Review: Lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Including Testing of New Service Style)

Velkommen til Akershus!

Today we’re visiting Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway! This Pavilion has certainly seen its fair share of changes over the past year or so, primarily due to the influence of all things “Frozen.” The biggest headline of them all, of course, was the closing of the Maelstrom attraction in October 2014 (prompting a memorial Maelstrom Margarita at La Cava del Tequila in the neighboring Mexico Pavilion) to make way for “Frozen Ever After,” anticipated for a 2016 opening.

But that’s not the only change. We learned that Akershus — best known as being home to the Princess Storybook Dining character meal — had undergone a test alteration of its own. Typically featuring a cold buffet (Norwegian Koldtbord) along with hot breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrees served at your table, a test run recently brought about a new service style to Akershus. While it remains an All-You-Care-to-Eat option, the cold buffet was closed and several of the previous options are now brought to the table and served family style as part of a trial run at this popular restaurant.

This test has since ended, but we were told that it’s now up to guest feedback as to whether it comes back permanently.

Akershus Sign

Akershus Sign

Let’s head back inside the fortress walls to see what’s changed, what hasn’t, and what we think about this proposed update to the serving style at Akershus! [Read more…]

DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: June 4, 2014

For this round of “What’s New,” we’ve got food news (and menu changes galore) from every single Disney World park… and beyond! So settle, in, make yourselves comfy, and join us to see What’s New!

Animal Kingdom

We’ll start with the fact that Dole Whip (with or without rum, y’all) can now be found at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Animal Kingdom’s Africa! (Yep; we’ve had confirmation from Dole that it IS indeed authentic Dole Whip Pineapple Soft Serve.)

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Pineapple Soft-serve (Dole Whip!) menu

Pineapple Soft-serve (Dole Whip!) menu

But we don’t want to miss the chance to mention that Tamu Tamu has also brought back some old favorites with a recent menu refresh: The Slow-cooked Pulled Beef Sandwich is back (hooray!), along with the return of the Quinoa Salad. The Roasted Chicken Salad and gorgeous Fresh Fruit Salad made the cut from the previous menu.

Tamu Tamu Menu

Tamu Tamu Menu

Inside the pulled beef sandwich

Inside the pulled beef sandwich

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

And I’m very happy to say that the Fresh Fruit Bowl is back in time for summer!

Fruit Bowl at Bradley Falls Kiosk

Fruit Bowl Salad

The Fruit Salad has returned to Bradley Falls, too.

Bradley Falls menu

Bradley Falls menu

Remember, Bradley Falls operates seasonally, so if it’s closed during your visit, it’s good to know you can head over to Tamu Tamu for a Fresh Fruit Bowl.

Have you seen (or heard?!) this awesome Musical Tumbler found at various food locations throughout Animal Kingdom? Get the full scoop here!

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

The Royal Anandapur Tea Company is a perfect spot to grab a cup of hot tea (assorted varieties available) or coffee. However, they’re currently offering some flavored Iced Teas in light of the warmer temps.

Royal Anandapur Tea Company Menu

Royal Anandapur Tea Company Menu

Though not food-related, I’d like to offer this next picture as a small tribute. Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade wrapped up its nearly 13-year run as Animal Kingdom makes way for all sorts of new adventures. I don’t think I’m speaking solely for myself when I say this unique, beautiful and fun parade will be missed.

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade

Magic Kingdom

The Lunching Pad has added one more option to its gourmet hot dog selection: the BLT Hot Dog joins the Coney Island Dog and the Philly Cheese Steak Dog.

Lunching Pad Menu

Lunching Pad Menu

Now, here’s something you don’t see everyday… this next bit is not a new item, but rather a new [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Should I Book a Disney Character Meal?

Dining at Walt Disney World is very often an experience rather than just a meal. It’s become a rite of passage to dine with characters during a visit to Disney — and there’s stiff competition to secure Advance Dining Reservations at some of these table-service restaurants.

Mickey strikes a pose!

Meeting Cinderella, rubbing Pooh’s tummy, hugging Mickey Mouse, and posing with Chip and Dale are some of the memorable moments that can be discovered while dining at Character Meals.

Tigger Lounges and Signs an Autograph Book at the Plaza Inn

But is a character meal right for your group? On one hand, adults and kids alike enjoy meeting characters from Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, Cinderella’s Castle, and more! Yet on the other, character meals can be costly — both in time and money!

We’ve been to countless meals in which Disney characters hobnob with guests, and now we can help you determine if a character meal fits well into your next Disney vacation!

Chef Mickey serves up fun and food at the Contemporary Resort!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have an informative section on character meals. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time! Your vacation is an investment and we want you to have the best trip possible!

So let’s take a look at whether a character meal makes sense for YOUR family…

Should I book a character meal?

Let’s get right to some important dining considerations that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to help you plan your meals.

