Akershus Lunch Review

Recommended:  No for the food.  Yes to see the Princesses in one swoop.

Located in Norway, but surprisingly void of Anna and Elsa, I’m torn on whether or not to recommend Akershus, which is the only character meal available in the EPCOT World Showcase.

cm7 copy

If you are looking to collect a lot of princess autographs quickly, this would be the way to go.  A number of princesses, like Snow White and Belle, are not available for very hospitable hours.  Usually, you have to already know where they’ll be and line up a half an hour before they arrive to get your photo and autograph.  Typically, once the princess arrives to her outdoor station, the line to meet her has already been cut off.  Then, if it rains, the character doesn’t come out at all.  So, when thinking of Arkerhus in those terms, it is an easy way to meet five princesses in one shot.

They say the line up can change any time, but these are the princesses that we saw:

Belle meets you as you enter the restaurant.
cm8 copy

Then you’ll see Cinderella,
cm13 copy

Followed closely by Aurora,
cm14 copy

next is Ariel (in a green dress that she NEVER wears in any of the films – my daughter thought she was Merida because of that),
cm15 copy

and last is Snow White.
cm16 copy

Snow White only hangs around in EPCOT these days, and she is one of those weather-permitting princesses.  We’ve had trouble getting to her in the past, which is what brought us to Akershus in the first place.

However, be warned that there are NO Photo Pass photographers once you get to your table, so you will be on your own there.  There are also a lot of tables crammed into a little bit of building (Akershus was clearly built before Disney World saw the volume of tourist that is does today), so getting great pictures that show off the princesses beautiful dresses will not be a likely possibility.

We also felt very rushed with the time the princesses gave our table.  Much like Chef Mickey’s, we got about 2 minutes per princess in.  It was, hello, hugs, autograph, pose for photos, and goodbye.  They keep these characters on too tight of a schedule, it would be nice if the kids could have a few more sentences with each one and create a stronger memory of the event (like my daughter training squirrels with Rapunzel or teaching yoga to Merida).

The princesses also do a gathering/parade for all the little ones who want to join in.  That seems to happen at every character meal, and it’s always a cute touch.
cm17 copy

The Akershus building is magnificently beautiful.  It feels like an Old World castle that has been refurbished by a modern owner.  As you can see in the photograph above, the walls are stone, and put together in an uneven, ancient architecture type of style (something like Merida’s castle, I suppose).

cm11 copy

The artwork on the walls ranged from tapestry and flags to very somber paintings.

cm9 copy

And even the roof was magnificent.  My daughter said it looked like Elsa’s snowflake.  While the waiter denied any resemblance, I’d be surprised if the designers of Frozen didn’t find some inspiration in this building.
cm10 copy

The food is where the experience gets iffy for me.  Norwegian food is weird, if not gross.  At Akershus, there is a set price, and that include the salad bar, an entree, and a plate of three Norwegian desserts for the table.  Here’s a not-too-great picture of the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast.

cm12 copy

It came with potato dumpling and Brussels sprouts, but they had been cooked (boiled?) until they tasted the same with the same bland texture.  Definitely not my favorite meal from Disney, although my father highly recommended the meatballs.

The dessert portion of the meal was interesting.  They brought out two sets of the desserts, which included a piece of Apple Cake (not my cup of tea, personally), Chocolate Mousse (amazing, actually), and Rice Cream (no, not Ice Cream, a tapioca kind of warm, solid, goop – not a fan!).  Having two sets of desserts for five people, and only one of those desserts being any good, essentially leads to a fight over the Chocolate Mousse.  That is worth the fight, fork your children if you have to so that you can try a piece!  haha.  But, really, it would have been nice if everyone has a smaller sized sampler plate than making everyone share.  I actually missed out on the photo opp here, but I found a picture from DisneyFoodBlog.com to share.

Dessert-Sampler-Akershus-600x599

I also didn’t appreciate that we were a party of 5, we had made reservations months in advance, and we were crammed into a table for four.  There was not enough room for plates, the kids had to climb over people to get to the princesses, and the room we were in (the rounded room in the castle tower portion) was already a tight enough space without putting someone on the end like a baby in a high chair.  That was very poor dining management from whomever decided to seat us there…

So, if you’re looking for a good place to eat, skip Akerhus, there is much better places in the World Showcase.  If you’re looking for a guaranteed slew of princesses, this is your best bet in EPCOT.  It just depends on what you’re looking for.

