Norway: A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Norway is a land at Epcot that can often be overlooked on your trips around World Showcase. The exception is if you have little ones with you and have Fastpass+ for Frozen Ever After (the new Frozen ride), or if you’re lucky enough to pass by when the wait is relatively short. With the new ride, the Anna and Elsa meet and greet at the new Royal Sommerhus, and the character dinners at Akershaus Royal Banquet Hall, it's easy to think that Norway might be more in tune with the smaller folks in your party and end up being overlooked in favor of a margarita in Mexico.
The original ride at Epcot's Norway was called Maelstrom. It opened in 1988, taking guests on a tour of Norway, its people, and their heritage. In 2016, the same basic ride is in place, but now we're treated to a tour of the characters and story of "Frozen." Photo by Bonnie Fink.
A new addition to Norway in the last year is the Royal Sommerhus, where guests can meet Anna and Elsa. There is, of course, a team of Disney PhotoPass photographers on hand to capture the moment you're sure to want to remember. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
One of our longtime favorite stops in Norway is the Bakery, called Kringla Bakeri og Kafé. They serve various sandwiches and Norwegian-inspired desserts. We've found them to be always good, and good value too. Kringla means circle in old Norse. And kringla is also used to describe a kringle, which is a Norwegian pastry similar to a pretzel. Photo by Donald Fink.
Troll horns are a Norwegian-inspired dessert. The filling is a creamy mousse almost like a cream puff's filling. The lefse behind the Troll Horns is a traditional Norwegian flat bread, usually made from flour, potatoes, butter, and milk. Photo by Donald Fink.
There was once a pastry at Kringla called a Cloudberry, which had quite a following among foodies. We're not sure of the ingredients, but they centered around cloudberries, which are arctic berries similar to raspberries, and grow in Norway as well as other northern countries. Our understanding is that a worldwide cloudberry event happened not long ago, and cloudberries were in short supply. Since then, the Cloudberry has been replaced on the Kringla menu with Troll Horns. Troll horns are made from lingonberries, which suspiciously, are the favorite ingredient of a traditional Norwegian pastry called troll cream (trollkrem in Norwegian). We're not sure what's in the Kringla Troll Horns, but the traditional troll cream consists simply of egg whites, beaten until fluffy, with lingonberries mixed in for flavor.
This replica of a stave church is a type of timber frame construction that was popular in Norway and other parts of northwestern Europe for Christian churches in Medieval times. The word stave is derived from the old Norse word "Stafr," or "Stav" in modern Norwegian. It means, simply, post. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Inside the stave church you can find examples of various items of clothing, musical instruments, tools, and so on that were brought from Norway and served as examples for the creative folks that made the movie "Frozen." Here, you can see a classic lady's bunad. Bunads—or bunader if referenced in the plural—are worn by both men and women on festive occasions, Like May 17, the day in 1814 when Norway declared independence. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
This is a Hardanger fiddle, or simply "hardingfele" in Norwegian. It was popular in Norway in the first half of the 19th century. Unlike other stringed instruments it has eight strings instead of the customary four. This fiddle is the real deal. As with many of the items on display in the stave church, it's on loan from the Vesterheim Norweigan-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway is a character restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meals here are partly buffet and partly family style, all you care to enjoy. The characters that may appear during a meal include many of the Disney princesses and leading ladies. Some of the famous names include Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, Mulan, and even Mary Poppins. Not all of these celebrities will necessarily appear at any particular meal, but several are sure to be there. Photo by Donald Fink.
The Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway may have been inspired by the Akershus Castle and Fortress in Oslo. The one in Oslo was constructed around 1290 and has undergone several major renovations over the centuries. Here's a menu from Akershus at the Norway pavilion.
At the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, breakfast begins with pastries and several different kinds of meats. Here, cinnamon rolls, croissants, donut holes, bagels, and chocolate chip muffins are available. A server brings the rest of the breakfast to your table, which is enjoyed family style. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) meets guests at Akershus as part of the character breakfast. She may not be available at each meal, but there are plenty of princesses and other Disney leading ladies who are. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
A small troll, or maybe a gnome, stands in the window of the Fjording. The building that houses the Puffin's Roost is of the Bergen style. It is typified by gabled roofs, close-set buildings, and brightly painted clapboard siding. The Fjording and the Puffin's Roost are the same building with different facades on the outside. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Kuli Stone is believed to have been erected on Norway's Kuløy Island in the early 11th century. It is significant in Norwegian history because it is the first stone known to have specifically mention Norway as a country. This stone here, is of course a replica. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Trolls are prominent in Scandinavian folklore and there are many different interpretations concerning what they are. This one, in the Puffin's Roost, is full sized, but appears to be friendly and outgoing. Not at all like the trolls we've met at work. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Norway was fun. Frozen Ever After was a little hard to get Fastpass+ for because it is very popular and still new, but they are available. The shopping at the Puffin's Roost is by and large typical Disney, but there are some interesting things that are unique to Norway, so it's worth a look inside when you're there. The bakery, Kringla Bakeri og Kafé, is in our view under-appreciated. They offer good food for lunch, and some good pastries for snacks.
This past holiday season, we made a trip around World Showcase and took some videos of the various performers celebrating the holidays. We were able to capture a performance of Sigrid and Julenissen as they tell the story of the Christmas gnome. We think it illustrates the spirit of Norway so we thought we would bring that video back here. Video by Donald Fink.