This is how one of Norway´s biggest TV-channels (TV2) presented the Norway pavilion in their most important news-broadcast today:
Norway from the 80´s
Mullets, clothes from the 80´s and computers from 25 years back; this is the picture millions of tourists visiting Disneyworld in Florida gets of the nation and tourist destination Norway. The Disney company and Norway has argued for years about who is going to pay for the update of the Norway pavilion in Epcot.
Smile and tourist joy in the Norwegian pavilion in Epcot in Florida. Since 1988 Norway has been one of the eleven countries that gets to show themselves for millions of visitors in the theme park connected to Disneyworld.
The little piece of Norway in USA is extra popular because it has a indoor boat ride with a waterfall. Little boy: «Amazing! You think theres a giant drop, but there isn´t…» At the end of the boat ride you enter a cinema and get to see a movie about Norway. Hilde Gundersen, cast member: «Its a little old, but I still thinks it gives an impression of how Norway was before…» The movie shows Norway how we usually market ourselves abroad. But the movie is made in the 80´s, see details as mullets and pretty outdated computers. Martin Eltvik, Cast member: «Americans think we live in the 1980´s with big telephones we have to carry around… This place should been updated throughly.»
For years Norway and Disney discussed who´s going to pay for the modernization of the pavilion.
Reporter: «Viking-theme is always a seller! But Disney wants to update the Norwegian movie, it will cost about 20 million NOK, and the Norwegian governments input only has to be 5 million NOK.»
Geir Ness: «Have you guys been to Norway?» The perfume-king, Geir Ness, sells both his own fragrance and Norway with convincing talk. He thinks the promotion of Norway through the movie, is tragical. Geir Ness: «I would nearly call it junk! I think its terrible that we have´nt done anything more out of this…» No matter how much Norway promotion, some myths are impossible to kill. Guest: «You got polar bears in Norway. No, no polar bears in Norway? No, well theres a polar bear exhibit in there. So, did they all kinda run away or what happened to them?»
The AmCham in Norway have for one year tried to get the government in on a joint effort to finance the upgrade of the Norwegian pavilion. Of 20 million NOK, they ask for the government to help with 1/4, but have´nt received an answer. Tone Nymoen, AmCham: «Its very sad, because its many people that have their first impression with Norway through the pavilion, and we want more tourists to Norway, and this is a perfect marketing opportunity for Norway as a tourist destination and for private companies.»
In Norway´s parliament, the Progress Party means its embarrassing that Norway is shown in this way. Harald Nesvik, MP: «I mean its a scandal that we cant follow this up now. Its clear that we have a responsibility as a nation for the product that we are going to sell is as correct as it is shown, because if not we lose this opportunity we have to market ourselves.» He means the Minister of Industry immediately should hand out the 5 million NOK it takes. Trond Giske, Minister of Industry and Trade: «I agree that the movie is completely outdated. But Disney has its own financing solutions which is very expensive and we have to consider if this is the best way to market Norway, or if there is other ways we can get more tourists to Norway.» Broadcast end.
Very disappointed that the government still cant make up its mind, yet not surprised. If Disney decides to kick Norway out, I would only blame Norway´s government with the weak Labor Party in front, even though they are the biggest party and the government have majority in parliament.
Can someone step in and save Norway? Please.
Btw: Norway HAVE polar bears, I dont know how the reporter thinks Svalbard is not part of Norway, but it is, and there is polar bears there… Trust me. And Disney´s resort in Florida is called Disney World, Disney Land is in California.