Meet the princesses at a character meal!

1. Do you have kids who may be afraid of characters?

Character meals can be a good place for children to get to know the Disney characters. However if one (or more) of your children are not fond of the characters then consider dining at a restaurant with a fun theme instead.

Not sure if your kiddo hates characters? Here’s how to find out without too much trauma: [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Rice Cream with Strawberry Sauce from Epcot’s Norway

Today, we are happy to share with you the recipe for a fan favorite — Rice Cream with Strawberry Sauce from Epcot’s Norway Pavilion!

This classic Norwegian dessert can be found on the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall menu in the dessert section. But fans who aren’t interested in booking a table for the princess character encounter can also find this sweet treat at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe.

Because Rice Cream is a chilly, rich dessert, it makes a fun alternative to ice cream. And it’s also a good choice if you aren’t in the mood for sugar shock; the sweetness here comes from the beautiful, bright red strawberry sauce, which complements the creamy rice pudding perfectly.

You can find my review of Epcot’s Rice Cream here!

Norway's Rice Cream in Epcot

This adapted recipe does not require fresh strawberries, making it a perfect option for an autumn dessert when the summer berries aren’t in season. :-)

I’m thinking this would make a lovely addition to a holiday dinner, no?

Rice Cream with Strawberry

Serves 4-6
Ingredients for Rice Cream:
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup short-grain white rice
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for Strawberry Sauce: [Read more…]

Top 5 Disney Dining Plan One-Credit Table-Service Values for 2012

Now that you’ve booked your 2012 Disney World vacation, it’s time to make your Advance Dining Reservations. Which restaurants are credit-worthy?

The vacation package add-on called the Disney Dining Plan is a meal plan with a set price in exchange for a certain number of credits. Many table-service meals in Disney World cost one credit, but are you getting the best value?

Stick to the one-credit restaurants, order the most expensive meal on the menu, and maximize your savings! Let’s get to my top picks for best value at “one table-service credit” Walt Disney World restaurants. I think some of them will surprise you!

Criteria Used

When we looked at values, our main criteria was price. These restaurants offer a great bang for your buck when paying with the Disney Dining Plan.

We also looked at enjoyment level and food quality, but these criteria were secondary and tertiary to cost. Note that these aren’t necessarily our favorite restaurants, but they are good values for one Disney Dining Plan credit.

Tutto Italia

Tucked into the Italian pavilion at Epcot, Tutto Italia Ristorante boasts regional cuisines from Italy in an Old World setting. Table service is attentive, although the fine-dining atmosphere can lead to longer waits.

This restaurant serves up a Roasted Rack and Leg of Lamb ($34) as an entree. End your meal with Copetta Sotto Boscue, a dessert specialty comprised of berries, zabaglione cream, gelato, and chocolate sauce, which has an out-of-pocket price of $14. When both of these items are ordered, Tutto Italia becomes quite possibly your best one-credit table-service value in Walt Disney World.

There’s also a Veal Roast which would run you $31 out-of-pocket but… perfectly worth one dining credit!


Tutto Italia is closed for refurbishment until [Read more…]

Guest Review: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Dinner

Welcome James Hummel with a review of the Storybook dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway!

Having now traveled to Walt Disney World twice with our 4-year-old niece, we decided that it was time she experience dining with her favorite princess characters. We wanted to experience a new restaurant at the same time, and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (a.k.a. Princess Nirvana) was the hands-down winner.


Akershus is located in the Norway pavilion in EPCOT. The design of the restaurant reminded me of a European castle banquet hall. The entrance room is decorated with medieval style wooden chairs fit for Princes and Princesses.

Entrance Hall

Upon entering Akershus, you are welcomed by a Princess; our hostess for our meal was Belle. All guests had the chance to take a picture with Belle. Later in the meal, a Cast Member presents you with a package of your picture with the princess AT NO EXTRA COST! This was a pleasant surprise, as with most other character dining restaurants the pictures are an extra charge.

Belle and her fan

During the meal, there is a princess and prince parade. The Host Princesses ask the little princesses and princes to get up and walk around the room. Since many of the little princesses are dressed in their finest, this gives them the opportunity to show of their dresses.

Our niece loved the experience. She was able to meet [Read more…]

Guest Review: Akershus Princess Storybook Dinner

A huge thank you to Katie Drake for offering to document her family’s experience at the Akershus Princess Storybook Dinner in Disney World’s Norway Pavilion! I can’t wait until you see her pic of her daughter hugging Snow White…classic. Take it away, Katie!

Character meals are some of the toughest reservations to come by in Walt Disney World, particularly breakfasts. If the princess breakfasts are all booked and you can’t be first in the park, or you just want to sleep past 6 a.m. on your vacation, a character lunch or dinner is a great option. Akershus is one of the few restaurants at Disney that offers [Read more…]