snag a FP+ for our first ride on this plum attraction. Instead, we set the alarm extra-early at the nearby Walt Disney World Dolphin, hopped on the water taxi and arrived at the International Gateway entrance of Epcot by 8:30. Bag check and the turnstiles are much quicker at this entrance as opposed to the main gates of Epcot, and we were permitted to travel counter-clockwise around World Showcase to the Norway Pavilion ahead of official park opening time (9am). A mere 15-minute wait was the reward for being early birds.

Mourning the original Maelstrom

Despite the whole family’s soft spot for Frozen, there’s always a pang for the past when an original attraction is replaced. In this case, the sisters from Arendelle ousted the tenant trolls from Maelstrom, which opened at Epcot in 1988. But “those who seek the spirit of Nor-vay” – take some comfort: Frozen Ever After follows the same flume track layout and uses the same Viking ship vehicles as its predecessor. Gone, however, are the ferocious polar bear, the old oil rig and the little seaside village the boat docked in before you were ushered into the theater.

In their places are the village square of Arendelle — a lovely, immersive queue that includes Wandering Oaken’s sauna — an ice skating Olaf, Kristoff and Anna in harmony, and her Majesty, Queen Elsa, belting out her anthem from a glittering ice palace.

The infusion of the Frozen sisters into the Norway Pavilion – going further, the inclusion of a fantasy kingdom (albeit one with a Scandanavian spirit) into World Showcase — was, and continues to be, a hot debate. Families with young children (such as ours) point out that an attraction that holds kids’ interest in World Showcase benefits the adults who want to spend more time appreciating the architecture and other cultural exhibits.  While we all agreed we would miss Maelstrom, Frozen Ever After won us over after that first ride and we welcome its addition to World Showcase.

Location: Frozen Ever After is located in the Norway Pavilion in the World Showcase section of Epcot Theme Park, Walt Disney World Resort.

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