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Review: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion

Ready to meet some Disney princesses?!? We’re headed over to check out lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot!

Akershus offers a terrific alternative to the extremely hard-to-get advance dining reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table. A mainstay of World Showcase’s Norway Pavilion, the grand restaurant offers old world Scandinavian charm and character dining encounters with a cast of Disney Princesses.

You still get to eat in a castle (albeit a much smaller one), and you still get to meet at least five Disney princesses. (Cinderella is usually included.) Plus, the price is going to be quite a bit lower than it is in Cinderella Castle. Time to take a closer look.

Atmosphere

Located to the right as you make your way back through the Norway Pavilion, Akershus is is situated across from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, Norway’s charming counter service location.

Akershus Sign

The inside (once you GET inside…more on that later) offers a welcome respite from the bright, hot Florida sunshine. Immediately upon entering, you pick up on the medieval decor. Heavy, ornately carved wooden “thrones” can be found in the entryway.

Akershus is modeled after a medieval castle outside of Norway’s capital city, Oslo. The fortress was completed in the 14th century, and the interior features the same white walls as the Disney replica.

Entryway

The whitewashed stone walls lend to the cheerful, cool feeling. The low windows look out on the pavilion and allow for lots of natural light to flood the pretty space.

First Dining Room and Seating

In the main dining room, you get a real sense of the castle vibe. Vaulted wooden ceilings are not plastered, and feature heavy wooden beams and wrought iron chandeliers with “candles.”

Main Dining Room

Just like in the banquet hall of Cinderella’s Royal Table, the ceiling at Akershus soars above you, and it’s decorated with banners. These depict symbols of life in Norway.

Take a moment to study the beautiful detail of the woodwork here. It’s reminiscent of the Stave Church, also found in the Norway Pavilion. The intricate dark wood beams are just beautiful, and another example of how specific Imagineers are in the work they do.

Banners and Chandeliers

Seating is found in several different, distinct dining rooms; and guests are made comfortable with cushioned chairs. The main dining room with its soaring ceilings is usually the loudest and most hectic. If you’d prefer a quieter table tucked away in a separate dining room, be sure to request it when you check in.

Thick brick arches continue to give off a stone castle vibe.

Another Dining Room

Eating in the circular dining room is a special treat! You feel like you’re in the turret of the castle. The windows here let in plenty of light, while giving you a nice view of the outside as well.

Circular Dining Room

Be sure to look at the details of the decor as you enjoy your surroundings. Not only is this china display beautiful, but the message inscribed, if I’m not missing my mark, is loosely translated to “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” Fabulous!

Decor

While the restaurant itself is quite beautiful, the biggest draw is the character interaction. During your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll encounter a collection of Disney Princesses. They tend to vary slightly, so you may see princesses that weren’t at our lunch. If you do, let us know who you meet!

Characters and Princess Processional

The day we visited, we had a chance to meet five princesses. Belle was at the front entrance to Akershus (as she usually is), greeting guests. She doesn’t actually circulate throughout the dining room , so if she’s a favorite of yours, be sure to get your photo and autograph on the way in.

Belle at the Front Entrance Greeting Guests

As an aside, here’s a little tidbit about how guests are checked in and seated at this restaurant. Because all guests have the chance to meet Belle when they first come in, the small entryway and lack of a “waiting area” means things get crowded and backed up very quickly.

As a result, guests check in outside and are given a pager. They’re then made to continue to wait outside until a large group of new diners is brought in to meet Belle and then be seated. It’s definitely a hassle if it’s super hot or super rainy in Epcot that day. (And anyone who’s been to Orlando knows that there’s a good percentage for most of the year that it’s either going to be super hot or super rainy on any given day!) Be sure to prepare accordingly if you’re visiting on a busy, or weather challenged, day.

Now back to your regularly scheduled princesses!

Aurora from Sleeping Beauty was also there during our lunch.

