Pros: Fun Maelstrom ride; famous school bread; short walk from Future World.
Cons: Can be very crowded; lack of seating; expensive merchandise.
. . . Nor shall you be the last.
This quote from the Maelstrom attraction in Epcot’s Norway pavilion feels especially apt after one spends some time flanked on either side by a mass of humanity in the often-chaotic queue area for this popular ride. While not my very favorite of the Epcot “countries” due to the typical crowding and lack of seating, the Norwegian pavilion certainly has its positives and merits a stop on your stroll around the world.
No matter what time Epcot itself opens, the World Showcase, including Germany, nearly always remains closed until 11:00 a.m. There is, of course, an exception for those who have an early breakfast reservation at Norway’s character dining experience. Norway is the second country encountered when touring in a clockwise direction around the World Showcase lagoon.
Epcot’s version of this country offers a charming version of a Norwegian village including a number of stone and wood-fronted shops and restaurants. The surrounding foliage is mostly forest-like with a few blooms for color. Needless to say, Vikings and trolls abound. As hinted above, Norway, like Mexico before it, tends to become more crowded than the remaining countries likely due to the presence of a ride as well as its placement early in the World Showcase circle. We like to visit here early in the day and save some of the more relaxing countries (Germany, Italy, Japan) for the evening.
Things to See and Do
The big attraction here is The Maelstrom, a short water ride through Norwegian history with a couple of exciting moments and a brief flume at the end. While it’s no Splash Mountain, this is a fun, well-designed ride that should be experienced by most Epcot visitors. Although FASTPASS is available, we don’t find it particularly convenient to use here due to the ride’s location. If we want to ride, usually just bite the bullet and wait in line as long as it isn’t longer than twenty minutes or so. There is a brief video at the ride’s end which guests have the option to view or bypass. We’ve watched it a few times over the year’s to be polite, but it isn’t something we need to see every visit.
Visitors are deposited directly from the movie theater into The Puffin’s Roost, Norway’s multi-roomed gift emporium. Other than an obligatory photo with the giant wooden troll and the excellent air conditioning, I’ve never found too much to interest me here. The merchandise includes wool clothing, glassware, and other upscale Norwegian goods. While I’m sure all of the items are of fine quality, the price point is quite high compared to some of the other offerings around the “world.” Baby_chelledun did take a nice nap here on our last visit.
Those looking for a more subdued and educational Norwegian experience can check out the exhibit Vikings: Conquerers of the Sea at the recreated Norwegian church. While it’s always nice to have an indoor option to explore, I find the colorful folk art display at the Mexico pavilion next door much more fun to look at. Perhaps it just fits in better with the theme park spirit.
Things to Eat and Drink
It is unusual for me to eat anything during my time in Norway. The big dining draw is the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, which now hosts a Disney Princess dining experience throughout the day. While I’m no Norwegian scholar, I seriously question the authenticity of a breakfast menu that includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and potato casserole. That and the insanely steep price tag for adult meals ($38.33 for breakfast, $42.59 for dinner!) have kept me from trying this venue.
We do sometimes pop into the Kringla Bakeri og Café, which offers lighter fare. This small counter service ship is most famous for its Norwegian school bread, a custard-stuffed, coconut covered pastry that is revered on Disney fan sites across the internet. A selection of danish and a sandwich menu are also available. As I’m personally not a fan of coconut, I’m much more likely to save my snack calories for caramel-covered goodies at the fabulous German Karamelle-Kuche two stops down the road.
Finally, Norway does offer a stand-alone beer cart featuring Bud Light and Carlsberg. This, I have no complaints about. Due to its location, Norway makes a good “last call” stop before the long walk back to the front of Future World and the park exit.
Overall . . .
Norway’s Maelstrom, probably the best attraction offered in any of the Epcot countries, is independently sufficient to justify making the trek back to the World Showcase. Other than that, this country isn’t really my favorite due to the frequent crowding and lack of outdoor seating. Your mileage may vary, but I recommend popping in, enjoying the ride and movie, and grabbing some school bread if you are so inclined before moving on to China.