In the Disneyland Resort, there are numerous restaurants, fast-service eateries, snack stands and food carts. Each of these has its own perks and pitfalls; however, for a true one-of-a-kind dining experience, there is only one that stands out (in my opinion).
The Blue Bayou Restaurant, located in New Orleans Square in Disneyland Park (Anaheim) is the original fine dining experience of the park. Since its opening in 1967, it has continued to amaze guests with its unique ambiance and delicious dishes.
This Disneyland dining experience is great for everyone on any occasion. Birthdays, anniversaries, first visits, proposals, graduations, date night, friends’ night out — whatever brings you to the park and the restaurant is a reason to celebrate! Blue Bayou provides a glamorous setting to enjoy any lunch or dinner.
A New Orleans Experience
Not only do you walk through the artsy section of the park to access the front door of the Blue Bayou Restaurant, but you seemingly step into the bayou for your dining experience. From the decor and atmosphere to the Louisianan plates, you’ll be transported to The Big Easy.
Moving Back in Time
When you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted with Victorian-inspired decor from a small city parlor of the deep south. Much of the decor will seem familiar from Main Street, USA as there is quite a bit of crossover.
Reds, pinks and ambers surround you. Heavy curtains line the doors and mirrors line the walls. Gold-gilded elements can be noted in the wall and ceiling details.
Amidst it all, Cast Members are costumed in Victorian-era garb, making the attention to detail that much more impressive. Keep in mind that although the Blue Bayou is adjacent to a pirating attraction, it is intended to be the civilized, up-scale lounge of the park.
Of note, chairs are available inside for waiting Guests. However, as lines tend to get quite long, you may want to snag a bench just outside the entrance or down the “street.”
No matter the time of year or weather outside, this escape to the bayou is always a warm twilight.
Once your table is ready, you’ll pass through the parlor doors into a “patio” along the bayou! Give your eyes a moment to adjust to the twinkling “stars” and fireflies amidst the late-dusk sky. Take in the beauty of the lantern-strewn setting and prepare for an intimate evening over candlelight.
Although you’ll be seated indoors, you’ll have the feeling of being outside. Listen for the crickets in the background beyond the soft jazz playing overhead.
Because of this romantic atmosphere, the Blue Bayou Restaurant is often the scene for many couples. Don’t mistake it, however, as a “romantic” place! No matter the age of the group, this setting is ideal for any party looking to enjoy a meal in the dusk of the Louisiana marsh during a busy day of rides and shows.
Plus, this dining establishment is a true Disneyland classic. Pass on the magic to every generation by sharing the experience.
Watching Pirates Sail
Although there is no live entertainment at the Blue Bayou, there is an opportunity to watch pirates sail!
Diners get to eat along the banks of the river that leads into the caverns of the famed Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. For first time Guests, this is a great chance to see what the opening of the ride is like while waving to sailors passing by in the night. For people watchers, it can often be a great form of entertainment to see how people act whilst in the Happiest Place on Earth.
While the atmosphere of the restaurant intends for quiet jazz and conversation, the ambiance from these pirates can, unfortunately, be distracting. In fact, passers-by are probably the only (potential) negative of this experience.
Keep in mind that in dining by a ride, you are subject to people being…well, people. Loud singing, laughing, talking, screaming, etc. can be expected while you munch away on Cajun classics. Plus, there are sometimes overhead announcements from ride operators that can be heard throughout the Blue Bayou, too.
Ultimately, when you choose to dine at the Blue Bayou Restaurant, you are part of an attraction. People are watching you, and you may be watching them. The best thing to do is laugh when someone makes a fool of their pirating adventure and hope the next boat is a little quieter!
A Cajun-Inspired Feast
The Blue Bayou Disneyland menu features shareable appetizers, large entrées with sides, desserts and kids’ meals. Every item on the menu features flavors from New Orleans’ Cajun flare, pulling in French-inspired sauces with spices from the American south.
Generally, the quality of food at the Blue Bayou is unsurpassed by anything else in the park. Whether you like spicy and tangy or saucy and herbed, the menu offers a wide selection for every palate. Moreover, there are options for just about every diet from carnivores to vegetarians, making it an easy pick for the whole party.
From 11:30 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m., you can enjoy a hearty lunch from a slightly smaller menu selection. Although the menu is a little shorter, there are great options for a filling meal that everyone in the party can enjoy. Plus, the price point is a bit lower than a dinner meal.
A great starter available on the lunch menu is the Fried Calamari. It is served with a tangy rémoulade and a kick from Andouille sausage. An absolutely perfect dish for sharing with the table or savoring on your own.
