Blue Bayou Restaurant Review: Dining Inside Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland
Located inside Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Disney’s most iconic restaurants anywhere in the world, a bucket list dining spot that first-timers and fans alike flock–and for good reason! This review features food photos & recommendations, a look inside the iconic eatery, info about atmosphere & ambiance, and our analysis of cuisine quality and value for money.
Due to its location inside Pirates of the Caribbean with boats of guests on the attraction floating past the waterfront restaurant, Blue Bayou Restaurant has become a quintessential Disney experience. Even those who have never been to the parks know that there is a restaurant in Pirates of the Caribbean, and want to eat there.
The proximity to Pirates of the Caribbean and the ambiance that flows from the ride to the restaurant are the big draws for Blue Bayou. As a result, the food often takes a backseat to the vibes of the restaurant. In our view, this actually makes sense–it’s entirely reasonable to want to dine at Blue Bayou for the experience first, and meal second.
To that point, our longtime recommendation for first-timers to Disneyland has been to book reservations for Blue Bayou because it’s an exemplar of themed design and offers exceptional atmosphere. This is especially true for Disney fans; even though Walt Disney World has a couple of comparable restaurants in or adjacent to attractions, they’re not the same. Blue Bayou is an original, and pinnacle of Imagineering.
However, we’ve always offered the caveat that Blue Bayou is expensive, and you’re paying a premium for the setting and ambiance that isn’t reflected in the cuisine. In the last decade-plus, we’ve dined at Blue Bayou once every few years and have always savored the setting…but seldom the food. Until now.
Oddly enough, this lunch at Blue Bayou flipped the script on our past experiences at Disneyland’s most prolific restaurant.
Upon checking in, we encountered a colossal crowd inside the restaurant lobby and spilling out into New Orleans Square. If other recent visits to Disneyland are any indication, this is the norm now.
Normally, we would request a waterfront table. But between the crowd and the fact that we’ve dined at Blue Bayou many times, we opted against it. With that said, we would strongly recommend that you make such a request.
Cast Members will indicate that they can’t guarantee you’ll be accommodated and quote a longer wait time (usually 30-60 minutes, with an actual wait that’s typically less), but it’s well worth it. Watching the Pirates of the Caribbean boats float by is blissful and pure Disneyland magic.
We were seated on the exact opposite side of Blue Bayou, about as close to the entrance as you can get.
This alone was not a big deal. The real issue was that there was minimal spacing between the tables and people were packed into the restaurant. As a result, Blue Bayou had a louder and more disorderly vibe than we’ve ever encountered here.
Perhaps we’ve just been lucky with Blue Bayou in the past. It’s been the most popular restaurant at Disneyland for as long as I can remember, but it doesn’t seem like we’ve ever experienced the restaurant when it’s been this busy.
My guess is that spacing between the tables has been reduced to cram more people into the venue, but maybe I’m simply misremembering. It’s also possible we previously have done early lunches, late dinners, or just dined here during the off-season when demand wasn’t as high. (The phenomenon of Disneyland restaurant reservations booking up one month-plus in advance is very much a new thing. We never used to make reservations for DLR dining.)
In any case, the vibe wasn’t the same. Sure, Blue Bayou still has the charming courtyard with wrought-iron chairs, hanging paper lanterns, the night sky above, and the bayou at dusk off in the distance. That’s all beautiful, and shines through even when packed with people.
However, the authentic New Orleans jazz and gospel music, deep bellowing of bullfrogs, and the chirping of crickets was mostly drowned out by the crowd noise. In spite of all that, it’s still a mellow restaurant with a relaxing quality to it…but not to the extent that it could be.
From our perspective, this is another reason to request a table along the waterfront. Without other tables surrounding you on all sides, you’re more likely to hear the music and atmospheric sounds, while also feeling less claustrophobic.
Another good idea is doing Blue Bayou for the first seating at lunch or late in the evening as the restaurant is clearing out. This is our preferred way to do a lot of Disney table service restaurants for similar reasons, and now Blue Bayou joins that list.
Anyway, on to the food!
