My daughter has princess fever. Let me be more specific. My daughter has Beauty and the Beast fever. Her favorite color is yellow. She calls my husband her beast. She won’t shut up about Belle. Belle this. Belle that. “Mom, where are my Belle slippers?” “Mom, can I bring my Belle doll with me?” “Mom, do I look like Belle?” I’m waiting for her to get a Belle-complex.
Everyday, I ask her what she dreamt about the night before. One day, it’s “Belle and I had a tea party.” The next day, it’s “Belle and the Beast were dancing.” I’m starting to hope she’ll like Justin Bieber soon (not really). I need some diversity in our discussion.
When I was younger, I used to play the same song over and over again in the car. I would get obsessed with a new song every month. My friends and family hated it. Well, this is their redemption song. Between my daughter’s two-year obsession with Beauty and the Beast and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, the curse is returning to me three fold.
I remember my first concert, Duran Duran. I lost sleep for several days before they even set-up shop on the stage. My jacket was carefully covered in headshot pins. I had my outfit laid out for 3 days. I was obsessed.
Well, my daughter had her Duran Duran moment in Disney World. I waffled back and forth about spending the $40/person on breakfast just for meeting a pack of princesses. After feeling unsatisfied with her 2-second meet-and-greets at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, I decided we would forego restaurants with servers for a few days, opt for quick service and splurge on this one thing. It was one of the best decisions I made at Disney World.
On the advice of my friends with toddlers, I packed her Belle princess gown. Even with little sleep the night before, the moment I woke her up and said, “Are you ready to meet Belle today?” she JUMPED out of bed. I combed her hair, put in a Belle hairclip and slipped on her sparkly, yellow gown. She would be the “belle” of the ball. She was glowing, indeed.
When we arrived at Akershus, in Norway at Epcot, we checked in for our reservation and waited in line. We took pictures next to the awning and I held my daughter’s hand as she nervously waited. Her hands were sweaty, so I had to keep switching hands.
They called our name and we entered a short line, bound by red, velvet ropes. That’s when my daughter saw her, Belle; the princess of her dreams, literally. My daughter stepped back, smiled shyly and grabbed my leg. This is exactly how I would have reacted, if I had met Simon Le Bon. No parental leg to grab, though. My dad was always walking around the concession area of the arena with earplugs in place. I guess he was still cool for even taking us.
The Maître d’ guided us to Belle. My daughter paused for a half a second and then ran to her. They had a professional picture set-up, kind of like they do at the Prom. Belle whispered in her ear. Belle danced with her, just like in Beauty and the Beast. Belle hugged her and then planted a big, red kiss on her forehead (took a few minutes to get that off).
Honestly, I would have eaten gross, fast food for a week and paid $100 to see my daughter that happy. This was one of those moments where the nostalgia of my youth was revisited through my daughter’s experience. She was able to spend three, whole minutes with her favorite person (well, second favorite).
After the pictures, we were seated at a table in the middle of the restaurant. There was a peculiar woman with her boyfriend, sitting at the table next to us. She was wearing a t-shirt with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White on it. The reason why I remember this is the t-shirt was about 3 sizes too small. I’m pretty sure it was a kids t-shirt. She also had an autograph book and looked star struck. For some reason, the whole thing seemed a bit inappropriate to me.
The princesses all made the rounds: Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White. I took pictures and my husband got video. Let’s just say we didn’t eat much because we had to keep getting up. [Turn camera on, take pictures while mouth is full, sit down, turn camera off and repeat.]
At the end, the princesses gathered all of their groupies in a line and circled the restaurant, which I had to join because my daughter was too scared. When we returned to our seat, the Maître d’ handed us a nice 4×6 picture of her with Belle. It was so nice that we bought a $20 frame at one of the Disney Shops.
The food at Akershus was not atrocious, but only decent. They brought out a hot plate of eggs, sausage, hash browns and bacon. There was a buffet for other pastries, bagels and fresh fruit (apples and bananas). We could order fresh pancakes or waffles. We chose the pancakes and they weren’t much better than Bisquick. The juice was watered down and our waiter never returned to refill our coffee mugs, even after the second request. The $40/adult and $22/child is for the princess meet-and-greet, not the standard fare of food. Breakfast is cheaper than lunch or dinner, so schedule earlier in the day. I think 11:30 am is the last breakfast seating.
All in all, it was a memorable experience. One I’m hoping my daughter will remember for years to come.