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Red Randal
05-01-2006, 08:04 PM
Over the last few months I've been writing a series of reviews for various Walt Disney World attractions. I include both detailed descriptions and sarcastic comments and I try to make them informative for those who have never been on the ride and want to know what to expect and entertaining for those Disney veterans who are reading my comments.

I recently wrote a review for Maelstrom that I decided to post here to get some comments and provide a little entertainment for the fine folks of Intercot. If it proves popular, I'll try to post a new one every week.

The final rating is out of five possible stars. The information about the ride needs to be highlighted to be viewed, thus allowing those who wish to remain unspoiled to remain so.

Mods: Feel free to pop this somewhere else if you think it belongs in another board.


Maelstrom

Intro: Norway joined Epcot’s World Showcase in the summer of 1988 and offered numerous options for guests, many of which are now overlooked. Maelstrom was originally considered something of a thrill ride but it is really nothing of the sort. In addition to the boat ride, the pavilion hosts an ambitious buffet, a counter service bakery, a recreation of an old Stave church, and a Viking ship themed play area for children. However, the main attraction remains the “high seas adventure” the Maelstrom.

Queue: Inside of the ride building, nestled near the entrance to the Norway pavilion, is a large room where a winding queue is set up leading to the dock on the other side of the room from the entrance. On the wall behind the dock is a large mural depicting scenes from Norway’s past and present ranging from Nordic Vikings to the modern day shipping industries of the country.

Trivia: One of the Vikings on the mural is wearing Mickey Mouse ears.

Ride: Our boat leaves the dock and enters some dark seas. We are lifted up a lift hill and informed that we are neither the first nor the last people to pass through the waters of Norway. Once we reach the top of the hill, we pass by a scene of Norway from long ago. The people of Norway have always loved the sea; the mysterious voice of our narrator informs us. This is evidenced by the Viking ships sailing in the distance. Others, he goes on to inform us, think of Norway as “a land of forests and mystery where trolls still travel the water’s edge.” Apparently they are correct because some trolls happen to be standing around at that very moment. They accuse us of being invaders to their country. The darn narrator is happy to show us around the country until the trolls stop by, and then he is nowhere to be found. C’mon buddy, tell them we’re not invaders! The trolls cast a spell on us to make us disappear. The trolls seem to be unable to fully harness their troll powers because, instead of disappearing, our boat just turns around and starts moving backwards. I could see how they could get the spell for “disappear” confused with “turn around backwards.” It happens to me all the time.

Anyway, the boat keeps moving through the mysterious Norwegian Sea backwards. We pass by some polar bears. Evidently there are polar bears in Norway. I don’t necessarily doubt the validity of this fact; it’s just that the trolls may have tried to cast their disappearing spell again only this time confused it with the spell for “make polar bears appear.” We start moving swiftly backwards through the wilderness and towards…a drop! Just when we think we are about to drop backwards down a hill we discover that it is only a FAKEOUT. The boat returns to traveling in the normal direction, proving that the trolls are even dumber than they look because even their “backwards” spell has now failed.

We keep moving along for a moment, until we go down an actual waterfall this time. It is a really tame drop, but considering most of Disney’s other boat rides past animatronic scenes do not contain drops, it is a pleasant little surprise. It is probably because the other boat rides don’t have trolls. We get dropped into the North Sea where a storm seems to be brewing. The narrator returns to tell us that the spirit of Norway has always been adventure. I thought the spirit of Norway had something to do with the sea and mysterious troll filled forests. We get through the storm and dock in a small fishing village.

The ride, it seems, is over. Oddly, however, we are made to stand around in the small fishing village until enough boats arrive to allow the opening of a set of doors to a theater. Okay, I’m very confused now. The ride is billed as a “High Seas Norwegian Adventure” not a “High Seas Norwegian Adventure and Filmstrip.” Apparently the folks at Disney thought that people would not come en masse for a movie on Norway so they, instead, elected to bribe people with a boat ride and then kidnap them for the film.

The theater doors open and, if you want, you can sneak out the doors on the other side of theater and miss out on the movie. Because I love you guys, I will allow myself to be blackmailed into watching the film. A little kid stands around and looks at an old Viking ship as a narrator babbles about the spirit of Norway some more. It is not the same narrator as in the ride. I would have had a lot more respect for them if they had the same guy come on and be all “hey, seems like you survived the trolls, good for you…” Anyway, the Vikings sail across the ocean while a blacksmith works on an axe of some kind. I have no clue what is going on, this is so bizarre. The Vikings encounter a storm as a helicopter flies overhead. I continue to stare at the screen, baffled. The helicopter lands, the Vikings continue on their way, and then some fire shoots out of somewhere. What in heaven’s name is happening? The kid returns and stares at the Viking ship with the same amount of awe that I am staring at this movie with. The narrator tells us that the spirit of Norway is timelessness. Okay, so we’ve got the sea, the forest, adventure, and timelessness on the list of things the spirit of Norway is.

