*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
This is a review of six different character meals done over an eight night, nine day vacation at Walt Disney World during August 2019. For the full seven days we were there, our party of six, including myself, my wife, our six and one year old daughters, and our four year old son, braved a collection of buffets, along with my mother, to see as many characters as we could. These reviews were done with the Disney Dining Plan, and the only out of pocket expenses were tips.
The scores given in these reviews will be in context of each other and not comparing them to other restaurants on property. The scores are out of 10, and anything less than a 5 will signal that there was a negative experience.
So, why so many character meals? First, it's a fantastic way to maximize the value of the Disney Dining Plan. Second, it gets you and the family out of the heat and into some air conditioning. Third, after seeing all the different characters at the meals, you don't need to wait in line to see them in the parks. When you're shepherding around three small kids, these meals are great at keeping them occupied at the table and allow you to relax for a short while before getting back to touring the park.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Characters: Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella
Cost: $59.99 per adult, $34.99 per child
Total Cost: $249.95 | Disney Dining Plan Cost per day: $282.43
The Location and Theming
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is located in Epcot in the Norway Pavilion on the south side. So if you're coming from top side of the World Showcase, it'll be located in the back of the pavilion close to the Frozen Ever After ride. If you have a reservation, you'll have to get into the roped off area and speak with the cast member so that when your table is ready, you'll be called to the front door via text message. If you walk up to the front initially, you'll just get sent back anyway!
The theming of the restaurant is beautiful. This spacious restaurant doesn't make it feel like you're crammed into a cafeteria or just have the tables lined up to feed you efficiently like a lot of the other character meals like Hollywood and Vine and The Crystal Palace. There are multiple rooms all beautifully decorated like you'd expect a Norwegian hall to be. The tables aren't too close to each other and the division of the rooms provides some form of intimacy and masks the fact they have a lot of seating capacity in this restaurant. The atmosphere is cozy and warm.
Score: 8 / 10
The meal is different from other character meals as it's half way between a buffet and a served dinner like Cinderella's Royal Table. As you are seated, you are handed a menu to select your main course. You are also allowed that this point to walk up to the "appetizer" buffet called the Taste of Norway. You have a selection of "Scandinavian Seafood, Imported Cheeses, cured and sliced Meats, and a vast selection of Salads and Fruits". All of the choices are fresh and presented in a manner you'd expect in a higher end restaurant. The selection is vast and taste of the different meats and cheeses is delicious and the offerings are a higher quality option compared to other character dining experiences.
After you are finished and your plates are cleared, you are brought the entree that you ordered. I had the "Raspeballer - Scandinavian Potato Dumpling" which is described as "Handcrafted Dumplings with Zucchini, Leeks, Peas, and Mushrooms served in a Coconut-Curry Sauce". The portions are generous and the food is quite good. The dumplings were flavorful, and the coconut curry sauce was on the sweet side and it gave the rest of the vegetables a fine flavor. The vegetables were fresh and cooked well, nothing was over or under cooked. Others at the table had chicken that was also well received, and the kids had their own generous portion of mac-and-cheese.
Dessert is also presented to the table afterward, and, as a party of six, we were given two servings. The dessert selection contained chocolate cakes, apple crisps and other sweets. Our family was not able to finish them. The desserts were delicious and well prepared and were a step above other options presented at some of the other character meals.
A selection of adult beverages was also available on the menu.
Score: 8 / 10
It's very difficult to compare the different characters that you get to meet at the different character meals that you can have on property. A lot of it depends on who your personal favorites are. The characters all do a wonderful job of interacting with the kids. Scoring mostly depends on how engaged they were, and how much interaction they had with the restaurant as a whole. At Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, you'll get to visit with a collection of princesses. When you enter the restaurant, you are brought to a nook where Belle is standing to take pictures. The rest of the princesses you will meet at your table.
Our experience with the characters was fantastic. They spoke with the kids, stayed around as long as was necessary, and didn't seem to rush off to the next table. During the meal, the characters take all of the kids around and lead them through the restaurant with a princess parade.
Score 9 / 10
Service was excellent at Akershus. Our server was prompt and always visible in case we needed something. Plates were cleared and the food was brought to the table promptly, and at no point did we feel rushed to finish and leave. The server was always pleasant, met us with a smile, and provided a very professional experience.
With all of the traffic that comes through the restaurant, you sometimes expect servers to push for turnover, but this was not the case at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
Score 8 / 10
Value for Your Money
As we were on the Disney Dining Plan, cost was not a concern in the moment as this experience was a single table service credit per person. Based on my experience, this scored a very high value for my money. The food and character interaction was fantastic and left me personally wanting to come back with my family the next time we're in Walt Disney World.
If I were going to spend money out of pocket on a single character meal on my vacation, Akershus is a great option for young kids who want to meet the different princesses. I would say it holds a high value for my money based on food quality, theming and character interaction.
Score 9 / 10
My overall experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall was very welcoming. Previous experience with character meals led me to expect a room built to get you to the buffet and back as efficiently as possible with enough room for characters to visit your table. This is not the case with Akerhus with it's inviting interior and higher quality food options for adults. I would place this experience on par with Cinderella's Royal Table (which is a signature dining restaurant) as far as food quality, character experience and theming, but at a reduced cost.
The family - especially the kids - enjoyed their experience, and this is on our list to revisit during future vacations.
8 / 10 The Location and Theming
8 / 10 The Food
9 / 10 The Characters
8 / 10 Service
9 / 10 Value for Your Money
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