Be Our Guest – Dinner Review

Recommended:  Yes – Dinner was MUCH better than lunch.

I do not have a high opinion of Be Our Guest for lunch, as the food we received in October was bad/stale and the whole experience was an over-priced “blah.”  But, for the sake of trying to figure out the hype of Be Our Guest, my family and I scored a last minute dinner reservation and decided to give it a try.
bog10 copy

Despite the desolate look in my photo, it was actually very crowded.  We had a 6:30pm reservation, checked in fifteen minutes early, and it was after 7 before we finally had a table.  You will check in before crossing the bridge, then be given a rose that is actually a buzzer that will let you know when they are ready to seat you.  Unfortunately, you can’t go very far, or the buzzer won’t work, so you need to wait on the bridge, even if it’s cold or raining.

Once you get buzzed to enter the gate, you have a few minutes to take some photos and wait for your host to seat you.  One member of your party will get to hold a cousin of Lumiere, and the doors for the castle will open automatically for you.

bog11 copy

Now, I will recommend that your little lady dresses as Belle, if she can, and I’ll tell you why later on. 🙂

We were seated in the West Wing, which I was nervous about.  We ate in the main ballroom in October and popped over to view the West Wing, and it was so dark and so many people were flashing camera lights – I thought it would be a horrific area to eat in.  But, after waiting more than 45 minutes, I wasn’t going to risk making a fuss and waiting longer.  Much to my surprise, when you are seated at a table, the flashes are not so bad and your table has its own lighting so that you can see very well.

The decor in that room is very lovely, with the main features being the prince’s photo (which flips over to the Beast’s image when lightning strikes) and the enchanted rose.
bog21 copy
bog18 copy

And our plates were decorated with rose napki-gori (napkin origami!):
bog12 copy

The food was a little slow coming out of the kitchen, but we had bread to keep us company.  This is a french restaurant, which means the food is probably unusual for a lot of people.  The kids menu seems to be more accommodating towards picky eaters, but, to err on the safe side, my daughter just ordered a fruit side dish and a cupcake.  The fruit dish was mostly green and orange melon, so she wasn’t thrilled with it.

My husband ordered the Ratatouille, which is a vegetarian meal.  My husband is a pretty big guy, and for the price of the meal, he felt like there wasn’t much food to be had.  It was good, but too small for the price.  The Ratatouille does not include any side dishes, so what you see here is all you get for, I believe, $18.
bog14 copy

I ordered the chicken.  I won’t try to use the name listed on the menu, but I think it was the only adult chicken dish listed.  The flavor on the chicken was divine.  Whatever they cooked into the skin was just wonderful, and that green sauce was scrumptious (I am not a foodie, I had no idea what it was, haha!), even though the chicken itself was on the dry side.  It came with a mix of spinach, potatoes, and other vegetables.  Overall, I left happy with my meal and would definitely recommend the chicken.
bog13 copy

My oldest ordered the mac and cheese with a side of broccoli (his call, I believe you may substitute it).  He finished every bite with no complaints and no “ick” faces, like he had at lunch.
bog15 copy

Both of my kids had desserts, with my son having the Master’s Cupcake and my daughter having the Strawberry one.  Unlike our lunch experience, where the bread was extremely dried out and stale, as if it had sat in a refrigerator overnight, the dinner desserts were perfect.  Moist cake and creamy icing.  Although, the cupcakes are still very small for a price tag at over $4 per item.  Unfortunately, I seem to have lost my photo for this, I will try to find it and insert it in at a later time.

Also, since it was my daughter and husband’s birthday trip, and they had on their buttons, the waiter brought out a dapple of The Grey Stuff with a lighted candle for the birthday people.
bog16 copy
bog17 copy

They also recieved birthday cards with autographs from Belle and the Beast (fyi, the Beast is a character who cannot sign autograph books, because “Belle is still teaching him how to write,” so this is the ONLY way to get his autograph at Disney World!).
bog22 copy

In addition to that, Be Our Guest during dinner time is the only place to meat the Beast in person, which you can wait in line to do after you’ve finished your meal and are ready to leave.  The Beast hangs out in his library, which is on the left side, before the cash registers/bathroom, as you walk out.
bog19 copy

And the reason that you want your little one dressed as Belle is because the Beast will dance with her!  I didn’t know about this, and didn’t expect it, but as soon as my daughter stepped out for her turn, the Beast got excited, bowed, and they danced!
bog20 copy

Overall, the interior of Be Our Guest is amazing, and the food is very tasty.  However, after the tip, we left there with a $76 bill, which is very high for my husband to leave still hungry.  It would not have been much more money to be at a Disney buffet once all was said and done.  If you have young ones who love Beauty and the Beast, it is a worthwhile meal to let them experience the surroundings, and to meet the Beast.  Be cautious with your food orders though, and be sure to ask questions, if you have any doubts, about what a meal will come with.  Just based on our October lunch experience, I would also ask how fresh the desserts are before ordering as well.  But, when considering the crowds, wait times, and food, I don’t think this is a dinner experience that I need to repeatedly have.