We were joined for the meal at Blue Bayou by infamous Omnibus outlaw, Guy Selga of TouringPlans, who started out by ordering the Chicken Gumbo with Tasso Ham, Andouille Sausage, Peppers, and Tomatoes with Steamed Rice.
This gumbo is rich and flavorful, packed with a hearty helping of meats and a relatively mild kick. There’s a decent amount of rice to absorb the broth, and makes it a satisfying dish all around. The cup of gumbo is modestly sized and intended for one, but as far as appetizers go, this seemed fairly priced at $7 (adjust upwards for inflation depending upon when you’re reading this and visiting). Highly recommended.
Next up, the 31 Royal Street Signature Julep.
I also took a photo showing the overhead view, but it simply looks like liquid in ice–not really illustrative of anything. This photo looks cooler, so I’m going with that. The current julep is blood orange, which tasted as the name suggests. With that said, absolutely nothing special–you could get a can of blood orange soft drink at the store and not miss out on anything here.
Before turning to our actual entrees, we’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room. The iconic entree at Disneyland, the Monte Cristo: Battered and Fried Turkey, Ham and Swiss Sandwich with a Market Fruit Salad and Seasonal Preserves.
Currently, this is served with a seasonal salad at Blue Bayou. This is complete and utter nonsense, like the equivalent of drinking a dozen Diet Cokes per day. No one ordering the Monte Cristo is concerned about health–we wants the pomme frites!
Anyway, I’ve had Disneyland’s Monte Cristo around a dozen times in the last decade…and have lived to tell about it! It’s served at Cafe Orleans and Blue Bayou. It’s the same at both, save for the cheaper price at Cafe Orleans. For a while last year, the Monte Cristo was also served at Smokejumpers Grill in DCA, where it was my go-to dish during the days of really scaled-back menus. (I’ve actually had it more there than anywhere else!)
The Monte Cristo is a fantastic fried sandwich, but also an incredibly heavy. I always recommend sharing it, and would take my own advice if my park-going counterpart would willingly eat a fried sandwich. (That’s why I loved the cheaper and smaller Smokejumpers Grill version so much!)
What makes the Monte Cristo special is its masterful melding of batter with turkey, ham, and cheese–giving it gloriously rich and salty quality. That’s brilliantly offset with strawberry preserves and vanilla custard, making the sandwich the perfect sweet and savory combo. The Monte Cristo also has a range of textures, from the exterior crunch of the batter to doughiness underneath to the meat and gooey cheese.
Admittedly, I do think the Monte Cristo is a bit overrated among Disneyland diehards, as well as overpriced for what it is. However, it’s very good and deserving of its “iconic Disneyland dish” status. There’s more here than meets the eye, and it’s worth trying at least once. I just wouldn’t make it my lone entree–it works well as a shared option for the table.
For this meal at Blue Bayou, we ordered the Fava Bean & Pistachio Pesto Pasta: Asparagus, Arugula, Tomatoes, Basil and Squash Blossoms.
Personally, I think fava beans should’ve been removed from all restaurant menus long ago since they’re forever associated with Hannibal Lecter and, by extension, cannibalism. Also, because they are not good.
With that said, I have to admit that they worked really well in this dish, with had a very Mediterranean quality thanks to the array of fresh vegetables and olive oil. Still, it’s earthy, herby, and frankly on the heavy side due to the hearty pasta and pesto. Not heavy like the Monte Cristo–it’s nowhere near that level of intensity–just more than you might expect from a plant-based pasta. It also has an aromatic quality, unique texture, and is just generally an ambitious and creative dish.
From my perspective, all of this is a strength. All too often, Disney’s plant-based dishes are too light and not filling. This was heavier, but still refreshing in spite of that thanks to its ingredients. Sarah felt it could’ve been a little lighter (that’s why she wanted to order this), but praised the variety of vegetables and its nuanced flavor, as well as being plant-based without tasting artificial or attempting to “simulate” meat. I’m not particularly keen on most plant-based dishes, but I loved and would highly recommend this; Sarah would recommend it with reservations.
