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This Day In Disney History: Norway Pavilion Debuts

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

The Norway Pavilion, the 11th to be built at Epcot’s World Showcase, opened its doors May 6, 1988.

This Day In Disney History: Norway Pavilion Debuts

The area offers a taste of the Land of the Midnight Sun, with nods to the nation’s seafaring traditions, Viking history and troll myths. The pavilion also reflects the architecture of several Norse towns, including Bergen, Alesund, Oslo and Setesdal.

The pavilion’s attraction, Maelstrom, set sail July 5, 1988, themed as a boat ride through Norway’s Viking era. Its perilous journey whisks guests through dangerous rapids and storms, and passes polar bears and mischievous trolls.

That said, here are five fun facts that make Norway one of the coolest pavilions around the “World”:

The Pavilion’s Attraction, Maelstrom

  1. Maelstrom’s dragon-headed ride vehicles were designed after the real ships of Viking Explorer Eric the Red.

  2. The pavilion’s restaurant, Akershus, was named after a 14th-century fortress, which was built to protect the capital city of Oslo.
  3. 50-Foot Replica Viking Ship Called the ‘Norseman’

  4. The area features a 50-foot replica Viking ship called the “Norseman.” This ship actually sailed through the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to the New York on its journey to Epcot.

  5. The Norseman is modeled after a ship used by Bjarni Herjulfsson, an explorer that some historians believe landed in the new world in the 10th century.
  6. The Stave Church

  7. The Stave Church’s sharply slanted roof was architectural trick designed to keep snow accumulation from crushing the structure.


  • Shame on you Jennifer for not catching these errors – “Midnight Sun” vs. “Rising Sun” and the fact that the Viking ship ‘Norseman’ set sail and left the pavilion in late 2008. Disney fans know D-Trivia!

    Paul in FL

  • Yes that ship was removed. That is what I thought also, but wanted to get some type of word from the CM that wrote this….

  • I believe the Viking ship should be referred to in the past tense. Wasn’t it removed a year or two ago?

  • Actually, I think the 50 ft. ship is no more. Only the dragon head remains with a few other items. The reason I heard for its removal was excessive damage due to time and the elememts which made it impossible to fix without a total rebuild. Look for this reminder near the washroom area.

  • I love this pavilion!

  • Wow, 23 years fly by quickly when you Disney so much!

    Fantastic pictures and I thought I knew a lot about Norway, but it is always great to learn new things about its past. I love the Viking ship picture. I really do miss the Viking ship that used to be at the Norway Pavilion.

    I also have heard that the Princess experience is an outstanding and a must do at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

  • “The area features a 50-foot replica Viking ship called the “Norseman.” This ship actually sailed through the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to the New York on its journey to Epcot.”

    It does? Where is this located?

  • Akershus has such great food. It is so beautiful and really takes you to a far away place.

  • We love the Maelstrom and ride it several times when we’re in Epcot. And since my ancestors were Norwegian, I always spend some quality time in the bakery with rice cream and school bread. It’s almost like being at Grandma’s house.

  • The first time I went to EPCOT was in 1990 when I was 13 years-old. I can’t believe the Maelstrom opened only two years before that!

    I remember passing by the pavilion and seeing one of the boats back out from an open window above the crowds (I think it’s after the backwards drop) and pulling my parents along to investigate.

    It’s probably one of my favorite attractions in the park because it’s so well-hidden and it feels like something I discovered by accident.

  • Now the rest of those World Showcase expansions pads just need to be filled!

  • Would love to see the film get updated!

  • I love the Norway pavillion and especially Maelstrom! I wish more people gave it a chance. I know people who go to WDW every year that didn’t even know there was an attraction in Norway until I told them! It frustrated me so much, I almost became a two-headed troll!!!
    Of course, one of them was the same guy who said to me (on like his 8th visit to WDW) “Wait, you mean there’s a ride inside the big ball (Spaceship Earth)???”

  • We love visiting Norway when we are at Epcot. Both my home town of Minot, ND and my current residence of Moorhead, MN have Stave Churches and in our travels, my family has visited most of the ones in the U.S. including, obviously, the one at Epcot.

    A quick correction: I believe Norway is the Land of the Midnight Sun. The Land of the Rising Sun is Japan.

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