The scene shifts to a typical fishing village, much like the one we were kidnapped in earlier. A guy starts skiing, presumably in an attempt to promote ESPN’s X-Games. Then the scene switches to a parade which is the narrator’s cue to inform us that the spirit lives in the people. I am assuming this is the spirit of timelessness, although it could probably be adventure also. Soft piano music plays as a little kid waves a Norwegian flag and then some people ride by on a boat. Maybe they have the embodiment of the spirit of the sea. More people do some completely unrelated things like dance ballet and sleep on a lawn chair as the music continues. The five minute travelogue finally comes to an end and we are released to return to World Showcase.

Thoughts: Maelstrom is, without a doubt, one of the strangest experiences at Walt Disney World. It is almost like, when planning the pavilion, they could not decide if they wanted a thrill ride, a movie, or a slow ride with audio-animatronics (like El Rio Del Tiempo) and then just decided to do a little bit of everything.

As far as the boat ride is concerned, Maelstrom is more or less mediocre. It is, by no means, a bad way to get out of the hot Florida sun and see a little bit of Norway in the process. As a thrill ride, it is nothing, although most of it takes place in the dark and it is likely to scare the bejeezus out of little kids. The movie, I think, tries a little too hard to be artsy and uses quick cuts and juxtaposition ineffectively, resulting in the disorientation and general confusion of the viewer. When you put the two together the result is one of the strangest experiences you could undergo at Walt Disney World. I can not bring myself to go much above ** for it, but if you have some extra time it might be worth it for the sheer bizarreness of the whole experience. Be forewarned that hordes of people exit the “Wonders of China” nearby and head right to Norway, so the lines can really fluctuate from five to fifty-five minute waits. Don’t bother trying to ride it when the line gets exceptionally long.

Overall Rating: ** Ľ

Check out my website for an archive of Walt Disney World ride reviews.

skisurf2
05-02-2006, 02:14 AM
I love it, your review was ok. Everyone deserves there point of view. I would hate to see it go, and it is one of my favorite rides at Epcot. Where is your review on Mr. Toads wild adventer and 20000 leauges under the sea?

mickeys_princess
05-02-2006, 03:45 AM
I love it, your review was ok. Everyone deserves there point of view. I would hate to see it go, and it is one of my favorite rides at Epcot.

I agree with you skisurf2. Maelstrom is also one of my favorite rides. It is a must do for us every trip!

MinnieMommie
05-02-2006, 07:55 AM
I would give the maelstrom more stars than you. We enjoy the ride on each trip. I find the total experience of the ride to be more enjoyable than the sum of the pieces you have identified. I find the ride fun, relaxing and a bit exciting. Love the backward drop. I think as long as people are not expecting a thrill ride they will not be disappointed. :magic:

Spaceship Tigger
05-02-2006, 07:56 AM
I think the ride is pretty good, just a little short. What I don't understand is why the movie at the end is attached to the ride. Why not have the movie as a separate attraction for people that want to see it? It's a little strange to get off the ride and then have to wait at the theater doors to either see the movie or exit the building.

Jared
05-02-2006, 09:26 AM
I agree with your sentiments about Maelstrom. We will experience the attraction if we have time, but do not make a point of riding.

Your review is very thorough and I enjoyed reading your work. Feel free to continue posting.

:D

DisneyorBust
05-02-2006, 10:03 AM
DisneyorBust Dad here,
We always enjoy a boat ride on the Maelstrom!
We tried to see the Norway movie for the first time last year, tried being the operative word. The doors opened, we picked seats and waited and waited...you get the idea. We ended up leaving without ever seeing the movie, maybe this year.

castlelady36
05-02-2006, 10:55 AM
I love this ride and never miss it!! :) I do wish it were longer and we did not have to wait to exit for the movie which we have seen and one time was good enough.

Sora777
05-02-2006, 10:57 AM
what exactly is this ride? We didnt go on it last time because I'm not a fan of most rides. I tend to get a little motion sickness. Though some I can handle. What is the drop like?

Coleby
05-02-2006, 11:04 AM
what exactly is this ride? We didnt go on it last time because I'm not a fan of most rides. I tend to get a little motion sickness. Though some I can handle. What is the drop like?


Have you ever ridden POTC? This drop is tamer than that one. You are in a bigger boat so you don't feel the effect quite as much. But if you can handle POTC drop, then you can handle this one!

cperry92380
05-02-2006, 11:19 AM
This ride is not one I make a point to do on each visit. It's more of a 'get out of the sun and rest' kind of ride for me. And the seats are HORRIABLY uncomfortable. My last ride was the worst, the ride was so bumpy that my backbone kept grinding into the back of the seat... OUCH!!!

