A story of Blue Bayou, Disneyland’s most popular and booked restaurant

POV: You decide you want to have a meal at Blue Bayou, the New Orleans plaza restaurant at Disneyland inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But you can’t just eat there whenever you want. You need a reservation. So you pick up your phone and open the Disneyland app to reserve a spot, only to find there’s no availability – not for a single table on a single day at any time in the future.

So you follow the advice of Disney groups on social media, who have cracked the code. New reservations, they tell you, are released 60 days later and inventory is refreshed at 3:00 a.m. PST every morning. You set your alarm for 2:57 a.m., open the app, and start refreshing.

You press refresh, refresh and refresh, until you finally see it: an available reservation for Blue Bayou. You click. But unless your information was already saved in the app, it disappeared the moment you entered your credit card to hold the table. At 3:05 a.m. each table that has been published for the date – two months in the future – is taken.

It might sound weird, but it happens to Disneyland hopefuls every day.

Part of the problem, of course, is Disneyland’s permanent staffing issue, which limits dining capacity at restaurants and therefore reduces reservation availability. But part of Blue Bayou’s massive appeal is the restaurant itself.

For starters, it’s the best restaurant in Disneyland Park (outside of Club 33, the private club above New Orleans Square that costs $33,000 in initiation fees and requires multi-year purgatory on a waiting list to be considered a member).

But the other part of what makes Blue Bayou so special is that it’s the only place in Disneyland where you can sit down for a great meal and still feel like you’re out for a ride. The restaurant is not just themed like Pirates of the Caribbean, or near the attraction. It’s actually inside the merry-go-round: when you float through the swamp at the start of Pirates, you can see diners seated at tables in what’s decorated to look like a party in the backyard of a mansion. New Orleans, colorful lanterns lit overhead, the smell of the restaurant’s Cajun-inspired cuisine wafting over the boats.

A glimpse of the dining room is enough to explain the popularity of the restaurant. But this is nothing new. The place has been a runaway success from the start.

Blue Bayou opened in tandem with Pirates of the Caribbean on March 18, 1967. The ride and its restaurant were among the last projects personally overseen by Walt Disney, although they opened after his death in December 1966. In its early days, Blue Bayou was the first restaurant ever built inside a carousel attraction anywhere in the world.

Legend has it that Disney’s original vision for Blue Bayou was for the restaurant to include a pirate-themed show as part of the experience, according to Mental Floss. “If Disney had kept the original plans, the dining experience wouldn’t have been so serene,” wrote Stacy Conradt. “While the guests dined on Creole cuisine, the pirates amazed and entertained them. After giving him a dress rehearsal, Walt told his executives that “in this restaurant, the food is going to be the show, as well as the atmosphere”.

What you would have seen on this menu would be similar to a fine dining restaurant in New Orleans. On this early (but undated) menu posted on the Disney Magic Feather Memories fan blog, there are items like Bayou Shrimp, which was “Petite Bayou Shrimps with pineapple in cream sauce” for 85 cents and Seafood Creole (” King crab meat, Bayou shrimp and whitefish in a Cajun sauce of green peppers, tomatoes and celery on rice pilaf” for $3.25).

One thing you can still order today is the Monte Cristo Sandwich, “Sliced ​​turkey breast, ham of your choice, and Swiss cheese dipped in egg batter and fried until golden brown, served with a seasonal fruit compote. At the time, it cost $2.25. Today, it’s on the lunch menu for $29.

Views of Blue Bayou from Disney Instagrammer @coheteboy.

Courtesy of David Yeh

Even though Blue Bayou has a rabid fan, the food gets mixed reviews, especially since Disneyland reopened last April.

“It’s really expensive [sic] and the food is good but not exceptional,” commented a Disneyland Redditor. “But the environment is great and definitely worth doing it at least once.”

“I’ve been going there for 41 years and the quality of service and food has gone down dramatically,” another Reddit user said. “The food isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. It’s medium. You pay for the atmosphere.

Since its reopening in May, however, there has been another major difference: the restaurant now serves alcohol, making it the only place in Disneyland Park where guests can have a drink, other than Club 33 and Oga’s Cantina.

If you’re not afraid of a little uncertainty, there is another option. Disneyland guests who don’t mind taking a chance might have better luck trying to get a walk-in table at the restaurant, either by talking to cast members at the door or using the Disneyland app. . Your best bet if you try this way: open the app and get ready to join the appointment list when the restaurant opens for the day. It’ll be one more thing you need to do on your phone in the park, but if you’re using Genie Plus, you probably already have it in your hands anyway.

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