And in particular, I dreamed about eating at this restaurant.
Anyone recognize it?
Here's a hint.
Here's the last hint.
Yep - it's that restaurant located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland - the Blue Bayou. When I was a kid, I would get on the Pirates of Caribbean ride exclusively to see a flash of the really cool restaurant that seemed filled with sophisticated adults doing sophisticated things. Well, I also got on the ride so I could make plans to grab some of the glittering treasure, but that's neither here nor there. The best part of the ride was seeing a glimpse of this restaurant and imagining how amazing it would be to make my own visit. During the Southern California two-fer deal where a ticket to one park got you a free ticket to the other neighboring park, I knew my moment had finally arrived.
Our reservation was at 11:30am and that was the time we pulled into the parking lot. Not good. I had called the restaurant and pushed back our reservation to 11:45, but that meant we still had to hop on the stupid parking tram, wait in line for tickets, and maneuver through strollers to get to the restaurant. Lord. We stepped onto the escalator that would take us from the Donald Duck parking structure down to the tram. It was packed with families and so I was in for a long slow ride down to the ground. No way to push past these people. If our reservation was canceled, my Disney dream would be ruined AND I would be out the $194 it cost for our park tickets. I moaned to Mr. Insomniac that I hated Disneyland already.
But through the grace of Walt himself, we made it just in time. I even was so bold as to request one of the coveted water view seats once we got to the restaurant.
Next door to the Blue Bayou is the uber-exclusive Club 33. Club 33 is a members only club/restaurant located in New Orleans Square at Disneyland marked only by an inconspicuous 33. I read somewhere on the internet that Disney’s imagineers scoured the color spectrum and discovered the shades least noticeable to the human eye. The color that they painted the door with ranks the highest and they call it “No-See-Um Green". Sneaky.
The restaurant offers the best dining in the park and is only place were people can get alcohol. Apparently, membership is rather pricey ($thousands) and there's a 14 year waiting list so my best chance to get into this place is be invited. I won't hold my breath. lol A rather exhaustive fan site will tell you everything you need to know about the place.
These people stepped up to the door while I was doing goofy poses.
And lo and behold, they were let inside! I strained my neck for a look up the magical hallway, but didn't see anything. Dang.
Oh well - At least I had a seat at the second-most exclusive restaurant at Disneyland. If you want to go here, make sure you make reservations, or else you'll end up like these guys.
And before I knew it, we were seated at our table.
The vibe was relaxed and romantic. Disneyland can do a great job with their faux environments, and this was no exception. I knew I was in a large windowless room, but it didn't feel like it at all. It felt like I was dining alfresco in a romantic courtyard on the bayou on a summer night without the pesky mosquitoes. There was a pleasant hustle and bustle, but nothing too loud and there was definitely a more adult vibe in the space. The dim lighting made for crappy pictures, but a très romantique lunch with Mr. Insom.
It didn't even feel like I was at Disneyland, which is probably the largest compliment I could give. It was like I was on vacation (from my vacation)... lol
Our waiter was incredibly attentive, and provided great service. Warm bread for the table...
Both entrees came with a choice of New Orleans gumbo or "cajun-inspired" salad.
The salad was surprisingly good - very fresh tasting with lots of layered flavors. I didn't get the cajun inspiration, but it was tasty.
I'm real picky about my gumbo. This one was just so-so.
I had the Royal Street Seafood Jambalaya, a "robust combination of jumbo gulf shrimp, mahi mahi, tasso ham, andouille sausage and chicken, tossed with Cajun~style 'dirty rice'" for $29. You pay a lot for the ambiance here, but the food isn't bad either. The jambalaya had a nice heat to it. Not for little kiddy mouths - no sir!
Mr. Insom had the Beef Short Rib ($30) which was slow-roasted, then finished in a Zinfandel demi~glaze. Sides were a some sort of yummy potato gratin and broccolini. Nice and tender.
And there was a special birthday candle for Mr. Insom on his iced tea. No, it wasn't his birthday. I sort of lied and said it was, so they would get a sense that it was a special occasion but not have to go into the whole "Since I was a little girl I wanted to eat here but my mom was a single mother and something like this would have never fit into our budget and I'm just trying to make this dream a reality after waiting for 25 years" saga.