BuzzLightbeer
05-02-2006, 11:31 AM
I'm a little confused as to what purpose this type of post serves. I'm not trying to put a damper on what you are hoping to accomplish with this. However, I do wonder what you are looking for as responses. For example, are you looking for critiques of your writing technique, differences of opinion on your rating, or are you merely presenting a play-by-play of the ride?

I'm just curious. I've ridden the Maelstrom every single time I visit WDW, and to this day I fail to grow tired of the attraction. Both of my children love the ride, and beg to ride it, after of course we ride Test Track and Soarin'. :thumbsup:

:mickey:


BUZZ

Red Randal
05-02-2006, 03:10 PM
I'm a little confused as to what purpose this type of post serves. I'm not trying to put a damper on what you are hoping to accomplish with this. However, I do wonder what you are looking for as responses. For example, are you looking for critiques of your writing technique, differences of opinion on your rating, or are you merely presenting a play-by-play of the ride?

Perfectly fair question. I tried creating and promoting my own website which would contain many of these reviews, but that has proved quite time consuming and more or less fruitless because I do not have the money to afford much more than a free Angelfire domain. At the same time, there is a captive audience of Disney fans here at Intercot that I figured would likely enjoy the reviews.

The purpose of the reviews would be to:
1. Give an in depth description of what the ride is like for those who have never ridden. (Much like a movie review.)
2. Provide entertainment for those who have been on the ride, which is why I include a lot of the sarcasm and jokes.
3. Give me writing experience that I can hopefully use when I get out of college.

If people want to respond with constructive criticism of the writing style, they are welcome to. If you want to discuss the ride, feel free. If you want to debate why I am an idiot for not liking Maelstrom or a genious for touting the greatness of Sounds Dangerous or whatever, go right ahead.

I have noticed the popularity of posts about the week in Disney history, the week's Disney television schedule, etc. I thought I'd try to see if this kind of post can fit into that niche.

I hope that I have addressed your concerns. Thanks for the questions and comments from everybody.

MinnieMommie
05-02-2006, 10:33 PM
Perfectly fair question. I tried creating and promoting my own website which would contain many of these reviews, but that has proved quite time consuming and more or less fruitless because I do not have the money to afford much more than a free Angelfire domain. At the same time, there is a captive audience of Disney fans here at Intercot that I figured would likely enjoy the reviews.

The purpose of the reviews would be to:
1. Give an in depth description of what the ride is like for those who have never ridden. (Much like a movie review.)
2. Provide entertainment for those who have been on the ride, which is why I include a lot of the sarcasm and jokes.
3. Give me writing experience that I can hopefully use when I get out of college.

If people want to respond with constructive criticism of the writing style, they are welcome to. If you want to discuss the ride, feel free. If you want to debate why I am an idiot for not liking Maelstrom or a genious for touting the greatness of Sounds Dangerous or whatever, go right ahead.

I have noticed the popularity of posts about the week in Disney history, the week's Disney television schedule, etc. I thought I'd try to see if this kind of post can fit into that niche.

I hope that I have addressed your concerns. Thanks for the questions and comments from everybody.

You did a nice job making this sound like a movie review. When I was reading it earlier I thought it had the feel of a movie review. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more of your ride reviews even if I may not agree with them! :magic:

mamatedd
05-02-2006, 11:36 PM
I look forward to reading more reviews from you! :mickey: I think it's a great way to open up a discussion about a particular ride! BTW, we agreed with this review of Maelstrom. It was mediocre fun after a long wait in line and we felt semi- hijacked, not being able to exit after the ride, with a screaming one year old, waiting for the theater doors to open. :( We will only try it again this year if it has a short line! :mickey:

Evan52
05-04-2006, 03:49 AM
Nice post and great review! I love the "Maelstrom" and it's always a must-do on my list! I always enjoy seeing the trolls!

Has anyone ever eaten at the Norway buffet? I didn't even though this was there. I'm a bit hesitant when it comes to trying different foods but I'm curious as to how the buffet is.

DizNee143
05-04-2006, 12:10 PM
great review!!
i was cracking up with some of the things you said!! lol good job!! can wait to read more of your reviews!! :mickey:

just2mickey
05-04-2006, 01:59 PM
I like it. Seeing that Pirates will be closed when we go in June, I am looking forward to something along the lines of a ship. It is cool and I wish that every country had a ride of sorts.

PinKy
05-04-2006, 02:13 PM
I think its a great idea to have ride reviews! It definitely opens up the discussion to see what everyone has to say about the ride.

