Walt Disney World has announced more meal services returning to table service restaurants, with the most notable reveal being a reopening date for Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway/Arendelle pavilion in World Showcase at EPCOT. This post will share dates, details, and thoughts on our last experience doing Storybook Dining at featuring the Disney Princesses.
To quickly recap recent progress, several character dining experiences have been recently restored, going from standard meal services to character meals. This includes lunch and dinner at Crystal Palace: A Buffet with Character featuring Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Café, and ‘Ohana Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch. All of those have returned within the last month–breakfast at Crystal Palace comes back next week.
October 19, 2022 Update: Walt Disney World has updated the official Akershus Royal Banquet Hall page, which offers some new details that were not previously announced. The restaurant will serve one family-style menu (see below) throughout the day, and will not serve breakfast.
Rather, Akershus will be open from 2:45 pm until 8:05 pm daily. This is almost certainly due to staffing shortages–because there are only enough performers and/or culinary Cast Members for a single shift when the restaurant first reopens. Expect Akershus Royal Banquet Hall to offer expanded hours down the road, adding breakfast to the mix at some point, too. (Don’t hold your breath on that happening anytime soon–Garden Grill reopened over 2 years ago and still doesn’t have breakfast back. It has been slow-going!)
The latter change resulted in the reopening of Monsieur Paul, which is our #3 restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. It’s expected that Takumi-Tei (our #2 restaurant) in the Japan pavilion won’t be too far behind, which would pretty much restore the pre-closure dining slate in World Showcase. (Minus Restaurant Marrakesh, but it’s likely Disney has long-term plans for that venue now that it owns the location.)
Against that backdrop, Walt Disney World announced today that Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is reopening. Here’s the official announcement…
Walt Disney World cordially invites you to feast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, which will open its doors once again on November 4, 2022. This dining experience is found at the Norway pavilion in the World Showcase at EPCOT and gives guests a taste of Norwegian cuisine.
There are plenty of plates at this royal feast, whether you’re looking to indulge in your favorites or wanting to try something new. This family-style dining experience includes Traditional KjØttkaker featuring Norwegian meatballs or the Kylling og Melboller, a Norwegian take on chicken and dumplings.
If you’re looking for some more classic American-cuisine, they’ve got that too with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Grilled Salmon, and Macaroni & Cheese. And what meal is complete without dessert. The meal serves up both a Rice Cream with strawberry sauce and a Chocolate Roulade with lingonberry cream.
Here’s a full look at the new dinner menu for Akershus Royal Banquet Hall:
This reflects the family-style menu indicated in the press release. Previously, Akershus offered an all-day menu for lunch and dinner and we’re assuming that will remain the case.
Note that this does not reflect a price increase, which is likely to occur given that prices increased at every other character dining location at Walt Disney World last week. If this remains consistent with Storybook Dining at Artist Point, it’ll cost $65 for adults and $41 for children.
Prices for children did not increase at Artist Point, but they did at other character dining locations. Even at the March 2020 prices, this is already more expensive than most character meals for kids.
Here’s the drink pricing…
These menus have already changed in the last week and the ‘temporarily unavailable’ banner has been removed, but it’s possible more substantive changes are to come.
Now, let’s turn to Akershus ADR and princess details…
Aside from the delicious eats and treats, what makes Akershus Royal Banquet Hall so special is it being home to a unique Storybook Dining featuring the Disney Princesses. As you indulge in the Norwegian-inspired fare, you can interact, take photos, and create lasting memories with some of your favorite princesses when Akershus Royal Banquet Hall opens on November 4, 2022.
Advance Dining Reservations will become available for Akershus Royal Banquet Hall starting October 24, 2022.
One thing to note here is that Walt Disney World does not indicate which princesses will return, or whether it’ll be the full pre-closure character slate. This is worth mentioning because, as indicated above, Cinderella’s Royal Table still does not have its roaming dining room characters–just Cinderella at the entrance.
It would be odd for Walt Disney World to bring back Storybook Dining featuring the Disney Princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall before restoring the flagship in-castle princess meal at Magic Kingdom. (At least, in our opinion.) Hopefully, this means that Cinderella’s Royal Table will return to normal by then, too. The alternatives are scaled-back princesses at Akershus, or it being fully restored before CRT, despite that having reopened ~2 years ago.
