Disneyland celebrated its 59th anniversary last week and announced plans for a big celebration of 60 historic years that will start next spring. Yet, as Disneyland prepares to celebrate that big 60th anniversary milestone, Disney has made significant changes to historic areas of park in an effort to expand the private Club 33 in New Orleans Square. Today, we take a look at the Club 33 project, inside and out, and talk about the importance of Disney’s history. We also update you on Frontierland‘s new interactive game, the new Music of: Nashville show, and recently-announced plans for a new interactive experience in Adventureland.

Don’t miss your weekly Disneyland Resort crowd forecast — provided by our friends at MouseAddict — in the Weekly News and Information Roundup at the end of today’s update!

Get a closer look at today’s update! Click on any photo in today’s blog to see a larger, high-resolution version.

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It’s another big week for Disneyland news, so let’s get started!


Happy 59th Birthday, Disneyland!

Disneyland celebrated its 59th anniversary Thursday morning with ceremony on the steps of Main Street Station.

The Mayor of Main Street welcomed guests and started the festivities by bringing the Dapper Dans up to perform a medley of songs from Disneyland attractions, including “Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room,” “Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me,” “it’s a small world (after all),” “Miracles from Molecules” and “A Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow.”

Then, 59 Disney characters and Cast Members came out to really kick off the celebration

Walt Disney’s opening day speech was played throughout Town Square and included the release of live doves

A confetti burst marked 59 years.

Then, the Mayor of Main Street spoke a bit about the park and its history which led to the announcement of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration, and with another burst of confetti, the 60th Anniversary logo was revealed and a photo contest was announced. The Diamond Celebration will officially begin Spring 2015.

I was lucky enough to RSVP for a spot at the Disney Parks Blog “sneak peek” event. Unfortunately, the sneak peek didn’t actually give a preview of anything. Guests of the sneak peek were treated to cupcakes, however, and could take pictures at meet-and-greets with Anna and Elsa from Frozen and Mickey and Minnie.

Decorations featured the “diamond” theme

Attendees were given a special glass “diamond” etched with the Disneyland 60th logo, a cookie and a special FASTPASS ticket book.

Club 33 Inside & Out

As Disneyland celebrated 59 years of groundbreaking theme park history while looking ahead to 60, some pretty significant changes to the park’s own history were being unveiled in New Orleans Square.

Disney officially reopened its fabled Club 33 over the weekend, wrapping up a project that has brought not only major changes within the Club itself, but also to large parts of New Orleans Square. Below, the original club entrance on the left has now been converted into a merchandise store room for the neighboring Le Bat en Rouge shop.

A new set of stairs leading to a new door inside Le Bat en Rouge gives Cast Members access to the club’s old lobby, which is now simply storage for merchandise.

On the other side of the store, two sets of French doors previously allowed guests access to the neighboring Court of Angels. With the Court of Angels now acting as the new lobby for Club 33, those doors are no longer necessary. One has been removed entirely, with the space filled in and covered up by a merchandise display case. This is partly because a new elevator for Club 33 was built on the other side of the wall. The other door’s windows were frosted over, blocking guest views into the Club’s private area.

Above Cafe Orleans, the large new window added for the Club hasn’t received any additional thematic touches. It remains terribly off-center and out-of-place.

Over on Orleans Street, the new bridge built to connect the main Club 33 dining room to the new jazz lounge expansion has received some more thematic elements, but they do little to help make the addition feel complete or like a natural part of the land.

The addition of the faux shutters help but not much.

The balcony that was cut into for the new bridge still looks awkward, although they are adding wrought iron to at least “finish” the balcony.

Beyond the bridge, construction walls are now down, allowing for a full view of all of the exterior changes.

To the left, the upstairs hallway leading to Club 33’s main dining room was expanded, causing the facades to be pushed out. This expansion of the hall led to a complete redesign of the facades here, adding huge floor-to-ceiling windows that give a clear view into the club from the ground level. A private club, indeed.

Another view of the expanded walkway and huge new windows

The large windows disrupt the very carefully-designed and very effective forced perspective found throughout New Orleans Square. The scale is now completely off, and if the windows alone don’t cause problems for the illusion, then seeing a Club 33 member walk past these windows really does.

Of course, the hallway expansion has the facade pushed out further now than it was originally designed to be, and because of that, the expanded hallway now covers a good portion of the facade above what was previously the entrance to the Court of Angels.

