Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is the princess-hosted character buffet/restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.
If you’ve ever found yourself at the end of the Frozen Ever After line, or assumed that the queue extends this far back because people are actually waiting for their table at Akershus, then you’re probably familiar with the establishment.
You may also be familiar with the high price point. With tax, breakfast is $52.19 for adults and $30.89 for kids between the ages of three and nine, while lunch and dinner are $60.71 for adults and $36.21 for kids. That’s about 25% more expensive than your standard character buffet at the likes of Tusker House or Crystal Palace. It’s also about $10/adult and $5/child more expensive than Chef Mickey’s. But unlike Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom, the other princess-hosted meal that’s usually compared directly to this one, Akershus is just one credit on the Disney Dining Plan. That makes it one of the best values for those using table service credits. Out of pocket, Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast is $62.95 for adults and $38.36 for kids, while lunch and dinner will run you $79.10 for adults and $46.91 for kids. So you could theoretically go to Cinderella’s Royal Table for breakfast for about the same money as lunch/dinner at Akershus.
Speaking of Frozen, Akershus begins seating for breakfast at 8am. Those with pre-opening breakfast reservations have the ability to hurry through the meal and be outside the restaurant prior to 9am. Those diners will then be able to experience the ride before anyone from the main entrance can hope to arrive as the ride’s entrance is only a couple of dozen steps away. From our last rope drop touring post, we learned that heading to Frozen Ever After is not as much of a hurry as it would have been a year ago and given the high cost of breakfast; I’d prefer to sit back, relax, and enjoy myself without having to continuously check my watch or risk skipping one or two of the characters because it’s time to head out the door. But it’s certainly an option.
Belle plays host and PhotoPass is set up to take pictures with her prior to guests being seated.
The interior, themed to a medieval castle, is stately.
Here during the holiday season, we enjoy some wreaths scattered around the restaurant.
You may not have the opportunity to choose the time of year when you’ll visit, but Christmas is always a little prettier.
The high ceilings and chandeliers are a nice touch, but the restaurant is typically on the loud side with little to absorb all of the ruckus.
While princess meals are probably on the “girly” side of things, it may be possible to play up the whole “eating inside of a castle” thing with boys that might be a little less interested in the thought of dining with Aurora.
My cousin and her family, along with her parents and a friend’s family, were recently in town.
As if a first Walt Disney World vacation isn’t stressful enough, imagine me leaning over your shoulder every five minutes saying, “You know you’re doing that wrong, right?”
Actually, they did a very good job of planning their trip, though I suppose it helps to have the website’s immense power behind you. My cousin said she was planning on booking Akershus for 12 on Thanksgiving Day. Upon hearing that, my face instinctively morphed into its wry “yeah okay” smile, but she actually pulled it off. So maybe some of these tips actually work. I really have no idea.
Four princesses visit the tables individually. It’s typically Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, and Snow White, though you’ll occasionally see Jasmine or another fill-in. That interaction and the pictures that accompany it are a big part of the experience and a big part of the reason why the meal is so popular. You can meet these characters elsewhere, but you’ll find yourself standing around waiting for a long time outside at Epcot or probably burning some FastPass+ experiences at Princess Fairytale Hall.
I get this “not you again” look quite often for some reason.
I thought the princesses did a nice job of spending time with the kids, posing, and answering life’s existential questions about what it’s like to be a German princess in a Norwegian castle at an American theme park.
The princesses also lead a processional around the restaurant from time to time, offering the parents a good opportunity to put back a couple shots of Aquavit.
Akershus is somewhat unique in that it’s part-buffet, part-table-service. For breakfast, a platter of eggs, potato casserole, bacon, and sausage are presented to the table along with the cold buffet featuring meats and cheese.
Those options are expanded for lunch and dinner. Here we have Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, Carrots, Peaches, Broccoli, Cucumber Salad, Potato Salad, Fresh Fruit, Coleslaw, Chicken Salad, Shrimp Salad, and Pasta Salad, along with Ranch, Zinfandel Vinaigrette, Caesar, and House Vinaigrette salad dressings.
I thought it was a nice assortment of stuff – I particularly enjoyed the Shrimp Salad, though it probably doesn’t look particularly appetizing on the buffet.
As if my life isn’t sad enough, it’s difficult to admit to children what I do for a living when they ask. I have to tell them that I spend the majority of my time editing pictures of buffet food at the buffet and describing the flavor of fast food hamburgers without using the phrase “meaty saltiness.”
Who else can be counted on to provide such detailed olive closeups, though? Time and time again?
$400 worth of Grilled Asparagus. While everyone else loses all their money in cryptocurrency, I continue investing in spring vegetables. The market can only go up.
Muenster, Jarlsberg, Salami, Beet Salad, Bean Salad, and Charcuterie Salad.
