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 change.org 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,
      Andy

  • 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

      Agreed!

  • 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!
      -Andy
      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.

  • Klutch

    I understand the disappointment surrounding the Court of Angels being closed off for Club 33, but I’m amused by the constant references to access by “the public”. What public? Since New Orleans Square opened, the Court of Angels was reserved for people who could pay admission into the park. It’s all private property. “The Public” has never been allowed there. Access was exclusive to paid park guests. Now it’s just a lot more exclusive.

    The cosmetic changes at New Orleans Square are disconcerting. Let’s hope it truly is unfinished. Leaving those huge Club 33 windows as they are would create huge problems. Guests would constantly ask Cast Members, “What’s that restaurant up there?” and “How do I get to that place up there?”, only to be told it’s a private club and they can’t access. People who do know what’s there would hang around below trying to get pictures of celebrities. I’m thinking there’s no way those windows will stay as they are.

    I find it strange how the 1901 Bar in California Adventure was so perfectly executed; subtle, private, unnoticable on the outside and completely breath-takingly beautiful inside. Yet, this new Club 33 expansion appears to be more like hiring your cousin to build a big-ole addition onto your double-wide.

    • cruise

      When you open your business up to the general public, the law treats your customers as the “general public.” Paying for entry doesn’t change your status as a member of the public because anyone could enter if they wanted to. Club 33, on the other hand, is not open to all willing and able members of the public.

      • Klutch

        I don’t see it that way.

        Disneyland is open to anyone willing to wait in line to buy admission ticket and enter the park.

        Club 33 is open to anyone willing to wait for the “line” of the waiting list and pay for admission. There are no limitations otherwise for becoming a Club 33 member. You don’t have to be royalty, a celebrity or anything else. You put your name on the list, pay for your membership and you’re a member.

        Therefore, Club 33 is in fact open to all willing and able members of the public.

      • cruise

        I understand if you do not see it that way. From a legal standpoint, Disneyland is open to the public and its guests are members of the general public. That was the only point I was trying to make.

  • Tinkbelle

    The whole expansion project in NOS is a big blundering mess. I can’t believe someone was paid money to come up with these designs. It’s like they had no eye or respect for continuity and history. That area has always been one of my favorites and they are killing its charm and the illusion of being transported to another time and place. Those new windows are so out of place for the time period. The new facade in front of Cafe Orleans looks dreadful. Who gave the green light on this disaster? It really upsets me.

  • Klutch

    I can imagine Disney corporate types raising their heads from a spreadsheet just long to enough to consider the New Orleans Square criticisms someone mentioned. “What? It’s an amusement park. What’s wrong with these people”. Back to spreadsheet…

    • Internitty

      Disneyland is not an amusement park nor is is promoted as one. Disneyland is a THEME PARK, note that first word. Six Flags is an amusement park, even Coney Island or Luna Park. There is a level of show that Theme Parks aspire to and Disneyland is the epitome of that show, what is happening in the Disneyland Theme Park is it’s decline into amusement park. We are seeing Universal go from amusement park to Theme Park. Disney need to buck up their ideas and realise that the privileged few do not pay for the experience in the parks, it’s the hundreds of thousands of people who lay down $94 a day to come in and escape the troubles of an ever increasingly depressing world.

  • amyuilani

    On the one hand, I do support the purist view and think that “Walt would not have wanted ___ this way.” On the other hand, it’s a contradictory point of view because you can’t really say that Walt would have wanted this or that, and still support Walt’s very statement that “Disneyland will never be complete…” Life is change, and time is change. Every time you visit Disneyland, you should recognize that you are experiencing a unique moment in time that will never be the same. The new facades leave something to be desired, especially the off-center window (nice catch, Andy!), but when something isn’t working, Disney is good about fixing it. In time, we will forget about this update and move on with our lives. Does this facade update really impact my visit or the experience of millions of people? Not really.

    • cruise

      “Does this facade update really impact my visit or the experience of millions of people? Not really.”

      No one change is every going to effect the average visitors visit. Its the aggregate that starts to have an impact. If you don’t believe me, head over to WDW.