Next up is the Sustainable Market Fish: Caribbean Hoppin’ John, Herbs, Lime and Mango-Coconut Beurre Blanc.
The fish here is ahi tuna, which caught me by surprise. Seasonal/sustainable fish is Disneyspeak for “whatever farm-raised fish is cheapest.” That usually means salmon, mahi mahi, tilefish, or cobia.
I was floored by the flavor on this dish. The tuna was tender, with the expected meatiness and a rich and buttery quality that was balanced against the bit of seared texture on the outside. A really delicious fish with a robust flavor that didn’t need any assistance from the accompaniments.
With that said, those accompaniments did stand well on their own. The hoppin’ john itself would’ve been fine, but the medley of fruity flavors (mango, coconut, and lime) had the dish more refreshing–with the mint making everything cooler. All in all, it made for an interesting and ambitious dish, and another that I’d highly recommend.
For our final entree, there’s the Chicken Jambalaya: Sustainable Jumbo Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Tasso Ham, Creole-spiced Rice and Tasso Ham-Tomato Jus.
This is a classic Creole and Cajun rice dish, and you probably know one way or another whether you like Jambalaya. I don’t purport to be an expert on “authentic” New Orleans cuisine, but I think Disney’s culinary team does this right. It’s bursting with flavor thanks to the variety of vegetables, spices, meat, and rice–it’s just a really satisfying dish.
In my estimation, the Chicken Jambalaya is the “safe” choice on the menu at Blue Bayou. Not that it’s unadventurous, but because this is New Orleans Square and there’s always a version of Jambalaya on the menu. It’s one of the things they always get right…and Blue Bayou is not a restaurant known for its ambitious cuisine.
However, our other two entrees at this meal were shockingly good, with more nuanced and bold flavors than we ever expected. That makes it more difficult to get excited about the Chicken Jambalaya or even the Monte Cristo, for that matter. (Blue Bayou always has a steak, and it’s usually only so-so. Given the high quality of these entrees, I’m really curious about the Filet Mignon with Patatas Bravas, Spinach, Lemon Aïoli and Olive-Piquillo Pepper Tapenade.)
For dessert, we started with the Vanilla-Bourbon Crème Brûlée: Pecan Cookie, Macerated Berries and Vanilla Bean Chantilly.
Ah, now this is the Blue Bayou we know and “love.” This dessert was wholly unremarkable, tasting exactly like all other Disney crème brûlées. This isn’t to say it was bad–it was just fine–but it was nothing special. Save your money and stomach space, and look for dessert elsewhere.
Finally, we have the Layered Chocolate-Coffee Cake with Vanilla Bean Chantilly and Seasonal Fruit Compote.
Presentation-wise, this is a winner. Just look at it. Taste-wise, it’s better and more unique than the crème brûlée, but that’s not exactly high praise. If I had to choose between this and the candy bar in Avengers Campus, I’d pick that. (Not to mention about a dozen other desserts at Disneyland–that’s just the closest thing that this reminded me of.) Neither recommended nor not recommended.
Overall, we’ve been fairly ambivalent about Blue Bayou Restaurant at Disneyland in the past. We’ve strongly recommended it on the basis of ambiance, but always felt that the menu was phoned in with the kitchen coasting on a couple of popular (but arguably overrated and simple) items and the longstanding reputation of the restaurant.
Based on this meal, that is no longer our perception. While the atmosphere wasn’t as good as we remember due to a jam-packed restaurant, that’s not particularly bothersome in light of the aforementioned workarounds.
Rather, it’s the food–or at least the entrees–that left us really impressed. Two of these were far more ambitious than anything we’ve ever had at Blue Bayou, and left us wanting to try the rest of the menu.
In particular, the Fava Bean & Pistachio Pesto Pasta is a plant-based all-star, and great bang-for-buck at its price point. Given all of that, we now highly recommend Blue Bayou Restaurant to all Disneyland visitors–let’s just hope the kitchen keeps the quality up and the menu this ambitious. It’s a real winner!
Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!
