Extensive Changes Coming to Exclusive Club 33 at Disneyland

Written by MiceChat Staff. Posted in Breaking News, Disney History, Disney News, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort

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Published on September 03, 2013 at 3:00 pm with 79 Comments

We first ran this article on July 30th, 2013, at the time we heard that construction on Club 33 would start at some point after the beginning of the Fiscal year (which starts in the Fall). While that time table holds, the actual closing of the portion of the club currently used by the members will not happen until January 6th, 2014. The club will close for an estimated 6 months. (UPDATED: September 3, 2013)

Hiding quietly behind unassuming doors near the exit of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean is perhaps the most exclusive and historic dining experience in any theme park in the world. Club 33 is a members only restaurant which dates back to 1967 and is the only place inside Disneyland park where you can order an alcoholic beverage during regular operating hours.

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Walt Disney wanted a place he could entertain dignitaries and corporate sponsors in grand Disney style. Sadly, Walt never saw this project completed as he passed away before New Orleans Square was complete. However, the entire club clearly embodies the spirit of Disneyland’s founder and his quest for excellence in creating unique experiences. Club 33 is special. Anyone who has ever dined there can attest to the fact that there is nothing else quite like it in the theme park world.

In a somewhat controversial a move, current Disney management is about to transform the club with a massive expansion and renovation. It is expected that sometime after the start of the fiscal year (which begins in October), expansion will begin in areas adjacent to the club. Club 33 itself will close for a 6 month refurbishment on January 6th. At which time, the facility will be dramatically altered and expanded.

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The primary objective of the renovation will be to add a large new lounge in the space above the French Market restaurant (near the New Orleans Train Station).

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The Jazz themed lounge will be similar to the new Club 1901 in Disney California Adventure and will only be available to a subset of club members who have paid for the privilege of having a drink here. The new space will nearly double the overall footprint of Club 33.

But that’s just the start of the club’s transformation. The facility has long suffered from two awkward issues: a kitchen which is far too small, and inadequate ADA access to the dining room (which is on the 2nd floor of New Orleans Square).  Both of these issues will be addressed, but they will come at a price.

To expand the kitchen, the current Trophy Room will be closed to guests and become a brand new kitchen facility.

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Interesting artifacts currently line the walls of the Trophy Room.


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The Trophy Room is frequently used for special events and parties and was famous for having microphones built into the chandeliers so servers could anticipate the needs of their guests, though it is said that the microphones were never actually used. There is also an anamatronic speaking vulture in the corner of the room, also which was never used. The Trophy Room has been used for hundreds of special events and parties over the years and many members lament its passing.

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The current entry area for the club, behind the door at 33 Royal Street (just next to the Blue Bayou and the exit to Pirates of the Caribbean) will no longer be used to gain access to the club. The beautiful glass enclosed antique French lift elevator, which takes guests from the reception area to the dining room upstairs, was not ADA compliant as it requires guests to take a step up to reach the loading platform. Additionally, the reception area is inconveniently located below what will soon become a backstage area. As a result, the new entrance to the club will be built in what is currently the lovely Court Des Anges (Court of Angels). It is expected that the French lift will be moved to this location. It is unknown at this time if this famous courtyard (which has played host to many marriage proposals over the years) will remain open to regular guests once the new Club 33 entry is relocated there. But it is rumored that the courtyard will become the exclusive entry for the club and its members.

If you take your annual family Christmas card photo in Angels Court, you might want to take this year’s photo now.

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The entry room as it is today, the elevator on the right.

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Have you ever wondered what’s at the top of those stairs in the Court Des Anges?

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The Court of Angels stairway leads to several corridors on the right that connect to the main Club 33 rooms. But if you turn left and walk through the corridors, you get to a huge store room on the second level above the French Market restaurant and perfume shop. That is where Club 33 stores all of their wine, champagne and liquor and it’s a large high-ceiling room that fills up that building’s entire footprint. The corridor that leads to this large room also leads to several smaller rooms along the way, and those are used as green rooms for the musicians and performers that have long called New Orleans Square home. This space above French Market, and the adjoining corridors, are what will be used to open up more space for the Club, including the Jazz themed lounge.

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At the top of the stairs is a hallway which leads to office and storage which will soon become the new jazz club.

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The storerooms and green rooms will have to be relocated elsewhere, perhaps just beyond the berm and NOS train station where a mish-mash of old trailers and a small horticulture staging area now exists.