      • Monorail Dreamer

        I don’t see a reason to criticize WDW. I and millions of other people love WDW and believe it is a beautiful place. This forum seems to be full of people who love to create some false competition between the two parks.

      • cruise

        Not trying to criticize WDW, just pointing out that slow declines over time eventually become noticeable (a point well documented by Kevin Yee). EPOCT being the best example of that IMO.

        Its not a competition, both resorts have had stretches were they have shined. All I was trying to point out was that a broken Yeti here and theme break there eventually start to add up…

  • Baloo

    I am not one to complain but that wall with the off center window really looks bad. They should have just added doors with glass doors and a nice wrought iron balcony and allowed the club members to sit outside instead. AT least that would look much better than that bare wall with the worst window design i have seen in a Disney park. The bare walls remind me of the bare walls in DCA’s Paradise Pier.

    The Bridge also looks awful, another area where they should add a wrought iron Balcony that connects to the balconies on either side. This has to be some of the worst redesign elements i have seen done in a DIsney park. Instead of beautifying the place and adding to its ambience they clearly made it look like an apartment complex just took over a malls second floor

  • Larry Parker

    All in all, it appears that the Club 33 exteriors were done “on the cheap.” And this at a time of record park revenues. My understanding is that WDW management, with its notorious emphasis on profit over park quality, is now overseeing much of Disneyland, and that the Club 33 exteriors, as well as the closing of the Court of Angels, is a direct reflection of that. Corporate greed..lack of artistic appreciation of Walt’s genius..sickening!

    • Marko50

      My timeline might be outta whack, but I think the CoA closure was done before the WDW “takeover”..

  • DCACM

    The beauty in crappy design and execution is that it can always be changed and improved. I no longer get worked up over DL changes like used to.

    When Car that and its lounge opened, Club 33 became redundant. Who wants to spend big bucks for the opportunity for cocktails and overpriced meals, when it can be done for no extra cost across the way. The only thing the 33 has going for it now is its history.

    • Darth Goofy

      And its just that ” history” The nostalgia of the original club 33 is permanently tarnished…Would it affect my visit? Sure..I will see this hot mess as a head to Pirates or stroll by rivers of America…Looks like it was done on the cheap…I figured that the cash cow would open up more for the elites…

  • DCACM

    Car that is autocorrect for Carthay. 😉

  • Mortgageman

    So Disney’s strategy appears to involve this.

    – Cutting back on the AP program that resulted in many (cool your jets, not all but many) of them freeloading in and jamming up the park while paying & spending very little

    – Making up for some of those lost AP revenues by expanding and giving a little more space and perks to the one percenters that are willing to pay a tremendous amount of money to get something special but when you really think about it, not much value.

    I couldn’t be happier! Insane crowds consisting in a large degree of entitled passholders are 100x the detriment to the average once a year local guest or tourist than these changes to NOS. No one ever had their “Day at Disneyland Experience” ruined by an off center window.

    • DisneyLover66

      Mortgageman- You nailed it. I could not agree more. Thank you.

    • Marko50

      Excuse me? Freeloading? They paid for the privilege of visiting however many times their passes allowed.

      And lost AP revenues? Many (not all, but many) of those “lost” APer’s, instead of just getting out of the game, upgraded to Deluxe and Premium passes. Which means the parks will be more crowded than ever.

      Oops.

  • Skimbob

    So much for a mysterious club. I hope Club 33 members continue to complain because they will be listened to more than us peasants. Fantasy Faire fit in with the show but NOS does not. I hope they make some facade changes or additions.As for the Court of Angels I would wall it off since it is going to be a gawking location for regular guests wanting to know what is going on behind the gates.

  • Larry Parker

    I recommend anyone upset with the Club 33 exteriors email your concerns to the company. Perhaps that would result in improvement to those exteriors as well as their better decisions in future park changes. Here’s the address: https://secure-disneyland.disney.go.com/help/email/

  • MyFriendtheAtom

    insulting at best

  • bamato

    It’s nice to see unique merchandise in New O’rleans square!

