“But I don’t want to eat with princesses,” was the cry from our four year-old when I told him we’d be dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion at Walt Disney World® Resort.
I’d never been there but knew (with the Disney Dining Plan) it was great use of a table service credit. Without the Dining Plan adults can expect to pay between $46 & $56 (depending on the season) and children between $25 & $30. For this, guests enjoy a three-course meal and visits with various princesses (five the evening we visited.)
Andrew fell asleep in his stroller on the way through World Showcase, and was solidly out by the time we checked in at Akershus. The hostess asked if we wanted to wait until after dinner to have our official picture with Belle. But, we agreed (given his expressed lack of enthusiasm for the meal) that the sleeping photo-op was the way we wanted to go. They even let us park him at the table, allowing him to continue his siesta.
He managed to come around shortly before the princesses stopped by and was able to meet all of them. He was still groggy and cranky for Ariel, but after Aurora sympathized with his sleepy state he did MUCH better.
Snow White made his evening with a kiss on the cheek (a la Dopey.)
And even my boy is no match for Cinderella’s charms.
So, without having to stand in long lines or wake-up at the crack of dawn 180 days before to make an advanced dining reservation (as is often the case with Cinderella’s Royal Table), we were able to rendezvous with five princesses in less than 20 minutes! And, despite being more Sleepy & Grumpy than Prince Charming, Andrew seemed to enjoy it…at least more than I think he was expecting.
The meal, itself, has a bit of an identity crisis. The first course is a buffet, the main course is chosen from a menu, and the desserts are served family style.
Guests begin their meal with the “Taste of Norway” buffet, which includes cold salads, meats, cheeses, and bread. I particularly enjoyed the shrimp salad and the fresh (warm) rolls.
Our server was super slow. Between being seated and the arrival of our entrée, we were able to enjoy the buffet (twice) and visit with all four roaming princesses.
I neglected to get a photo of my entrée, because (by the time it arrived) I was starving. I had the duo of pork (a braised pork belly and grilled pork tenderloin) with sauerkraut, roasted potatoes and pea purée. At the time, I felt the entrée was a letdown. The sauerkraut was traditional, and not the preparation I’m used to. I thought the pork was “meh.” It was only later, I realized I was comparing this meal to a similar offering at California Grill. My favorite meal anywhere is California Grill’s pork tenderloin with goat cheese polenta. I also realized, this is not a fair comparison. Reflecting now, I think the duo of pork (except the sauerkraut) was a solid offering. It just wasn’t California Grill (but how could it be?)
The final course, dessert, arrived pretty promptly after we finished our entrées. Served family style, it featured chocolate mousse, rice cream (basically a strawberry topped rice pudding), and apple cake. There wasn’t a thing here I didn’t enjoy, with the rice cream being my favorite.
After dessert, hubby left with our preschooler (who was barely hanging on), and my father headed out to smoke. I sat there, alone, for 22 minutes from the time I asked for the check to the time it actually arrived at the table. I’m convinced our young server just forgot about us. The final bill (including three specialty drinks, taxes, and gratuity) was $300 for three adults and a child. Fortunately, with the dining plan, we were only responsible for a fraction of that.
My takeaway: If you have the dining plan, it’s an excellent use of a single table service credit (especially if you have princess-starved little ones.) However, I thought the meal was a bit steep to pay for out-of-pocket. At the time we dined the meal included a “complimentary” photo package (including one 6×8 and four 4×6 prints.) And while a PhotoPass® photographer is still available to snap your perfect pic with a princess, the print package has been discontinued and purchase of the digital image is now at an additional cost or as part of Disney’s Memory Maker. Although advanced dining reservations (ADRs) here are usually easier to come by than Cinderella’s Royal Table (ours was made only a month out), ADR’s are highly recommended.
The cost, and my son’s tempered enthusiasm for princesses, will probably leave Akershus as a meal I’ve crossed off my Disney bucket list versus a regular favorite our family would plan to visit again and again.