Frozen Ride Thawing Out Slowly and Soarin Gets A Makeover….

Orlando Attractions Update – Some big changes underway at Epcot have seen the light of day this week according to our friends at The Orlando Sentinel.

Maelstrom will live on, in a small way, at Epcot. The flume ride that was the centerpiece of the Norway pavilion at the Walt Disney World theme park was shuttered to make way for a new “Frozen”-inspired experience now under construction. But two rune rocks from the previous attraction are placed near the entrance of the new space that represents the film’s Arendelle.

“We really wanted to harken back to the attraction, bring some of that nostalgia back in here and really delight our guests with that,” said Lauren Niederhiser, assistant project manager.

That was one Frozen Ever After detail shared during a behind-the-construction walls briefing of the area for members of the media on Tuesday.  The session did not enter the ride itself, remaining outside, looking at the meet-and-greet area, where park visitors eventually will meet Elsa and Anna, the royal sisters from the blockbuster film.

This area shall be the Royal Sommerhus (that last u is a long u sound, rhyming with “goose”) – basically the summer retreat of our heroines.

Inside the royal cabin, “you’re going to see a lot of different elements from their childhood. That will really give you that family vibe. … You’re really going to see a lot of those details.”

Disney World did not allow photography inside the construction walls Tuesday.

Epcot’s original Norway attraction was built in 1988 and has an urban look to its architecture, Niederhiser said.

“We’re really extending that architectural story of the Norway pavilion over to this side, which is more of a rural, countryside vibe,” she said.

The look of the area is based on the Trondheim region of Norway, Niederhiser said.

“Our team was actually able to travel to Norway, took very much the same kind of research trip that the ‘Frozen’ filmmakers took when they were inspired to make the film,” she said.

The area also will sport a gift shop.

For the actual ride, “you board a boat much like you used to [on Maelstrom],” she said. “You head up to the North Mountain to Elsa’s ice palace, where you get to visit with a lot of your favorite characters from the film, hear a lot of your favorite songs.”

The original voice cast returned for new arrangements of “Frozen” songs, done by married couple Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

“We have some different characters singing your favorite songs,” Niederhiser said.

The hole in the façade of Maelstrom, where logs/ride vehicles poked out after a going down an incline backwards, appeared to have been plugged. And the Norway film at the end of the attraction will no longer be there, Niederhiser said, but riders will still exit through the Puffins Roost shop.

The ride and Sommerhus will open at the same time at some point this summer, Disney says.

Summer also is the time frame for the return of Soarin’, which will be redubbed Soarin’ Around the World.  The attraction will have an entirely new film presentation, advanced technology and a third “concourse” for additional flights and increased ride capacity.

“We’re taking our guests on this epic journey that spans six continents and  shows them some of the greatest wonders of the world like the Great Wall of China,” said Jason Grandt, art director. The sights will be new and the display will be improved, he said.

“The sights you’re going to see are going to be stunning, crystal-clear and unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” Grandt said.  “Imagineering has sort of created this one-of-kind, unique camera system that delivers the highest resolution film imagery anywhere. … We’ve coupled that with a new laser projection system.”

But what about its trademark aromas of Soarin’? The new attraction will use of the sense of smell. But …

“There are new scents,” Grandt said. None of the old ones are returning.

Sorry, orange-grove fans.