  • ex-wdi

    Can we please kill the concept of class-ism here? Getting into Club 33 nowadays is as rough as getting a reservation at Red Lobster. You’ve all been there, or know someone who can get you in easily. It used to be a badge of honor, now it’s so easy it’s ridiculous and not special. Everyone complaining here has probably been, I’m nearly certain.

    Second, this is a horrific example of renovation gone awry. I doubt very highly that the externals were handled by WDI – it’s just not their signature handiwork, even at its worst. It’s inept at best, and that’s not them. Until I see confirmation it was WDI I won’t really believe it. Not the exterior, anyways.

    And lastly, if you want a great expensive meal in the parks go to Carthay Circle anyways. It’s FAR better than Club 33, and now that the history is gone there’s precisely zero reason to go.

    • Tinkbelle

      I’ve not been there. And I don’t know anyone who can get me in. I don’t mind there being a special place in Disney for those who can pay more, however.

      • Internitty

        Same here

    • LoveStallion

      I’ve honestly never once been to Red Lobster. I have too much self-respect.

    • Skimbob

      I have never been there and I know no one who is a member.

  • Timekeeper

    Club 33’s new exteriors: two steps forward, one step back.

    La Masquerade d’Orleans’ new merchandise: Yes for unique merchandise!

    Changing gears, on the loss of ‘Norway’ in the Norwegian Pavilion: It saddens me that the Norwegian government (at this moment) doesn’t seem interested in continuing to ‘host’ their pavilion; they really haven’t been paying attention much since 2002, to quote from the video link. Frozen (HEART), for all it’s popularity, WDW really should just build a permanent meet’n’greet, but the problem lies, where to put it? Norway should stay as it is (with no Frozen makeovers), Fantasyland in MK has Elsa already in the Princess Megaplex; and DHS (currently), has an event with various ‘Frozen’ games/shows/meet’n’greet/ and a pre-parade. DHS should be the place to do it. Another thing, I think Frozen should probably have more meet’n’greets for Elsa and Anna in WDW (Heaven knows Disneyland should too, just look at those wait times…)

    -Timekeeper

  • malice

    I thought I would reserve judgement until the project is complete…until I saw that off centered window. What a miserable fail. Where is Figaro when you need him?

    • jjw69

      That off set window looks off centered from the outside but it is actually centered from the inside the club. Obviously Disney caters more to the club 33 members.

  • jcruise86

    While I won’t praise any new New Orleans Square development (though a photo I saw of the Club 33 interior looked beautiful to me), I’ve actually been cheered up by all of the intense comments I’ve read today because it’s comforting that others care as much about Disneyland as I do.

    Thanks for the update, Andy!

    • jjw69

      Having been up in the new Club 33, the interior really does look remarkable. Would have been nice to say that about the exterior!!

      • jcruise86

        Maybe they’re trying to comfort non-members: “Oh, it can’t be that nice. Look at that exterior.”

        I wonder how the food will compare with Napa Rose. I can’t imagine the chef who’s maintained such high standards at Napa Rose will let that restaurant decline, even if he is now also responsible for the food at Club 33.

      • jjw69

        Haha you maybe right. Sounds almost what Disney would say!!

      • jjw69

        Probably they’ll have the same food. I will have to check into that 🙂

  • Tinkerbell

    The Club 33/NOS redo is so bad I could cry. I’ve never seen such shoddy, confused design from Disney before. The designers should be sent back to art school so they can get properly acquainted with certain styles. I would even kindly suggest Disney terminate Kim Irvine (and all others associated with this). The horrible alterations she has made all around the park for decades have been bad enough, but this is just the end. She needs to discover what she’s really good at in this life, because it is not design.
    But all that aside, what Disney needs to learn most is that if Walt Disney supervised the making of something IT’S PERFECT. LEAVE IT ALONE. YOU WILL NOT BETTER IT. WE, AS PAYING GUESTS, ARE NOT COMPLAINING. WE LOVE IT. Seek new creative ventures in new areas. Innovate, inspire, and give us more to love.

