Review: Princess Breakfast at Akershus in EPCOT
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a character dining experience in the Norway pavilion of World Showcase in Walt Disney World. This review covers breakfast at the restaurant, with food photos, a look around inside, and thoughts on the Disney Princess Storybook Dining adjacent to Frozen Ever After at EPCOT.
Let’s start on that last note. Although it’s located right next door to Frozen Ever After in the Norway pavilion, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall does not feature Anna and Elsa from the Frozen franchise. Those princesses appear in the nearby Royal Sommerhus meet & greet location. That’s an excellent experience, and efficient way to get hugs, autographs, and so forth with Anna and Elsa.
So if you’re looking for a Frozen-themed princess meal, Akershus is not for you. Conversely, if you’re eagerly anticipating taking your kids to Akershus to have a memorable character meal with the (non-Frozen) royalty, and are motivated more by the princess component than the food, all you probably need to know is that the character interactions at Akershus are great. It’ll be a fun experience for you and your kids.
If you have a pre-parking opening Advance Dining Reservation here and are excited to walk through an empty Future World and World Showcase and then getting in the front of the line for Frozen Ever After before the hordes of crowds–and those experiences also override the food–you also probably do not need to read any further.
However, if you are like me and a restaurant that will end up costing $50+ per adult better deliver excellent food to go along with its ambiance and experience, this review is for you. Not since we dined at Chef Mickey’s a couple of years ago have I felt so disappointed by a Walt Disney World dining experience as I did by our meal at Akershus.
Before that, let’s start with the positives. First up is early access to Epcot if you make a pre-park opening ADR. We cannot recommend this highly enough, and if you make a pre-park opening ADR–whether it’s 8:00, 8:15, 8:25, etc., you’ll be allowed to enter the park at around 7:45 a.m. This stroll through Future World and/or World Showcase as Epcot wakes up for the day is lovely, and a great opportunity for empty park photos.
Then there are the character interactions for breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
They are exceptional–even for awkward adults like us who typically are not good with face characters–as the princesses go out of their way to personally “connect” and spend time with each guest. Obviously, every table adjacent to us was filled with kids; we noticed a lot of time being taken for personal interactions.
This is something parents are going to cherish, and probably one of the reasons Akershus has fans. If you look at Chef Mickey’s reviews (or comments defending it in response to our review), you’ll notice a lot of this same sentiment.
There’s no denying that both restaurants typically offer really positive character interactions, and if that’s your priority, Akershus does well; hence my recommendation to skip the rest of this review.
The ambiance is a bit of a mixed bag. Strictly in terms of architecture and design, the interior is really interesting, and reminds me of classic EPCOT Center caliber detail. (I’m guessing it’s relatively unchanged since the Norway pavilion opened, which is a good thing.) The experience of dining inside a castle is always cool, albeit not as cool here as in Cinderella Castle.
The restaurant is modeled after the medieval Akershus Castle and Fortress in Oslo, Norway that was built to fortify and defend the city from Prince Hans Westergaard of the Southern Isles…or maybe Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg. (Sorry! I have such a hard time keeping real history and make-believe history straight.)
The downside of Akershus’ ambiance is the restaurant is loud and hyper-active. There’s not much to dampen sound, and there’s a lot of sound. Then there’s the chaos of having a packed restaurant (the table density here seems higher than at most other character buffets) with princesses meeting guests as people head towards the buffet.
I consider this a ‘nature of the beast’ type of thing, as it’s something you’ll find at most of the character meals at Walt Disney World. I don’t really knock Akershus for any of this, save for the table spacing.
Now we get to the food for breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
This works a bit differently than other character breakfasts in that hot items are brought to the table family style, and cold items are served on a buffet. The hot items include scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and potato casserole.
The good news there is that the potato casserole is ridiculously–addictively, even–awesome. I ate way too much of this. The bad news is that the other three hot items are passable at best.
I think the scrambled eggs are actually made of egg here, but that’s about their only redeeming quality. These 3 are all standard Disney breakfast quality.
As far as the buffet goes, you have a few pastries, yogurt (and granola toppings), fruit, cheeses, smoked salmon, peppered mackerel, and sliced salami & turkey. That’s everything. Trying to maximize my value here, I focused on the smoked salmon, mackerel, and cheeses, all of which were moderately good.