Have you dined at Blue Bayou Restaurant in Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland? What did you think of the atmosphere and setting? What about the cuisine quality and ambitiousness? Would you recommend waiting for a waterfront seat or just eating wherever? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I had the filet a week or so ago. I was there for the drinking credit, to be honest. The filet was far better than their ribeyes and whatnots from times past. A little overpriced, but what’s not. And finally cooked a perfect med-rare! I feel like whether or not you can get a meat chef in-park who can nail steak temps is a dicey situation. This was the start of the dinner rush and the temp was perfect. I also asked for a waterside table. I was told “an hour to two hours” and got the text literally four minutes later. Was just about to get in line for Pirates.
“I was told ‘an hour to two hours’ and got the text literally four minutes later.”
Yikes! I knew the “estimates” were way off, but that’s really something. Makes me feel badly for the first-time tourists who don’t have an hour or two to spare and decline after hearing that quote.
First off there’s nothing wrong with drinking 12 Diet Cokes. Second the Blue Bayou should not be missed by guests. You are correct though the tables seem to be a plenty lately. Our last dining there the food was exceptional and the atmosphere is unparalleled next to the water, bit it was very crowded feeling. The Monte Cristo should be it’s own food group in my opinion, but with the fries, and a diet coke with it for me!!!
My wife and I both grew up in Southern California and have dined at the Blue Bayou a number of time over the years. It is a very enjoyable place to relax and enjoy a meal. One time we went at the first seating at lunch time. If you do this, I would not recommend the Monte Cristo. Now I have no proof of what I’m about to say, but my wife and I both ordered the Monte Cristo and a couple of drinks. The server left our table and came back maybe 2-3 minutes later with our drinks AND our sandwiches! They did not seem fresh and we were both somewhat disappointed. I suspect that maybe because this is probably their most popular item that they had a number of them pre-made ready to go for the first lunch wave and started making them fresh after those were gone. Like I said, know way of really knowing this, but the quality was really lacking compared to the other times that we have had the Monte Cristo, and this is the only reason I can come up with.
BB was a staple with our family, loved the steak and lobster offering and their chicken breast was amazing. I’m sad they have removed it from their lineup. I’m still trying to figure out why Disney keeps messing with things that don’t need fixing….
Agree. We just ate there 3 days ago. It was always a must for our Disneyland trips. Not anymore. They slashed the menu and the food they did have, was mediocre. The hush puppies and chicken were my go to’s. I can’t remember what my daughter would get, but she always finished it. I only ordered a salad because they didn’t have a chicken option.
We won’t be returning to BB unless the menu significantly improves.
I finally booked Blue Bayou this last trip. I almost cancelled it because me and my friend were exhausted and weren’t thrilled with another table service reservation, but I missed the cancellation deadline. I was able to cancel an accidental duplicate reservation in person at the park, but my brain just wouldn’t let me do the same for Blue Bayou.
We asked for a waterside table, were quoted 20-40 min, which was fine. But to our surprise we were seated about five minutes later.
The atmosphere was incredible. Divine. Lived up to all the hype and then some.
I ordered the Filet Mignon and there was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever ordered. It did grow on me the more I ate of it, however. The patatas bravas were so-so, but after an underwhelming showing here and at Jaleo, perhaps they just aren’t for me.
But the other thing apart from the ambiance that really made BB worth it was remembering about halfway through the meal that we could get a Fantasmic dining package. We were worried about potentially having to make entree substitutions and perhaps normally when staffing’s more normal that’s the case, but the only real substitution we had to make was the dessert, which was delicious and sounded far more appetizing than either of the ones listed on the regular menu.
Getting to sit a row back for 9 PM Fantasmic and getting to stay for the fireworks (the view and projections there were better than I expected) with minimal hassle was absolutely worth it! So the food was fine-not amazing but not bad-but the atmosphere and dining package made it more than worthwhile.
In regards to Napa Rose, since I saw a comment-I did not order off the chef’s/tasting menu, but I thought my Napa Rose meal was just as good as the ones I’ve had in the past. The menu was a bit skimpier than normal, though it was larger than what was shown online and Napa Rose has never had an enormous menu to my memory anyhow. And the service! We had incredible service at both Napa and Carthay this trip. Reasonable minds may vary, but for me it seemed like Napa Rose was still firing on all cylinders.
