Club 33 brings major change to Disneyland’s New Orleans Square as Frontierland gets its game on

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Published on July 14, 2014 at 5:15 am with 111 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy writes the weekly Dateline Disneyland column, which can be found every Monday on MiceChat.

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  • Susan Hughes

    There is no better example of how out of control the Annual Passholder numbers have gotten than to be at the parks right now. It’s the busiest time of the summer season, yet both parks are serene and peaceful. That’s because when you eliminate the lower priced passes, you get pleasant crowd size, even during the busy season.
    The resort is populated by mostly out of town guests. And they’re a joy to be around because they had to plan and save for a Disney trip, so they’re excited and happy to be there. In other words, they “appreciate” being there. They don’t have that “Passhole” attitude that Cast Members can’t stand.
    Disney has already gotten rid of one of those “for locals only” APs. I say dump the other one. Then the bliss I’m experiencing in the parks right now will continue all year long.

    • FixitKronk

      I don’t understand the double standard that is repeated week after week in the comments section. People owning the more expensive annual passes continually harp that the lower priced pass holders should be disenfranchised. They blame payment plans and attitudes etc. but the have no problem with the people who hold the more expensive passes.
      Yet at the same time they complain about the club 33 expansion and it’s intrusion into their experience.
      This is class warfare at its root. Upper middle class pass holders trying to push out their less successfull park visitor while griping at the visitor that dares to be more affluent than they are!
      Disneyland is open to guests of all economic means from any ethnicity and country local or tourist.

    • superlarz

      Exactly, and it shows that the “Passholes” apparently are the reason the park is able to stay open 365 days a year and add new things from time to time, and subsidize the full entertainment offerengs for the summer. Because the tourist numbers just aren’t there to justify it.

    • DisneyLover66

      I wish we had experienced that “serene and peaceful feeling” when we visited from out of state for five days in early June! I don’t know what a “passhole” is, I can guess, but it doesn’t matter.

      The fact is that the Disney Powers That Be need to ease the crowding because people like my family of four (and there are a lot of us) who save for a vacation all year, stay in the resort for five nights, eat three meals a day in the parks, buy snacks and souvenirs, etc….don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to wait in long lines, walk shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, and feel like we’re going to get trampled on. Not to mention encountering less-than-happy Disney employees. And, that’s how it felt in early June. Used to be that early June was a decent time to vacation at the resort. Busy is good and to be expected. Over-crowded is a major turn-off.

      It makes solid economic sense for the Disney People to appease both locals and the once-a-year vacationer as best as they can because, let’s face it, while Disneyland is great it’s not the only vacation destination out there, and I know that I’m not going to spend my vacation money on an experience that makes me feel like I’m in a mosh pit.

      • Susan Hughes

        Well DisneyLover66, don’t cancel any future plans for the Disneyland Resort. Simply look at the AP blockout dates and schedule your vacation based on when those lower priced passes are shut out. Sadly, it’s only from July through mid August. You came in June when a good amount of those 1 million+ APs invaded the park before being shut out for a month and a half. I say block them out the entire three months of summer vacation because of what happened to you.
        All that planning and saving you did was ruined by all those “Passholes” clogging up the parks AND bringing their bad behavior with them.
        And YES…so many of them do bring bad behavior into the parks. And that’s why you encountered grumpy Cast Members. They have to deal with them. It’s different during the “serene” time. The CMs are happy and smiling.

    • Westsider

      Susan Hughes, you are exactly right. Summer is a delightful time to be a Cast Member because the parks are busy but not overcrowded and the people visiting are mostly tourists from out of town or local non-Passholders hosting out of town family. That demographic of people are a delight to be around and they give meaning to the phrase Walt dreamed up for his CM’s 55 years ago, being a “host or hostess” to our “guests”.

      When the AP’s return in late August this will all change, the Resort’s parking and infrastructure will strain at the seams, and the tone of the parks guests will switch to entitled passholes shoving their DAS cards in everyone’s face and demanding special treatment.

      But for now, in midsummer, a day at Disneyland is an absolute delight for both CM’s and our invited guests. You can only imagine the fun stuff and freebies CM’s roll out for surprised tourists! Things we’d never try with AP’s this September.

      • Susan Hughes

        And that’s why they need to eliminate the lower priced “locals only” Annual Passes. Offer Premium or Deluxe. The insane AP crowds and their “Passhole” attitude isn’t worth it for the quality experience every Disney Resort guest should enjoy.
        I can GUARANTEE you, every AP who is pissing and moaning about being shut out for a month and a half would change their tune if they could be in the parks right now. They would want “that” experience over what they’ll be getting on August 18th.
        And I feel horrible for every out of town visitor who isn’t aware of what’s going to happen on August 18th and beyond. Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a vacation only to be stuck in pure hell.

