Lunch in Disneyland

By Andrew Looney

"Say," said the dude in the green striped shirt, who was chatting with the girl in the pink sweater at the New Year's eve party, "Why don't I take you out to dinner sometime? What's your favorite restaurant?"

"The Blue Bayou Restaurant, in Disneyland," said the girl nonchalantly, pulling back her hair with one hand and sipping Diet Coke from a clear plastic party cup with the other.

"Disneyland?!" laughed the dude. "Come on! First of all, food in amusement parks is always overpriced and underdone, with the texture of rubber and the taste of cardboard. Secondly, isn't Disneyland just for kids? And thirdly, how could any restaurant be worth a six hour airplane flight?"

"First of all," replied the girl calmly, "Disneyland is a cut above all other amusement parks, and so is their food. Secondly, Disneyland is for kids of all ages, and if you're too old for Disneyland then you're too old for me. And thirdly, I never said anything about whether or not The Blue Bayou Restaurant alone was worth a long airplane trip - I just told you what my favorite restaurant is."

"Well, why Disneyland? Disney World is closer."

"They don't have one at Disney World. The two parks do differ in some ways."

"Hmm," said the dude. "Ok, I'm game - when do we go?" By this point he was thinking more with his pelvis than his brain.

"Well," said the girl, "We'd have to be there for lunch. The Monte Cristo sandwich is the best, and it's only served at lunchtime."

The dude thought for a moment.

"Ok," he said at last, "On Saturday we'll catch a 6 AM flight out, which will put us there around 10 in the morning. We'll have lunch at your restaurant, be back at the airport by 2 or so, and be home by midnight. How does that sound?"

"Great!" said the girl enthusiastically.

All went according to the dude's plan, and he was quite impressed by the restaurant, once they actually arrived there. The Blue Bayou Restaurant is located in the section of Disneyland called New Orleans Square, and is a part of the building that houses the Pirates of the Caribbean ride; in fact, the ride partially adjoins the restaurant.

The restaurant is a real marvel of Disney magic. Outside, it can be the hottest of summer days in California, but inside, it is a cool night in the Louisiana swamp. The tables and chairs of the restaurant are out on a dock extending into the lake. Overhead is a deep blue midnight sky, laced with moonlit banners of clouds. And all around is the forest. The air is perfumed with the sound of bullfrogs and insects and birds, and, off in the distance, the gentle strumming of a banjo.

The lake is a real lake, or so the senses argue. There are boats tied to the dock, and at intervals, one can see the boats of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as they float silently past. Behind the tables and all around overhead is an enormous tree, heavily laden with Spanish moss, and decorated with brightly colored lanterns.

The overall effect is perfect. One minute you are outside in the blazing sun, and in the next you are transported magically away to a cool moonlit night. Only by looking towards the exit and seeing the sunshine through the window of the door can you be persuaded that the sky above is actually a roof and that you are inside a building during the day. And even then, your brain remains unconvinced.

The dude and the girl were led to a table for two right out at the edge of the dock, overlooking the lake. The dude made various remarks about what a wild place it was; the girl smiled but said little.

"Now, what is it we are supposed to order here, Monster Crisco sandwiches, or something?"

"Monte Cristo sandwiches," the girl corrected.

Soon the waitress brought forth two Monte Cristo sandwiches. The sandwich is composed of ham, turkey, and swiss cheese between two slices of bread, all of which is dipped into batter and deep fried, then sprinkled with powdered sugar and immediately served. It comes partly wrapped in a cloth napkin, which soaks up the excess grease. The sandwich is a delight, and no one makes it better than the Blue Bayou. It is rich and flavorful, surrounded by a light, crisp shell.

The dude and the girl ate the sandwiches slowly, savoring the rich flavor and impressive atmosphere. The cool air stirred gently around them, the water lapped quietly against the wood of the dock, the lanterns glowed above them in the branches of the trees. Off in the swamp, fireflies flew back and forth, winking on and off in the moondusted darkness, and the sound of insects was slowly replaced by the loud croaking of bullfrogs. Boats filled with people floated constantly past out in the swamp, hardly noticeable; and occasionally, like the faintest of whispers, one could hear screams from the darker depths of the ride. Outside it was the middle of a hot summer day, but here, it was a cool, romantic evening. The sandwiches melted in their mouths.

On the way home, the two chatted, but it was the dude who did most of the talking. The girl remained aloof, even more so than on the way out, and said very little. When at last they arrived home, the dude naturally tried to talk the girl into spending the night at his apartment, but the girl flatly refused.

"What do you mean? I take you all the way across the country for lunch and now you're not interested in me?"

"I never was interested in you," the girl explained. "But I was interested in lunch at the Blue Bayou. Thank you very much - I had a great time. Bye!"

The girl bounced away, climbed into her car, and sped off. The dude watched her drive away in total disbelief. The day had cost him a real bundle; with round-trip airfare for two, two admissions to Disneyland, the lunch itself, and parking, it totaled $872.17. And all he'd gotten for it was a thank you and a brush off.

"Oh well," thought the dude, "It was a really good sandwich."

This story appears in My Secret World. Copyright © 1985 by Andrew Looney.

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