The meal ended with a complimentary chocolate mousse with little Mickey Mouse sprinkles. I was kind of guilty eating this, but felt that if Walt had known how important this meal was to me, he'd be totally cool with it. Oh, and the mousse was really good.
A wonderful time - and so awesome to finally have my one of my dream meals! I wish I could have stayed in there all day.
Now that my bucket list lunch was over, we had the entire park at our disposal.
Here's what we did.
Ride 1: We used the way cool Easy Pass to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Nothing better than whooshing past suckers standing in line. The ride was fun. Yay Disney!
Ride 2: We then stood in line like suckers for 90 minutes to go on the new (to me) Indiana Adventures ride.
When you're a kid and you wait forever for a ride, when you're done you're like "that was totally worth it!" because you're on this endorphin/adrenaline high. That's not the case when you're an adult. I declared that the ride was "bullshit" and that I was done waiting in lines. Boo Disney!
So we walked around and looked at things.
Ride 3: Pirates had a short line, so we went on that. And I got to snap a picture of the Blue Bayou from the boat.
I ate a churro. Of course.
We watched pin traders. Pin trading is a real big deal at Disneyland... there are all sorts of collectors who are really into it. They had all their pins in these big binders.
I saw Mickey get double teamed.
I took a picture of people setting up camp for the fireworks that were at least 3.5 hours from starting.
We listened to Fake Elvis sing songs to people who were really, really into it. Rushing the stage? Really?
I ate chili in a bowl that wasn't too good.
Ride 4. The Haunted Mansion was always one of my favorites as a kid... had to check it out. And it had a short line.
It's a shame that Eddie Murphy's Haunted Mansion movie was so terrible - Disney could have had another Pirate franchise on their hands. What were they thinking?
I miss Boomerang Eddie.
I ate a corn dog that was awesome at the Stage Door Cafe.
I ate chicken fingers that made me kick myself for canceling the Napa Rose reservations I had.
Looked at the fireworks...
We spent some time on Main Street.
I went and watched some of the first Disney cartoons. They were cute and they made me chuckle.
Walt Disney had an apartment above the fire station near City Hall. Disney would hang out in the apartment during the construction of the park so he wouldn't have to drive all the way back to Holmby Hills and legend has it that staff would look in the window to see if a light was on and Walt was home. Now it's on all the time to symbolize Disney's eternal spirit.
Here's a link showing the inside of the apartment and Walt's contemporary modern decor.
The shopkeepers displayed on the second story windows on Main Street are actually super-duper Disney employees. Way to go, Hideo!
And leave it to me to find a museum in Disneyland. It was interesting though. lol You know that Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln thing on Main Street that no one ever goes into? That's where it is.
Ride 5. Around 11pm Mr. Insom decided he wanted to Critter County. Alrighty. The line to Splash Mountain was really short - really, really short, so we were like, let's do it! Go, short lines! Splash Mountain is also known in some circles as "Flash Mountain" because some adventurous women who don't plan to ever run for public office like to show Disney employees their breasts during the large final downhill section with the automatic photo op. A simple google search will bring up the NSFW link with the bewbs, and this SFW link talks about how Disney's cutbacks may contribute to the return of Flash Mountain. Uh oh.
We practically walked up to the ride and waited for a couple of minutes before we were assigned a log. Now this is where I made a critical error. I assumed that people would be in the front of the log and we'd be in the back. This was not the case. We were by ourselves. I was fully exposed. And then I started thinking. Splash Mountain... Might I get wet? Like really wet?.... Hey - maybe the line was so short because people didn't want to get soaked at midnight. And then I started panicking. I didn't want my clothes drenched. And just where was this hill?
My Flash Mountain moment.
Note Mr. Insom taking full advantage of my protection.
I ate a cupcake on the way to the car to distract me from my wet clothes.
All in all, a great time at the Happiest Place on Earth (TM), even though we only went on 5 rides in 11 hours.
Now I'm going to use my two-fer pass to go to California Adventure during their Food/Wine Festival. After a few wine tastings, I'll definitely be happy. :)