Walt Disney Imagineering Pitched An Update to Maelstrom Years Before Frozen Ever After at EPCOT

Jonathan D

Walt Disney Imagineering Pitched An Update to Maelstrom Years Before Frozen Ever After at EPCOT

Years ago, before Frozen Ever After was even a thought, before “Frozen” existed as a film, Imagineer Peter Carsillo was asked to take a look at the aging Maelstrom attraction in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT. The task: update the ride with a new creative vision.

The Reimagined Maelstrom that Never Was

Carsillo himself described the experience earlier today:

Years ago, I was asked to look at a refresh update to the attraction years before anyone heard of “Frozen.” I was fascinated by Norwegian lore, as dense as it can be, but we tossed out an idea that didn’t take off — primarily for budget reasons. Imagine, as you know, you are not the first to pass this way — Trolls once ruled the land and the seas, and in the most Marc Davis way I could imagine, the trolls taught the ancient Vikings how to be Vikings…a faux history to be sure. It all ended with the splash down, but without the oil rigs, even though I liked them. Enjoy a little taste of was-never-gonna-happen.

Conceptual photos from the time were also shared.

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How DID Norway become a brave sea-faring nation? Perhaps it had some help? This original ride-story “The Troll King’s Heart” presents a comical and musical original myth, as famous trolls train the early Norwegians to become brave Vikings, and to party!


Trolls abound, with fantastical images of guests traveling past Viking ships in rough water and sequences of trolls teaching the Vikings how to live and play.

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Peter Carsillo worked with Walt Disney Imagineering from 2006 to 2018, serving in various roles as set decorator, show designer, Art Director for Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disneyland, Art Director for Magic Kingdom, and eventually Senior Creative Director. Since leaving Disney, Carsillo now works as a Senior Creative Director for Universal Creative.

seaventure maelstrom

Maelstrom, the signature attraction of the Norway Pavilion expansion, and EPCOT Center’s “first thrill ride” at the time, opened in 1988. It was originally intended to be called “SeaVenture,” until a last-minute change. The boat ride took guests through the history of Norway, past Vikings and polar bears. They would then encounter trolls who would send them backward, almost out of the show building. Finally, the trolls would dump guests in the North Sea next to an oil rig in modern times. Voyagers disembarked in a room that was surrounded by a fishing village façade, where they would have to wait for the post-show theater to load to view the “Spirit of Norway” film.


This ride was officially replaced in 2016 by Frozen Ever After, retaining a basic layout but being completely transformed in terms of aesthetics and design, with several new audio-animatronics and eleborate set pieces inspired by the 2013 film “Frozen.”


Check out our ride-through video below:

Do you miss Maelstrom? Would you have been curious to check out a reimagined version? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Jonathan D

    Originally from Los Angeles and Honolulu, Jonathan is a fan of cinema and theme parks who grew up on the original California Disneyland, and nurtures a particular admiration in Orlando for EPCOT and Disney's Animal Kingdom. His favorite resort on Earth would be Disneyland Paris, which doesn't seem to get the full admiration it deserves. You can find him in the Hufflepuff Common Room by the kitchens at jonathan.doughty@wdwnt.com.