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