A Delicious Review: Akershus
Do you like Disney Princesses? What if I told you that I knew a place where you could meet several of your favorites? Okay, before you say that you know about Cinderella’s Royal Table, let me ask another question. What if you could meet many of the same Disney Princesses for cheaper? Now I have your attention, right? While everyone obsesses on the restaurant that resides inside of Cinderella Castle, the Norway Pavilion hosts one that’s a true hidden gem of Walt Disney World. Here are a few reasons to eat at Akershus.
So. Many. .Princesses.
The first thing you need to know about Akershus is that it’s the unofficial Disney Princess capital of the United States. During a meal at this restaurant, you could encounter *deep breath* Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mulan, and Snow White plus non-princess but all around amazing caretaker nanny Mary Poppins. Disney rotates the characters to keep the experience fresh, but you’ll usually find four or five princesses on duty at all times.
Now, you’re probably thinking that Cinderella’s Royal Table does the same thing, and you’re right. A couple of differences make Akershus a viable alternative, though. A meal at Cinderella Castle costs $80 per person at the time of publication, while the one at Norway Pavilion is $60, a savings of 25 percent or $20 per person in your party plus tip. You’ll save a lot of money AND have a better overall meal, something I’ll explain in a moment. Also, Akershus only costs one Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan; Cinderella’s Royal Table costs two.
As far as appearance, Akershus is where the Disney royalty dines. The restaurant’s theming reflects that. It’s an elegant castle interior that will make you feel like you’re walking through the royal halls of a Norwegian palace. You’ll also get a kick out of the outfits that the servers wear, as they’re in adorable red vests over white shirts. They also wear skirts and knickers that my wife photographs as much as the princesses. Disney truly nails the theming at Akershus.
One of the great aspects of an Akershus visit is that you’ll get plenty of opportunities for Princess pictures. These chances will start the moment that you walk in the restaurant. Your host or hostess will position you in line for a meet-and-greet with Belle (usually). The apple of The Beast’s eye is wearing a layer cake dress that will make you a bit self-conscious about your own outfit unless you’ve also dressed up for the occasion.
An introduction to Belle is only the start of the show. Several other princesses will also come over to meet you once you’re seated at the table. Each of them will pose with all members of your party, giving you plenty of chances for unforgettable cellphone pictures. The only official Disney camerawork happens at the front of the restaurant, but most people wind up with 20+ photographs at Akershus.
The other memorable part of the dining experience is the Princess Parade. At some point during your meal, the Princesses will stop visiting tables and announce that they’re ready to throw a parade. All of the children who want to walk through the restaurant can join the princesses in this parade. It’s akin to breakfast at ‘Ohana, which has Stitch marching kids through the restaurant as Hawaiian Roller Coaster plays. Once the Princess Parade at Akershus starts, you’ll be hard-pressed to see a frown in the restaurant. It’s a joyous celebration that lightens the spirits of everyone in the building.
The Food aka Cheese and Desserts
Akershus offers an All You Care to Eat meal, which is what Disney calls a buffet. The meal has two phases to it. The first IS a buffet where you go to over to a salad bar area and pick out all the Norwegian meats and cheeses that you want to eat. These Scandinavian dishes are universally delightful, and once you have what Disney calls a Taste of Norway, you’ll want more. I’m absolutely fanatical about this green cheese that Akershus serves. It’s called Gjetost, and I love it so much that I’ve actually looked into importing it since this cheese isn’t available in my local market.
The second part of the meal, the main course at Akershus, is the same at lunch and dinner. You select an entrée and then the restaurant brings you a dessert. The menu has Norwegian spellings like Tradisjonell Kjøttkake and Kyllingbryst, but they’re really just Scandinavian spins on meatballs and chicken. You’ll definitely taste the Norway in your entrees, but that’s only fitting for a Table Service restaurant at the World Showcase. If you prefer a more basic meal, choose breakfast. During this meal, you can eat salmon gravlax if you want authentic Norwegian flavor, but Akershus also serves sausage and eggs, too.
Desserts are the real stars of a meal at Akershus. You can only order these at lunch or dinner, but you’ll be glad that you did. Dessert at this restaurant isn’t a series of choices in that you won’t select anything. Instead, your server will present you with The Royal Chef’s Dessert Plate, a trio of Scandinavian delicacies including a rice cream pudding, a crispy apple tart, and a decadent chocolate mousse. ALWAYS save room for dessert at Akershus. It’s the integral portion of the meal (other than the cheese).
Right beside Frozen
The location of Akershus was once a bit inconvenient. The Norway Pavilion wasn’t the most popular location at World Showcase. It was, after all, a pavilion that the country of Norway paid for the right to host at Epcot. Out of the eleven pavilions currently located at the World Showcase, Disney financed the construction for everywhere but Norway and Morocco. Those two countries had governments that needed exposure and were willing to buy it at Epcot. Ultimately, they received more crowd traffic and overall tourist awareness thanks to this choice, but Norway was still one of the least trafficked pavilions until…
Frozen changed everything. Prior to the debut of the most popular animated movie of all-time, the greatest selling point of the Norway Pavilion was Maelstrom, a wonderful attraction that rarely had a long wait. And the lack of a line spoke volumes about the appeal of the ride to most folks. Personally, I loved Maelstrom, but I also understand why Disney made a business decision to get rid of it.
The Norway Pavilion closed Maelstrom in 2014 and added Frozen Ever After in 2016. The results of this decision have had lasting ramifications for the back of the World Showcase. Frozen Ever After consistently has one of (if not) the longest line(s) at Epcot. Because of the movie and the Anna and Elsa meet-and-greet, this pavilion experienced a remarkable reversal of fortune, changing to one of the most visited places at the park.
How does all of this benefit Akershus? Well, the entrance/exit to the restaurant is maybe 15 feet from the line queue for Frozen Ever After. Clever park guests know that they can book an Advance Dinner Reservation (ADR) and a FastPass together. When planned well, you can eat at Akershus and ride Frozen Ever After in short succession. Personally, we set up our ADR first and then board the ride immediately afterward, but either way works well. This is one of the best meal/ride combos at Walt Disney World today and one of the many reasons why Akershus is one of the best restaurant options at Walt Disney World.