As I’ve lamented elsewhere, we did dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in March 2020 to get the most bang for our buck from the then-new Disney Dining Plan Plus.
I had been dragging my feet on revisiting Akershus for a while, because dining with face characters makes me uncomfortable. However, it was probably the meal about which we received the most questions, so we did it. (I know, play me a sad song on the world’s smallest violin.)
Part of my personal motivation for doing the Disney Princess Storybook Dining Dinner was getting back inside Akershus Castle. We stayed until the very end of the night and I took a ton of architectural photos without other guests. It was actually a fun food-filled evening and unique experience.
Shortly after eating at Akershus, I wrote a review of dinner, weaving in details about the history of Akershus and its themed design. That review was never published, for reasons that are probably obvious given that we did dinner there in March 2020. Of course, I’d never recycle content…
On a totally unrelated note, let’s take a look around Akershus Royal Banquet Hall!
This location opened with the Norway pavilion in 1988 as Restaurant Akershus, serving a Norwegian buffet. When the Norwegian government stopped supporting the pavilion financially back in the early aughts, princesses were added for breakfast, followed by lunch and dinner a few years later. The restaurant was renamed Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, a precursor to the princessification that would occur a decade later with Frozen Ever After replacing Maelstrom.
While princesses were added, the restaurant largely maintains its opening day appearance. It’s based on Akershus Castle and Fortress, a fortified medieval castle on Oslo harbor. That castle and fortress was built in the late 1200s to protect and provide a royal residence, which was also strategically important for the capital city.
Whoever controlled Akershus ruled Norway. From what I understand, this is the premise of Frozen III, with Elsa seizing Akershus Royal Banquet Hall from Belle. This culminates in the climactic Battle of Test Track, before the tear-jerking conclusion with the Guardians of the Galaxy rewinding the cosmos to restore order to the Other-World Showcase. Synergy at its finest.
The Norway pavilion’s Akershus replicates many architectural features of Oslo’s real Akershus Slott og Festning. Elements of the facade, towers, and hall in the World Showcase version are all strikingly similar to the real thing in Norway.
We haven’t toured the real Akershus, but have visited a variety of forts, castles, and churches in Norway and elsewhere. The interior is reminiscent of many of these, and feels like an amalgamation of locations throughout Scandinavia. Many of these are austere instead of opulent, with largely unadorned architecture.
I don’t purport to be an expert on Norwegian forts and castles, but the use of patterns and decorative dishware to punctuate the design “feels” authentic. (One of the coolest things we saw throughout Norway’s countryside was church walls covered in rosemaling.)
Ultimately, we’re excited for the return of Storybook Dining featuring the Disney Princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall on November 4, 2022. This is mostly because we know so many of you have been anxiously awaiting this, and it’s a family-favorite offering at EPCOT.
It will once again be one of the more popular Advance Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World, and we’d expect those ADR slots for November and December 2022 to fill fast.
Honestly, I’m looking forward to returning to Akershus, too. Our last meal there was shockingly good–and a lot of fun. It also helps that I have zero pressure to get new character photos, as I have a ton of unused ones from March 2020 and zero reluctance to recycle those images of us while dining there again for new food photos. (Just don’t question why it looks like I’ve aged about 16 years in some of the photos versus others while Sarah still looks the same!)
The bottom line is that the reopening of Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a big win for families looking for princess dining at EPCOT. While it’s unlikely to surpass Story Book Dining at Artist Point, it might end up surprising us. Plus, that dinner is practically impossible to book, and it’s outside the parks…so not exactly an apples to apples comparison. In addition, dining at Akershus is a chance to see inside an exemplar of Imagineering’s old school World Showcase design work while enjoying somewhat unique cuisine. A nice win for both kids and parents!
Will you be booking an ADR for Akershus Royal Banquet Hall once it reopens on November 4, 2022? Have you dined at Akershus in Epcot’s Norway pavilion? Will you be booking lunch or dinner with the princesses here on an upcoming visit to Epcot? Excited about the opportunity to experience the design and details of Akershus Castle and Fortress? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!