Who’s going to turn down a meal with princesses? Not me, that’s for sure. Luckily, at Walt Disney World, there are two options for such a regal meal. The one most know of is Cinderella’s Royal Table, but I am here to tell you about the “other” princess meal: Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (yes, that’s the official name…who knew).
The feast takes place in the Norway pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. As an unqualified lover of all things World Showcase, it is no surprise that I enjoy the location. Anything that ropes my family into more Epcot time is okay with me.
The inside of the dining hall is very nicely appointed. It is spacious, but the whitewashed brick walls, wooden ceiling, and exposed beams make it look royal and ancient. The main dining area is further enhanced with a vaulted roof, royal flags, and “stone” arches. If you can peel your eyes from the camera’s viewfinder it is quite a nice room.
All is not perfect, in fact there are two atmospheric downsides. The first is that large vaulted ceiling in the dining area, which elevates the noise level. Of course the noise level already starts out pretty high since you’re dealing with a lot of young children (and wives chastising their husband for noticing Jasmine a little too closely).
The second problem I found was the waiting area, or more spcifically, the complete lack of one. The wait for Akershus can be a little longer than most meals because of the picture that you take prior to being seated. Instead of taking you to an open table right away, you are led to a line where you wait for a picture with Belle. Since the check-in kiosk is right at the entrance to the restaurant, there is nowhere to wait while you await your “royal invitation.” What results is a conference of mini-princesses baking in the sun in the middle of a replica Norwegian courtyard (which is not as funny as the mental image of that scene suggests).
As I mention above, Princess Belle (Beauty and the Beast) greets you into the dining hall where you take a picture with her in her lovely yellow gown. Much like Cinderella at Cinderella’s Royal Table, this is the only time you’ll see Belle. The good news is that, also like Cinderella’s Royal Table, the picture with Belle is included in the price of your meal.
The other princesses that attended our meal were Ariel (the Little Mermaid), Jasmine (Aladdin), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Snow White. The frequency which they visited the table was right on for me (just enough time to eat in between) and they were great about coming back when my little princess was using the little princesses’ room (a hilarious aside: if you go near the bathroom, look for the trail of glitter leading to the ladies room from all those dresses).
One thing I find the more I meet the princesses is that the individual portraying them makes a huge difference. With that in mind, I have to make a special mention of the Ariel that we had. She was easily the best “Ariel” I’ve ever seen. She was scattered, funny, and appeared to have a very short attention span, which is perfect for that character. I would have followed her around all night to listen to her shtick except then I would be writing a blog post entitled “My experience in Disney jail for stalking.”
Here is where I may surprise you since I am a self-professed tough food critic. We dined at Akershus during dinner, which consists of a buffet of cold meats, fish, and cheese. In addition, the entrees available are salmon, chicken breast, kjottkake (Norwegian meatballs), pasta, pork tenderloin, and herb dusted beef tips. I am a very open eater, but some in my party are not so I was naturally worried that authentic Norwegian food (well, they say it’s authentic. I have no idea) would be too much.
I personally thought the food was fantastic. I didn’t really try much on the buffet as I am not big on the fish, but I did order two entrees (yes, it’s allowed although the waitress gave me a weird look). I tried both the meatballs and the beef and both were top quality. The beef specifically I wish I was eating right now (great, now I’m hungry).
The desserts were also very good (and yes, I still had dessert after two entrees…don’t judge). The platter they supply has chocolate mousse, rice cream, and puff pastry with mascarpone and berries. The puff pastry was too thick and chewy for my taste, but the chocolate mousse I downed as if it were the antidote to a poisoned apple.
Odds, Ends, and Details
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at Akershus. The breakfast is a more traditional breakfast, served family style. The lunch menu is also Norwegian, but geared more toward sandwiches (the meatballs are available, but sadly not the beef). The prices are a little high (although lower than Cinderella’s Royal Table), yet typical for character meals at $39.40/$23.42 (adults/children) for breakfast, $41.53/$24.49 for lunch, and $46.85/$25.55 for dinner. Alcohol is available, but is not included in the price.
I very much enjoyed Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (phew, that’s a mouthful) as did my family. In fact, I’m going to go as far as to say that I prefer it to Cinderella’s Royal Table. Akershus is a more economical option as well, especially if you are on the Disney Dining Plan because Cinderella’s Royal Table is two credits to Akershus’ one.
The bottom line is that if you or your kids want to meet some princesses, this is a great place to do it. If you can get over not eating in Cinderella Castle, Akershus is my recommendation.