Aurora

We found that she was the “head princess” in our dining room when the Princess Processional began.

This little “parade” happens about once every half hour or so. Kids from throughout the restaurant are invited to join in for a processional around the room, led by the Disney princesses. This will be a fun memory for them and it’s a great photo op for parents!

Aurora Begins the Princess Processional

There’s even a little Princess Processional song that goes along with it!

Aurora Leading the Princess Processional

Once the processional was over, the princesses went back to greeting guests at tables, taking photos, and giving autographs. Ariel, Cinderella, and Snow White also headed over from their kingdoms to join in the feast.

Ariel

Cinderella

Snow White

Incidentally, it’s fun to see the princesses in costumes with little variations. On my last visit to Akershus, Cinderella was attired for colder weather. Well, it is a little cooler in Norway at times.

Eats

We also enjoyed breakfast here a while back, if  you’re interested to see what that meal looks like at Akershus. But now it’s time to see what’s on the menu for lunch!

The menu tells a bit about the original castle of Akershus in Norway. It also explains a little about the dining format here, which is unique to this restaurant.

Front and Back of Akershus Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Inside the menu, you begin with a wine list, which offers a decent selection and some good variety.

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

The menu includes specialty drinks with a Norwegian emphasis. Many of them feature Linie Aquavit, a strong spirit flavored with herbs and tasting faintly of licorice.

You also get a description of the offerings. Even though Akershus offers a prix fixe, or set price, meal, you enjoy a combination of cold buffet (koldtbord) and menu items.

Specialty Drinks and Entrees -- Click to Enlarge

The children’s menu features healthier Mickey Check Meals as well as more traditional kid-friendly options.

You’ll finish up the meal with a dessert platter with three offerings.

Children's Menu and More Beverages -- Click to Enlarge

To begin your meal, your server will take your drink and entree selections. You are then free to take a trip (or four — there’s no limit) to the koldtbord.

Full Buffet

Freshly baked rolls kick off the buffet selection.

Rolls on the Buffet

Prepared butter balls lend an extra fancy touch.

Butter for Bread

There’s a basic salad bar, which includes tossed salad and a selection of house made dressings.

Salads and Dressings

There are also a number of prepared cold salad selections. One the left, from front to back, there was Potato Salad, Pear and Apple Salad, and Beet and Apple Salad. On the right, you have Quinoa, Chicken, and Cucumber Salads.

Cold Salad Selection

One of the truly authentic and unique portions of the buffet are the cold fish preparations. Usually, there is a selection of Smoked Salmon, as well as Herring prepared in two ways. You’ll also find accompaniments, like capers and chopped onion.

Fish and Cheese

There are also a number of sliced meats and cheeses. Cheeses include Gjetost, Jarlsberg, and Muenster.

Meats and Cheeses

A Mixed Fruit Salad and Cold Asparagus completes the buffet offerings and provide some really excellent healthy selections. I thought the asparagus especially looked pretty great.

Buffet Fruits and Vegetables

After we were finished with our cold selections, our entrees arrived. My husband chose the Traditional Kjottkake, or Norwegian meatballs. They were served with mashed potatoes, gravy, lingonberry sauce, and green beans.

They were really incredible — super flavorful and rich, with the perfect sweet-tangy note from the lingonberries. It’s always a treat to find them in a dish! The green beans were bright and cooked just right as well. The hearty and flavorful mashed potatoes were a great accompaniment.

Traditional Kjottkake

I had heard good things about the Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich, so I couldn’t wait to try it. It comes with your choice of soup. I decided to sample the Tomato.

The sandwich comes with thinly sliced beef, which is smothered in a wild mushroom-onion ragout and topped with a slice of melted Jarlsberg cheese. Served on artisan bread, this is a really tasty knife-and-fork sandwich. The ragout was an especially nice touch, lending an almost sauce-like consistency to the combination. I didn’t really miss having a condiment.