You can tell just how much was added by looking at the underside of the bridge. The beige-colored portion is all new, with the blue being the original width of the bridge.

Looking back down Orleans Street, the backside of the new bridge that connects the main Club 33 dining room with the new jazz lounge has received some extra thematic touches, but again, they don’t fix it.

Both of the new “stained glass” gates are uncovered now and they’re identical.

It’s worth noting that these gates aren’t glass at all; they’re plastic. The argument could be made that glass would be impractical here. I tend to think that’s a lazy excuse, but if glass was indeed seen as a liability here, then surely a more elegant solution than plastic could have been cooked up by the Imagineers.

Potted plants at the other gate help the space a bit

Nearby, the new front door of Club 33.

Like the rest of the Club’s exterior changes, it’s not nearly as understated before, but it’s thankfully not obnoxious.

New gas lamps are a nice touch

The new buzzer is notably less subtle than before.

Art nouveau flourishes flank the front door

The Court of Angels was a very important part of Disneyland for me. As a whole, New Orleans Square is the part of Disneyland that took me from being a casual fan of Disneyland to someone obsessed with the park and themed design. New Orleans Square’s various elements — the architecture, Disney Gallery, the Court of Angels — were where I formed deep, emotional connections to the park. These spaces were where I had what I call my a-ha! moment, where I really gained an understanding of what themed entertainment was and that Disneyland was far more than just a collection of rides and shops. I was very lucky to have enjoyed several meals at Club 33 over the years and long before my first visit, I was fascinated with the history the place contained. The exclusivity played into it, but more than anything its connection to Walt Disney was what appealed to me the most. So, when I was invited to dine and tour the new club over the weekend by a very generous and gracious member, I jumped at the opportunity. I had to see first-hand what had become of these spaces that had played such important roles in my Disneyland fandom. Below are some photos, information, and some thoughts from my experience in the new Club 33. The opinions expressed below are solely mine and are not representative of the rest of my dining party or of this web site.

The former L’Ornament Magique shop is now a small check-in area for the new club. There’s nothing terribly remarkable about the tiny space, but it’s certainly pleasant. Passing through the new reception area, members and their guests emerge into the beloved Court of Angels. Seeing the Court of Angels again was a remarkably emotional experience for me. It was like seeing a very old friend again. This space is so much more than “just stairs,” which is how some fans described the space while others mourned its closure last year.

A new elevator for the club has been installed, filling in the space between the stairs and the side of Le Bat en Rouge. Some stairs, a balcony, an awning and a doorway that were up in the corner here, just as pure theming, were removed for the new elevator.

The passage into the Court of Angels is now seating area, with the faux-stained glass gate blocking views in or out.

The fountain on the far side of the court remains. Several tables with chairs are scattered throughout the area, which serves as a new waiting area for members before heading up to the club.

A new lighting fixture with Tinker Bell trapped inside was added.

New lighted statues and additional handrails have been added to the stairs.

New flower-shaped lighting fixtures added to the stairs.

Open-air passageways that were once up at the top of the stairs are now enclosed; some as open cutouts, some as windows. Note the elevator.

At the top of the stairs, the entrance to the club is to the right, with a breezeway to new restrooms to the left.

Inside, a new lobby

Lillian Disney’s harpsichord has a place in the club’s new upstairs lobby and a vulture from Walt’s trophy room is perched atop a grandfather clock

That doorway to the right would be about where the old entry hallway would have been, with the Trophy Room and French lift just beyond. The hallway leads to the existing main dining room, but has been significantly widened.

The widening of this hall allowed for the expansion of a corridor used by servers that runs parallel with the hall. Below, a look at the new floor-to-ceiling windows.

New murals up in the hall

As part of the overhaul, the main dining room got some notable changes. No more wallpaper, new parquet wood flooring, and the removal of the fireplace for a huge new window.

It’s visually centered on the inside — shame it isn’t on the outside where the majority of park guests will see it.

If Club 33 got one thing right, it was bringing Napa Rose executive Chef Andrew Sutton on board. I enjoyed what was, perhaps, the most remarkable meal I’ve ever had at the new Club 33. The old club had great food, but the new menu is truly a revelation. Below, the Prime New York of Beef Seared Black and Blue with Tarragon-Roasted Garlic Puree, a first-course selection.

The Creole Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with Summer Corn Succotash entree.

