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The 2 MAJOR Changes Rumored to be Coming to Walt Disney World's Epcot

Big changes are rumored to be coming to Epcot in the near future.

Though Hollywood Studios is often viewed as the Walt Disney World park most in need of refurbishment, Epcot's attendance has been growing at smaller and smaller levels over the years, and some of the attractions at the park (specifically in the Future World area) have been showing their age.

However, there it looks like there are some big plans in the future for Epcot , that include both Future World and World Showcase. Of course, none of these developments have been confirmed by Disney, but two have some pretty strong sources behind them, and could be announced officially by the end of the year.

1. Frozen is coming to Norway 

Image © Disney

It’s no secret that Walt Disney World has big plans for its latest animated blockbuster, and it looks like the Norway pavilion could be ground zero for a permanent Frozen experience in the parks.

The biggest target will be the aging Maelstrom ride, which is rumored to be getting a complete gut. Instead of featuring the history of Norway, the ride will instead feature elements from the film.

In addition to the updated ride, there are whispers that the Norway-themed areas will be cut down to a single shop. According to a video posted online by a Norwegian news station, Disney has told interested parties that unless the Norwegian government invests $9 million in refurbishing the Norway pavilion, then the plans to re-theme the area as the Kingdom of Arendelle (with just a hint of Norway sprinkled in) will move forward.

According to the same video report, plans have already been drawn up for the big Frozen refurbishment, and the current Maelstrom could see its final boat launch this October (which would line up with reports claiming that FastPass+ availability for this attraction has been cut off past August). Looks like several commenters have confirmed that they have FastPass+ reservations for Maelstrom in September, so this part of the rumor was thankfully unfounded. 

You can check out the video for yourself below (make sure to watch it with English subtitles on), but keep in mind that none of this is official or confirmed by Disney. 

It’s hard to imagine an area of the World’s Showcase being dedicated to a single Disney movie, but this story seems pretty plausible, especially as rumors have been swirling about a Frozen attraction coming to the parks ever since January.

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There are 53 comments.

The countries at Epcot should be about the countries not the characters. To have something from Frozen is fine but to gut the country (and only have one shop) making it a Frozen themed area is wrong in my opinion. And, the fascination with Frozen will probably be short lived and then what?

I totally agree - please don't put Frozen in Norway. Don't ruin the ethos of the world showcase and let it be as it is - about the people and the culture; world peace and harmony, not a greed fest. Shame

I agree Lisa!

I totally agree, Lisa. I can understand them needing to update Epcot -- but don't bring the characters into it. Epcot was opened as a learning center and I wish it would go back to that.

I also feel like completely overhauling an entire pavilion is not the best choice, but I think retheming the ride or adding a new ride based on the film would be a welcome addition to families with children. Also, the biggest recent new addition to WDW is based on Snow White, a movie from 1937. While the huge excitement will die down, I don't think the interest will go away. These princess movies clearly stay popular for a very long time.

I agree

I totally agree. The purpose of the world showcase is to learn about and experience the countries. Adding frozen in would be ok, but don't replace what is there.

I totally agree. The purpose of the world showcase is to learn about and experience the countries. Adding frozen in would be ok, but don't replace what is there.

I think Epcot is in dire need of a major facelift and restructure. What should those be? I won't even try to pretend that I know better than the folks at Disney. I will just say that Epcot is our least favorite park

I agree that Epcot needs a face lift, but not in the world showcase as much as the rest of the park. Everything is too far apart, and many of the attractions are lame. It seems to me that they have plenty of room to build at Epcot without closing any current attractions.

I think Epcot is in dire need of a major facelift and restructure. What should those be? I won't even try to pretend that I know better than the folks at Disney. I will just say that Epcot is our least favorite park

Personally, I hated "Frozen". Didn't like the story, think the songs are lousy, and was overall very disappointed with it......so to replace Maelstrom with that garbage is just wrong. A bad move on Disney's part. If they want a "Frozen"-based attraction, they should take out one of the meet-n-greet spots over at MK and put in a dark ride.

For Soarin' (one of my favorite WDW attractions), I'm very pleased they'll be adding another theater to try and cut wait times down. Also re-doing the movie is (as you stated), long overdue and will be most welcome.

I think making Mailstrom Frozen themed is fine, but I don't think Norway should be turned into an entire Frozen themed area. I do, however, think that additional countries should be added to the World Showcase. I think Brazil and Australia would be great choices (both could have signature dining steakhouses). I also think adding a little Ireland between Canada and the UK would be good for the World Showcase also. As for Soarin', instead of replacing it entirely, they should keep California, and add "A Whole New World" ride separately so guests will have two options, hopefully lessening the wait lines. I'm sure guests would ride both each time they visit Epcot - I know I would. I would greatly miss the California Soarin' if it totally went away, and I think a lot of other guests would also.