The Tomato Soup was a good fresh version with a vibrant red color. While I love a creamy tomato bisque, this succeeded with bright flavors.

Overall, this was a smaller portion that what you might expect, so keep that in mind when ordering. It’s a good option if you’re going to supplement with strong trips to the buffet.

Roast Beef Sandwich and Tomato Soup

Dessert is served in the form of a sampler. The desserts vary, so you might see different selections. The three sweets served to us were Sweet and Savory Chocolate Mousse, Traditional Rice Cream topped with Strawberry Sauce, and Apple Cake with Cardamom Whipped Cream.

I’m not sure why the chocolate mousse is termed “sweet and savory”, but we always enjoy having the rice cream. (If it’s a favorite of yours too, be sure to check out our recipe!) And the apple cake was an enjoyable, comforting addition. The portions aren’t huge, but after a big meal, they don’t really need to be.

The Royal Chef's Dessert Plate

Although none of the desserts stood out as particularly memorable, they were all good.

Overall

I have long been a champion of and advocate for Akershus. A meal here will set you back far less than something similar at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the reservation is much easier to secure. True, you get the cute wand or sword souvenir and the photo package at Cindy’s. Still, the food here is a notch or so above Cinderella’s Royal Table in my opinion (even though things over there have improved drastically).

If you’re looking to mark several princesses off of your meet and greet list in one fell swoop, give Akershus a try. With good food, good character interaction, and beautiful surroundings, it really is a win.

Plus, it offers an opportunity for your kids to explore some different food items than they might normally try, since you’ll have access to that cold buffet. It’s a great learning experience and palate expanding opportunity!

Is Akershus a favorite destination for you or your crew? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience!

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28 Comments

  1. Mark Hickson says:

    I must admit that I do miss the Smoked Herring Bar. Ufta!

  2. Mike Venere says:

    We have done this for breakfast 3 times now. Cinderellas castle you have to do once just to say you have done it. But if you want the better way to meet and interact with the Princesses THIS IS IT!!! There is no doubt in my mind.
    My daughters ( 5 and 3) LOVED this and my 5 year old was even able to hold the hand of her favorite princess, Ariel, as they did the princess parade.

  3. lebeau says:

    I suppose I’m just not a big fan of Disney buffets. We enjoyed the atmosphere and of course the princesses, but we were not very impressed with the food. I found a few things on the cold buffet that I really enjoyed. Tha aspergus was good. I am not a big fan of cold fish, but I found a few cold salads and cheeses I enjoyed.

    The entrees were edible. But no one in our group loved their meal. Everything came with lumpy mashed potatoes. The kids didn’t like that the potatoes had their skins on. That didn’t bother me, but the lumps did. I had the meatballs and found them rather bland. I don’t believe mine were served with the ligonberry sauce but I could be misremembering.

    The desserts were the closest thing we had to a big hit. My oldest ate two servings of the chocolate mousse. I never even got to sample it. The rice cream was okay, but I didn’t care for the texture. The second helping that came with the mousse went untouched. Instead of the cake, we had a fruit tart which was tasty but not exceptional.

    Oh and after the princess processional, Ariel failed to bring our kids back to our table! I had to go hunting for them. Thankfully, they didn’t panic. They were “missing” for what seemed like a long time but was probably actually less than a minute.

    I am focusing a bit on the negative to counter the overwhelmingly positive nature of the reviews. As an alternative to the ridiculously over-priced castle, Akershus is a great choice. But at the end of the day, it was an expensive buffet and I left less than full because there wasn’t anything I liked enough to chow down on.

  4. Asuka says:

    I loved Akershus when I went last year! We went for lunch as well and found we barely had room for our entrees after going to the cold bar.

    Also, doesn’t Akershus come with a photo package? I remember receiving one when I went and it didn’t cost extra.

