Thinking of visiting the Scandanavian homeland of Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and the rest of your Frozen friends? Want to see Epcot locations in real life? As Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen can provide it all and even more Disney magic.
From its charming portside village to its surrounding green mountains, this city’s small-town feel makes a great starting point for your Norwegian adventure. From here, you can spend some time relaxing, checking out the sites, or enjoying nature before taking a flight, train, cruise, or even hike out along Norway’s incredibly organized network of trails and cabins to your next destination.
Our Disney day starts off with a stroll from our Airbnb in Skuteviken, a residential area just north of the city center. This seems to be where more of the affordable Airbnbs are, and being within walking distance to the main tourist sights makes it an ideal neighborhood to stay in.
Following the main road down just a few minutes south brought us to our first stop: Bergenhus Festning. This festning (or fortress) castle is one of the oldest and best-preserved stone fortifications in Norway with buildings dating as far back as 1240.
Of the buildings still standing, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The hall is called Håkonshallen (or Haakon’s Hall) and was built during the reign of its namesake, King Håkon Håkonsson. Epcot fans may recognize the jagged roof, mismatched stonework, and cathedral windows from the Norway Pavilion. This building served as the design inspiration for the facade entrance to Frozen Ever After, the attraction that replaced Maelstrom in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion.
Take a look at the Epcot version and the Bergen one side-by-side below and note the similarities:
Now take some time to admire the rest of the grounds here before continuing southeast along the waterfront towards Bryggen. Located in Bergen’s Vågen harbor, Bryggen’s historic district of buildings dating back to the 14th century is a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular tourist destination.
The row of colorful dockside buildings also inspired an area found in Epcot’s Noway Pavilion. You’ll notice that the Bryggen Husflid and its adjoining store are nearly replicated as the facade of Epcot’s The Fjording, a souvenir shop that serves as the exit from Frozen Ever After.
Here they are side-by-side:
If you look closely along the buildings you can find hand-carved wooden figures. These are traditionally placed outside of businesses to show the name of the shop or what type of service they can provide. Here, we find a unicorn outside of a seafood restaurant literally called Unicorn, and a lumberjack. These two are of particular interest since we can find similar ones in Epcot: A horse on the sign for The Fjording and a figure of Kristoff offering his ice carving services along the facade of Frozen Ever After.
Wander the area and don’t forget to check out the mazelike alleys between buildings and multiple levels of shops and galleries. The gift shops here actually do sell similar items that you can find in The Fjording, including the adorably creepy troll statues, Helly Hansen items, and even Frozen merchandise!
Speaking of Frozen, Bryggen had a huge influence on the design of the seaside village of Arendelle in the Frozen franchise. Check out the row of buildings behind Anna in the shot below. Look familiar?
Before we move on, take one more look below your feet for a perfect hidden Mickey formed by manhole covers. A coincidence? Perhaps… or maybe life is imitating art?
Let’s stop for a snack break! Nearly every bakery in town will serve Skolebrød (or School Bread), a Norwegian sweet doughnut filled with custard and coconut. It’s the same treat that you’ll find in Epcot’s Kringla Bakeri (though, the authentic ones are so much better).
For even more Disney-ish snacks, check out the local Starbucks, just a block from the Fløibanen (funicular) station. Find specialty drinks and local treats here at outrageous prices. This store just happens to be beautifully integrated into a nineteenth-century brick building along with a few other shops and restaurants. If anything, use it for a free bathroom break before continuing on.
Just a block behind Starbucks is the Fløibanen (funicular) station. This is the bottom station that takes you 1,000 feet up (320 meters) the Fløyen Mountain. Though the price was reasonable (about $5 USD each way), we opt to skip the ride and walk the approximately 2 miles up the mountain. This took us about 75 minutes at a leisurely pace which included stops for photos.
The hike is clearly marked and the trail is easy enough to push a stroller up. Along the path, you encounter a troll forest, similar to the one where the “love experts” live in the Frozen franchise.
The path also contains an abundance of natural moss-covered walls. These walls are beautiful and great for photo-ops, similar to the one found on Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
When you reach the upper Fløibanen station, you’ll have an amazing panoramic view of the city, including Bryggen, the seaside village of “Arendelle” that we visited earlier in the day.
Reward yourself with a Norwegian beer at the Fløien Folkerestaurant – you’ll be drinking around the world for real! Just behind the restaurant is a giant troll statue near the playground. This troll is a duplicate of the iconic one found in Epcot’s The Fjording shop.
We found out that this statue was originally designed for Disney in the 1980s by artist Bjørn Schultze of Ny Form Trolls. Since then, there have been ten other duplicates created and placed around the world, including the one here at the top of Bergen’s Fløyen Mountain. We’ll get to a blog post one day in search of all of them, but for now, enjoy this photo.
From here, enjoy an amazing sunset before taking the funicular back down or hiking on to your next destination.
As a bonus, you can take a ferry on to visit Nærøyfjord, another inspiration for the look of the fjords around Arendalle in Frozen. We took the Norled “expressboat” to Flåm where we hiked for a few days before taking the train to a galaxy far, far away…
Have you been to Bergen? Do you know any more Disney related locations in this adorable city? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to take a look at all of the WanderDisney locations related to this post: