Blue Bayou, Disneyland’s most original restaurant, reopens

Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean trip isn’t scheduled to reopen from its lengthy refurbishment till July, however its restaurant — Blue Bayou, the first-ever to be constructed inside a theme park trip — is lastly open for enterprise once more. It’s much like the way it was, however in some methods, fully totally different. 

It’s exhausting to overstate Blue Bayou’s significance to Disneyland. It’s one of many must-eat eating places for many individuals, particularly for many who have by no means had the pleasure of getting a meal in the course of a theme park attraction, the place boats float by and dozens of individuals scream on the identical time each jiffy. 

When Blue Bayou opened on March 18, 1967, the identical day Pirates opened, it made historical past. The trip and its restaurant had been among the many final initiatives Walt Disney personally oversaw, although they opened after his demise in December 1966. At its debut, Blue Bayou was the primary restaurant on the earth to be constructed inside a trip.

Blue Bayou now serves wine, beer and a signature hurricane mixed drink. 

Blue Bayou now serves wine, beer and a signature hurricane combined drink. 

Julie Tremaine

I’ve seen the restaurant numerous instances, each from a dinner desk and from a ship floating by, however each single time, I’m struck by its magnificence. Blue Bayou is constructed to be the courtyard of a New Orleans-style mansion, so that you see the facade of the house, then a patio with overhanging colourful lanterns and foliage, with a contented hum of diners and clinking plates and glasses including to the sounds of the trip’s swamp.

The meals, although, was a combined bag. For each glowing evaluate of what a memorable and scrumptious meal somebody had, there’s one other saying the ambiance was the most effective half and the meals left one thing to be desired. Nonetheless, earlier than it closed for refurbishment, Blue Bayou was probably the most tough desk to get at Disneyland. Individuals would make use of difficult methods and set alarms so they’d be awake at 3 a.m., when stock refreshed within the Disneyland app. However even when they might snag a desk — and so they usually couldn’t — it might be 60 days from the date they booked. 

As of proper now, Blue Bayou is open on a walk-in foundation solely. Once I approached the worker managing the listing, it was a busy Sunday when wait instances all through the park had been excessive, and the second day of service after its six-week closure. Nonetheless, I used to be advised I might stroll in instantly with no wait. I made a decision to take a loop across the Disneyland Railroad first, since I wasn’t actually hungry but (I had anticipated a several-hour wait). Once I went again, round 2:30 p.m., I waited lower than 5 minutes earlier than being seated at my desk.

Chicken jambalaya at Disneyland's Blue Bayou. 

Rooster jambalaya at Disneyland’s Blue Bayou. 

Julie Tremaine

The inside regarded prefer it bought a refresh — colours appeared brighter, paint appeared recent — however nothing was considerably modified. I requested my server what he thought was totally different, and he stated among the ground tiles had been repaired, however many of the modifications he noticed had been behind the scenes, refurbishing service areas at the back of the home. 

Probably the most putting visible distinction is the wall across the eating room, blocking the view into Pirates of the Caribbean. The trip remains to be closed for refurbishment, although on the Sunday afternoon I ate there, I didn’t hear any work noises from the opposite aspect of the barrier. (I did nonetheless hear crickets as if I used to be actually in a bayou at nightfall.) 

However right here’s the meat and potatoes of the factor, fairly actually: the meals. I’ve had nice meals at Blue Bayou, and extra lately, so-so meals, however I hadn’t been again since earlier than the park’s pandemic closure. Meaning I had by no means had a meal there the place alcohol was on the menu. I sat down and ordered myself a glass of glowing wine, which got here in a delightfully throwback champagne coupe. Then I ordered a Blue Bayou salad with dehydrated strawberries and blue cheese, the hen jambalaya, and a chocolate-coffee cake for dessert. 

A bayou-inspired tree hangs over the dining room. 

A bayou-inspired tree hangs over the eating room. 

Julie Tremaine

The salad ($7) was simply how I remembered, although now it’s served with out nuts (earlier variations had pecans). A lightweight French dressing was all of the fruit and cheese wanted as a complement, and it was so good that, although I knew I had two extra programs coming, I ate the entire thing. 

I skipped the restaurant’s signature hen gumbo — I had eaten it lately at Cafe Orleans — however went with an identical entree: the hen jambalaya ($36). Relatively than all the components cooked collectively within the conventional preparation, this jambalaya was a plate of spicy rice topped with a hen breast, spicy andouille sausage and poached shrimp. Not one of the flavors, eaten on their very own, had been hitting the word of what I anticipated from a jambalaya — however as soon as I began combining issues into one chunk, I bought that blend I used to be in search of. 

Chocolate-coffee cake from Blue Bayou.

Chocolate-coffee cake from Blue Bayou.

Julie Tremaine

The chocolate cake was the star of the present. I’m not simply saying that as a result of diners from different tables watched the server carry it to my desk, after which requested me what I used to be having. The fragile layers of chocolate and coffee-soaked cake made a formidable show, particularly served with fruit, edible flowers and sculptural tapioca bubbles. I believed the portion regarded small, however I didn’t end the entire thing as a result of it was so wealthy. Then once more, with the complexity of the components, perhaps the cake must be small to be served for under $10, a relative discount in Disneyland costs. 

Earlier than this most up-to-date expertise, I had been within the “solely go when you’re taking individuals who haven’t been earlier than” camp of Blue Bayou reviewers, however truthfully, this expertise was so nice that I’m trying ahead to my subsequent meal there. I’ll positively attempt to stroll up the following time I’m within the park — but when reservations come again, there’s nonetheless no means I’m going to get up at 3 a.m. to get one. 

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