    • jcruise86

      ^ ^ Aren’t some complaining that Disney has left EPCOT alone a little too much over the last 12+ years. I haven’t been there since around 2001 or 2002, but if they’d stop leaving it alone by putting in a couple new nation pavilions, enlivening Energy’s dinosaurs, put in a Soarin’ Over the USA film, we might have gone sooner.

  • ChrisFL

    I’m not usually one for dramatic statements, but seeing those NOS pictures, I think everyone involved in that project should be FIRED on the spot!! There’s no excuse for that much shoddy work…and yes, it is 90% done….no need to wait for the other 10%, they’ve already ruined it.

  • FredSimmons

    When Club 33 first opened, Disney’s PR people had the savvy to realize that the public would not take kindly to the idea of a private club for the ultra-rich, where the average Disney visitor was excluded, and where alcohol, forbidden to everyone else in the squeaky-clean park, flowed freely.

    So they did the smart thing: they hid it away, where only its patrons knew where to find it. They kept it discreet.

    Now, they are rubbing our noses in it.

    They have blatantly expanded the club at the expense of Disneyland guests, not only adversely affecting the look of New Orleans Square, but going so far as to steal away one of the most charming & photogenic spots in the park (the Court of Angels) and turn it into the exclusive domain of the wealthy.

    Disney’s PR people (and its brass) have dropped the ball. Big time.

    • jcruise86

      Good post, Fred. When Club 33 was hidden, guests could all feel and be treated like VIPs. If Club 33 and the Lily Belle and conspicuously off limits, guests may begin to feel a little like airline passengers walking through first class on their way to coach. Maybe Iger and Staggs’ incomes are making them out of touch.

      I was impressed how on the Disney Wonder cruise ship almost nothing felt off limits and we always felt like we received first class treatment even though we had an inside cabin.

      Having Pete, Scar, Cruella and Gaston as the bouncers for Club 33 probably won’t help.

      • jcruise86

        ^ ^ “are” not “and” before conspicuously.

  • KCmike

    The off center window can’t really be the finished product no matter how bad things look like they might be, right? That is one ugly off center addition. They should have left the tarps on everything until its fully complete. I like others have to hold final judgement until they say the refurb is done.

    • Disneyobsession

      There is little refurb that can he done at this point considering that all the structural improvements have already been completed. What finishing touches are we waiting for Disney to complete? New paint colors? More small details? Whatever little detail that TDA adds to “The New Club 33” will most likely not mask the the horrific architecture!

  • CCS

    Do you all remember when the Hyperion Bridge over in DCA was being reworked or repainted almost weekly for a time? It’ll be interesting to see whether the NO Square exteriors get the same kind of treatment. Little Disney elves with scaffolding coming during the middle of the night “improving” the subpar new additions.

    • The Hyperion Bridge’s series of repaints was bizarre because it ended up being repainted exactly how it was when Buena Vista Street opened. Unfortunately, New Orleans Square will not be going back to how it looked before all these changes happened. Major structural changes are not the same as repainting a bridge a few times.

      Thanks for reading,
      Andy
      Dateline Disneyland

  • Gullywhumper

    This is very depressing. I don’t know if I have any new criticism to add. The exterior changes to New Orleans Square have to be redone. The new additions/changes are from bad to terrible. That ugly floral stained glass door has to go, the temporary wall that blocked the door while it was being constructed is almost better. At least the temporary wall was themed to an appropriate style gate one might find in old New Orleans, plus it didn’t call attention to itself.

  • Spacepainter

    Such negativity…

    • Sifferz

      Yes, but it isn’t unwarranted. They have a prominently featured window off center. This is one of the most well designed parks on earth that supposedly holds itself to the highest standards when it comes to facades and theming, yet the walls are bare, the exterior additions are bland, and those massive windows… there is no good reason for them.

      What possible benefit to anyone’s experience is there to those windows? I love imagining I’ll have the money to see the Club one day, but I know I never will – why would they put those windows out there to remind the average guest exactly what they’re too poor to afford? What other purpose will they end up serving ? They certainly aren’t more aesthetically pleasing than the balconies were, nor do they fit the theme properly.