Please DO NOT change the concept of World Showcase by incorporating characters into it! I Love EPCOT and always have because it IS educational and for ADULTS and not so much for ill behaved screaming over tired children!
As a FL native I can say it's the park I have visited most often. It is showing it's age and could use the addition of new countries NOT the latest Disney movie character!!! MK, AK, & HS are for characters & movies!
Soarin' is in need of new movies that maybe showcase National Parks and their natural splendor that aren't as easy to see for most.

Leave Norway alone, maybe give it a facelift but do not add frozen. There is a perfect building to house frozen with plenty of room the old Body Wars. It's a wasted building now just used for a home base for the different theme times like the Flower and Garden festival.

We love Epcot, but yes there could be some updates done. As far as the countries go I really would hate to see Epcot lose Norway. It is about Norway and shouldn't reflect anything to do with a Disney movie. Anything to do with a movie should be put either in Future World, as was done with Nemo, or in another park. Any changes to Norway should still be about Norway. Norway and America are my two favorite countries, followed at a close third by Canada.

Any plan to turn Norway (or any other part of World Showcase) into a movie themed Disney marketing palace would certainly detract from the overall theme of Epcot. If Norway's government is unwilling to step up and fund the re-do, what about corporate entities from Norway?

I agree it would distract from the EPCOT theme but as far as funding, what about Disney stepping up with the cash? Disney probably tries to convince the countries that this is a great form of tourism advertising for the countries, but let's be real, Disney is the one making the money on this.

I also don't agree with incorporating disney movies into the World Showcase. I wasn't a fan of changing the aquarium into finding Nemo, either. I love the possibility of a new movie at Soarin. It's our favorite, but needs to be upgraded. I'd like to see each theater with a separate movie, so you can pick your experience - America, Europe and Asia as separate rides...

I also don't agree with incorporating disney movies into the World Showcase. I wasn't a fan of changing the aquarium into finding Nemo, either. I love the possibility of a new movie at Soarin. It's our favorite, but needs to be upgraded. I'd like to see each theater with a separate movie, so you can pick your experience - America, Europe and Asia as separate rides...

The World Showcase is just that...World Showcase. Putting a Frozen theme there will take away from the feeling of going through the countries. Why not put Frozen in Hollywood Studios? That is the park based on the movies. Leave the countries alone. Perhaps spruce it up and add a couple of countries but leave the movie aspects out of it.

I got fast passes for Maelstrom in September

Really? That's great! I've updated the story saying as much.

I thought part of the vision was to have different countries represented in order to promote understanding of that country and their culture; similar to the old World Fairs or Expos. Where does Frozen fit into that vision?????

Love the changes to Soaring!!! They should also concentrate on bringing back things like Body Wars, The Story of Me etc. These were popular fun attractions and also educational.

LEAVE FROZEN OUT OF EPCOT! I love the Norway Pavilions and the Maelstrom ride. I already hate the fact that they changed el rio ddue tiempo to include Donald. Putting more character elements into EPCOT just gets farther and farther away from Walt's original idea behind the park in the first place, (which actually, it wasn't supposed to be a theme park but a real working community of people from all over the world, with one big international mall in the centered, but whatever). Point is, EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, not Experimenting Profitable Changes On Tourists. Just stick with Walt's dreams. They've gotten us this far. And I agree, if you must incorporate Frozen into the parks, do it at Hollywood (MGM) Studios. That whole park is there to celebrate movies.

I agree that Epcot and World Showcase need to be updated. The film in France is beyond dated, for example. But this venue is supposed to be a cultural, educational experience.
Keep the characters and related themes in the Magic Kingdom where they belong. Enough of the Eisner mentality that merchandise and character interaction is paramount to the success of these parks.
I have no kids but visit the parks frequently. I prefer adult offerings and World Showcase provides that to myself and my guests. The absence of character creative attractions is why I enjoy that park. They have their place! The living seas is a living nightmare.

The complaint has always been that Epcot and World Showcase is not all that appealing to young children. Instead of Disney accepting that and maintaining areas for an older demographic...they want to dumb everything down to bring in the kiddies, the ones with the parents that will shell out twenty bucks on a two dollar plush.

I'll promise you this. If some boutique prince or princess knocks a beer out of my hand,or I get hit in the heels with a stroller due to "kid crowding"... there will be one very traumatized child that no amount of pixie dust will help.

Soarin' is not that great...I don't see why it so popular. Maybe if it was 3D and twice as long...it might be worth it.

And I agree, characters in EPCOT is just stupid. I know they want the park to appeal to children as well as adults but, characters don't belong there. It's tacky.