Okay, so maybe this doesn’t sound too bad? “Ridiculously good” potato casserole, plus fish and cheese. Seems like a decent breakfast. I suppose you could look at it that way, but that’s a really generous assessment of a $50/person breakfast spread. If this were a free hot item continental breakfast served at a 3-star hotel, I would’ve been impressed by it. At Walt Disney World, I would’ve even been accepting of something in the $30s/person range, as a character surcharge is to be expected.
However, at a breakfast with this price point, the variety (or lack thereof) is tough to justify. And that’s even when you take the characters into account. If you compare the Akershus Breakfast Menu to nearby Cape May Cafe’s Breakfast Menu, you can see just how lacking Akershus is. (It’s also worth noting that Cape May Cafe is ~$10 less per person.)
From my perspective, the only way to reconcile the variety, quality, and price discrepancies between Akershus and Cape May Cafe is that you are paying to meet the princesses here. I know all character meals have some degree of markup for the meet & greet element, but outside of Akershus and Chef Mickey’s, I’ve never felt it was so blatant. At every other meal we’ve done, I’ve walked away feeling satisfied by the food alone. In those cases, the character component could have been absent, and I still would’ve enjoyed the dining experience.
At Akershus’ breakfast, that would not have been the case. I get it from a business perspective: princess dining is in high demand and low supply, so the food can be ‘phoned in’ and Akershus will still be booked solid because many parents are so eager for a chance to dine with princesses.
However, that doesn’t sit well with me as a guest. Recent upcharge events aside, Disney has always been good about experiences like this being “value-added” opportunities that did not feel like blatant surcharges for convenience. By contrast, this felt decidedly like paying for a princess meet & greet.
To each their own, and if that’s your prerogative, I totally understand. I just think it’s important to understand just how much of this meal cost you should ‘mentally allocate’ as being the cost of meeting the characters. Based on breakfast costs elsewhere at Walt Disney World (so we aren’t even comparing this to real world breakfasts), I would say a good $25/person (adults) of the cost is the price of meeting the princesses.
To me, that’s absurd. Obviously, reasonable minds may vary on that, though. You can meet Anna & Elsa with no more than a 10 minute wait next door, and meet others with a <20 minute wait at Magic Kingdom the first 3 hours of the day or last 2. In light of that, I have a tough time paying so much to meet princesses. (Of course, I’m also not a parent, so I lack that perspective.)
This is also why a qualitative assessment of Dining Plan credit uses is important. On paper, this is one of the “best” uses of a Disney Dining Plan table service credit. However, if you don’t care about meeting the princesses, the reality is that you’re trading a credit for a meal that’s far inferior to the ~$20 breakfast at Trail’s End. That makes Akershus’ breakfast a qualitatively poor use of a credit for those who do not ascribe a significant value to the princess component.
I know it’s all a matter of perspective, but it’s impossible for me to get past the food in tandem with the price. I take no issue with Disney charging premium prices for a premium product or experience, but that’s not what this is. The core product (the meal) is not a premium product, it’s a mediocre one. This amounts to a paid FastPass for meeting princesses, served with a mediocre breakfast.
Always the inveterate optimist, Sarah was looking at the upsides of Akershus throughout our meal. The ambiance was enjoyable, the character interactions were great, and there were a couple of solid food items. She even envisioned taking our kids here someday for a fun and convenient breakfast. Once she saw our bill, this optimism disappeared (disappear! disappear!) faster than 3 trolls casting a boat back (back!) over the falls.
Overall, whether all of this matters to you is going to be a personal decision. The convenience of meeting the princesses at breakfast might be “worth it” to you. Given the near-unanimous praise for the breakfast experience at Akershus, I know I’m in the minority here. So, I’m guessing most of you don’t care–and I can respect that. Just know what you’re getting yourself into here.
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What do you think of Akershus? Do you think I’m off-base, and that the experience justifies the high prices? Where does it rank in terms of dining at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite foods here? Share your thoughts in the comments!