Perhaps the most famous sandwich in Disneyland is served only for lunch at the Blue Bayou: the Monte Cristo. This hunk of a meal features two types of meat (turkey and ham), delicious Swiss cheese and hearty bread. Uniquely, this delight is deep fried and served with jam to dip or spread to your delight!
Starting at 4:00 p.m., Guests can be seated for a dinner meal at Blue Bayou Restaurant. The general menu selection is larger than the lunch offering, and it features a Surf & Turf option that is to-die-for.
If you are looking for a true Cajun delight, start your meal with the Crab Hush Puppies. Featuring Fresno chile and Tasso ham tossed with lump crab, these fried delicacies will have you savoring every bite. With the tang of the lemon aïoli to compliment them, the flavors of this dish really smack with Lousiana influence!
For entrées, the options are hard to choose between. Nonetheless, there are a couple of big winners.
The Surf & Turf, which is only offered at dinner, presents a whole lobster tail and petite filet mignon smothered in a cabernet sauce. Served with potatoes au gratin and seasonal veggies, this meal is perfect for the hungriest guest or for a pair to share! Plus, the taste of every element is impeccable and cooked to order.
Another delight that is served all day is the Jambalaya. Enjoy a Cajun classic for one or to share as the portion of pasta is massive! The mixed flavors of spices with shrimp, Andouille sausage and chicken sausage in a light broth will brighten your whole meal. If you like a little extra spice, be sure to inform your server.
Young Guests have appropriately sized meals available to them at this restaurant. While they can choose “fancy” options like the fish of the day or the Chef’s Beef Specialty, they can also opt for mac ‘n’ cheese! All kids’ meals are served with vegetables and fruit. Children also have the choice of low-fat milk or water for their drinks.
The one downside for kids with the Blue Bayou menu options is that there are technically only four plates. Other restaurants throughout the park may have more options or may favor a more traditional American cuisine. As such, you’ll want to be sure to check-in with parents and kids in the group about meal options so everyone is sure to be happy.
Desserts and Drinks
Both the lunch and dinner menus feature unique desserts and delectable beverages. As such, they need their own section!
Mint Julep — a refreshing drink that pairs well with nearly every meal or on its own as a light end to a flavorful meal featuring lemon-lime soda, mint syrup, muddled mint leaves, a lemon wedge and a cherry
Louisiana Lemonade — a concoction served only at the Blue Bayou Restaurant comprised of lemonade, lemon-lime soda and mango and raspberry flavors
Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée — a savory vanilla custard topped with “burnt” sugar and berries and served with a Madeleine cookie
8-Layer Chocolate Hazelnut Cake — exactly as it sounds and topped with a drizzle of raspberry sauce
While the featured drinks are sweet and refreshing, regular accompaniments such as iced tea, coffee and regular and diet sodas are available. Souvenir Glow Cubes are available with drinks for an extra charge. Talk about brightening the evening!
Great Service All Day
You really cannot ask for better servers in an amusement park than those joining you at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. Because the establishment is considered fine dining, the Cast Members tend to be the crème de la crème.
Particularly during the dinner service, staff members seem to be at their pique performance. They are usually given fewer tables than standard table service restaurants, and so they should be providing you with a lot of attention. Plus, they have a fairly large support staff of bussers who buzz about.
Prepare Yourself for the Journey
Like everything else in Disneyland, you can expect a price tag for this experience.
Blue Bayou’s High Pricepoint
Disneyland itself gives the restaurant three dollar signs ($$$) out of a possible four. This range is ranked for an approximation of $35 to $60 per person. As such, you can expect the following:
- Drinks up to about $10
- Appetizers averaging around $15
- Meals averaging about $35 with a low point of about $30 and a high point of about $55
- Desserts for about $10
- Kids’ meals for about $12
Keep in mind that these higher prices are intended to maintain high-quality atmosphere, food and service. Of note, certain discounts, such as for Annual Passholders, do apply at this establishment.
Reservations Required and Preferred Access for Hotel Guests
The Blue Bayou Restaurant almost always has a line and a waitlist. Reservations are highly recommended and should be made as far in advance as possible. Particularly for parties looking to celebrate a special occasion or who need a specific time for a meal, reservations are necessary.
To book reservations, head to the Blue Bayou page on the Disneyland website and select your date, time, and party size in the “Check Availability” (blue) box on the right side of the screen. You can also use the Disneyland App or call the reservations hotline at 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463).
Note that reservations can be made as early as 60 days in advance. You will be required to submit credit card information, however, and a deposit may be held if you miss your appointment. Be sure to read the fine print of the agreement.
Additionally, for Guests staying in a Disneyland Resort hotel, there is premier service for reservations. Be sure to check in with your concierge as well as online for perks related to the Preferred Reservation Access. Of note, all reservations and bookings within the park and its restaurants are subject to availability.
