Last month, my family and I went to Disneyland for the first time. Some AllEars readers may recall from my newsletter feature that I had booked several dining reservations on Disney property, including two dinner package reservations. We wanted to try the restaurants, but we also really wanted to ensure we had a good view of the night-time shows that require FastPasses. Here are our impressions of the Fantasmic! package we selected.
Our first experience was the dinner package at Blue Bayou at Disneyland park with preferred viewing for Fantasmic! I had been told ahead of time that this restaurant is one of the few whose reservations are difficult to secure, so I booked it as soon as the 60-day window opened. At that time, I also requested a table with a water view, although the cast member warned me she couldn’t guarantee that. (Blue Bayou overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which starts off with the boats floating past the lovely Louisiana setting inside the restaurant.)
Fast-forward two months. When we checked in for dinner I again asked if we could have a water-view table, and I was told that if we had checked in 90 minutes early, they could have accommodated our request. I’m not sure if we would have been willing to wait at the restaurant for 90 minutes, but I would have liked to have been given that option when I made the reservation.
Nonetheless, even though we sat toward the back of the restaurant, we had a wonderful dinner at Blue Bayou. Each meal included a choice of an appetizer, entrÃ©e and dessert from a special menu. Diners could choose from a salad, gumbo or shrimp cocktail for the appetizer; surf & turf, jambalaya, chicken breast, filet mignon, salmon, beef strip loin, portobello mushroom or lamb for the entrÃ©e; and crÃ¨me brulee, chocolate hazelnut cake or apple-cranberry galette for dessert. The wait staff will take your entire order at the beginning to ensure timely service.
Our server told us up front that the surf & turf is the best value for our money because it was the most expensive dinner on the menu. Consequently, most of the people in our group did order surf & turf and said they thoroughly enjoyed it. The dinner consists of a Petite Pacific Northwest Lobster Tail and Broiled Filet Mignon, Blue Bayou Au Gratin Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and Bearnaise Sauce. Several of us also selected the Blue Bayou Salad with tomatoes, caramelized pecans, blue cheese and cranberries. It, too, was well-received by our group. Our table ordered a mix of the desserts, and everyone was pleased. Personally, I find it hard to go wrong with chocolate cake, though I was too full from dinner to do more than take a bite or two.
Our dinner package also included commemorative Fantasmic! seat cushions that do not come with any other Fantasmic! packages and cannot be purchased elsewhere. The design of the seat cushion is clever; when you punch out the pre-cut piece to make a handle, the piece becomes a floating keychain. So, you’re really getting two complimentary souvenirs.
After we paid the bill, the server gave us our FastPasses for the early showing of Fantasmic! The tickets indicated that we didn’t need to line up before 8:30 p.m. for a 9 p.m. showtime. That may be true for guests who don’t care where they sit for the show, but we weren’t those people, so we began searching for the queue about 7:30 p.m. And search we did! We asked four separate cast members before finally stumbling upon the correct location, which was not well-marked. (For the record, the queue starts near the river just before you get to the Haunted Mansion.)
At about 8 p.m., guests were given Blue Bayou cards and allowed to walk down the ramp and gather as a large crowd in a roped off area. At 8:30 p.m., the rope was dropped and the crowd surged forward into a single line toward the viewing area. Once we got to the viewing area, we were able to stake out seats front and center — the perfect viewing spot for Fantasmic! (By the way — seating is on the ground so that’s where the seat cushions and blanket we brought came in handy.) As an added bonus, we were able to stay in the same spot and see the Disneyland Forever fireworks 10 minutes after Fantasmic! ended.
For sure, you pay a premium for the best viewing area for Fantasmic! and one of the most sought-after restaurants at Disneyland. It was $61 plus tax for adults and $23 plus tax for children ages 3 to 9. But we all thought the meal and the seating were excellent and well worth the price. Our only complaint was the lack of clear directions and crowd control involved in lining up to get into the viewing area. Would we recommend the package to other newbies like ourselves who want to experience both the restaurant and the night-time shows? Without a doubt.