    • Fyreflyerush

      Please get off your high horse. That was just plain rude. Yes. Disneyland needed to do something about crowd management. The mid-level So-Cal pass had way too many summer days available. However, the point of having the So-Cal passes and blackout days is to divert pass holders onto slow days. Take that away, and soon you’re looking at seasonal operation. Disneyland will be closed 6 months of the year instead of enjoyable all year round. Does it offend you that someone who doesn’t or can’t pay 600 plus a year still gets to enjoy the park? As someone who’s visited DL during peak and non-peak times, and traveled over a 1000 miles to get there, Pass-hole seems to apply to more to those with your mindset than others.

    • SoCalStacy

      Susan, you can complain all you want to about pass holders, but it has obviously effected Disneyland in a negative way. What’s going on with this Magic Mondays? Oh yeah, it’s because Monday attendance has dropped so severely that they need a gimmick to bring people back on this day. I guarantee you that Disneyland does not want non-busy days!

      Passholders have our complaints about out-of-towners too. How about those who sent one person into a line so that once they get close to loading, they call the rest of their party (who were on another ride) and all ten of them cut in line. This happens ALL DAY LONG. It’s never passholders, we know how annoying it is. Or how about the people who don’t understand stroller parking, no you can’t bring your stroller in line and the push everyone behind you in line because you refuse to take your child out and fold it up. Annoying. How about those who stand in front of the lines, blocking entrances to the rides because they are arguing with the cast member why little Johnny who is a half inch too short can’t ride.

      Last, if a cast member likes not dealing with the pass holders, it’s probably not the place he/she should be working. The cast members at DLR all need to understand that when compared to the cast members at WDW, they all look like “cast holes” LOL. WDW cast members are superior in quality. When I was there earlier this year, I NEVER encountered anyone who looked like they didn’t love their job, was there to help, and just on an overall happy mood! DLR cast members are…different. It’s the pass holders that made the park run year round, when all the out-of-towners are back to work and are back in school, its us that keep them employed.

      DLR may make more money on ticket sales for out-of-towners, but keep in mind the amount they lose to neighboring hotels and restaurants because the resort is so small. WDW has more benefits to staying at the resort, and people do, but that’s not the case here in CA. Everything outside the parks is in walking distance. DLR needs annual pass holders to fill in the voids. We drive in, stay in the parks for meals, we don’t leave for naps, then we drive home. It’s balance. For the most part, the passholders don’t want to be there on days we are blocked out, because it’s too busy for us. Then again, I have a premium pass so…no blockouts :)

      So Susan, you enjoy your nice days knowing that Disneyland does love it’s pass holders. Google “Glow with the show” and watch the Disneyland video where EVERYONE in the crowd is wearing the glowing Mickey ears. I was there! I got free ears. My kids got free ears. Passholder only event. So awesome. I wear my hat at nights too. Was so nice to only have pass holders there and none of those ticket people :)

  • JCSkipr79

    It’s like they are determined to do to DL what they did with WDW

    • OprylandUSA

      YES! Finally MiceChat has turned its watchful eyes toward Disneyland proper and away from the redheaded stepchild of Walt Disney World.

      In my opinion, this site is at its happiest when its trying to right what it perceives as a wrong. It works itself into a tizzy, gets all of its fans tweeting and writing letters, then culminates with long lines at Guest Relations. It’s what I’ve grown to call the “Light Magic Effect”

      “Well, we as AP’ers and Lutzers brought down Presseler and Light Magic, we can down bring down X!”

      Lately, that X is either the Club 33 expansion, MyMagic+, or the dirty exterior of Space Mountain. You’ve had some luck with projects like the rotting wood at Paradise Pier – and not such good luck with things like the fountains at the Disneyland Hotel.

      But, please. Keep on trying. It continues to make you look like spoiled little fanboys.

      • Darth Goofy

        You forgot to mention the abandoned people mover fiasco :)

  • skoolpsyk

    Court of Angels was too beautiful a spot for us commoners. Thank you Disney for closing it off; WE’RE NOT WORTHY!

    • Algernon

      Yes, but just think–you might get to see Justin Bieber looking out one of those windows, laughing as you wait in line. Or maybe Miley Cyrus will close one eye, stick out her tongue, and throw an ice cube from her drink at you.

      All hail the 1%.

      Disneyland is their land.

      And are the crowds really low because of passholder blockouts, or are all their bogus changes finally starting to catch up with them?

  • LoveStallion

    Looks like someone doesn’t know how to spell “raspberry” on the secret menu at GH.

