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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For more Disneyland news, be sure to read MiceChat’s weekly In the Parks blog. And be sure to check out our sister blog, Dateline Disney World – a fantastic weekly photo blog covering Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

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

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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.
  • JCSkipr79

    What the heck happened to Bat En Rougue? It’s basically Tren-D now. Where’s the NBC and HM Merch and the Mansion theming?

    • The Haunted Mansion and Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise (along with theming to match) was moved over to Port Orleans a while ago. We reported on this back in June.

      Thanks for reading!
      -Andy

  • MrTour

    “Walt’s Park” is becoming less and less so, unfortunately.

    • Haven

      Looks like what happened to Knott’s after Cedar Fair arrived. Fortunately, the tables are turning there again, maybe this will end up being Disney’s “Cedar Fair” cycle and it too will end someday…. Thanks for the photos of the new Court of Angels, seeing I will never see it again!

    • FixitKronk

      Why did Walt build club 33? He was spending more and more time living there at disneyland. When he needed to wine and dine big out of town corporate honchos there was no 5star restaurant in Orange County. Back in the 50s big deals were made by handshake at club 33 after a tour of the park and a few drinks. Since the establishment would sit empty the rest of the week a private club was created for wealthy individuals in so cal.

      None of that is necessary now. Sponsorship deals are not made over a martini At club 33. Most decisions are made in Burbank. No disney board member visits disneyland weekly let alone live there. There are dozens of 5star restaurants in Orange County. And the pricey membership is easily paid by thousands of Orange County residents. Only a waiting list got in the way.

      Club 33 now is expanded, modernized, upgraded, revitalized, and probably able to create a buzz in the affluent community it targets. These are people that will buy the premium passes for their entire family and spend generously while visiting.

      Looking from that perspective why would team disney Anaheim hesitate to make the changes they did? It looks gorgeous inside and I can’t wait to eat there. The outside needs some work and I’ll bet it gets done in the next few weeks.

      • Co Foo

        I don’t think there’s anyway that the purpose behind this is to sell premium APs to the few select people that are able to gain access to Club 33.

  • LoveStallion

    That Nashville photo-op really is bad. And while I actually enjoy the show Nashville and its music, the content of the show is a faaaaar cry from what Disney wants to promote within the hallowed berm.

  • Ravjay12

    Great update, and thanks for the pictures inside Club 33! I guess we have to go back to that wise saying: “It’s not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside that counts.” They have done a truly remarkable job on the inside and I’m sure it will be a wonderful space for those exclusive few to wine and dine. It seems to me that so much attention was put on the inside, that the outside was an after thought. I refuse to believe the Imagineers were involved in this. The outside is a huge disgrace to the overall scale and original design. I don’t care if they changed out the historical value of the inside, because change was necessary. But for them to screw up the finished product outside? Guests also lost the Court of Angels. They may as well just have put a large wall in front of New Orleans Square and called the area Club 33. Wow!!
    I just hope the same company who built this thing is not in charge of the Main Street backstage makeover.

    A 60th Anniversary sneak preview event without any sneak previews of what’s coming? I don’t understand.

    • Marko50

      Thought I read that Imagineering nowadays was little more than independent contractors hired for a specific project and then let go.

      • stevek

        Nope. From what I understand, there is a full staff of Imagineers still under employment.

  • MyFriendtheAtom

    Theyre gonna theme that NOS Club 33 window right?

    It looks so angry maybe fill it with tsum tsum idk

  • bamato

    I’ll hold judgment until I see it for myself, but if I were to go off of only your pictures and review here, I feel I’ll be greatly disappointed by the work done to Club 33 and NOS. You’re absolutely right, they’ve amputated something that was rich with park history and theme. The lift-turned-table-for-one is almost an insult, rather than what seemed to be an attempt at pleasing history buffs and people who appreciated it beauty and the ambiance it offered to the entryway.

    Walt always said to keep moving forward though, and while it could be argued that this is progress (the lavish decor and animated painting are a nice touch), it shouldn’t have come at such a high cost.