Disneyland at its Best
Blue Bayou Restaurant really does shine as the oldest fine-dining experience at Disneyland Resort (next to Club 33, arguably). However, there are other restaurants that compare to this one in experience and cuisine. For me, Blue Bayou is still the ultimate five-star dining establishment in my book. The food is better. The ambiance is better. The location is premier.
Nonetheless, here are some other places that compare (along with notes as to why they may not be what you are looking for compared to the experience presented here):
Although it is practically right next door to the Blue Bayou Restaurant and it features many of the same flavors, it lacks the ambiance of being in the New Orleans marshes. Of note, both are table service dining options.
Like Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans features separate lunch and dinner menus. However, the appeal is to street foods and finger foods. They do share the Monte Cristo Sandwich, and Cafe Orleans even has a vegetarian version (the Three-Cheese Monte Cristo). Note that they are the same price, so if you are looking for just that treat, you really have a toss-up between the two eateries.
Unlike the Blue Bayou, outdoor seating is available. Indoor seating, however, is very limited and tends to be stuffy because it is more like a traditional restaurant with open windows and doors onto the patio. Tables, generally, are still hard to come by as a lot of Guests will substitute the bayou experience for the cafe. Either way, you are bound to encounter a long wait or need to book reservations.
In the end, if you are just interested in food, you’ll want to compare the menus. Pricing at Cafe Orleans tends to be just a tad cheaper. The recipes, though, are not as intricate as those at its neighboring establishment.
If you want a great atmosphere that is unique to Disneyland Park, nothing compares to the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
To put it simply, this is the Cajun quick service eatery in the park. None of the food is as good as Blue Bayou, but it is also pretty different.
Offerings at the French Market tend to be along the lines of soups, salads and sandwiches. They do offer a Jambalaya that uses rice instead of linguine, but it tends to be a quick eat that neglects the sides and other features of the dish at the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
For people who are looking to simply grab food, pay, eat and leave for the next attraction, this is far more ideal than Blue Bayou. The design here is a buffet line where you place an order and pick it up quickly rather than wait for it to be prepared by a chef. Unfortunately, this may mean the food you are eating has been sitting out under warmers for a while. It won’t be as fresh as meals at a table service restaurant.
Compared to Cafe Orleans, the ambiance is a little nicer here, surprisingly. Unlike Blue Bayou, though, it lacks a unique experience. You will be at a patio across from the Haunted Mansion and in the middle of the theme park. So, you are subject to whatever hustle and bustle is going on around you.
One perk of the French Market, however, is that there is often live entertainment. Be on the lookout for barbershop quartets passing by and small jazz bands or marching ensembles!
Carthay Circle Lounge and Restaurant
Across the Esplanade in Disney California Adventure is the up-scale table service dining “equivalent” of Blue Bayou Restaurant. The restaurant is upstairs and requires reservations, just like our primary experience discussed here. The lounge, however, is downstairs and is basically a bar with light snacks.
The biggest differences between Carthay Circle and Blue Bayou are in atmosphere and menu. The service, the expectations, the elegance are really all the same.
At Carthay Circle, the menu is very meat heavy. The flavors are more Californian and Italian-inspired, and so they tend to be less spice-heavy. However, these plates also tend to pull from numerous cultures overall because of the Californian nature of the restaurant.
You can have Vietnamese tacos and classic queso fundido in the same meal, which, while interesting, breaks from a specific cuisine. Blue Bayou is consistent in its use of Cajun and Creole flavors, providing Guests with a more singular culinary experience.
In terms of decor, Carthay Circle is reminiscent of 1920s Hollywood. The darker atmospheres are similar, but you are completely indoors in Carthay. There really are not even windows to look out over the park. For better or worse, though, it is not attached to a ride. As such, you may feel completely separated from the rest of DLR.
The last big “plus” for Carthay Circle is the ability to have alcohol with your meal (for those 21+). Wines, beers and signature cocktails are available; however, most of the drinks available in the restaurant and lounge are available at other establishments in DCA.
Fantasmic! Dining Package Available
The last major perk of choosing to dine with the Blue Bayou Restaurant is access to a Fantasmic! Dining Package. Note that this is a unique opportunity that is separate from regular reservations and dining options at the restaurant.
Dining packages for this exclusive event include a 3-course meal for either lunch or dinner and a Viewing Area Voucher for a showing of Fantasmic! Meals are subject to be pre-set or limited in options. Be sure to check with a Cast Member for daily offerings.
Also, this package requires reservations, either before you visit or on the day of your visit. Availability is limited and may be subject to being booked out.
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