Frozen is the hot movie of the moment...and I understand Disney wanting to have some Frozen themed attractions. Those attractions, though, should be in the Magic Kingdom. They have nothing at all do do with EPCOT...that area should be reserved for countries. The Norway pavilion should stay right where it is, and Disney should pick up the tab for refurbishing it where needed. Disney reaps the profit, so they have to assume the cost of maintaining their park.

Long story short...Keep Frozen in MK. Keep Norway where it is!

I really hope disney does not turn Norway to Airendale. I am a HUGE frozen fan and will probably cry when I do see what disney eventually does for frozen, Norway is NOT the place for it! World showcase is about the countries, learning about different heritages, trying different foods and drinking around the world. It has such an authentic feeling I would hate to see it lose that because Elsa and Anna move in. I wouldn't even mind maelstrom being replaced by a frozen themed ride but I'm really hoping that they keep everything else! Like what they did to the Mexico ride, they added Donald and kept the rest of the pavilion the same. Ugh sometimes I don't know what disney is thinking .. :( as for soarin, bring on the change!!! ;)

We do not need princess stuff in the countries or at every corner of the parks. Some of us visit and have boys. Some of us enjoy the countries. If all we are going to see is glitter and tiara barf every where we look it will get old.

Please don't add Frozen to Epcot's Showcase. It is going to take the "experience the countries" feel out. Especially for a so so movie. I know the kids like it, but kids like anything for awhile. Put it into MK where it belongs and can be changed for the next big movie.

World showcase should be about the countries represented. I agree Frozen can be sprinkled in but not the main focus. I love Norway and it's shops.

I definitely agree. If they added an element of Frozen in I think that'd be alright, but to completely change Norway and just leave it with one shop makes me sad

I am a huge fan of all Walt Disney World theme parks and the mentality behind them that it is a place that people of all ages should be able to come together and spend quality time with each other. It was that very idea that drove Walt Disney to create Disneyland and subsequently Walt Disney World. I therefore find it particularly annoying when I read people's very detrimental comments regarding children visiting EPCOT. I have visited EPCOT without a child and this year for the first time with my son. The only bad behaviour I observed was from several ADULT guests who had clearly over endulged when 'drinking around the world'. People shouldn't expect to visit a place which by it's very nature promotes family visitors and not expect to see children. I agree that Norway should not totally be taken over by Frozen but I don't see the harm in adding an element of the film to the pavilion.

I am a huge fan of all Walt Disney World theme parks and the mentality behind them that it is a place that people of all ages should be able to come together and spend quality time with each other. It was that very idea that drove Walt Disney to create Disneyland and subsequently Walt Disney World. I therefore find it particularly annoying when I read people's very detrimental comments regarding children visiting EPCOT. I have visited EPCOT without a child and this year for the first time with my son. The only bad behaviour I observed was from several ADULT guests who had clearly over endulged when 'drinking around the world'. People shouldn't expect to visit a place which by it's very nature promotes family visitors and not expect to see children. I agree that Norway should not totally be taken over by Frozen but I don't see the harm in adding an element of the film to the pavilion.

I am a huge fan of all Walt Disney World theme parks and the mentality behind them that it is a place that people of all ages should be able to come together and spend quality time with each other. It was that very idea that drove Walt Disney to create Disneyland and subsequently Walt Disney World. I therefore find it particularly annoying when I read people's very detrimental comments regarding children visiting EPCOT. I have visited EPCOT without a child and this year for the first time with my son. The only bad behaviour I observed was from several ADULT guests who had clearly over endulged when 'drinking around the world'. People shouldn't expect to visit a place which by it's very nature promotes family visitors and not expect to see children. I agree that Norway should not totally be taken over by Frozen but I don't see the harm in adding an element of the film to the pavilion.

I think it'd be so cool to have the Kingdom of Arendelle somewhere at Disney World, but to replace it with a country at the world showcase would definitely be really upsetting.
Also, this third building that they're making is going to have Soarin... How much will this be changing about The Land? Will a new attraction be substituted in there, and will all the other attractions there stay or be moved to the other building? I'm not sure that I feel good about them messing with what's already at The Land.... :/

Maelstrom is in desperate need of an update. It's lame. Adding a Frozrn themed ride to replace it is an outstanding idea.

I have nothing against Frozen in World Showcase or any characters being showcased in their respective country. It would be like Davy Crockett being represented in the US pavilion. As long as it works in the context of the country, it will work.

It's when Disney tries to monopolize the area over a singular idea like Frozen rather then trying to create a representation of the whole country. Epcot was so unique and so wonderful. The real appeal comes from the fact you can hop from one country to the other, sample a small taste of the cuisine, drinks, and actually learn something new about a country you probably only knew little about.

Like I said, Frozen coming into Norway is not a bad thing. In many ways, it can be the catalyst for people to learn more about Norway. However, there has to be some blend of actual Norwegian culture to be had at the same time.