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The current main dining room will likely be spared, at least that’s the hope of club members who would be crushed to lose this beloved and historic room which has hosted stars, dignitaries, Imagineers, Club members and their guests over the years.

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It’s less likely that the makeshift bar in the hallway leading to the dining room will be preserved.

 

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The Disneyland Resort project management group is gearing up for construction on that second level of New Orleans Square for Fiscal 2014 (which actually starts in October), and Disneyland’s Store Operations group is prepping for disruptions to some area stores during that construction. The club itself will not close to members until January 6th and will remain closed for an estimated 6 months.

Have you been lucky enough to dine in Disneyland’s swanky Club 33? Are you excited to hear about the expansion or concerned about the loss of the Trophy Room and classic entry portal at 33 Royal Street?

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Comments for Extensive Changes Coming to Exclusive Club 33 at Disneyland are now closed.

  1. I’m so incredibly grateful to have been able to dine in the trophy room earlier this year. I had no idea a renovation was planned, so now I will treasure that experience even more so.

    • As a guest and former VIP Tour Guide CM, I had the pleasure of dining at the club dozens and dozens of times with VIP Guests, High Level CMs (i.e. John Lasseter and family, Tony Baxter, etc.), and accessed the club with countless other VIP and WIWF tour guests. I have dined in the main dining room, the trophy room, and spent a good amount of time on all of the balconies (interior and exterior), including the “Blue Bayou Balcony.” I also have the direct line to the “Happiest Millionaire Phonebooth.”

      As a CM I “toured” the defunct “Jazz Club” area many times, and always maintained that the space would be better used as a lounge for the Club than the current fenced storage for the club and various merchandise locations (although last time I was up there was pre-Dream Suite, so the Gallery was still open so the merch may be gone now).

      I, for one, am very happy that this expansion has been green-lighted and I am sure this is being done so that the Club can accommodate more members on their roster, which will ultimately distract from the exclusivity. However, I’m an aspiring member myself, so if this opens the door for me to get an individual membership, all the better.

      I am sad to see some of the historic places, such as the Trophy room go. I have a lot of memories in that room, such as the time that John Lasseter forced the Club 33 manager at the time (who, by the way was a huge stickler for the rules) to pour me several glasses of wine. To the Tony Baxter hosted dinner party on July 17, 2005 for the 50th Anniversary. But, they will never ‘really’ be gone as long as the company archive collects the artifacts and takes a volley of high-resolution images. When you think about it several historical parts of Disneyland have regressed to make way for progress. If we let out nostalgic tendencies get in the way in every case, then there wouldn’t be any room for one of Walt’s most closely held beliefs: that “Disneyland will never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

      • Thanks for your response. I found it perfectly stated and I totally agree.

      • I was part of the lead team at California Adventure that won a DVD contest. We had a 2 hour lunch at Club 33. It was great. Later I was able to meet a member who was kind enough to get my wife and I in for lunch on our 1st anniversary. She was so excited. What a great memory for her on that day.

  2. Eating at Club 33 is still one of my ultimate Disney dreams and hope one day it can come true. Most of the changes they seem to be making will help guests have a even better experience there. My only concern is using the Court of Angles as part of the entrance into the Club. The Court of Angels has been a very special place for my family and I am sure for other family’s as well. We never miss the chance to take family pictures on those stairs. I truly hope they keep the Court of Angels open to us regular folks so when can continue to enjoy it too. I would love to be able to keep our special Disney tradition alive.

  3. While I’ll lament the loss of history when the Trophy Room and entry are demolished, I do think that the expanded facilities and access will be a good addition for the future. The lounge will no doubt be very popular.

    What I’m curious about is what they’ll do for all the club members while the facility is closed for refurbishment. They pay a pretty penny for access.

    • Good question about what they’ll do with the members during the long rehab.

      But the bigger question is… Why is it still called the Trophy Room??? There are no trophies on display, only a bunch of sketches and a few faux artifacts. Walt Disney had it set up as a true Trophy Room, with giant elephant tusks and exotic big game animals killed on hunting expeditions displayed as trophies. Here’s what a real man’s Trophy Room looked like as Walt and his hand-picked Imagineers set it up in 1967. Another round of Scotch while I tell the story of how I bagged that gorgeous gazelle mounted in the corner! http://www.disneylandclub33.com/trophy.jpg

      The slain animals and elephant tusks and true trophies were all removed decades ago in a fit of Political Correctness. It is now just a boring wood-paneled Pretty Animal Sketchbook Room. So why mourn its passing?