Amazing table-side creme brûlée

Of course, the new Club 33 includes a major expansion above the French Market Restaurant. That upstairs space, previously used as storage, was transformed into a jazz club-inspired lounge. Below, the hall leading to the new jazz lounge.

The hall to the new jazz lounge includes a few booths that are semi-private and feature animated paintings based on Disneyland attractions including the Haunted Mansion and Sailing Ship Columbia.

The new jazz lounge is very nice. Open, warm, and lavishly appointed.

The new bar

Stained glass ceiling

Some subtle references from Princess and the Frog, which is an interesting choice.

What would Tiana have thought about a members-only club like this?

A new player piano, which I’m told has some hidden tricks up its sleeve.

Alas, what is tucked away in the corner of this very lovely new jazz lounge area is what remains of the French lift that Walt Disney had commissioned based on one he saw while traveling in Europe.

That French lift that Walt Disney had built for the club, a beautiful, functional piece of machinery that once carried guests up from the original lobby to the club, is now a booth-for-one.

The call buttons are still intact inside.

Concept art for the original lobby with the French lift is framed on the wall next to what’s left of the lift.

And it’s that French lift that, more than anything else, really defines the entire Club 33 project for me. I can complain endlessly about the exterior changes or rave forever about the impossibly stellar new menu. But throughout my entire experience up in the club, I was perhaps most affected by what really appeared to be a wholesale wiping of the Club’s history. Sure, a few items were retained as “tribute” objects, but the club itself is largely unrecognizable from what it was previously and the club’s most historic elements have been almost totally eradicated. If you look through the glass above the club’s original door, you’ll see a glimpse of the original lobby, which is now stripped of all theming and fitted with with chain link fencing and shelving for merchandise storage. Inside the club, Walt Disney’s trophy room is completely gone, now converted into kitchen space. New Orleans Square was the last theme park land that Walt Disney personally oversaw, and that included Club 33. The Club had changed over the years, sure, but his personal touches could still be seen throughout. All of that is pretty much gone now.

I had a great time in the club and I am very lucky to have been able to see it again. Unfortunately, Club 33’s appeal no longer comes from that very real magic that Disneyland has: its history. Instead, it comes from its incredible new menu and sometimes over-designed, kind of gimmicky things like animated paintings, color-changing stained glass ceilings, or pianos that can live-stream performances. These sorts of things are nice and probably have a place in Disney theme parks, but they should never come at the expense of things that are so entrenched in history and company lore. If things that Walt Disney personally commissioned for Disneyland must be cut out of a need for expansion, then they shouldn’t be converted into such regrettable things such as a restaurant booth. Move it somewhere else, donate it to the Walt Disney Family Museum, give it to the Disney Archives. Don’t dismantle it and turn it into a half-hearted nod to your past that you are so aggressively removing.

As Disneyland approaches its 60th Anniversary, it is — more than ever — imperative that Disney really takes the time to take a look at its history and realize that it is the company’s most valuable asset. What was passed down to today’s Walt Disney Company from Walt Disney and his brilliant team is a legacy other companies could only dream of having. What was done to New Orleans Square and Club 33 is largely a very unfortunate purging of that that rich history and legacy.

Thank you again to the very generous Club 33 member that invited me to experience the new club.

So, what do you think? Do you think the new Club 33 looks good? Will you visit if given the opportunity? Is the history still intact? Is the history even important? Please be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section at the end of today’s blog.

For more on Club 33 history and photos of the old club:
Daveland: Club 33
Disney Tourist Blog: Club 33 Disneyland Photos, History & Review
Disney Parks Blog: Inside Club 33

Magic Kingdom Makeovers


[center]Fenced In[/center]
Back on Main Street, not much can be seen on the new Guest Flow Corridors being build along the back of Main Street.

At the end of Main Street, the scrims at the regular First Aid area have been pushed out

[center]Finding Refurbishment[/center]
In Tomorrowland, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage continues its refurbishment…

#MyFrontierland

Over in Frontierland, the new Legends of Frontierland game continues to be tweaked and expanded day-by-day.

Signs encouraging guests to get involved

I still don’t really understand how this game works, but the Cast Members are really enthusiastic and guests playing along really seem to get into it.

Also new is the L.B.’s Elixirs cart, where you can buy a very small cup of one of three special drinks that are supposed to give you special powers in the game. No idea how this actually functions in the gameplay, if at all.