Olives, Pickles, Turkey, Falukorv (Swedish Smoked Sausage), and Gjetost (a surprisingly sweet, almost butterscotch-like cheese in the back right.)
It’s definitely worth trying.
The sausage is very good too.
The hard rolls and butter are a nice accompaniment given all of the meat and cheese options.
You’ll also find thinly sliced Smoked Salmon with Red Onions, Egg, and Caper accompaniments.
The Peppered Mackerel is worth a taste too.
Overall, I thought it was a nice assortment of food to get you started. It is a little curious that there isn’t a kids’ section, but they do love rolls at least.
The meal continues with a selection of entrees:
Being an “all-you-care-to-enjoy” establishment, you have the opportunity to order more than one.
And the Kids’ Entrees:
It seems like a good selection – you can go with your standard Cheese Pizza or make things a little more interesting with the Salmon, Meatballs, or Junior Beef.
Drinks and wine:
I suppose that’s sort of readable – nothing looks to stand out on the wine list, but the drinks that include the licorice-forward Aquavit are interesting.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, here with the “Braised Pork Shank – Slow-braised Pork Shank, Smoked Gouda Polenta, Roasted Corn Succotash, and a Beer and Berry Demi-glace.”
The meat was fork-tender in a really flavorful, nuanced sauce with a little bit of fruit doing a nice job of cutting the sour acidity that sometimes overpowers a wine-forward demi-glace. The Polenta was prepared well too with none of the mushiness that’s so common – a really nice, cheesy character. And the little piece of cornbread was a welcome addition, adding a sweet component against the Corn Succotash, which did a nice job of adding some texture to the pork. Disney would charge $30 for a similar entree elsewhere and I think most people would be satisfied with the quality.
The “Roasted Turkey Breast served with Marbled Mashed Potatoes, Homemade Stuffing, Sauteed Green Beans, Gravy, and Cranberry Sauce” has since been switched out in favor of the “Viking Mixed Grill – Braised Beef, Root Vegetable Mash and Strawberry Demi, Vossakorv Sausage, Roasted Vegetables and Wild Mushrooms, and Seared Pork Belly, Cassis-braised Cabbage, and Apricot-Mustard Sauce,” but I’d look for the Turkey to return in the fall. It’s comfort food at its finest with a surprisingly flavorful gravy.
The “Seafood Stew – Shrimp, Scallops, Mussels, and Clams baked in a Creamy Chowder Sauce with Root Vegetables, Spiced Sausage, and Garlic-Butter Crostini” is quite the collection of stuff served in a creamy, rich sauce. Very good.
The “Salmon Duo – Pastrami-brined Salmon Fillet, Roasted Potato and Brussels Sprout Hash, Mustard Cream Sauce with Salmon Cake, Lemon-Dill Aïoli, and crispy Vegetable Slaw.”
Here’s another winner with quite a bit going on.
Probably the most popular item, we have the “Tradisjonell Kjøttkake – Norwegian Meatballs served with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Lingonberry Sauce.”
You’ll inevitably see some IKEA comparisons here, but the meatballs are quite good – tender with just a little bit of spice from the nutmeg and a little bit of sugar from the ginger. The brown gravy further enhances the meaty flavor of the pork and the Lingonberry Sauce adds a pleasant fruitiness that doesn’t overpower the meat. My advice is typically to order a plate to share – you’ll get a little more value out of the seafood or salmon as your main entree and the meatballs are light enough that you should be able to enjoy a couple of bites without filling up too much tum-tum space.
Surprisingly, everything was really good and everyone in the family seemed to enjoy their food. Don’t tell anyone that they could probably get away with serving a lot worse.
Dessert is a trio of options to share – they switch out the middle one from time to time, but you should see the Rice Cream and the Apple Cake with Cardamom Whipped Cream throughout the year. I think a lot of people are going to have a bit of a texture issue with the lumpy Rice Cream, but once you get over it, the creamy, vanilla-ish dessert is light and refreshing. The Cheesecake in the middle was the most decadent of the selections – dense with a caramel flavor. The fruity flavors continue with the addition of some spice in the Apple Cake – very good with the whipped cream.
Akershus is, of course, expensive. But it does afford the opportunity to meet, greet, and take pictures with five princesses in short order. You’re saving a couple of hours in line versus waiting to meet Belle in France in her provincial dress, Snow White in Germany, Aurora in France, etc. Food-wise, I was impressed with the quality and while $57/adult and $34/child before tax is certainly a costly meal, an appetizer/entree/dessert at your typical Disney restaurant is going to run close to that, particularly when you’re talking about seafood.
But the experience was a lot of fun and I left a lot less mad than I was expecting to be. Hopefully other recent experiences have been just as positive.