Just a side not, or request, if you will. On articles like these that feature a ride that is in multiple Disney parks, can you please add “Disneyland” somewhere in the title?
I got all excited when I saw this, thinking something new was coming to WDW. Had to get halfway through the post before learning it was for CA, not FL. Then I felt really let down and disappointed. We don’t go to Disneyland because it’s more expensive for us than WDW, and with only two parks versus four, that makes it a not-very-cost-effective choice.
I should amend that last comment slightly. You could find tomatoes in your Creole gumbo, but it would be a seafood gumbo that often contains okra. A chicken and sausage gumbo is a Cajun dish that wouldn’t have tomatoes. So they have basically melded two different things into one. Same for the jambalaya. I’ve never seen chicken and sausage and shrimp in a jambalaya (and definitely never seen a pile of chicken on top…it’s usually chopped up and cooked down along with the sausage into the dish).
As a culinary note, in case it interest you, Creole and Cajun food are actually 2 different things. Creole food usually contains tomatoes and is an urban (the City of New Orleans) based tradition mixing Italian, Spanish, African, and West Indies influences. Whereas Cajun food is more of a rural tradition (read: the rest of South Louisiana) with a French/Acadian influence that almost never contains tomatoes.
Having said all of that (if you made it this far lol), I would be really interested to try this amalgamation Disney has created! Creo-jun!
It may be an intentional blend so it fits Cafe Orleans as well as Blue Bayou. I can confirm it was made in a similar way about 15 years ago, so it’s not a “new” change.
I would say that it’s good in the front third near the water, but both times I was there at 11 o’clock on the dock, so your mileage definitely varies depending on when you go.
“This is a classic Creole and Cajun rice dish, and you probably know one way or another whether you like Jambalaya. I don’t purport to be an expert on “authentic” New Orleans cuisine, but I think Disney’s culinary team does this right.”
As a lifetime South Louisiana girl who lives near New Orleans I should mention that putting tomatoes in either jambalaya or gumbo is a sure fire way to let people know you’re not from around here. Disney has put it in both, and while possibly delicious, I just thought I should mention that’s it’s not very authentic. You can find it here and there in certain restaurants in New Orleans (usually from transplant chefs) but locals don’t typically order it off the menu or cook it that way. They are both generally “brown” dishes when cooked authentically. Come try the good stuff in New Orleans!
Hi Laura. I’m not a fan of tomatoes – why would they do that? LOL! I’m just a Florida girl but I do love Creole foods and am definitely not opposed to Cajun either.
I was like huh how did I miss this? California not Orlando lol.
Off topic but does anyone know if the royal table restaurant at DW is basically the same as be our guest? I have boys so the princess thing doesn’t interest them but I thought if the castle itself was cool and food unique- maybe its worth a try.
Have I lost my mind or did BB previously include a cup of gumbo or salad with their meals? I don’t remember it being an add-on on our visits in previous years. We had very much of the same food in our recent meal there and while the tuna was delicious the portion was shockingly small compared to the huge serving of jambalaya. Our server was excellent and the ride was still closed for refurbishment when we visited, which probably added to a quieter atmosphere for our meal.
They absolutely used to include your choice of gumbo or side salad with your entree. That went away a handful of years ago, sadly.
I’ve always wanted to eat here, but I live in New Orleans. I can’t see paying those prices for food that won’t come close to what I can get here in terms of flavor. Your pasta dish sounds like just the thing to get me in the doors after all! On a side note… I’m always perplexed that the Monte Cristo and the Mint Julep are SO heavily featured in New Orleans Square as they are not associated with New Orleans. We have iconic sandwiches and signature drinks that would be a much better fit.
Yeah, I’m your case I’d probably pass too – the food can’t touch what you get in New Orleans. It’s our primary reason for wanting to make a return visit in the near future. Can’t beat the real thing!
