If you are craving that Disney magic but can't physically get yourself to that happy place, then this new series I have concocted might be just what you need to bring all the Disney feels home. Our very own Deni Sunderly has been making me hungry every Saturday morning with her Saturday Snacks series, full of scrumptious reminders of Disney. And this past weekend, as I salivated over the Ghirardelli's Chocolate Chip Cookies, I started to think about the other aspects I am missing about Disney other than just the excitement and attractions.
Everyone loves a good Disney dining experience as it's part of what makes our time in the parks complete, so I am looking at ways to bring that enjoyment home, and not just the food: the whole shebang. We are going to be looking at everything from atmosphere, lighting, music; everything you need to create those magical moments in your very own home.
This week, we are going to start with one of my favorites from my go-to park, Disneyland. The restaurant at the center of this week's experiment is Blue Bayou. Nestled in the heart of New Orleans Square, this beautiful dining location is intertwined with the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The dining area boasts an authentic Bayou outlook that shares all the theming and atmospheric enchantment of the ride, including the attraction boats that drift past quietly every few moments.
Blue Bayou has long been my favorite dining location in Disneyland Park with all of the immersive elements to make you feel like you have been transported into the beautiful world of Louisiana twilight. That is why it will serve as the first we are going to recreate at home. In my house, we are using these experiments for Sunday dinners, leaving us all ample time to get ourselves organized.
Work out your menu
First up, let's choose our food. You can use the Blue Bayou menu located here to make your selections as to what you might make for this meal. Don't get too hung up on the recipes themselves as this dining experience is more about all the other elements.
Louisiana food is all about soul with home cooking the way your grandmother used to do it, full of spices and fresh ingredients. Use the menu as inspiration or come up with your own meal that has a cajun/creole feel. Your menu doesn't need to be fancy, but don't be afraid to step outside of your usual comfort zone.
When in doubt, fresh fish or seafood is a great way to create a light meal without spending a fortune. Stick with some classic sides like corn, potatoes, and collard greens. If you want to try a fun drink with your food, try brewing and making your own iced tea to enjoy with dinner.
Setting the scene
Blue Bayou has that feeling of old-world simplicity meets eclectic charm. Plain tablecloths with uncomplicated settings keep the mood casual; it will be the details that set things apart.
Your lighting should be dimmed; I would say turned off completely if it wasn't for how infeasible it is to actually live that way. Light candles in colorful, moody glass containers that will shimmer soft light around the room. The more mismatched and diverse the collection, the better!
Create the Ambiance
It's time for those finishing touches that will make you feel like you are living the experience. I stumbled upon this Blue Bayou YouTube track that would make a great opener to a playlist, followed by more lively jazz music. Or, if you prefer to commit to the loop for the entire evening, try this version.
If you want to step up your lighting efforts, try stringing some Christmas fairy lights overhead to create that whimsical feeling. There is this restaurant that I love in the actual city of New Orleans, Court of Two Sisters, which has a courtyard full of sparkling twinkle lights.
If possible, take your planning outdoors. String up those lights between trees and bushes, add the music and enjoy the summer breeze as you dine outside. Don't forget some odorless mosquito repellant to keep the biting things away.
My last tip for bringing your Blue Bayou dinner to life is to create dinner conversation. Disney is all about connecting with the people you love, friends, or family and making memories. Depending on the ages of your family members, come up with some talking topics to involve everyone in something fun. Enjoy this time you spend with each other, free from screens, devices, and the forces of the outside world.
If you are missing the Disney parks the way I am, stick with me as once a month we use Sunday dinners as an excuse to bring the Disney dining magic home to the family. It's time to light those candles and enjoy your Blue Bayou experience.