  • tooncity

    Disney has gone to great extents to remove real, legitimate legacy and substituted a ”faux” PR created, fictions story of Walt. But in the end, nobody really cares. Folks, only care about what they can get (AP’ers) instead of the quality they’ll enjoy. To this Disney management is predispose to simply ignore their customers are saying, because the spending keeps coming.

    • stevek

      If you are referring to the Club 33 redo, not sure how that applies to APer’s. 99%+ of them will never visit the club.

    • DL7171955

      The California AP’s don’t care about the average out-of-town guests. It’s about them and what they can get. Very one-sided. They ruined what the park initially means….”Friends and Family enjoying Disney’s original park”. Now it’s “Try to avoid the mass of AP’s who don’t spend any money and pretend it’s THEIR park and us out-of-towners are THEIR guests”.

      But half of this is Disney’s fault for letting it become so hard for out-of-towners to enjoy the park. We spend all this money on travel, hotels, tickets….just so we can be rudely bumped into and look down upon by those CA AP’s.

      • Marko50

        Sorry you feel that way. Too bad most of it is just not true.

      • SRGFernandez

        Do California AP’s really look down upon guests? I’m a deluxe passholder and local and I’ve never looked down upon other guests. Funny enough I’ve never seen any hostility at Disneyland but have seen 2 instances of guest being hostile while visiting Disney World last year. Maybe it’s something passholders don’t see or maybe it’s the Florida weather that puts guests on edge. I have seen rude guests here though nut what I saw in WDW ended in a fight between families. Rudest I can think of was like 13 years ago when my family and I got a spot for fireworks and my mother and I got up to get hot cocoa and coffee for the rest of us and when we got back a small chinese family took my mother and my spot and my family tried to ask them to move and they wouldn’t because they didn’t speak English so we all decided to move. That’s the only rude occurrence I can think of.

      • Charly871

        As a Premium AP holder myself, I can agree with some, but not all of your remarks. I tend to avoid the park when the SoCal Select and SoCal passes are valid. I’ve seem some rowdy behavior, so we go when only Deluxe are valid. I’ve been an AP holder for years and never have we felt that tourists are beneath us, on the contrary, I always find it fascinating when speaking to out-of-towners about DL and how they see the experience. Having said that, unless you speak a different language, it’s hard to determine who’s a tourist and who’s an AP. I had a tourist run me over with their electric wheelchair and didn’t get an apology – so it goes both ways really. I for one do not like the crowds, it’s my biggest gripe.

      • stevek

        I’ve been an AP for 12+ years and have never once felt any sense of entitlement. Does that mean it doesn’t exist? No, not at all as there are plenty of folks out there, some that write for this very site, that do. At the end of the day, the problem is not the individual AP per se but the AP program in general. Disney created it and they let it get out of control. You cannot for one minute blame any AP that makes the most use as possible out of their passes. As for rude people, they come in all shapes and sizes at DL, not just AP’s. And quite honestly, as an out of towner, how exactly do you know which folks are and aren’t AP’s? I can’t tell and I’ve been there plenty of times.

      • tooncity

        I gave up my AP some 10 years ago, when in line for Peter Pan a APer opened up her 3 year old’s zipper to let him urinate in the bushes. Yeah, great group of classless pigs! Entitled jerks. “I have rights I’m a Annual Pass Holder”. Just like those creeps with the phone disability pass. just so they can get tot he front of the line. People have ABUSED the privileges and Disney knows they can dish out the crap to this crowd, because they’ll just keep coming.

        Yeah, APer HAVE ruined the park. Disney knows they can do a half-assed job on the details. Why? Who are they trying to impress? the Morons who keep paying for an annual pass year after year.

        In 20 years I’ve never been able to get a good view of Fantasmic. Because the Apers have set-up their blanket and beach chair homeless camp in the best sports. Who hasn’t seen a bunch of these LOSERS camping out at NOON for a 9pm show? What a classy RUDE bunch.

