As you approach the Norway pavilion, one of the first things to catch your eye is probably the Stave Church. It was based upon the Gol Stave Church in Norway. In front of the church you’ll notice a wooden statue of a man. It is Olaf II who was the King and Patron Saint of Norway. He brought Christianity to the people of Norway and with woodworking skills helped the people of Norway build Stave Churches throughout.
When you enter the Stave Church you’ll see a likeness of King Olaf II dressed in traditional Viking clothing. Also inside is a map that showcases exploration routes that the Vikings took throughout Greenland and Newfoundland. Another case has a display model of the Oseberg. The Oseberg is a Viking ship that was discovered in 1904 in a burial mound. This is the same ship featured in the opening scene of the “Spirit of Norway” film that is shown after exiting the Maelstrom attraction.
The restaurant Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is named after the Akershus Fortress in Norway. The Fortress is also the backdrop of the Norway pavilion. Akershus Fortress in Norway is now used for offices by the Norwegian Ministry and contains the Norwegian Resistance Museum, but originally it was used to guard the city of Oslo. If you look across the walls of the pavilion you’ll see that there are gun turrets located in the wall and atop the structure. The restaurant is a princess character dining experience that showcases Belle, Jasmine, Aurora, Snow White, Mulan, and Mary Poppins. It hasn’t always been a character meal. It originally showcased a more Norwegian flare in food. We ate there once and it was a buffet experience. There was a cold bar that had fish and other food of the sea along with hot food, which was brought out to you by the cast member, and as you cleared your plate they would bring out some more. But when the princesses took over this dining experience ceased to exist any longer.
So after you eat with the princesses then it’s time to head over to the Maelstrom. This fun and exciting boat ride takes you through some of Norway’s history and folklore. As you walk through the queue line you’ll see Norwegian flags along the way and a map showcasing Viking exploration routes. Across from the loading area you’ll see a huge mural. The mural shows Norwegian history and the modern times of the country. Once you board the ride the Norse god Odin tells you that “You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last. Those who seek the spirit of Norway face peril and adventure. But often find beauty and charm. We have always lived with the sea, so look first to the spirit of the seafarer.” Along the way you’ll see scenes of the Viking women waiting for the men to return and some men unloading supplies for a village. Then you arrive into the troll section. Trolls are part of Norse and Scandinavian mythology. After you encounter the three-headed troll and he sends you away, the boat drifts backwards where we encounter polar bears and more trolls. The boat then drifts towards the edge of a waterfall that overlooks the pavilion and then drops forwards for a 28-foot plunge into Norway oblivion. Not really oblivion but a stormy scene with a big off shore oil rig. The ride continues for a short distance until it reaches port. After departing the ride you’ll enter a theatre. More times than not people bypass the “Spirit of Norway” film, I’m guilty of it and so are a lot of people. Although it is a little dated, the film is pretty good. Being 20 plus years old the film no longer shows the modern nation that the original sponsors wanted to showcase.
After departing the film, what’s the next thing you enter you may ask? Well that would be a gift shop! What? You don’t say. Yes, you’ll then enter the Puffin’s Roost. There is a clothing section that usually has a good bit of jackets by Helly Hanson and other brands. You can also get children’s toys or a book or two. But whatever you do don’t forget to get your picture made with the big troll in the room. There is also a kid cot section in here for those of you who have little ones (or big ones) who like to do this free activity. Also in the gift shop you can pick up a piece or two of fine jewelry or a new fragrance by Geir Ness.
After you have bought a winter jacket, a Viking helmet and sword, sprayed yourself with the perfume testers so you smell good the rest of the day and taken your photo with an ugly troll (not your spouse), head over to Kringla Bakeri go Kafe. Here they serve pastries, sandwiches, and other baked goodies. Behind the bakery you’ll spot a statue of Grete Waitz, she was a Norwegian marathoner that won nine New York Marathons, won a silver medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics and won a gold in the 1983 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki. She passed away in April of 2011 at 57. That is about it for the Norwegian Pavilion, there are many other things to discover here if you take the time and explore.
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