    • Disney should agree to grant the members free access for the amount of time Club 33 is down and while their membership was active. They can tag on some other perks for the misconvenience as well, like a bottle of Opus One at each setting.

      • I’ll take a bottle of 1980 Opus One Proprietary Red. When Euro (Paris) Disneyland opened it was great to eat at the former Cattlemen’s Club and have a bottle for a “give away” price of $60.00 to $80.00, as the locals weren’t drinking a wine combined with California grapes.

  4. So glad I got to see it before all of this. While I can see the benefit of the changed for various reasons, some of the magic will definitely be lost, from getting access through the special door in the middle of a bustling New Orleans Square and riding the classic elevator, to seeing where Walt entertained in his trophy room. Still, if I get the opportunity, I won’t refuse a return trip, even with the changes.

    I also agree with Dusty. Disney is going to have to bend over backwards to take care of the people who are paying serious money to have access to the club if they are going to shut it down for an extended period of time.

    • Walt never entertained in the Trophy Room, nor did he ever see Club 33 completed or operating.

      Club 33 first opened in May, 1967. Walt Disney’s very last visit to Disneyland property was 8 months earlier in October, 1966 before Walt passed away in early December, 1966. He never visited a completed Club 33 and never saw it operating with guests.

  5. I will double my efforts to get into the club before October. I really want to get into the club and see it before all the changes. I have been on the wait list for a while now and I have dreamed about seeing it. While the expansion may help guests I would be sad to never see the Trophy Room. On a side note if anyone has the ability to make this happen PM me, I would be eternally grateful 8:o).

  6. Losing regular guest access to the Court des Angnes would be devastating to me. I really really hope that doesn’t happen.

  7. The photo following:
    “The current main dining room will likely be spared…”
    Is not the main dining room, but another picture of the Trophy room.

    • Thank you! We’ve fixed that and added a group of photos of the main dining room which were missing from the article.

  8. It’s all about money……
    Increasing the size will allow Disney to add names from their long waiting list. The experience will not be the same and I’d much rather see them working on fixing the many problems in the park. Tommorrowland is almost worthless and we’re approaching the 20th anniversary of the last “E” ticket attraction being added to the park.

  9. Nooooo! I finally have a way to get to go to Club 33 next year after dreaming about it for almonst 40 years and they decide to change it. ARGH!! Now I’ll never get to see how it was originally. I’ve looked at that door at 33 Royal Street and dreamed of going through it and now even the door won’t be there. %*%$#(^)@$# But… hey, I’ll be dining at Club 33 next year!

    • I’d imagine that the door to Club 33 will remain, even if it will no longer be used to gain access.

      While the Trophy Room is neat, I always felt sort of cheated if I wasn’t in the main dining room anyway. For me personally, it isn’t a huge loss. But I know that many others feel much more strongly about that room.

      Hopefully I’ll have the chance to dine here one last time before the changes. But am very curious to see the new Jazz themed lounge!

  10. I’m not sure what folks are talking about above with the “long waiting list”. They burned through the entire thing last year when they raised the prices. I received my invitation last summer after being on the list for only a few months, not long after my partner got his after waiting 8 years. The new price of over $35K for the first year was just too much for us to justify.

    While I understand that the club is no longer a separate entity within Disneyland like it has been for most of it’s history, it’s a shame to see all of the changes they are making just to increase the number of guests it can hold and to increase revenue. Part of the magic of the club is how exclusive it is; expanding it will lose some of that exclusivity. Losing the trophy room is also losing a big part of the club’s history. The same is true of losing the entrance, staircase and lift.

    • Thanks….*sips more coffee and wakes up*
      I forgot the effects of the recent price hikes in the membership fees……

    • I could not agree with you more. I have been fortunate enough to dine at the Club once and it was an amazing experience, not the least of which was the exclusivity. I’ve always said that you can’t hold on to nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake and I’m firmly convinced that were Walt alive today, there are many things he would have changed by now (*ahem*Tiki Room*) that would have most people flying off the handle if they were even considered. But in truth, there’s no way of knowing what Walt would have done with today’s technology, atmosphere, and clientele. Things change, and no one knew this better than he did. That said, from a nostalgic point of view, I don’t like the changes being made: removal of the trophy room, relocation of the lift, removal of the entrance and relocation to the beautiful Court of Angels. But if I felt they justified a real reason, not just increased revenue at the expense of the exclusivity the Club was designed to envoke, I would gladly be singing a different tune.

