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.

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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.
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Then you’ll see Cinderella,
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Followed closely by Aurora,
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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),
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and last is Snow White.
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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.
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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).

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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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

The Princess Crawl

Have you ever heard of a Pub Crawl, where people mill around from one bar to the next to accomplish a goal of going to each one?  Well, my daughter and I attempted to do this with Disney Princess characters, and since the lines move so slowly, and there are so many places to visit, we dubbed it “The Princess Crawl” (a non-alcoholic venture, of course). Day 1, we began at EPCOT.  We expected to hit Alice, Mary Poppins, Belle, Aurora, Jasmine, Snow White, Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, and Duffy the Bear.  Not all princesses, I know, but it was essentially hitting every character that is around the world in EPCOT’s World Showcase. Unfortunately, the rainy season of Florida was not letting up, and the only character experience stations that were open were the indoor ones (Jasmine in Morocco and Pooh and Tigger in the UK).
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So, day 1 of the Princess crawl was a pretty big mission fail.  And, while Pooh rarely seems to have a big line, we waited over an hour for Princess Jasmine.  In better weather conditions, with more Princesses out and about, I assume the wait wouldn’t be as bad, but Jasmine seems to have very limited hours of availability compared to the others.

 

Day 2 was much more fruitful in the Magic Kingdom, where almost every character is found indoors.  Our goal was to hit every princess, and just to sweeten the experience (since it was just my daughter and I that day), I lugged around a bag with every costume we brought with us. First, we had a FastPass+ for the left side of the Princess Fairytale Hall:
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Next, we waited in long lines for Ariel’s Grotto and Fairytale Garden for Merida (which Kairi got to do yoga):
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Then, we had a FastPass+ for the right side of the Princess Fairytale Hall: princesscrawl5princesscrawl7

And, finally, we wrapped up the day with a FastPass+ to Tinkerbell, whom Kairi told that she was Elsa’s half sister, and it was a crazy life:
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Day 2 was a success! The wait time for Anna & Elsa was still tragically long at over 90 minutes, but we lucked into getting Fast Passes right after Disney World extended their hours and added more passes to the My Disney Experience website.  We also missed out on Tiana, because she is outside for a very limited amount of time, and her line filled up well before she even came out to meet people.

It also rained a lot again, so Tiana and Merida were by far the hardest Princesses to get to.  We had to get in line twice for Merida and wait over two hours combined due to rain outs. You can also find various characters around Magic Kingdom, like Peter Pan, Aladdin, Alice, and a slew of others, but they are not Fast Pass-able, and are subject to weather being decent. Definitely use FastPass+ to your advantage at Magic Kingdom!  For the most part, Fast Passers get to skip all lines, and they make the standby lines take a lot longer than they should.

 

Oh, and just for good measure, Kairi asks that I throw in her Tiana costume.  We were ready to go but they close down her line very quickly, as Tiana has very limited appearance hours.  Naveen and Tiana did walk by us though and had a little “hello, look at you!” moment, which was precious – but my camera and I weren’t fast enough to capture it!
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Disney Princess Favorites

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So, this has been a long debated issue among all Disney FanGirls, and I kind of love this video about Disney Princesses.

To me, there are 4 categories of Princesses:

Early – Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora.
Golden – Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Pocahontas.
Modern – Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida (even though Disney/Pixar gal), and, as of last year, Anna & Elsa.

Then we have the Forgotten Princesses that aren’t well advertised or remembered – Eilonwy (The Black Cauldron), Kida (Atlantis), Tiger Lily (Peter Pan), Melody (The Little Mermaid II), and maybe even Giselle from Enchanted if you want to debate whether she’s an animated or live action princess character. And there are probably more that I don’t even recall any more – feel free to post anyone I missed.

You could also argue for a kind-of-Disney Princess category – Leia (Star Wars), Kairi (Kingdom Hearts), and anyone potentially a Princess in the Marvel Universe too.  I’m sure there are dozens, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

Finally, you could opt to count the animal princesses too – Nala and Faline. Perhaps Maid Marian too, her uncle was the true king and had no shown heirs, but I’m not sure how that places her in terms of princess capacity.  So, I guess there could be 6 Princess categories, but I’m sticking with my original thought of 4.

Mulan makes the princess list, but I think that’s almost an insult to Mulan’s character. I like Mulan as she is, a rough and tumble tom boy who can’t do the girls thing very well. In the Disney Princess collection, Mulan is always in her kimono-style outfit and often with the white-faced make-up. This is also the only Mulan Halloween or dress up costume available, and I’ve never seen Ping-Mulan at Disney World hanging around. But… hello! she hated that outfit! It was probably the lowest moment of her life where she failed her family by not being “a perfect bride.” There was a whole song about it and everything. So, Mulan, you’re beautiful and I love you just as you are, but you’re the daughter of an ex-general (?) and engaged to another military man, so you aren’t exactly sipping tea at the royal palace.

Okay, end that rant, it’ll turn into a whole other blog post! But as for my picks? In each category I would choose Aurora, Ariel, and Rapunzel, with Kida being my favorite forgotten princess, and Nala my favorite animal one. How about you?