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.


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.

Norway = Arendelle. Japan = San Fransokyo..?

It’s officially been announced that Norway’s Maelstrom will close down soon and reopen as a Frozen ride in early 2016. Many people are upset to hear that the old Norwegian ride from the 80s is changing, but I think it’s a good thing.  Frozen certain shows demand for a stronger presence at Disney World, and the ride in Mexico features Donald Duck and his amigos, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a Frozen update.  Especially when Frozen was partially inspired by the Norway pavilion in EPCOT.

However, there are also heavy rumors (and just rumors, as far as I’m aware) that Norway will completely shut down and become the hub of Arendelle.  I’m not sure how I would feel about this, since Arendelle is a fictional location and Norway is part of the WORLD Showcase, not necessarily the World OF DISNEY Showcase.   I mean, yes, Frozen is a hot commodity, and it is certainly worthy of having a ride, but I’m not confident that having Mexico, China, France, Germany, and Arendelle is going to look as nice after the film hype has cooled down (pun intended).

However, this change in EPCOT makes me wonder – is Norway the only city that might change to a fantasy domain?

To detour for a moment, November will mark the release of Big Hero 6, which seems to be Disney’s attempt to bring in a Marvel animation and liven up their pool of relatable male characters for younger boys.  I mean, seriously, as a mother of an almost 10-year-old, Toy Story, Planes, and Cars lost their luster years ago for my son (he still likes the characters alright, but he’s moved on to where they are not his favorites by a long shot), and Peter Pan never held his attention.  Most other “cool” male characters in Disney are grown men and/or live action characters.  The characters my son has found interesting since age 6 are young, fast-talking guys, like Spider-Man, Ben 10, Hiccup, Ash Ketchum, and other active, intelligent, resourceful young men in the media.

So, I am very excited for my son to watch Hiro, from Big Hero 6, who is a robotics whiz that is actually a kid close to his age.  I kind of hope this movie will re-inspire him to do and play and create like he used to.  But, we’ll see how that goes come November.  I still really wish that we could get an intellectually advanced young girl as the main character of a film, and one who isn’t a nerdy stereotype in need of glasses.  That’s a battle for another day, though.

Back to EPCOT, when I saw the preview for Big Hero 6 I couldn’t help but notice that the main character is Japanese and the story is about giant robots (a very big theme in Japan).  The film is also set in a location called San Fransokyo – which is San Fransisco and Tokyo mashed up.  I haven’t followed the comics, so I’m not sure if this mash up is a fictional location, or a futuristic one where tectonic plate movements have made these cities collide.  But, whatever the situation, I know that Japan in EPCOT is one of the few locations without a character meet and greet (Belle and Aurora in France, Alice and Mary Poppins in England, Snow White in Germany, Mulan in China, Donald in Mexico, etc).  I also know that Hollywood Studios has a San Fransisco street that is usually pretty void of life.  I have to assume that this particular film has been created in such a way that it will help fill these voids in Disney World with new meet and greet stations.

While I’m not at all opposed to that idea by any means (it’s actually great market research to fill in those gaps!), it makes me wonder if Japan will one day be remodeled into San Fransokyo if Big Hero 6 becomes a huge success.  What do all of you think?  Will Norway eventually become Arendelle and Japan transform into San Fransokyo?  And, if so, is that a good thing, or is it conflicting with the educational purposes of the World Showcase?  I think these is a happy balance that can be established, no matter what changes happen at Disney World, and all I know for certain is that Disney rarely disappoints me.

Agent P at EPCOT Review

Recommended:  Yes, and FREE!

If you enter the World Showcase at EPCOT, you’ll probably catch note of some carts (one on either side of the entrances, one right past the UK, and one right past Mexico) that say something like “Unpaid Internships Available Now!”  These are the Phineas and Ferb Agent P cell phone games (previously a Kim Possible game, I’ve heard), and if you have children with you, this is a MUST DO!

My kids have played the game a number of times, they have done the missions for France, England, and Norway, and I have truly been impressed at how Disney has integrated the game into the park.

To begin, go up to one of the brown wagon/carts and tell a Cast Member there that you’d like to play, or take on a mission.  They will ask you what letter you’d like to be, so if you’re daughter is Kairi, she might pick “K” to be Agent K, and they will ask you which country you’d like to save.  There are six country options in all, but if there are a high number of players in one country, you will either have to wait for the number to go down or pick another country.  It seems a little crazy, but too many agents playing in one country just puts the kids tripping over each other.

Once that’s all settled, the Cast Member will give you a toy flip phone (note, they cannot check out phones until the World Showcase is open, which is generally 11am).  The phone is on a timer, so if you leave it inactive for more than fifteen minutes, it will turn itself off.  With that in mind, I recommend hitting the Ok button to start the game once you are very close to the country you’ve selected.

The game can take about 30 minutes to complete, and there are long video segments on the phone that can be difficult to hear in big crowds, but, ultimately, the phone will take you to different, more quiet sections of the country by giving you clues/photos.  The objects and buildings you’re seeking out will also come alive in very unique ways.  For example, in the UK the Butterfly box starts flapping it’s wings to reveal a hint on where to go next – normal patrons who don’t have a phone won’t be able to get the butterflies to open up.


I’ve also seen bookshelves come to life, statues open up, and rune stones display secret messages.

Help your children out though, because multiple times we were blocked from a clue by unsupervised children (who weren’t playing the game) and my kids hit their activate button too early – the unsupervised kids gawked and blocked the way from seeing the clue and my kids couldn’t get the phone to make the action happen again.  This was especially bad in France.

But, overall, your kids will follow 4-6 clues around the country, find Agent P trapped somewhere (in the UK, a frosted street light magically cleared up to show Agent P inside), release him, and defeat Dufenshmirtz in a combination of cartoon clips on the phone and real-world surprises.

Once you’re finished, you can choose to start a new mission in another country, or return the phone to a secret location (phones do not go back to the brown carts).

This is a great, fun, and FREE game for kids to play, and since EPCOT can be so adult oriented, especially in the World Showcase, this is a great activity for kids who might not find the KID-COT activities very stimulating.

Also, don’t forget that most carts have an Agent P plushie who is a pin trading board!