    Excellent, scathing rebuke of everything related to the Club 33 expansion. But people will keep paying and Disney won’t care. The whole thing really does look awful. Losing the Court of Angels was a blow, but the work they’ve done aside from that is just so second-rate.

    Let’s start a campaign!

    • CCS

      You’re not kidding! What is with the blue paint, lack of time-appropriate adornment, crummy-looking wrought iron work, etc., ad nauseum. Please don’t tell me that the facades created back in 1966-67 cannot be recreated in 2014!

  • Ravjay12

    Wow! Looks like the exterior of Club 33 was an after thought. Off centered windows? Really? What the heck is going on there? Looks like the top half of New Orleans Square was hoisted in by helicopter and dropped on top. Can’t wait to see what the back of main Street looks like after they are done. Really, really disappointing! At least the celebrities will be comfy.

  • 1313Imagination

    We visited last night, when I touched the doors to the CoA, I discovered that they were plastic, PLASTIC! Not only is that incredibly cheap but incredibly disrespectful to both the average park guest as well as members to Club 33. I am intent on expressing my outrage to WDI, they are so much better than this!

    • SRGFernandez

      I am deeply saddened by WDI. I wanted to be a Imagineer growing up and discovered that they no longer hire for the long run but as contractors per project. My heart is still broken by this as my dream job was to be an imagineer as my career not for just a year or two. Also having contractors instead of long term imagineers shows the shotty work like the plastic doors or cheap themeing. I wish it could go back to the way it was but those days are now gone.

      • Algernon

        You should check out companies like Landmark Entertainment (Google it). I think they did the Treasure Island in Las Vegas, Jurassic park at Universal, themed malls all over the world. They say they’re the number one entertainment design company in the world. You’ll probably get to design some real stuff with them, and not the next Nemo or Tarzan’s Treehouse.

      • Darth Goofy

        Hate to sound like a broken record but due to this money squeeze from top execs to keep imagineers off the payroll all the good imagineers went to Universal….or OLC in Japan

      • Internitty

        This is exactly why so many of the projects are so dodgy. The Imagineers have no loyalty or commitment to the parks, they are merely projects to complete and move on and not something they see as legacy.

  • wave789

    What makes everyone think the newly-unveiled work in New Orleans is complete? They’re clearly still working on it. When the walls first came down in front of Carthay Circle Theater it appeared to be under themed, as well, but they had simply not yet added all the details.

    I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but, honestly, let’s wait until Disney is actually DONE before making judgment.

    • LoveStallion

      No no. Being reactionary is much more fun.

    • cruise

      To a certain extent yes… BUT you can’t recenter a window. You can’t undo giant floor to ceiling windows.

    • Algernon

      Yes, it’s not complete. When it is, you will not be able to see anybody inside through those windows.

      • cruise

        I think the biggest concern about the windows is their size, which don’t fit the feel of the land and can’t be changed… even if their view through them is obscured.

    • Vanellope26

      I think they are going for Art Deco at club 33. To me the windows look like the ones in the “almost there” sequence in the Princess and the Frog. I’ve thought that they should add Tiana’s Place to New Orleans. Maybe they are styling the club like that. Isn’t that movie set in the 1920s? So if you add anything from it, it won’t be the same time frame as what is there now, but shouldn’t Tiana get to be in New Orleans? I love art deco and that sequence from the movie, so I think it looks cool even if I probably will never get in there.

    • aquaboi77

      I totally agree with wave789, let’s all relax and wait until it’s finished. I love this website, and I often agree with its criticisms of the parks and their management, but I get irritated when people get nit-picky. Instead of a living, breathing, evolving theme-park (like Walt had envisioned) people seem to want to turn it into a museum to their childhood memories. The thing that made Disneyland so great was the push for new ways to capture guests imagination, but that involves change and taking risks, and any change that comes to the park seems to send everyone into a tizzy.

    • The project may not be totally complete, but there’s no fixing the major, sweeping architectural changes throughout New Orleans Square before the club officially reopens this weekend.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if more thematic details emerge in the coming weeks but the bigger issue is the major changes to the facades throughout the land that have affected the forced perspective/scale, the club’s hidden nature, and the general aesthetic of New Orleans Square.

      Can major things like that really be fixed in the next few days before the Club has its big reopening and the project is officially “done”? I find it unlikely, but I’m willing to be wrong.

      Thanks for reading,

  • vnormth

    FWIW, Club 33 members are expressing the same things on their own site. Don’t resent the members, please.

    • Internitty

      No one resents the members, they didn’t design the changes. People resent the management that is allowing the constant destruction or at least devaluation of the theming.

  • Justonedream

    Andy Castro, great photos and eye for detail. I’m not usually negative about Disney but here it is warranted. Feedback will help them improve.