Be Our Guest Lunch Review

Recommended:  NO!

Be Our Guest is a beautifully detailed restaurant with three main rooms.

The Ballroom (very detailed, with a gorgeous ceiling):
bog3 copy

The West Wing (way too dark, and people constantly walking in and using a flash on their camera to take photos):
bog2 copy

And, well, I’m not sure what, I’ve heard it called the Rose Room and the Tea Room, but it has beautiful and original images of Belle and the Beast together (this is, by far, my favorite room):
bog1 copy

Lunch at Be Our Guest is a quick service, meaning there’s no wait staff, the food comes quickly, you pick your own seat, and it’s a bit more rushed.  However, unlike other quick service venues, Be Our Guest takes reservations – but only if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort (see tips for getting a reservation at:  https://disneyfangirl.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/the-trick-to-getting-a-be-our-guest-lunch-fastpass/  ).  You can try your luck as a walk-in, but most of those people waste their time and don’t get seated.  If the park is busy, you can usually bet that most, if not all, table space has been reserved by resort guests already.

So, you go in, you order (or confirm your order, if you selected everything online), scan your magic band, and your food magically finds your table (via some help by a server-type person) within a few minutes.  This has to be done via magic band tracking, and it is pretty neat.  Sadly, the scenery and delivery is where we all stopped being impressed.

I know I won’t get the names right, but, I’ll just throw out what the item was and you can match it to the menu yourself.

I had the ham and cheese:
bog4 copy
I love ham so much that I will only get ham for holidays.  If someone has a turkey, I won’t be over to eat at their house!  But this ham was not good…  It was cheap, mostly fat holding together each slice, and way too much butter oozing out of the bread.  It’s really a sad meal if the fries are ten times better than your sandwich, and the fries themselves aren’t that special.

My son had the turkey sandwich:
bog6 copy
He wouldn’t say much about it, other than the tomato tasted awful and was pasted to the turkey (I imagine it had been sitting under a warming light for a LONG while).  He ate the fries and the cookie, but he fought and stalled and did everything in his power not to eat that sandwich.

My daughter ordered the closest thing to mac and cheese they offered:
bog5 copy
It came with shredded cheese and red sauce.  She said the sauce was gross and wouldn’t eat it, then told me that the noodles were disgusting because they were plain.  She ate the fries and refused to eat any more noodles (which were the giant, curly, macaroni noodles) once the shredded cheese ran out.  I tried a noodle myself and it was definitely not cooked very well.

We also had desserts:
bog7 copy
My daughter ordered the Lemon Raspberry puff – she said the lemon was bad (and I didn’t care for it when I tasted it either) and just flaked off some of the crust to eat.

I had the Master’s Cupcake, which everyone constantly raves about.  The little edible pearls were a nice touch, and it had a tiny amount of cookies and cream filling on the inside, but it was nothing special.  I could have purchased a 6 pack of chocolate cupcakes at Walmart for the same amount of money and had pretty much the same experience.

My son ordered the Strawberry Cupcake, and he enjoyed the toppings very much, but the cake tasted stale.  I can’t say for certain, but when I tasted a piece, it was almost like it had been refrigerated and brought out from yesterday’s leftovers.  Hey, I get that this happens in a lot of restaurants, but not with items made out of bread!  And certainly not a cupcake that cost over $4!  I was kind of expecting a cupcake made during the same day for that amount of money.  Again, $0.75 at Walmart and I could have bought a fresher strawberry cupcake.

Overall, I would not waste my money returning to Be Our Guest for lunch.  It was a pretty location to tour, but the food was not good at all.  The cheapest food at Disney World is still 2-5 times more expensive than McDonalds, so I have some reasonable expectations that the food will at least taste good.  I hated it, my kids hated it, and we would have all been happier going to Wendy’s or Burger King instead.  Save your money and skip Be Our Guest at lunch time!