Last week, Disney announced it would debut another new interactive game in Adventureland. Starting August 1, the Adventureland Trading Co. will open, sending players on quests to collect “juju.” This game was play tested at last year’s D23 Expo and was a pay-per-play experience. No word yet on if it will cost money to play when added to Disneyland, or how it will function in Adventureland’s relatively tight space. Will it take over a portion of the Adventureland Bazaar?

Or maybe it’ll take over the underused Aladdin’s Oasis?

Nashville Jamboree

Back in Big Thunder Ranch, the Jamboree area is now hosting “The Music of: Nashville” on the stage, based on the ABC TV drama.

The show is performed three times daily and features the Kelly Rae Band doing covers of songs from the show and talking about characters and story arcs from the show.

A kind of tacky photo op

The stage got a new backdrop for the show

At the debut performance, a hostess welcomed the audience to the show and gave away a couple Nashville DVDs to guests who answered trivia questions

The Kelly Rae Band performs the material well with plenty of energy, and really the show overall isn’t bad at all. It just probably isn’t the best fit for Disneyland.

Below, a clip from the show

DVDs for sale.

It’s no Billy Hill and the audience size proves that.

This and That

In Adventureland, a new souvenir Dole Whip bowl is now available at the Tiki Juice Bar.

I love this!

Back in New Orleans Square, the fall safety added to the rooftops looks to be pretty much finished. You can spot some of it pretty easily.

Out in Downtown Disney, beach volleyball tournaments are underway as part of the shopping district’s ongoing Summer Celebration

A shave ice truck nearby


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Weekly News & Information Round-Up
Weekly Theme Park Hours
July 21 — 27, 2014
[B]Disneyland Park[/B] [B]California Adventure[/B]
Daily: 8 am – 12 am Daily: 8 am – 10 pm
[CENTER]For a complete listing of theme park hours,
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
[/CENTER]
[center]Closure and Refurbishment Schedule[/center]
[b][center]Disneyland Park[/center][/b]
  • [B]Matterhorn Bobsleds:[/B] Closed August 25-November 13 for refurbishment.
  • [B]Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage:[/B] Reopens September 27, 2014.
[b][center]Disney California Adventure[/center][/b]
  • [B]Blue Sky Cellar:[/B] Listed as reopening September 28, 2014 on Cast Member document.
[b][center]Downtown Disney and Disneyland Resort Hotels[/center][/b]
  • Hearthstone Lounge: Closed for refurbishment.
  • Napa Rose Restaurant: Closed for kitchen renovation starting in early August.
Tomorrowplan Crowd Estimates for Disneyland Resort from Mouseaddict

July 21 — 27, 2014

MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN

  • The lack of Blockout Passes has made an immediate impact on crowds this summer, and the relatively low guest level continues.
  • The Disney-owned hotels are consistently selling out all week this season, seemingly with spur-of-the-moment vacationers who are paying top dollar. Check Good Neighbor Hotels for special deals during the week.
  • It’s going to be hot this week with temps hitting the 90s. Be sure to stay hydrated, and find cool spots — one of our favorites is the small room in Sleeping Beauty Castle which provides an accessible version of the attraction. It’s air conditioned, has some seating, and is a perfect place to watch the story of Sleeping Beauty while resting for just a moment. (Please remember to give priority access to disabled guests so they can enjoy the attraction, too. You can find this and other interesting out of the way spots in the free Mouseaddict app.)
  • Because of the new crowd patterns emerging this summer, these estimates may change during the week. For continuing, up-to-the-minute crowd projections, check out the Tomorrowplan feature in the Mouseaddict app.

The free Mouseaddict app for iPhone and iPad features more than five dozen categories of searchable resort information, weather forecasts, park and show schedules, the latest news and articles from MiceChat, and more. Download free on the App Store or at mouseaddict.com.

[center]Headline Roundup
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.[/center]
  • The Carolwood Foundation announced plans to restore and display the last remaining engine from Disneyland’s Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland at Walt Disney’s Barn in Griffith Park. (Carolwood Fountation)
  • Disney Historian Michael Crawford’s Kickstarter to self-publish a book with Disney history essays is almost finished, have you donated? (Kickstarter)
  • KTLA is giving away an overnight stay in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. (KTLA 5)
Okay, that wraps up this week’s edition of Dateline Disneyland. Are you excited for the 60th anniversary? What do you think of the big New Orleans Square and Club 33 changes? Join in the discussion and let us know in the comments section below!

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Thanks for reading. See you at Disneyland!
[B]- Andy[/B]

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