  5. Kat says:

    My husband and I went to Akershus for the first meal of our honeymoon in May, and we ADORED it–if we have a little girl, we definitely want to take her for our next Disney trip!! I had the salmon cakes and my husband had the cornish hen, and we both loved our entrees. I ADORED the smoked fish and cheeses–I could have eaten just the buffet all day! Since I’m gluten-intolerant the only dessert I could have was the rice cream which I didn’t like much, but they also brought raspberry and mango sorbets (the typical gluten-free dessert at Disney restaurants) which are always quite tasty–but by that point I was so full it barely mattered!! And the princess interaction was amazing, even for two adults without kids–each princess stopped at our table completely in-character and took pictures with both of us! We can’t wait to do it again.

  6. Jessica says:

    We just ate lunch there last month while on vacation. It was a nice experience for the kids. The food was just okay for us. I’m glad they had the Buffett because it supplemented the smaller plates. In regards to character experiences, I think we actually had more interaction when we went to Cinderella’s Royal table. We did, however, get a picture package with our reservation so it definitely made it more of an appealing choice than the castle.

  7. Cindi says:

    We loved Akershus. I went back for the asparagus. It is delicious. I was really surprised that I liked the food here as well because I am a very picky diner and even I left here very full and satisfied with my meal. The Princesses were very friendly and we weren’t even sure they would stop by our table of only 2 adults. But they did and posed for several photos with both of us and we did not feel our interaction was rushed at all. The meal was tasty and well presented and we really enjoyed the beautiful castle setting. The windows were blown glass which really gave this an authentic feel. The attention to detail is amazing and you feel transported far away from Florida and the USA. The photo with Belle that is taken before you are seated is included in the cost of the meal. We received a large photo and 4 smaller ones and no additional charge!

  8. Sandra says:

    The food would definitely appeal to my guys: meatballs, (lumpy) mashed potatoes and lingonberries is pretty much home cooking for them. The herrings and salads would be a hit with my husband, and my son would dig into the cheeses and rolls. And princesses? What more could a guy want? We might have to consider this one for our next trip!

  9. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for a great post. We visit WDW annually during the food and wine festival – and have never tried this restaurant. Although we adore the grazing during the F&W, it’s nice to try something new. I love salmon and herring, and several other items are intriguing as well. Our travel group is all adults at the moment, so the princesses won’t be as big of a draw as it once might have been. However, it’s just crazy how difficult it has been to obtian ADRs for many of the fine dining restaurants – even close to the 180 days in advance! We’ll have to see if this one is available.

  10. Joanna says:

    YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!! My mouth is watering looking at those meatballs! Everything actually!! I tried getting my husband to go there last year, but swedish/norwegian food isn’t his thing. We made reservations at the german restaurant instead, but my son got sick before we could eat (right there at the restaurant actually). The remainder of the trip was a loss because everyone except me was sick in the hotel room… It lasted 8 days and our entire Disney trip was gone :( So we’re planning the next trip to make up for the last one! I’ve got Disney fever bad!! And your blog isn’t helping!! Lol! :)

  11. Colette says:

    Great review! This is on my list during my next visit. I’ve always wanted to go there plus with characters being there it is an added bonus, I’ve been to CRT for breakfast and the food and atmosphere was so-so that being because I felt crammed in and rushed. I’m planning on eating more in World Showcase on my next trip…. Hopefully lol.

  12. CanadiansLoveWDW says:

    LOVE this place… it was our first full service meal at Disney .. and on every trip we go here the first night…

  13. Dan says:

    The food here looks fantastic! I wish they did a meal without characters though…most people in my family hate character meals (too much noise, too crowded, etc etc), so unfortunately we miss out on a lot of delicious-looking restaurants like this one :(

  14. Shan says:

    Great review! We’ve done both breakfast and dinner, and both were really good. The atmosphere is nice and we didn’t experience a rush to finish up like we have at other places. Plus seeing the children so excited to see the princesses… just adorable :)

  15. Sara says:

    We really liked eating here on our first trip. My little one is still princess obsessed, so I think that we are putting this back on the agenda for our next trip with the entire family. I have a feeling Grandma is going to feel like a princess too ;) I personally prefer Royal Table, this will be a great alternative since I can’t ask my family to shell out the cash needed to eat at CRT. I’m really glad that you posted lunch pics, as that is the meal we were looking to do.