Hi Tom! Thank you so much for the review. I just dined at BB this past Saturday. The ambiance you spoke of can still be found if you try and eat late in the evening. My party and I were able to find a table without reservations at 9pm on a Saturday night, which is rare I’m sure, but the staff seems to go out of their way to accommodate parties without reservations later in the evening. The restaurant was much quieter and emptier. I had the filet and it was cooked perfectly, was seasoned well and had great flavor. We tried to add our names to the waitlist by using the app, and the app said all tables were full, but when we went to the restaurant the hostess said they could accommodate us. If people don’t mind eating late, I highly recommend this option.
We at there a few years ago when visiting DL for the first time and was not impressed. The atmosphere was awesome, but the food, no way for the price. We got a filet mignon that was smaller than the palm of our hand and then veggies that we don’t care for. My son would not eat anything so he ended up with a steak and veggies. Needless to say our wallet was a LOT lighter but we were still hungry. But we did get a water front table so that helped somewhat!
I remember back in the 1980’s as a kid, riding on the Pirates of Caribbean and seeing real people in a dimly lit restaurant, realizing it was also part of the ride and thinking, wow that is so cool, I want to go there some day. I finally did, when I was in college in the mid-90’s and you could just walk up and ask for a table. I remember getting that yummy monte cristo sandwich. Fast forward to 2019, family trip to Disneyland and I tried to get reservations at the Blue Bayou, but to no avail. We settled for the outdoor Cafe Orleans, which was wonderful. It has the same monte cristo and bottomless mint juleps, they did not disappoint.
We only get to go to Disneyland every 5-10 years, but every time we do BB is an absolute must. We have never has a bad experience here. It is always magical and tasty, and I will never get enough of the mint juleps (even when they bring them out to us by the pitcher)! We have almost always gotten a table by the water, and the kids get a kick out of waving to the passing guests on the ride. Love to hear that it is still doing well.
Thanks for your review Tom. In my opinion the portion sizes have shrunk every year, yet the prices keep going up. On this trip coming up, this will be the first time I’m skipping Blue Bayou. The lackluster menu just don’t justify the price for me anymore. I’m not a fan of the Monte Cristo…anywhere. The filet mignon is embarrassingly small. I’ve always loved the creme brûlée but even that’s not worth the rest of the menu and the sticker shock. Sad to say…I’m taking my stomach and wallet elsewhere on this trip.
Thanks for the review and the picture. We’ve never eaten here because the menu didn’t look to my tastes in general – particularly for the price. (Outside of the Monte Cristo, which is delicious but cheaper next door.) Speaking of the Monte Cristo – what kind of monster takes fried meaty-cheesy goodness and then puts fruit on it? Serve it with maple syrup as God intended. 🙂
Tom, your timing for this article is great! I just booked reservations at BB this past weekend for an October visit not really knowing what to expect. Glad I did and we’re really looking forward to it! One thing I am also curious about is the fixed menu at Napa Rose. I’ve read that the fixed menu is a disappointment compared to the pre-COVID shutdown menu. Not sure if that is true but we made reservations there too just in case.
Sarah ate at Napa Rose a few months ago with girlfriends and was underwhelmed (I was not invited, ha).
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve heard anything positive about Napa Rose recently.
For me the food didn’t start going downhill until around 2019. Our last meal there before shutdown wasn’t worth it. However, our food there was excellent in July 2022. We DID request a waterfront table and got it, getting seated on time. We checked in early and made the request though. Checked in on the app and then walked over and requested. It was at 11am and it wasn’t crowded at all. Maybe an off time? I’m not sure if being on the water gave the ambience or being that it wasn’t crowded. But we didn’t notice the charm missing at all. Now I think of it, maybe the sounds weren’t as loud as usual. But it seemed the same with nothing lacking to us.
I’d imagine that the combination of eating early and having a waterfront table really helps with the atmosphere.
We’ll definitely do that or a late dinner next time–and I’m already eager to go back! Normally after Blue Bayou, my reaction is “I’m good for another couple of years.”
How amazing! What a wonderful experience. I have never been to Disneyland but when I do this will be my number 1 to do! I hope some day Disney world makes pirates complete with a restaurant as well!