      Meanwhile, across the street in DCA, Carthay Circle’s mirrors are smudged up and spotted specifically in dedication to the simple fact that in the 30’s, there was no Windex.

  • tcsnwhite

    The “reactions” here never cease to amaze me.

  • Peoplemover Priit

    Complete sham what they did with New Orleans Square. I seriously doubt anyone in management is competent enough to truly understand what they have allowed to happen. All anyone sees nowadays is dollar signs and it is tearing Disneyland to shreds. I feel like a part of me died reading about New Orleans Square. So disappointing…

  • daveyjones

    what’s most distressing to me here is that the additions feel like grafted on elements from buena vista street. BVS is great for what it is—a tribute to los angeles of the 1920s and 1930s, designed and built in the 2000s–2010s.

    NOS is a tribute to new orleans of the 1840s and 1850s, designed and built in the 1960s.

    and therein lies the disconnect.

    if the designers wash over these new additions with some wear-down paint treatments, and ding up the window frames appropriately, and block the large ones with curtains, and add elements to balance the off-center window (which i find charming and appropriate and true to the period, if balanced on the left by something like a lighting sconce), we could find something that works and blends with NOS. after a few seasons of natural wearing in.

    using the BVS team was a mistake, and it’s so totally obvious that these folks were involved. i don’t see that there was any effort to consult the rich and voluminous documentation of the design of NOS, from concept art to elevation drawings. it’s all there at WDI in the archives. pouring over even one of herb ryman’s renderings would provided all the designers needed to add on to NOS effectively, and elegantly.

    but instead, the process seems to be, hey you, who worked on the pig’n whistle? the starbucks thing? yea. go watch the DVD of princess and the frog. and give us something like that.

    so sad. sigh.

  • Laughing Place

    First post here on Mice Chat though I have been reading these great articles for some time. Disneyland is my favorite place and I grew up with my family always visiting once or twice a year. After getting married the tradition continued and now I have taken my two year old daughter already twice and another trip is planned next year. New Orleans is my very favorite area of the park and while I understand Disneyland will never be finished and will always continue to change or grow these pictures are just disappointing. I will reserve final judgement until the project is finished and I see it in person but right now it comes across as cheap and totally takes away from the quaint feel that New Orleans Square always held before. Besides I always liked the mystery of the private club 33 that really was only noticeable by the sparkly 33 on the door just outside the exit to Pirates. I am hoping this is an unfinished project…

  • DisneyTrains

    Being a once active MiceChatter, I often forget how much complaining this site does, which is why I stopped going on the forums and only coming back for the theme park update articles. The Club 33 Expansion looks fine, but when the author takes a good quarter of the article of complaining that it doesn’t fit his approval instead of taking an unbiased point of view, it’s a bit of a let down and takes away the joy of seeing what is happening in the parks. I usually look the other way and skip the complaining, but this was a bit much for me.

    Great update otherwise, and thank you for your time you put in to make these weekly articles!
    -DT

    • MiceChat has always been an open forum to share news, thoughts, and opinions on what is going on in the theme park industry, and specifically, with Disney. This column embraces that tradition and I am happy to discuss and share my opinions on the latest goings on.

      I’d like to mention that folks never seem to have a problem when I openly praise good work Disney does (see: new merchandise in Le Masquerade d’Orleans, or the report on Alice in Wonderland’s show upgrades last week). Praising Disney’s work is not the “unbiased” reporting that you and some others ask for, and yet, that never seems to be a problem.

      In any case, thanks for reading.

      Andy
      Dateline Disneyland

  • Aladdin

    That gate that now blocks off “Court of Angels”, the actual name of the color chosen is called “Piss-off Yellow” – to subliminally tell guests to go away. How appropriate, since much of this Club 33 expansion has pissed off many guests already!.

  • mbyrd

    I know this site gets a lot of flack and is frequently accused of being overly critical. Often the response is “if you don’t like it, don’t go.” Which for a response is, as has often been said, missing the point. I appreciate critical and conscious reviews. This website and it’s respective columns frequently provide that. Today’s update is another example.