      • What’s interesting is that much of the upper level of New Orleans Square was never completed the way Walt had planned, except for Club 33. His untimely death left both his apartment and the Jazz Club unfinished. However, in recent years, the Dream Suite was built and now the a Jazz themed lounge is on the way. Pretty close to what was originally planned after all these years.

    • Club 33 will still remain exclusive, just with a higher price tag.

      The refurshment will add capability for exactly what guests? Less people can afford to join. I assume this means the club will be opening its doors for guests who are not club members.

      I hate to say this, but why are we holding on to the past. Why should history be preserved? The club’s history was already impacted from the change in membership fees. Now, it will be expanded to serve more non-member guests for revenue as if its such a travesty. No it isn’t.

      I dined there once. It was no big deal. After trying it out, I could appreciate it like I would for an old fashion library. Books are going away. Paper is going away. So is the trophy room going away.

      Disneyland should have more premium dining. It seems like people are clamoring for such opportunities. Well, the opportunity for getting in improved without paying the exorbitant fees.

    • We weep for the 1%.

    • I agree with you drich…I too was sent an invite last Summer after having been on the list for 6 years. I was thrilled until I saw that they had JACKED up the membership fees by $25,000 and had to decline the invite. I think my heart ripped into 5 million pieces that day LOL
      I don’t see just how much an expansion is necessary if they’re flying through the “wait list”?! Does anyone know if with the expansion they’ll bring down the membership fees or is this an effort to bring in even more cash?? It doesn’t seem like they have a bunch of people banging down the door so to speak. :)

  11. Kind of funny that the club will no longer be located at 33 Royal Street. Are they going to rename it Club Court de Angels then?

    I thought part of the design of the club was that it is secretive. The nondescript current entrance doesn’t attract too much attention to itself and people passing by have no idea there is actually something behind that door. Moving the entrance to the Court of Angles makes the club seem so grand and draws too much attention to itself.

    • This was my initial thought as well. It can’t conceivably be called Club 33 now if the entrance isn’t at the address 33. Just IMO.

      I had the privilege to dine there a few years ago for our 15th anniversary and it was truly amazing. It’s not something I need to do all the time or even once a year but I’d eventually like to head back once the changes are made.

  12. I was able to enjoy CLUB 33 twice. The first time was with my sister and Roy Disney Jr.’s son-in-law (at the time), My sister worked at one of the Shamrock Broadcasting stations in the Bay Area and was employee of the year. Her reward was a trip to Disneyland including a suite at the hotel and dinner at Club 33. Of course since we were with a Disney family member, the service was over the top!
    The second time is when I worked for Coca-Cola for a short time. Coke has a corp. membership and even though I was a temp employee, they got me in.

    Overall I think the changes, while perhaps sad in some way, is necessary.

  13. I think that the lift would be installed in the Court of Angels to be as unassuming as it is now, and most of the Court would still be available for regular guests’ use. Yes? No? Maybe?

    • I think you are right. They could very well keep the courtyard open. Especially since it is a very low traffic area anyway.

      • Herb Ryman would appreciate that.

  14. I unfortunately am not rich enough to see Club 33 so they could tear it down for all I care. I think they need to spend more time and money improving the park especially Tomorrowland. I spend a lot of money just staying at the Grand Californian not to mention the money I spend on being a Premier passholder. I know a lot of people who can’t even afford that. I am curious myself what they are going to do for members while this is all happening. They will probably use the Carthay as a poor substitute.

  15. I took the “In Walt’s Footsteps” tour as a special treat for my birthday and, being the only one signed up for the session, enjoyed a private tour, which was lovely. Part of the tour was a brief look at the top of the elevator into the Club. It seemed like a chaotic, noisy madhouse in the middle of the afternoon rather than the sedate luxury I’d expected. When Walt’s Apartment was turned into the Dream Suite I was very sad; as an art gallery the Apartment was open to all, and for years I imagined living in it and New Orleans Square in general. Court of Angels was my favorite peaceful place in the park. Sigh…

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