I dined here in February 2016, directly following the Princess Half Marathon and I couldn’t agree more with your review. When the bill came, I was shocked (shame on me for not researching before hand!) Even with the markup for the character interaction, I was kind of (REALLY!) underwhelmed with the food, and that was BEFORE we’d received the bill. My friends and family wanted to dine here after the race, to keep up with the Princess theme of the day, but we all felt kind of awkward meeting the “face” characters, too. Keep in mind, I dined here prior to Frozen Ever After opening, so it was even less of a “good value” at that time, which maybe is swaying my opinion a tad more than it would if I had dined there today. I just can’t get over the food served for the price point. If you have little kids and a large budget or can’t get your hands on a FastPass for Frozen Ever After, I can see this being a great option; otherwise, I’d pretty much steer clear.
Whenever I am dissatisfied with the food at a restaurant I usually speak up rather than ‘rant’ later on. I really don’t think that this is an impolite thing to do if you genuinely believe that well-prepared food should be the goal of a proud and honorable establishment. If the meal clearly falls below that standard you should calmly express your opinion then and there. Perhaps I am deceived but nearly always the servers and chef appreciate the input. Same goes for compliments. Culinary evolution via talking wallet is not enough. Speak up!
I guess in addition to the Princesses m&g, now there is also the opportunity to get in line for Frozen Ever After before the horde comes from the gates. For someone staying offsite (i.e. unable to secure a FP+ for it) it may be the easiest way to experience the new attraction, at least for a couple of years.
That said, I would never pay for it out of pocket, but I never do characters meals anyway. For someone who can score a reservation having the Dining Plan, I guess it’s a sort of a no brainer, even with the mediocre food.
It’s interesting to me that they do the buffet with the princesses at all. In CA the Ariel’s Grotto experience was much more organized and less stressful. They bring you all of your food (granted its a fixed meal with limited entree choices) but the princesses did a good job of interacting and there was no running around trying to dodge puffy dresses en route to cheese and fruit. I found the food to be quite good and at $35 for adults it was likely a bit overpriced but stil l reasonable.
Akerhus and Hollywood & Vine are the only in-park table service restaurants I haven’t tried at WDW.
Your review certainly will maintain this status quo.
I hate, hate, hate face character interactions.
The price is ridiculous, even considering it’s Disney and an especially popular princess meet. Even if the food was top notch, I can’t see how the average tourist can justify spending $50/per for breakfast on a mediocre meal.
As a parent and grandparent, I know I couldn’t. I’d skip the food part and just go to a a Frozen meet and greet. I think my child or grandchild would be just as happy with that. Especially if, instead of spending $100 to $200 in a non-signature restaurant, the child will be able to select a souvenir at the big store and be just as happy. The parent or grandparent will be saving a fortune and the child will have something to keep and play with.
A family of four can have a mediocre breakfast at any foodcourt (minus the delicious potato casserole) and spend less than $50 total. What they would have spent on the princess breakfast could be put towards a wonderful meal at a much better restaurant, of which there are many at Disneyworld. And if they don’t mind spending the money, they’d get a much better deal at Cape May. Different characters, but much better food.
A+ parenthetical joke. It took me by surprise when my mind read it correctly.
Totally agree with your assessment Tom. We ate there in 2015, and basically you are paying for a Princess Meet and Greet, and early access to the park. The buffet is “meh”, which for the price it cost is for sure not on par with the Disney experience. Food wise Crystal Palace or Tusker House far outweigh Akershus, both of which also have character meet and greets. (side note, the Winnie the Poohs Puffed French Toast on the kids buffet is awesome). I can understand where parents of children who love princess would be interested in taking advantage of this buffet, but it would be understood that food is not the driving factor. Tom do you think Disney will continue to downgrade buffet quality as a cost savings measure, as the character meet and greets keep the demand for them high (reference your recent financial post)?
Can I just say that I thought this review was spot on!!! My kids and I have been enjoying this character meet and greet for years. However, our most recent experience last Oct was so disappointing that we will not return. Yes, my kids are now teens so the thrill of meeting the Princesses was not paramount. In the past, this was our favorite character meal because of the wonderful food. The October meal was poor (with the noted exception of the Potato Casserole). Our “hot” food was luke warm at best and downright cold in some areas. Cold scrambled eggs is not worth the $50+ per person.
