A character dining experience at Disney can be a memorable event for the whole family. It’s also a great way to meet many characters at once, saving you precious time in the parks. And sometimes you get even more than you bargained for. You’ll never guess which unlikely Disney princess we met at their character dining experience at the Epcot castle, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway. And, no, it wasn’t Anna or Elsa!
Disney Princess Storybook Dining Epcot: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
While flying standby internationally isn’t out of the question (we’ve actually managed it once to Dubai) when we finally visit Norway we’ll likely be purchasing full-price tickets like everyone else. In the meantime, we decided to get a little taste of Norway with Disney Princess Storybook Dining at Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
We like to do at least one special character dining experience every time we visit the World and Akershus is one that hadn’t been on my radar. When it showed up on my search for character dining experiences at DisneyWorld.com, I was excited to find something new that also tied into our eight-year-old daughter, Reagan’s love of the Disney movie “Frozen.” If you also have Frozen fans in the family, or even if you don’t, be sure to tour the Stave Church Gallery across from Akershus to see how the filmmakers of Frozen were inspired by the culture and beauty of Norway.
Who doesn’t want to dine in a castle? You’ll need to make reservations for breakfast, lunch or dinner as far in advance as possible to get a table at Akershus. You can book up to 180 days in advance of your visit. We were fortunate to get a decent dinnertime of 6pm on the night I was hoping for after booking only 30 days before our visit.
Arrive on time or you’ll lose your reservation! Last year we were told that you couldn’t be more than five minutes late for our reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant or risk losing it. Others have said 15 minutes. And for all character dining experiences, you will be charged if you are a no-show. Because my family was split up in different parts of the World, I had to wait for them to arrive before I could be seated at Akershus. They arrived at least 20 minutes late. I was surprised when we were still given a table. So, it would seem that Disney will try to accommodate you if possible, but don’t count on it.
Meeting her favorite Disney princesses never seems to get old for Reagan. And this time, she got to meet a princess she hadn’t met before: Mulan. It was a complete surprise – she wasn’t listed on the website as one of the possible characters we’d meet at Akershus. Ariel must’ve gotten tied up in a net that night and Mulan was filling in. We also met Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora and Belle.
When we first walked in, there was a special meet and greet area set up for pictures with a princess, but we couldn’t see who until we stepped behind the wall. It was Belle.
The rest of the princesses made their way around to each table to take pictures and sign autographs with the guests. During dinner, there was also a Princess Processional around the restaurant that the kids were encouraged to join in on. That was a nice touch and the kids were loving it.
If you’ve ever eaten dinner at an IKEA, you’ll get a sense of the type of fare that is served at Akerhus. There is an appetizer buffet featuring Scandinavian seafood, imported cheeses and cured and sliced meats, salads, and fresh fruit. Your main course is served at your table and represents traditional Scandinavian dishes such as Norwegian meatballs, mashed potatoes and Lingonberry sauce known as Kjøttkake, plus a few more American choices such as an oven-roasted chicken or grilled pork chop with a Norwegian twist. Not sure if it’s at all Scandinavian, but I had to try the house-made butternut squash ravioli. It was as delicious as it looks.
Dessert was served family-style – three smaller desserts on one plate – and in just the right portions.
Maybe it was because we were late for our reservation, but we were seated right next to the buffet table in the most over-lit and sterile part of the castle, which made it feel like we were eating in a school cafeteria under fluorescent lighting. Compared to our dining experience at Be Our Guest last year, this one was less than appealing.
After dinner, I peeked into the other dining rooms of the castle and gaped at the cathedral ceilings and warm, rustic décor. Every room was still much too bright for my taste but the effect of dining in a castle was much more believable everywhere but where we were seated. Where you sit can really color your experience.
Dinner will always be the most expensive dining option at Disney and this one just wasn’t worth the $200 price tag attached to it for two adults and one child, after drinks, tax and gratuity were added in. The food was fine, but noting spectacular. And, we are autograph-seekers, so had already seen Snow White and Belle earlier at Epcot, and would see Cinderella and Aurora later at the Magic Kingdom. Other than meeting Mulan, the character part was pretty much already covered outside of dinner.
Unless this is your first visit to Disney and you’d rather not wait in character autograph lines to meet your favorite Disney princess, look for other unique or themed dining experiences that don’t involve characters (costs less), dinner shows or events for a memorable dinner at Disney. Otherwise, go for breakfast or lunch and use your Disney Dining Plan.