    Regarding Club 33: It’s sad to see so much of the the clubs history sacrificed. I don’t feel sympathy for the club members losing a feeling of “privacy.” I do, however, feel upset that the club is being so readily flaunted and the resulting poor exterior design may encroach on a guest’s ability to wholly buy into the theme and fully come to embrace the park as many have. I’m not suggesting that I have some sort of problem with club members receiving a different experience than me, they paid for it. But, I can easily see this becoming a point of contention with less understandable guests than myself. I can’t imagine how some guests might react when they see people mingle in Club 33 hallways above them (people who may look like everyday guests) and learn that they can’t access that part of the park. Or when they’re standing near the Court of Angels and overhear discussions, laughter or enjoyment just beyond the glass doors, and they learn that’s it’s a member’s only area, that may be troublesome for some poor cast member to deal with. When Club 33 was out of sight, it was easier to be ignorant to the added experience. It was easy to be uninformed and not know what it was. I trust that will change moving forward. The “secret” was largely out already, I know. But again, now that it is no longer as easily “out of sight” it will likely not be so easy to keep it “out of mind.”

    Regarding Legends of Frontierland: This sounds very humorously like a real life version of that South Park episode where they go on a field trip to the Pioneer Settlement, and all the actors refuse to break character. I’m not bagging on the game or experience. It’s just an observation that makes me giggle.

  • dgpollard

    Thank you for posting the progress pictures of Disneyland.

    With respect to the Club 33 re-do; the fact that everyone has been “Googleing”, “Tweeting”, “Youtubing”, etc. about this club for years now just proves that the Club 33 isn’t anywhere near as private or as exclusive as it once was in Walt Disney’s day. Look…..I too, am sitting here writing about it in this forum! 🙂 See?

    It’s just that now so many people can “see in” and suddenly there’s this disillusioned notion that Club 33 has ruined the Orleans Square experience. This is all relevant to today’s culture.

    I just know that there’s a lot more to life than whining and complaining about how “the other people” are….

    My family and I still enjoy the opulent surroundings of Disneyland that Walt Disney’s set builders and original WED Imagineers dreamed up in his park 59 years ago. And we always will!

    • Larry Parker

      I take it then that the cheaply done new Club 33 exteriors look fine to you? Those “on-the-cheap” exteriors are the major point of concern. So if your experience with Disneyland does not include an appreciation of its artistic beauty(perhaps you focus on rides only when in the park), then I can understand your viewpoint.

      • dgpollard

        What gives you the impression that I don’t appreciate the artistic beauty?

        I said that my family and I still enjoy the opulent surroundings of Disneyland that Walt Disney’s set builders and original WED Imagineers dreamed up in his park 59 years ago. And we always will!

        Now I do pay attention to the details……and so did Walt. And it probably bothered Walt when he didn’t have the funds to fully execute right away the things that he thought would look better. He’d go back and “plus it” when he could.

        Does this mean I am going to walk through Disneyland and “sulk” and “whine” about the little details. No; I choose to look at all of the things that are still wonderful in the park because my family and I are only visiting this “Happiest Place on Earth” for about 3 to 4 days every 2 to 3 years.

    • Larry Parker

      If negative changes at Disneyland are not brought to the attention of Disney management, and are simply overlooked, then things will only get worse. Simply “going along” with “profit is paramount above quality” will only lead to more of the same. Anyone who cares about Walt’s legacy should make their concerns known. This forum is read by Corporate Disney, and in addition, I suggest contacting: https://secure-disneyland.disney.go.com/help/email/

  • skratch addict

    I am just at a loss for words for NOS/Club 33…..

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I am truly disappointed at the changes that have gone on in NOS. It was my favorite part of the park. There’s a fine line between an area that feels quaint and intimate and area that feels crowded and affected by urban blight. Now that club 33 has come out of the closet I think it is only appropriate that every trip I point up to the off-centered window of “too rich for my shirt” members peering down at us and explain they are the ones that screwed up New Orleans Sq.

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