I loved this restaurant before the Princesses took over. It felt rather elegant and so unpopular I could plow through all the pickled fish like a happy walrus!
My Family enjoyed the food and also had princessian intention with a young daughter in tow. But I do agree with your general assessment of the value.
I do have two words of advice for those trying to squeeze every Disney dollar out: “goat cheese”.
We all went bananas over the smoky slices of Norwegian dairy heaven. One can fit a good pound of cheese per pocket and stroll away the day among the avenues of EPCOT in an aged haze of cheese.
I have been struggling with our PPO Akerhaus breakfast for our trip in November. I booked an 8:05 breakfast before FEA opened in hope that there would be a chance at getting in to FEA before the rope drop crowds arrived. That hope came to fruition as that seems to be working for people, BUT 2 adults, 2 kids, plus tip is going to be $178 FOR BREAKFAST!!!! (More expensive than our dinners at Ohana, Sanna, and even Hollywood Brown Derby!).
Worse is that we really don’t care about the Princess interactions. So it really feels like $178 for an extra set of “Group A” Fast Passes at EPCOT (plus a mediocre breakfast). Okay that is exactly what it is. BGO PPO breakfast also is a steep upcharge for small portions of just okay breakfast food in exchange for access to 7DMT before the rope drop crowd arrives. Same thing with the Wishes Dessert Parties (especially now that they are using the former Wishes FP+ area for the Dessert Party). Want something really hard to get? Here pay $50-70/per person, we will give you that elusive access, and we’ll throw in some mediocre food so we can pretend we are not charging for extra fastpasses (which is really what they are doing).
I don’t fault Disney for doing this stuff because there certainly are people willing to pay for it no matter what they charge, but I absolutely agree that they should at least make the meal somewhat match the price. How hard is that? Charge people whatever the market will bear, but at least give them a meal worthy of the price. Do that or stop pretending you are not just charging us for character meet and greets and an extra fast pass to the hot new attraction.
Well, the easy answer to your dilemma is just enter the park early but no-show to breakfast, pay the $10/person charge, and do Frozen Ever After that way. I’m sure some won’t like this suggestion since you’re effectively taking away a table from someone else that might want to do the breakfast, but if Disney is going to play hardball and pull “what the market will bear” moves like they have been, I see no issue with this.
I have honestly been thinking about doing that at Akershus and BOG. $40 is a fair price to pay for an extra FP+ and a leisurely morning stroll through an empty park. I do really enjoy those morning strolls through the parks – they are so peaceful before the hoards of hurried people arrive.
Glad you mentioned the potato casserole. It is awesome! I’m pretty sure the price of the breakfast also includes a photo package of your child with Belle as you enter the restaurant. For parents who have a child who loves Belle that adds to the value of the meal.
Oh no! You went to the wrong meal. Dinner is awesome!
I’ve heard that, but we really wanted to do the pre-park opening/Frozen Ever After option, so breakfast was the best way to go–this time, at least.
You can request Mickey waffles as well, FYI. I’m not interested in character breakfast without Mickey waffles.
Thanks for the heads up–I didn’t realize that!
The price is terribly high, but I don’t think the variety/food is as bad as the review makes it out to be. One way to look at it is in comparison to CRT, which charges much more and you get a single entree. Steak and Lobster may be higher quality breakfast items, but you still only get one thing. And if you order the American breakfast or healthy choice at CRT, then Akershus wins easily.
About all that Akershus is missing from a Crystal Palace is waffles or french toast. and while those are lacking, some more unique items like the fish and Norwegian cheeses make up for that to me.
Tusker house still beats them all for quality and price at breakfast, and Donald is a nice consolation from princesses.
I can’t speak to breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but we both really liked the dinner entree options. Not a buffet, but then again, neither are any of the Signature Restaurants, so it comes down to quality v. quantity.
It’s been a while since we’ve done Crystal Palace for breakfast, but last we did, they had a number of alternatives, including breakfast pizza, biscuits, and more (their online menu is of absolutely no help). With that said, I’d still agree that Tusker House is still the best option in terms of variety, quality, and price (even without the characters, I’d say it rivals Boma for best buffet at Walt Disney World).