I just got back from Europe for the first time and managed to make my way to Disneyland Paris. While there, we managed to ride the new Ratatouille attraction. After riding it, I could see that being a perfect fit in the France pavilion not to be a hostile take over like Frozen is doing with Norway but a extended experience to the already existing pavilion. Like everything stays intact in France but an alley way is created that extends to the "Rue Auguste Gusteau" square revealing basically what the Imagineers have created in Paris. It was a unique ride the whole would love in WDW and bring even more foot traffic around World Showcase but nothing would be lost from what was originally there.

That is how Disney needs to approach Norway. If not, it will forever change the face of Epcot and frankly... may loose my interest in ever going back.

Epcot needs to redo that horrible Mexican ride and add rides to a few other countries. That fact is people go to disney to ride the rides not for a history lesson. This is a vacation not school

Why can't they update Epcot to include some additional countries? There are definitely plenty that are missing that could provide some new excitement. Disney is supposed to be known for their imagination and innovation… the addition of a movie (even though I do like the movie) to Epcot World area makes me sad :(

I don't like the idea of gutting a country and creating a theme around a Disney movie. It's a slippery slope for the World Showcase. Do they gut the UK Pavilion and have it taken over by Merida? Does Germany get steam-rolled for Rapunzel?

The World Showcase is a learning center first and a place to find characters second. The countries are the show.

Lets just agree that if Disney does makes this change to epcot, they are proving they care more about making cash and selling out than giving us a good park.

Heres an idea. Want to build the most popular theme park in the world? build a giant dome over epcot which you can project images, thus creating a completely immersive environment. What if you looked into the sky at epcot and saw three suns setting, filling the sky with the most brillaint orange, or a huge broken planet? The possibilities are endless.

If I can think of something like that, Disney should be ashamed. Not impressed. Nnnnexxxt!!

I am a former Future World Cast Member. I love Frozen, but hearing this absolutely breaks my heart. World Showcase was where I would go on my mornings off and after work to completely submerse myself in a non-character filled experience. I love the cultures and the CM's that work there love sharing it with guests. I'm all for updates, but dedicating an area of that part of the park solely to a film and it's characters defeats WALT'S original purpose for Epcot.

I think if Disney start screwing with Epcot’s World Show Case as rumored, by taking Norway out and replacing it with Frozen’s Kingdom of Arendelle that would be disastrous. First the stupid Avatar crap then replacing pieces of the showcase with fictional movie cities. That’s would be nuts. Disney needs to stop panicking over the Harry Potter thing and start using its head. If they don’t they really will be in danger of falling into 2nd place.

I am really excited about the changes coming to Soarin'! It's a fun ride, but last time I was there, you could tell the screens themselves and the movie itself needed an upgrade. As for Around The World- fantastic!

As for EPCOT...I liked how Donald was added to the ride in Mexico. Adding an element of Frozen would ok, but not to turn it into an entire attraction. Maelstrom does need an update- I could hardly hear what was being said during the ride and I"m not sure the trolls have been painted to anything ever.

EPCOT itself needs more. Body Wars, Cranium Command, etc. were great and now there is just empty space. Between that, the Universe of Energy (which to me is one of if not my least favorite things in WDWR), and the (lack of) Imagination Pavillion, EPCOT doesn't have much to hold onto guests like it used to. Would love to see EPCOT get some TLC!

I just really hope that Disney higher-ups read these to get a sense of what guests really want out of the parks.

I love Universe of Energy for the same reason that I love EPCOT more than anyplace on earth: I'm a huge nerd. That said, I prefer the EPCOT of my childhood in the eighties.

I hadn't visited since the early nineties hen I went a few years ago. I was heartbroken by the changes to the Imagination pavilion, a place I loved so much that I regularly (weekly to monthly) dreamt about visiting. Every once in a while, I will have one of those dreams.

Maelstrom does need an update (a childhood favorite that seemed neglected when I last went), but I don't know if Frozen is the answer. Perhaps add elements that don't have to be permanent when the fervor dies down, and focus on improving the ride permanently? Please don't take away the culture of Norway for something so cheap.

Soarin' could use an update. I ride it all the time at DCA, but I would love to see more of the world.

I work in the world showcase and have for several years. We have heard they are redoing the ride to make it frozen themed and taking out the movie at the end that everyone skips anyway. Wsc needs to appeal more to children. Without the kidcot coloring stations, kids have complete boredom meltdowns. Frozen was modeled off of the Norway pavillion (there's even an official sign in the pavillion that says so). As for one shop? There's already just one big shop. Just because there are different products from room to room doesn't mean it's not one shop. In all the computer systems, that is all one shop. As for soarin' , well I've never heard that until now...

How about finally getting rid of the terrible horrible Captain EO and putting Frozen there??? Talk about an area that needs updating!

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