The magical bacon at Disneyland
We were at Disneyland for a family vacation. Our daughter was about four years old so we were able to go during the offseason. I believe it was in October so kids were safely stuck in school. Virtually no lines that week. We stayed at the Grand Californian, which is the big hotel adjacent to California Adventures. It's very convenient and I recommend it.
On this particular day, we had a "magic morning" to enter Disneyland one hour before its regular opening time. To be more efficient, we used the monorail in Downtown Disney to enter Disneyland. We were on the platform a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. Because it was a slow week, we were virtually alone on the platform waiting for the monorail to arrive.
There was one older gentleman next to us on the platform. I will call him, "Mr. Bacon Dude."
Mr. Bacon Dude was in his early 60's and he seemed a Disney regular. He was wearing a Disney t-shirt and he seemed very excited to be entering the park. Alone. At 8:00 a.m.
He turned to me and asked what we were planning on doing for the day.
I can't lie, I am not a good conversationalist. In fact, I usually abhor idle chatter. It feels unnecessary and forced. But, I was on vacation, and Mr. Bacon Dude seemed somewhat harmless even if a bit too excited for my taste. So, against my better judgment, I started talking to him.
At some point, I mentioned that we were going to our first character breakfast inside Disneyland, which would start at 9:30 a.m.
Now, for those who don't know, a "character breakfast" is a great money making racket that The Mouse invented to suck even more cash out of parents' bank accounts. For about $35 per adult, and $20 per child, Disney let's you eat a buffet breakfast and, get this, real Disney characters come to your table and they harass you while you try to eat. The characters rotate to each table, posing for photos and signing autographs. There is singing and dancing. And, let me tell you, the characters are very enthusiastic, even early in the morning.
You should drink a lot of coffee before you try this.
Even better, the official Disneyland photographers are there to snap every adorable shot and pose that your child is in with Chip 'n Dale so that you're almost forced to fork over even more dough just to have the memories of your rushed breakfast.
The character dining experience in Disneyland focuses on the cartoon characters while the one in California Adventures features the princesses. The various Disney hotels also have the same thing in their respective restaurants. Believe me, at this point, I think we've hit all of them.
Anyway, the moment the words "our first character breakfast" passed my lips, Mr. Bacon Dude's face softened, his eyes became dreamy, and it was as if he was floating away thinking about nirvana.
"Bacon," he said.
"The bacon is exquisite," Mr. Bacon Dude stated. His voice had lowered as if we had entered hallowed ground and we could not speak too loudly for fear we anger the gods.
I nodded briefly, trying to appear like his statement had the same profound meaning for me that it clearly did for him. I ran our short conversation back in my mind searching for a deeper meaning. I hit a stonewall.
"Uh," I said. "Is the bacon good?"
"Oh yes," he replied. "It's . . . imported." His voice softened even more as he said this and he stressed the vowels, stretching out each word just a little longer than necessary. He sounded like a teenage boy talking about the first girl he managed to kiss. For a few seconds, I was not certain if we were still talking about an animal product.
I just stared at him. Around this time, I was wishing that I had stuck to my general rule: never to get trapped in a conversation with people who were either not my wife or not taking my food order.
"It's the best bacon you'll ever have in your life," Mr. Bacon Dude said reverently. "It's . . . from . . . Canada."
I nodded again, trying to appear appreciative. I must admit, however, that this was my first real grownup conversation with someone about bacon. I was not sure how to proceed. It was very strange territory for me. Usually I am not one to shy away from discussing the finer aspects of dining and I do love me some bacon. Mr. Bacon Dude, however, had caught me off guard.
Thankfully, my time with Mr. Bacon Dude came to an abrupt end. The monorail arrived, our daughter was excited, and we got onto a different car than our resident bacon expert. I had half expected him to sit next to me shoulder-to-shoulder the entire ride into the park exclaiming about salted pork fats.
Once we were inside the park, I could not wait for our character breakfast to start. Mostly because I was starving but secondarily because Mr. Bacon Dude had pumped me up for some bacon.
The breakfast was just as advertised. The characters came calling to our table every few minutes, forcing us to jump up from our overpriced breakfast to explain to our four-year old daughter who exactly the strange looking creature was in front of us.
Captain Hook was not a hit. He is very tall and menacing looking. That did not go well. Minnie Mouse was sweet. And think she had a thing for me. Or maybe she just knew how much money I had blown on that breakfast.
By the way . . . the bacon . . . was . . . exquisite. It was thick and perfectly salty. It was crispy. Of course, in hindsight, as I reminisce about this experience, I now must admit that . . . it tasted a lot like . . . bacon. I took a big bite of the pork heaven and stared at Heather from across the table.
"Porky Pig is divine," I whispered reverently.
"Wrong outfit," Heather replied. "That's Looney Tunes."
I just shrugged and had another slice of pig nirvana.
Call me crazy, but the bacon you get in your breakfast at a Disney dining experience is just possibly the best you'll ever eat. Of course, when you pay around $100 for a breakfast for three, you'll brainwash yourself into believing anything. In any event, I have it on good authority that the bacon is imported all the way from Canada. And I got Minnie's autograph.