For my kids’ first trip to Disney World, my daughter was just turning five, and I knew a Princess meal was an absolute must. Her younger brother was 1 1/2, and he didn’t really care who he met, though he turned out to be pretty partial to the cuddlier characters; but D, my daughter, loved to talk to pretty much anyone and it turned out that the face characters, with their ability to react and have conversations with her, were a big, big hit.
But mostly, you know. Five-year-old girl, Disney Princesses? No-brainer.
Rather than take the plunge for a meal in Cinderella Castle I decided to go a slightly-less-traveled route and opted for a breakfast at Restaurant Akershus in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion. I really didn’t know what to expect, except that I knew we got a picture with a princess included with the meal and that we’d see a number of princesses. And that it was a buffet meal with mostly typical breakfast and a limited amount of Norwegian food, and this was a tiny bit worrisome to me since D could be a picky eater.
Well, first, the restaurant is lovely. Not a huge surprise, I know, because this is Disney and all their restaurants are at least a little nice to look at; but the architecture and woodwork in Akershus is really striking, and quite classy. It fits more with the viking/early nautical theme than with a Princess theme, but it’s not jarring or anything.
The wait wasn’t too long… we weren’t seated right away, I think we waited about ten minutes or so, but the Norway shops were open even though the pavilion itself wasn’t open yet. We poked around and the kids looked at swords and things, you know, as you let your kids do. I have an ongoing thing about worrying that the buzzer will go off and I won’t be in range for it to go, so I always hover, but I got some nice pictures of the kids relaxing and browsing. 😉
When we went in we got a photo op with Belle, who greeted my daughter as her “twin” since D was also wearing a Belle dress. The photo op is in this little nook towards the front of the restaurant, and towards the end of your meal they bring you a folder with your print in it. A nice thing is that the photo is included with the price of the meal (not the case at Chef Mickey’s).
So at this point we were seated, rather near the front of the restaurant, very close to the door that the Princesses enter and exit from. We got some food and waited for someone to come by. The food was better than I’d worried it was and everyone was quite happy. In addition to your standard scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage, cinnamon rolls and so forth, there were also a few Norwegian type things like some fish, as well as some tasty biscuits and my kids’ favourite, a nice variety of fresh fruit. My daughter ended up with so much berry smeared over her face that she looked like she’d been guzzling a smoothie or something. Nope, actually, just nature’s candy.
It wasn’t too much longer before the Princesses started coming by! We saw Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel. D was very excited to meet Ariel, but honestly I think it was Cinderella who left her the most starstruck. Both of them, however, were amazing with her. They got down on her level and really talked to her, and although Snow and Aurora were both nice and sweet, they didn’t seem quite as involved as Cinderella and Ariel. Of course I’m a HUGE Ariel fan, so I am biased, but I will also say that I hold meetings with Ariel to a very high standard so I’m *less* likely to fawn over her in person than I am onscreen. 😉
On the other hand, I’ve never been much of a Cinderella fan, but she won me over that day. Just absolutely divine with my daughter, it was wonderful. Plus, we stayed just long enough to participate in something I hadn’t known about: the Princess Parade. An announcement came up asking all children to find the nearest Princess and join them in a parade around the restaurant. Cinderella came by and *found* my daughter, taking her by the hand and promising to show her exactly what to do, and the next time I saw her she’d made nearly a full circuit around the restaurant. And Cinderella had shown her how to lift her skirts as she walked, so she was walking by with her skirt pinched between her forefinger and thumb in each hand, all super-dainty; and later she showed us the right way to wave, with the wrist curl and everything.
It was a unique experience, to say the least. I can’t say I always like the whole “Disney Princess” culture – too much adherence to gender roles – but it’s up to me how much exposure to it my daughter gets, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with moderate exposure. And she certainly loved it, and watching her be a princess was just… it just made my heart swell. 🙂
As for the price – it’s high, what with the cost of the photo being factored in. I won’t pretend it’s not high. But is it worth it? I can’t say for sure; I had the free dining plan deal and if I hadn’t been on the dining plan, I would not have done it, simply because I can’t afford to put down $40 or so per person on breakfast. HOWEVER, I would have regretted not doing it. Like, a lot. So I think the price is worth it even if that makes it something I can’t always do. That’s what special occasions are for, right? Seeing my daughter walk all dainty around the room, feeling like a princess, that’s worth it.