Nestled between Mexico and China in Epcot®’s World Showcase is one of my favorite pavilions- Norway. As soon as you step into the pavilion, you truly feel as though you are transported across the Atlantic through the beautiful architecture, history, cultural offerings, and atmosphere. Let’s take a look at the history of the Norway Pavilion and see what makes it such a great place to spend time and explore while visiting Epcot®.
When Epcot® officially opened October 1, 1982 there were only nine World Showcase countries featured- Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. On September 7, 1984 Morocco was added and then finally on May 6, 1988, Norway made its debut rounding out the eleven countries which guests can enjoy today.
If you approach the pavilion from the Mexico side, one of the first things you will encounter is a wooden ship which was actually used in the 1999 feature film The 13th Warrior which was based upon Michael Crichton’s novel Eaters of the Dead which in turn was inspired by Viking folklore. The ship looks as though it has weathered many storms with those mighty Vikings aboard and serves as a great photo opportunity for guests.
As you continue towards the heart of the Norway Pavilion, you will next come upon a massive three story wooden building which formally housed an exhibit about the history of Vikings. This building is modeled after a traditional Stave, or Stavkinke Church which existed in the thousands in Norway during the Middle Ages, but unfortunately, only several hundred are still in existence today. The original Stave Churches were built using a construction method centered on intricate woodwork which was perfected by the Norwegians. The one featured in Epcot® is modeled after Gol Church in Oslo and is made of fiberglass to look like the original style of woodwork while still meeting the strict building codes necessary to survive Central Florida hurricane season. If you venture into the Stave Church today, be sure to take some time and explore the new exhibit showcasing the conception and creation of the newest Disney animated feature film Frozen.
Once you move past the Stave Church you see the remainder of the Norway Pavilion and the four different architectural styles featured throughout- Setesdal, Bergen, Oslo, and Alesund. You can also observe the natural progression from traditional Viking and Middle Ages architecture near the entrance of the pavilion to the nautical more modern seaside architecture which can be found in Norway today. On the right hand side of the pavilion is Akershus Restaurant which is a table service character meal featuring the Disney Princesses. Akershus is modeled after a castle bearing the same name located in Oslo which was built in 1299. If you are interested in dining there, I would recommend booking your dining reservations as far in advance as possible as it is a very popular dining location and tends to book very quickly.
On the left hand side of the pavilion there are several shops offering everything from traditional Norwegian crafts and baked goods to toys and Viking novelty items. If you look on the roof of the Kringla Bakeri og Kafe you will find that it is not constructed of the typical materials but rather of grass. In Norway, it is not uncommon to have goats tend to grass growing on roofs as a free and effective way to keep the grass groomed. Unfortunately you won’t find any goats in Epcot®, but rather some creative and amazing horticulturists and landscape designers! Be sure to also stop inside Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe and try the School Bread– it’s delicious!
Next door to the Bakeri is the Puffin’s Roost which offers Norwegian items ranging from sweaters to Viking helmets. There is a great photo opportunity here to try on some Viking headgear and pose in front of a massive troll statue. This troll is actually one of twenty-eight hidden throughout the pavilion- can you find them all?
Finally, in the rear of the pavilion lies its sole attraction Maelstrom which demonstrates the progression of the Norwegian culture based upon its folklore and use of the sea. If you are trying to locate all twenty-eight of those trolls, Maelstrom is definitely the place to find quite a few of them. Also hidden in the expansive mural located at the attraction’s loading dock are several Hidden Mickeys so be sure to see how many you can find!
From Viking ships to princess dining to a close encounter with some trolls, guests can experience a true taste of culture while exploring Epcot®’s Norway Pavilion. I am a huge advocate for taking your time while exploring the parks to soak up details that many guests overlook in their touring plans. One of the best places to put this belief into practice is in World Showcasewhere there are literally hundreds of small details and cultural facts to be found and learned, and Norway is no exception.
So, get out there, and start exploring the Norway Pavilion!
Do you have a favorite part of Epcot®’s Norway? How many trolls have you found? Ever tried the School Bread or dined with the Disney Princesses? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.