  16. JoAnn says:

    I’ll be eating here for the first time this November. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. Alan says:

    I miss the rainforest stew.

  18. Alan says:

    Correction, my tablet changed reindeer to rainforest.

  19. Enrique says:

    I had my picture taken with that same Cinderella Cast Member in March over at Cinderella’s royal table restaurant. What are the odds I’d find her on this blog? hahaha

  20. Catherine says:

    Used to go there all the time before it went princess and I’m just not interested in the princesses. Wish they’d left one meal princess free but they are the draw, after all. Miss the food though.

  21. Brenda says:

    We went for the first time last Oct, and Akershus was our only character meal. I was so excited to get reservations there and couldn’t wait to take DD4. Well when we walked in, I guess she decided that was the right time to throw a fit. While I was putting her princess dress on, I was thinking ” Dear God, not now, please not now.” Well something magical happened. It was like she suddenly realized there were princesses walking around and her attitude changed immediately. Oh my, it was such a magical meal. All of the princesses gave her so much attention and Cinderella ( whom she was dressed liked) gave her the most. We went for the lunch too and enjoyed our meal. We just had to go in with an open mind knowing that the food on the food was Norwegian and will be a bit different.

  22. Neil says:

    Good review. However, as a parent, I’m not a fan of the Princess Processional. It seems that prior to the days of the Processional, the Princesses would spend slightly more time at each table. Now it seems as they know they must get through X tables so they can be ready for the processional.

  23. Julie Muniz says:

    We have our reservations for September…so excited, especially after reading your article!! Thanks!! :)

  24. Cid404 says:

    I’m with Catherine. No interest in the Princesses. I did love the food at Akershus, both in the pre- and post- Princess versions.

  25. Jay says:

    Don’t know if the uppity-ups at Epcot or the Norway pavilion read your blog, but if they do: Please make one dining room princess-free! I miss this restaurant!!!

  26. Larry from Indiana says:

    We did this event for lunch early February 2014. Our party was 4 adults (mom, dad, grandma & grandpa) and 2 children, ages 3 (girl) and 9 (boy). Even during this so-called “slow” time of the year for Disney parks we waited almost 45 minutes to be seated after checking in … WHY?!?!? Then after getting a picture of our 3-year old with one of the princesses (forgot which one .. but really they’re all the same to a 3-year old so it didn’t matter) we were seated at a table that was right in the middle of the room where everybody and their brother kept walking around us and bumping our chairs (especially those of us on the side where the main walkway was). I server did show up pretty quickly and took our drink orders .. but that was the first and last time he was prompt at all. About 5-10 minutes later we got our drinks … even after all going up to the cold buffet part of the lunch and getting that food. And speaking of the cold buffet food … it wasn’t bad but it sure wasn’t good either … and certainly not for the price we paid ($45.99 each for the adults and $27.99 for each of the children … no, I didn’t type that wrong … a penny shy of TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS FOR EACH KID!!! … talk about outrageous! … and while the adult price was outrageous too at least we got SOME value for our money for the food we got). But back to the cold buffet food … mostly just salad, rolls and some cold meats and cheeses and peel & eat shrimp (the best part of the cold buffet IMHO) … but certainly nothing memorable or all that tasty .. and (again) not worth the price. Then our server dropped off the drinks and said he would be back to take our order which he was … TEN more minutes later! So we ordered the hot part of the lunch but really nothing sounded very good. I ordered a hot roast beef sandwich and 2 of us ordered the hot turkey sandwich, each with a small side of like mashed potatoes or something similar. Again, this kind of money for SANDWICHES?!?!? .. come on Disney … I know you like to gouge people for as much as you can but this was ridiculous (but actually it was us that are to blame for paying these prices… but never again for this guy).