I enjoy the Maelstrom - but I have never thought of it as an 'adventure' ride and certainly not a thrill ride. I view it more like an educational sort.

SpecJoe Magic
05-04-2006, 03:22 PM
I view Maelstrom as a mediocre experience that could have been top-notch with more thought and effort put into its design. The Norway combination of Vikings and trolls makes for many possibilities, but what we get is two chopped up themes combined into a short but fairly entertaining experience. The movie at the end needs to be removed and the doors to the theater left open so that guests can exit freely once the boat ride is over without having to wait on a certain amount of people. The movie is outdated and, as you said in your review, very confusing. Overall, I agree with your assessment of Maelstrom, but I give it 3 stars simply because I really like the narration and Viking eye at the beginning of the ride and the 3-headed troll is an unique, well-done audio-animatronic. It's not a must-do for me, but I do enjoy it if there is a short wait time.

As an aside, does anyone else agree with me that one of the troll's heads has a voice that sounds almost exactly like one of the birds from the Tiki Room? Both in the Maelstrom and in the Tiki Room, the voice says the exact same word in the same tone, "disappear!" Maybe I'm just imagining it.

SBETigg
05-04-2006, 05:16 PM
I thought the spirit of Norway was Aquavit? :thumbsup:

Great review. I loved the little quips and comments. I also enjoyed the trivia up front. I disagree with the rating- it's three and a half stars here. The main problem is that Maelstrom is too short. I've never once stayed for the film.

You should post more of these. Fun! Thanks for sharing.

Bobby T
05-08-2006, 04:57 PM
Definitely enjoyed the review, and will visit your website to sample some of the others. I like when I come across a unique and clever post like this.

One thing I was surprised you didn't mention was the overall LOUDNESS of the movie.

WEDTOPIA
05-08-2006, 09:49 PM
Excellent format for your reviews. While I do disagree with you on this one ,I look forward to more thoughtful reviews like it.
By my system ,I give Maelstrom a 4 .It's on my must-do list for Epcot . For me , it only loses points because of it's brevity. It contains all the elements of a good dark ride. A little history , Audio-Animatronics , a surprise or 2 , and a mild thrill. True ,it is a little strange , but it's also unique and that's what I love about Disney. I think the movie is fine , but not something you have to see every trip. At least you're given the option of by-passing it. And the wait in the Norwegian fishing village isn't so bad anyway , since it's well themed. By the way ,I just rode this yesterday ,so it's fresh in my mind.

Maelstrom is exactly the kind of ride that's needed in Italy ,Germany , and the United Kingdom. Just theme it accordingly to each country. Wouldn't even have to be any longer in duration. That's something to dream about.

:mickey:

Poohluv85
05-08-2006, 10:06 PM
I loved your review, it was really thorough and made me laugh. Your a very talented writer.

Red Randal
10-02-2007, 12:42 AM
Bump! Happy Birthday Epcot!

ibelieveindisneymagic
10-02-2007, 09:52 AM
Thanks so much for your review!!

I'm not a fan of thrill rides, and DH tells me that Malestrom is too scarey...but geesh, maybe he is just keeping the trolls to himself!

Seriously, I loved your review, and it has convinced me to give this a try on our next trip :tiphat:

4ubie1
10-02-2007, 10:32 AM
I do agree that this attraction is not really a thrill ride but not really an easy going ride..it kindof sits right in the middle. But i do have to say that i enjoy this one. It is a nice break from everything but if there is much of a line, then i skip it. I do also like your review..the trolls not knowing how to cast a disappearing curse.. :haha: priceless!!

poeticeclipse
10-02-2007, 10:33 AM
Maybe it's my heritage and maybe it's the fond memories but Maelstrom means a lot to me and I would be crushed to see it go. It's a ride that my mother and I still enjoy together. We both get so excited and play along when we're about to "fall over" the edge. It's not the most interesting ride and not the most thrilling but it's a fun break from the Florida heat.

MickeyandTink
10-02-2007, 05:02 PM
I do agree that this attraction is not really a thrill ride but not really an easy going ride..it kindof sits right in the middle. But i do have to say that i enjoy this one. It is a nice break from everything but if there is much of a line, then i skip it. I do also like your review..the trolls not knowing how to cast a disappearing curse.. :haha: priceless!!

:ditto:

The ride is a nice break and enjoyable enough, but that film could really stand to be updated. Why anyone would want to see it more than once (if that), I'll never know.

GrmGrninGost
10-02-2007, 08:27 PM
Maelstrom is not my favorite ride, but I do enjoy it. I would score it 3.5 stars. I also like the movie. It would be wonderful to see some of the other EPCOT pavillions offer similar types of rides. :mickey: