Like thousands of others, I lined up last weekend to ride your boat one more time, to traverse among your trolls, to frolic among your fjords. According to Google Directions, I traveled 1,349 miles from my home to Disney World to pay tribute to you and your ability to take me to a mystical culture ruled by polar bears, Vikings, and the northern lights. My husband came too, and so did our infant daughter; not even a bout of food poisoning kept me from you.
You see, Maelstrom, I had to make this pilgrimage to pay you my last respects. You deserved that, for you not only entertained me, but you also made me curious about another place on this vast and varied planet. From the time I was eight years old -- when we first crossed paths -- you captivated me, and you made me want to discover more about this Nordic country that you represented.
"The spirit of Norway is the spirit of adventure," you proclaimed in an ominous tone at the start of your ride. You made me want to discover that spirit of adventure, and years later, as a college student, I did. Because of you, I twice visited Norway, once to see the capital and the fjords and once to stand before the northern lights in the northernmost university town in the world.
I know I'm not the only one who was transformed by you -- as your fans flocked to the Norway pavilion, waiting more than an hour to ride your waves one last time, I think we both know that their loyalty stems from how you inspired and invited them to participate in a world that seemed to exist just beyond their reach.
And in that way, you embodied what it meant to be part of EPCOT. As Disney Executive E. Cardon Walker said at the park's dedication in 1982, its goal is to, "entertain, inform and inspire and above all...instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world."
And you did that perfectly.
Maelstrom, I know that you were showing your years. I know that EPCOT has more dramatic rides these days. I know that visitors saw desktop computers from the '80s when they watched the film at the end of your journey. And I'm sure it's for all those reasons that Disney park planners have a glitzier Frozen ride in the works. Truth be told, now that I am the mother of a little girl myself, I imagine that one day soon I will dress her up as Elsa or Anna and take her on your successor, and gosh darn it, I will enjoy myself because this is Disney after all, and they always do things right.
But don't worry, Maelstrom. You won't be forgotten. As I leave that Frozen fantasy, I promise that I will tell my little girl that once there was a ride that shaped my imagination, that sparked my curiosity, in this very place.
And so your memory will live on.
And so will your inspiration.
Thank you for the memories, Maelstrom. Your loyal fan,