Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Storybook Meal with Disney Royalty and Gluten Free Treats - Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Review

Character dining at Disney is undoubtedly at the top of the "must do" list for many guests.  If those guests happen to be little girls (or, little girls at heart!), you are very likely to find a request to dine with the Princesses at the top of their "must do" list.  Luckily, Disney offers more than one option.  One of these fabulous royal meals can be found at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

This beautiful restaurant is located at Epcot in the Norway Pavilion. Princess Storybook Dining here could not be any more aptly named.  The interior of the restaurant looks as if it's been plucked straight from the pages of a classic story.  The vaulted ceilings, arched windows, and deep rich woods have all the old world charm of Prince Charming himself. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner times are available for advanced dining reservations.  Akershus is part of the Disney Dining Plan, and it is only a one-sit down option table service meal, making it one of the most attractive options for Princess dining.  To sweeten the deal even more, each family receives a photo package as part of their meal - we will get back to that in just a moment.

Our family has visited Akershus six times for breakfast.  There are a few reasons why we chose this meal.  For starters, the menu at breakfast is the most "Americanized", which suits our picky eaters well; it is also served family style, and not only do we like the relaxed family style dining, but we are big fans of filling up in the morning.  One other little perk: the World Showcase does not open until 11am, and even though Norway is only the second pavilion in, it is still a lovely walk through an empty Epcot in the morning.  Yes, one more photo op!!

Check-in for the restaurant begins at an outdoor podium.  As your table is ready, you will be called in as a Royal Family, and will enter the line for your photo package picture.  In all 6 visits over a 4 year time span, each time we've been greeted for a photo by Belle.  After autographs, a photo will be taken with as many members of your party as you wish.  During your meal, you will receive your package which includes one 6x8 and four 4x6 prints in a decorative folder.  Now, it's time to feast! 

After you are seated, you'll be greeted by your lovely Norwegian server.  If you are like me, you may truly appreciate the native cast members at the pavilions!  Your meal begins with the koldtbord, a cold buffet featuring many authentic Norwegian options.  At breakfast, you will find pastries, yogurt, fruit, meats, cheeses, lox, and more.  At lunch and dinner, there will be an assortment of Norwegian salads and more.  You may visit the koldtbord as often as you wish - and I bet you'll keep going back for the Lignonberry muffins - the tart native berry makes these a true treat!

Allergy friendly offerings do not disappoint!
Your hot food will be served family style at breakfast.  The platter includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and the famous hash brown casserole.  Friends, this is not the time to count calories!  Remember, you walk a lot in Disney!  Our family has a few members with gluten allergies, so we sadly cannot have the potato casserole of dreams.  It's important to remember to note any food allergies or dietary needs when making your reservation, and to confirm this again when you arrive at the restaurant.  After we are seated at our table, we are always visited by the chef who so graciously offers us as many gluten free alternatives as he possibly can.  We've met with the same chef here multiple times and he is so friendly and accommodating!  Since we cannot partake in the potatoes or any of the pastries, he brought us a plate of safe, and mighty delicious, alternatives.  The first plate was full of sugar and carbs - warmed cinnamon sugar doughnuts, vanilla glazed donuts, and two different muffins.  The second plate (pictured above) had an allergy friendly potato casserole, and gluten free waffles (especially requested by my gluten free daughter who does not care for eggs).  He even gladly offered the brands when I inquired about them when he came back to make sure we were doing okay.

Now, we didn't just come here to eat, did we?  Of course not, so let's talk Princesses!  There will be 4 Princesses that rotate through the dining room, and they will stop at your table for autographs and photos.  Please have those autograph books, pens, and cameras at the ready - but mind your elbows on the table, we don't want any spilled chocolate milk on those books!  The Princesses do take turns visiting Akershus, but you may see Cinderella, Ariel (in her human legs!), Aurora, Snow White, Jasmine, or Mary Poppins.  Ask your children to sit on the outside of the table so they may quickly rise to greet Her Royal Highnesses - it brings such excitement when they arrive at your table that little ones may just fall right out of their chair in anticipation (true story - I watched my best friend's daughter tumble right out of her chair in excitement when Snow White cheerily approached her!).

Time for the Princess Processional!
At least once during your meal, the Princesses will participate in a Princess Processional.  Young Princesses and Princes too are invited to join the Royal hosts as they parade around the restaurant to song.  If you are very lucky, one of the Princesses may come and take your child by the hand during the Processional.  My youngest was over the moon when Ariel spotted her in a matching gown, and asked her to walk hand in hand with her.  These are the magical moments that you cannot put a price tag on!

I should mention that lunch and dinner offerings are a la carte, and you will find many authentic Norwegian meals on the menu.  Because of the popularity of this restaurant, Advanced Dining Reservations are strongly recommended.  As a reminder, your Kingdom Konsultant agent will happily make these reservations for you! 

Delicious food, Royal hostesses, and some serious bang for your (dining plan) buck - Akershus has it all - a true Storybook experience!


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