Good point about the menu for crystal palace probably being much larger than what is online. It’s been a while since we’ve been, so my memory is probably too hazy.
I agree on both Tusker house and Boma, although it’s been a long time since we ate Boma. If we’re out at AKL, it’s too hard for us to pass up Sanaa at 1/2 the price of Boma. (I tend to favor quality of quantity as well. I realize it’s vacation and we eat extra things we wouldn’t eat at home. But that doesn’t mean I need to turn into a glutton!)
I think you will be unpleasantly surprised by the quality of the food across the board at most of the character meals/breakfasts these days. We’ve gone to Akershus 2 times per year for the last 5 years and CRT a handful of times. We’ve done a character meal per day on 12 trips over the last 5 years. We’ve pretty much done every character meal multiple times. In the last 6 months (coincident with budget cuts across the board at WDW) there has been a dramatic decline in basic food quality at all of them. Akershus used to have solid meaty bacon and better than average eggs. Buffet was great too. Now it’s standard floppy bacon, possibly powdered eggs, dry pastries on the buffet. It is really sad.
My last CRT lunch in July 2016 the food wasn’t even completely edible. The dessert still called “The clock strikes 12” is unrecognizable and nothing like it’s predecessor. It reminded me of a cooking light magazine adaptation of a higher calorie recipe gone wrong.
So while I agree Akershus breakfast isn’t a great value proposition these days you may find if you revisit some of your favorite character meals the value is no longer there either. I’m pretty disappointed these days about the state of Disney dining in general.
The Tusker House breakfast was nearly identical to Crystal Palace, including the more unique breakfast options. The biggest difference is ambiance is way more impressive, and it was cool to see all the winnie the pooh characters!
In terms of pure food quality though, my favorite breakfast was actually at Whispering Canyon. No characters, just REAL GOOD classic breakfast food, and these cinnamom buns in a cast iron skillet that made me start tearing up, it was so beautiful…
My family (7 of us, 3 generations) had lunch here a month ago. We were on the Dining Plan (which was a definite plus), and we had 3 girls with us (ages 10-14), so the princesses were, as you said, awesome. That said, we all really enjoyed our meal. There was a much wider variety of entrees available at lunch than at breakfast (and you actually got your own entree–we didn’t have to share family style). So, don’t completely write off this restaurant. Just don’t go back here for breakfast!
That was so thorough. Thanks!
I’d love a review on the ‘Ohana breakfast. I couldn’t find one on the site. Perhaps you haven’t been there, or my internet skills are weak.
ohana breakfast is family-style buffet. it has your standard fare breakfast food (eggs, bacon) along with some seasoned potatoes.
the main draw (in my opinion) to ohana’s breakfast is the character meets with lilo, stitch, mickey and minnie (Hawaiian shirt edition). if you’re mostly going for that, the breakfast is good.
having said that, if you ever eat dinner at ohana, you’ll then realize how much ohana’s breakfast pales by comparison….
We did ‘Ohana for breakfast, but it was 8 years ago, so I’m not comfortable offering an opinion on it–a lot can (and probably has) change in that time. We did enjoy it, but as T.J. mentions, I don’t think it held/holds a candle to dinner at ‘Ohana.
Thank you both! We love dinner at ‘Ohana, but we’ll give breakfast a try, too. The characters look fun, and I like the idea of not having to get up to fill plates for my three small children. Garden Grill is on my list for that reason, too!
What do I think? I think I’m glad we have a five year old boy and not a five year old girl, so we can safely skip this experience without regret. I had been considering this if the food was good (our son likes the Ariel’s Grotto character meal in DL, but I think mostly for the brownie dessert he gets), but since the food doesn’t sound like good value for the money, we will be skipping. Thanks!
We have an 8:10 ADR there in September. Since we were not able to secure fast passes for Frozen, I look at it as a front-of-the-line surcharge. I’m disappointed to hear that the food is so unremarkable, but I would rather throw a few extra dollars away than wait hours in line for three hours or race the crowds at rope drop (not that I don’t think I couldn’t beat a horde of 4-year-olds and their frazzled parents, of course). 😉