Podcast Episode: 72 – Maelstrom

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Welcome to Episode 72 of the RetroWDW Podcast: Maelstrom – We appreciate your support and hope you have been enjoying each and every episode. Be sure to check out some of our previous shows from over the years. We have visited multiple parks, resorts, and just about everything else in between. Thanks for being patient as we got this one out, some of our statements reflect when we recorded this, but we are glad you are able to enjoy this epic episode!

Listener Mail

We open the mailbag every month and we are ready to hear from you. Be sure to reach out with questions, stories, memories, and more. You never know if your letter will be read on a future episode: podcast@retrowdw.com

  1. Jason is first off, writing in about his first trips to WDW. He is curious about the fiber optic sidewalk panels at Epcot and when they appeared. We don’t recall these being opening day attractions, but they came in the 90s with Innoventions, EPCOT ’94, and Todd has a great idea for these… How recalls a different version of these, which might have been at EPCOT Center in the earlier years.  Of course, this question leads to a Michael Jackson reference.
  2. Donald wrote us next and recently listened to Retro Food Part II. He is curious about Saratoga Springs, The Disney Institute, and what is leftover of the original site.
  3. Dan is up next, after listening to all of our episodes, he is curious about what we mean when we say ‘the 25-year rule’. Todd explains what this means and why we stick with this.
  4. Michael wrote us about Lakeside News, which was once located at the Disney-MGM Studios. He tells us about seeing many celebrities who visited back then, but he has an amazing celebrity encounter dining at Walt Disney World.
  5. Finally, Mark is the last letter we received. He tells us a great story about finding a vintage poncho in his bag, serving as an omen to visit the parks.

Main Topic

In this episode, we are taking you back to EPCOT Center and more specifically, the Norway pavilion and Maelstrom. How has been hard at work researching and also editing this episode together for your listening enjoyment. We hit on the 1988 television special, starring Willard Scott. If you have never seen this, take a minute after you listen to the episode to enjoy this: Grand Opening of Maelstrom

The high seas Viking adventure was billed as a stormy boat ride with tons of excitement, danger, and thrills. Many articles were written to describe how amazing this ride was going to be and the hype machine was up and running at full speed. This really was the first thrill ride at EPCOT Center, so they played that angle as much as possible. How guides us through so many neat aspects about how this ride came to be, including the items the sponsors wanted to see on the ride. You have to remember how these early EPCOT Center rides came to be and how they were funded. This was a very different era at Walt Disney World that we all know and love, but things came to be in an entirely different way.

Throughout this episode, we hit on everything from the woodwork colors, how the queue changed a bit, which imagineers actually worked on this project, and so much more. One fun fact, this ride was designed entirely on computers through CAD and no hand-drawn items were used to help create the track layout.

As we get through this episode, we spend a good amount of time discussing the closure of this ride. This is one of the more recent closures of a classic attraction that can be debated for hours. Were you one of the fans that did not want to see this go? Are you happy with the replacement? We get into all of this at length, as we feel it is an important part of the history of Maelstrom. This ride truly had that 80s EPCOT Center feel that lasted into the 2000s and beyond, until Frozen was a hit. We appreciate you taking the time to listen to the history of Maelstrom and we hope you enjoyed this super detailed look at the classic EPCOT attraction.

RetroMagic Fifty

Join us this April for RetroMagic 50. Tickets are now on sale and the event is coming together as we work through details and line up our schedule of events. Have questions? Reach out to us and we will be happy to help you out. info@lbvhistory.org

We hope to see you later this month for our biggest event yet!

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April 9, 2022 8:32 pm

Hey guys! Well, I’ve just finished 3+ years at Frozen as attraction maintenance, so I can tell you that the two “swings” do not use conveyor belts. The mechanism is actually a “carriage” that the boat glides into, gets locked in, pivots from the front point of the swing to slide the back end of the boat across, then the boat gets ‘launched’ to continue on its journey. (I wish I had pics to show y’all)
Love the show!! 🙂

April 13, 2022 10:44 am

I really like your designation of “Smart Epcot” (pre-2007), implying that the park today is, shall we say, dumber. I also appreciate your periodic reminders that the parks are no longer aimed at adults. Whenever I get upset about the dramatic changes in Epcot, I just repeat the mantra, “Epcot isn’t for me anymore.” A sad truth. And yes, Maelstrom was more than the sum of its parts. I am still am a huge fan of the film, “The Spirit of Norway.” Beautifully shot, engaging editing. Had it been a pre-show as intended, I believe it would have been enormously… Read more »

May 2, 2022 6:02 pm

One interesting fact about Malestorm was that each level had its own troth and that the show/ride control system had to activate dams to hold the water in each levels troth otherwise the attraction would flood the gift store. This was because the ground level resuvaure was not large enough to hold all the water. Not sure if you guys had heard that one. This was in Steve Alcorns book Theme Park Design.

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