Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Inside Club 33, Disneyland's $25,000 Per Year Dining Club (28 Pics)

Club 33 may just be Disneyland's worst kept secret. In fact, depending upon who you ask, there are staff that will give you directions to the "hidden" entrance and others that still adamantly deny its existence. Try calling Disneyland for an official comment on the club and you will be told that they are prohibited from talking about it at all.

Open since May of 1967, Club 33 was created by Walt Disney as a secret venue for entertaining important celebrities, politicians and park investors. Decorated with antiques personally chosen by Disney and his wife, it remains the only place in Disneyland that serves alcohol.

Located in New Orleans Square above The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, with no ornate signs to help you locate it, one would have to go looking for the door in order to find it. Even if you've never heard of the Club, chances are you've unknowingly walked passed it; there's just a small, simple "33" address plate marking the outside.
To enter Club 33, a guest must press a buzzer on a hidden intercom concealed near the door. The mystic blue door remains locked at all times and only members with a reservation are allowed inside. (All Disneyland rides have a physical address. In this case, 33 Royal Street.)

Upon entering, diners are presented with the choice of either taking the stairs or an old French elevator that Disney and his wife had replicated after one they fell in love with while in Paris.

The second floor contains many of the original artworks by Disney artists, including original sketches of New Orleans Square, Mary Poppins and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Another unique piece is Lillian Disney's harpsichord, which Elton John and Paul McCartney have famously played. When the top is open, an exquisite hand-painted scene of Jackson Square and the Mississippi River from the 19th century is revealed.

The Waiting Room and Main Dining Room are very formal-looking, with décor is reminiscent of early 19th century restaurants. The adjacent Trophy Room has a hunting theme -- Disney originally had a vulture that could interact with diners via microphones in the chandeliers.

The Club is open for lunch and dinner and costs approximately $100, which does not include entrance to the theme park -- that costs another $100. The meal includes an all-you-can-eat appetizer bar along with your choice of seasonal entrée off the menu, and an all-you-can-eat dessert bar.

The main menu is full of upscale options, among them a King Crab stuffed lobster tail, pan-roasted filet mignon, chipotle-salted hollandaise King salmon, and Colorado lamb chops with thyme-infused lamb stock.

Many details in the club are made especially for Club 33. The tableware emblazoned with the 33 moniker is made in England; the pens used to sign the bill are flown into California with a Disneyland staff member.

There are two ways to get into the club: You or your company must have a membership, or you must know a member willing to personally book you a table as one of their guests (which is how we got in).

According to the staff, memberships are limited to around 500 members to keep crowds to a minimum. Unfortunately with an ever-growing wait list, new applicants can be on hold for about 14 years just for the chance to pay the exorbitant $25K initiation fee with an additional $10K annual membership fee. Applicants must also pass a rigorous background check. Even money does not guarantee you an invitation.

Would you pay over $25,000 a year to become a VIP at the Happiest Place on Earth? I guess it depends on what exactly makes you happy.

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