Today its 25 years ago since the Norwegian pavilion was opened in Epcot´s World Showcase as the last pavilion. (so far…)
Here´s a little history about how Norway was so lucky to be represented at the World Showcase:
That Norway would have its own pavilion in Epcot, was a dream and seemed very unrealistic when the idea came up in the beginning of the 1980´s. But hard work from businesses and private persons made it all possible, and the Norway pavilion was opened as the eleventh pavilion the 3th of June 1988 (soft opening May 6th 1988) by Crown Prince Harald, the session was also broadcasted live on NRK.
It was the Norwegian company Selmer-Sande and Kloster that first started the work with a Scandinavian pavilion in Epcot, they established ScanShow and started working on the plans for a Scandinavian showcase. The pavilion was ment to be located in-between England and France, and have architecture from all the three countries; Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Egeskov slott and some houses from Odense and Copenhagen would symbolize Denmark, while Sweden would be represented with Stockholm Stadshus and buildings from Gamla Stan. Already at this point it was clear that the buildings from Norway were going to be from the Bryggen i Bergen and Akershus Festning. The negotiations with the other countries and businesses did not go as expected, so ScanShow changed name to NorShow (Norwegian Showcase) and decided to go for a 100% Norwegian pavilion instead. The shareholders in NorShow was: Aker, Norsk Data, Norway Foods, Den norske Creditbank, Det Norske Veritas, Frionor, Kosmos, Vesta Group, Selmer-Sande, SAS and VARD.
After a lot of work from NorShow the Norwegian government decided to give 2 million USD as support and 8 million USD as a loan to the project. December 1985 the final economical contracts were signes, and NorShow was going to cover 30 million USD of the project (that 28th of August 1985 was estimated to be 35.2 million USD) while Disney was going to cover the rest. 29th of May 1986 the foundation was layed by Minister Kurt Mosbakk. Architecht Birger Lambertz-Nilsen had the responsibility for the exterior, while Ulla S. Hjort had responisibility for the interior design.
The first Norwegian working in Epcot was Truls Christensen, the son of NorShow chairman Lars A. Christensen. He started in 1985 with selling pretzels in the German pavilion, then Odyssey, then Germany again, and he finished the year driving bus around World Showcase Lagoon.
The first year of operations (1989) was a good year for the pavilion. 5.7 million took the Maelstrom, 89 conferences was held in Norway Club. The shop and food locations sold for 10.7 million USD. 1990 was almost the same as 1989, and NorShow started negotiations with Disney to reconstruct the contracts originally made, it ended with the pavilion being sold to Disney in 1992 for 26 million USD. Pavilion costs total: 46 million USD, paid by Norway: 34 million USD, sold for: 26 million USD, loss: 8 million USD (share capital).
The government in Norway supported the pavilion with 200.000 USD for a 5 year term from 1992-1997, but in 2002 the government stopped the contribution and the pavilion is now 100% operated by Disney. The Norwegian government is not interested in funding or supporting the pavilion in any way, and the pavilion state is sadly descending and still shows a movie thats been there for 25 years now…