    Anyway, back to the meal … the food arrive in about another 10-15 minutes … SLOOOOOW! Plus our server never asked us if we needed drink refills and I had to run him down to request that we get new drinks. Again, POOOOOOOR service!!! My roast beef sandwich had about an eighth inch of roast beef and 2 inches of bread … and the turkey sandwiches were similar. The kids ordered pizza and while it looked pretty good it was just a small 8 inch diameter or so cheese pizza. How is an 8-inch pizza worth nearly TWENTY EIGHT BUCKS?!?!? Yeah, yeah .. I know you are paying for the “privilege” of dining with the princesses and the ambiance of the Norway castle and all but this is still WAY too overpriced .. and even more so when our 3-year old daughter and granddaughter could have cared less when the princesses stopped by the table to visit. She preferred eating over seeing the princesses .. and our 9-year old grandson sure didn’t care about them (now maybe in about another 5-6 years he MIGHT (for different reasons!) .. but not this time! LOL). The quality of the food was OK but not great and the quantity was pretty small .. unless you like a lot of bread on your sandwich!

    OK, then after the main course the server brought out a “family style” dessert plate with 3 small desserts on it. Yes, I said plate .. singular … for FOUR adults and TWO children! People who were dining as couples were getting the very same plate of desserts!?!?! WTH??? So I blurted out (to no one in particular) “We only get ONE dessert plate for our party of SIX?!?!?” .. and another server standing at a nearby table (not even our server) heard me and said “We can bring you out another dessert plate if you would like, sir?” … and I just looked at her with a face that said “DUH!!!”. I did say that, yes, we wanted another one. Then our server showed up about 5 minutes later with a second dessert plate and when he set it down he mumbled something like “We were bringing you another dessert plate but it wasn’t ready when I brought the other one out” … again … WTH?!?!? I mean, if that were the case why didn’t he tell us that when he set the first plate on the table??? That was nothing but a line of bull from him….

    In summary … NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER …. did I mention NEVER? … again will I eat at this overpriced, underserviced, poor-to-average quality/quantity Disney restaurant. And unless you just have more money than you know what to do with and/or it is so important for your kid to see some princesses up close while they (the kids I mean, not the princesses!) munch on a pizza then I would advise you not to either. And don’t get me wrong … I have pretty much enjoyed all the other Disney character dining experiences we have done (especially love the buffet breakfast at the Crystal Palace with the Winnie The Pooh characters!) but this meal/experience at Akerhus is just the pits. Save your money … and save yourself a lot of frustration … and skip this one.

  27. Pat says:

    I know it’s been a while since anyone posted to this topic. I agree with Cid404 and Jay. We miss going to Akershus and won’t while it is all Princess. There are a lot of couples and singles that just don’t want to spend time having a meal with kids squealing all over characters. Someone on another message board had a great suggestion. Make Akershus princess-free during lunch and start a character lunch over at Morocco (Aladin based). This way everyone has a chance to enjoy the foods of Norway and Morocco picks up some business.

  28. Kelly says:

    With all of the resources people have available to them online for checking meal prices and researching what they can expect to see on Disney menus, I don’t understand how people (like Larry from Indiana) can string together these terrible reviews. It’s simple – do your research before you go. If your kids aren’t into Disney Princesses, don’t book a meal with them. If your family doesn’t want to spend the money to dine at all-you-care-to-eat spots, choose somewhere more affordable. If you’re a meat and potatoes type of person, don’t reserve a spot where they serve more adventurous fare. And if you’re going to complain about waiting 10 minutes to receive your meal at a table service restaurant, opt for quick service dining (10 minutes is more than reasonable to wait at a busy Disney sit down spot…or any sit down in North America for that matter – remember, your server has other tables to serve and your chef had to prepare meals for more than just you and your family).

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