    My biggest complaint is the new windows. They are straight from a suburban tract home. Are they from Home Depot? Disneyland is supposed to remove you from the boredom of suburbia, not remind you of it.

    These are not the custom details I have come to expect from Disney.

    • Amanda949

      I was going to say the exact same thing! The space over the PotC exit, the bridge and that HORRIBLE window above Cafe Orleans all looks like the outer walls of some typical, cookie-cutter Orange County home. Except that many of those houses actually have more character because the owners take pride in the way their space looks. WDI don’t seem to have that same pride for their space.

      • Justonedream

        My sentiments exactly.

    • MarkW


  • disneyland255

    I will reserve my judgment on Club 33 until it is fully completely done. Look at all the complaints on Alice and see how well that turned out. Why make a fuss over something that even isn’t fully completed yet? I whole heartedly agree with wave789.

    As for the transformation of the shop, I love that it is no longer pins and now has themeing AND product to go with the land. I hope the shops throughout the park will get to land specific product.

  • tooncity

    If its so bad, then cancel your AP? I did 10 years ago. Yet, everybody COMPLAINS. If you want things to improve then STOP going.

  • MonteJ

    Nothing says “Welcome to the happiest place on earth” like an exclusive club that is prominently displayed with huge windows allowing it’s members to look down on the “riff raff”.

    Honestly, I have no problem with the original concept of Club 33, but this new concept shows a major shift in Disney’s mindset.

    • jcruise86

      Good post, MonteJ.

      I think a great way to more than compensate for the Court of Angels would be to have two new, really nice nook spaces in the parks, where nothing was sold and the only goal would be to offer some guests attractive places to rest away from crowds. It’d be a classy move.

    • pattimarie

      From MonteJ: “Nothing says “Welcome to the happiest place on earth” like an exclusive club that is prominently displayed with huge windows allowing it’s members to look down on the “riff raff”.

      Honestly, I have no problem with the original concept of Club 33, but this new concept shows a major shift in Disney’s mindset.”

      I think you’ve said it the best. It’s not just the loss of the CoA, or the apparently bad design work, but what it signals about future changes. People complain about no new major attractions or lands on the horizon for DLR–well THIS was the major expansion for this year. Most of us will never be able to enjoy it is all.

  • Cory Gross

    For interest’s sake, I did a little Google Streetview tour of the French Quarter to look at windows. I question the one bare bridge and maybe the size of some of those windows, but a lot of the changes look like they could be redeemed with some more care and theming. We’ll have to see.

    I also can’t help but wonder if things like the ridiculously off-centre window and large windows, and the Art Nouveau stained glass, aren’t designed to look better from the inside. That doesn’t justify them (actually it makes it kinda’ worse), but at least that would be explicable.

    Overall, it doesn’t actually matter what I think because it’s not like Disney is asking me. I don’t think the exterior changes are irredeemable, but I do think the whole act of taking the Court of Angels away from the public and making Club 33 more conspicuous is just awful. Way to shove classism up our nose Disney, as you try to artificially inflate the value of Club 33 as a positional good.

  • Centaur

    While I usually enjoy Dateline Disneyland updates every Monday morning (they’re a great way to kick off the week), this one just makes me feel sad. (Not a reflection of the awesome reporting, of course, which I really appreciate!) Like others, I also want to see the final product for the new Club 33 before making judgement, but I just can’t shake off the feeling of disappointment of what we’ve seen so far. Looking at the plain looking additions, the out-of-place windows (literally and figuratively) and the cheap looking light fixtures, my thought is that they went from a “Pottery Barn” level of quality to “IKEA”.

    • I usually enjoy writing Dateline Disneyland every week, but this week’s update made me feel sad as well.

      Here’s hoping things improve soon.

      Thanks for reading!
      Dateline Disneyland

  • eicarr

    The club 33 update was disturbing and upsetting. Every INCH counts in this TINY land. It’s like WDW designers are at DL trying to lower the bar for the best that can be done by Disney.

    Every time that I thought “maybe I’m being over-critical” I looked right next to the cheap addition to see the rich detail of true masters. And I’m positive the people who defaced the area think the additions blend in perfectly.

    • Darth Goofy

      Nope, you are not being over critical, this addition is sub par theming

    • Aurora

      I completely agree. I was excited to see what they had done to NOS, but was shocked to see how poorly the new additions fit in. It’s hard to articulate how saddened I am, as NOS has always been my favorite land due to the incredible theming.

      When I first saw the off-center window in a previous update, I thought that surely it was a fluke in the overall design, and that their other changes would fit in better. Unfortunately it appears to be one of the better executed changes. Obviously they have not quite finished, but it’s hard to see how they could bring these areas up to the standard of their surroundings without significant additional work.