        Yes, get rid of the APs. Every single one of them. That stupid un-centered window is just plain insulting. Disney can Build a Buena Vista Street when they have to, but when they don’t have too, they do the wrong thing. Because they know they can get away with it.

      • FixitKronk

        Tooncity in four paragraphs you used morons, pigs, creeps, homeless, jerks, loosers etc. I’m guessing your probably pretty rude to everyone when your there. Maybe your the grandpa type that lines to look fondly back to your white dominated homogenous Richie Cunningham past. Get over it. Do you talk to the traffic in the car also?

        My son likes to ride a few rides and then thrown down a blanket and eat our dinner by the river waiting for fantastic. Do you want to tell a six year old how they SHOULD spend their time at disneyland. Is there a specific order he should enjoy the rides in?

        We enjoy a night out talking to the other guests willing to wait. Why don’t you go ride a ride while we wait the line is a little shorter cause of that, just like it was back in 1963! You should like that- but maybe not.

      • FixitKronk

        Marco50 you are right most of the AP hate just isn’t true. Mice chat writers like to incite the mob to riot sometimes.

        When we see a family holding a map and looking confused me or my wife always ask if they need help finding something. Often we’ll walk them over to the line their looking for even if it takes us away from where we were headed next.

        It’s a joy and a treat to talk to out of towners about or love of the parks. I hope that there’s a lot more people like that out there than what is insinuated on this site

      • pattimarie

        Do you “card” the people who bump into you to verify that they are ‘AP”ers? Otherwise your statement just doesn’t hold up as anything other than rank prejudice of a supposed group who you think are all alike. Do all ‘AP’ers look alike to you too? Do you think they all know each other? Maybe they have meetings specifically designed to get you when you come. Or maybe it’s just a lot of confused out-of-towners who are bumping into you?

      • atherton

        Tooncity…i’d say you’re an idiot, but that’s disgracing idiots everywhere. Firstly, not sure I believe your story…but even if I did…did you ask them if they were A/P holders? Did the mom just openly state “I have an annual pass…i’m allowed to do this!”??

        This rhetoric that A/P holders act like they own the park and can do whatever they want is such a tired line of chatter. I’ve been a Premium A/P holder for some time now and i never act like that. I mean..i don’t even understand where this comes from. I have no clue who is a regular at the park and who isn’t. Sure, i can guess based on looking and scrutinizing. I can probably guess who isnt from the area. But knowing who owns a pass? Come on.

        And really? People that only visit the Resort once a year or maybe once EVER are going to care enough to make sure they leave everything pristine and not dare do anything wrong there? But people that love Disney and pay hundreds of dollars a year in A/Ps along with the money they spend at the Resort are going to trash the place? That makes zero sense.

        Micechat is full of so many haters it’s pathetic. i honestly thought this would be a cool place to interact and talk to people that love Disney as much as I do. Instead I’ve found it’s merely a place for people to hate on Disney and pick it apart.

        Great.

  • Cory Gross

    While I wouldn’t turn it down if it was offered, visiting Club 33 has stopped being a goal of mine. I missed my chance to see the original Club 33 when it actually had connections back to Walt. Sure it looks nice on the inside, but blandly generic in a way that only effacing actual history can be. There are lots of other perfectly nice restaurants across the Disneyland Resort that you don’t need to be well-heeled or well-connected to get into.

    If I have to think of a symbol for the renovations, like the French life for Andy, it would have to be that off-center window. I was right about it being centred for the inside… A fixture designed for the benefit of those on the inside that detracts from the experience for those on the outside. I think that describes the new Club 33 to a tee.

    • stevek

      Yep, a more unique feature for the club itself would have been to make it off-centered on the inside and kept the exterior clean.

  • Larry Parker

    As for the demoralizing “on-the-cheap” New Orleans Square disfigurement, I suggest contacting Corporate Disney at: https://secure-disneyland.disney.go.com/help/email/

  • SolidWorks Mike

    As a former cast member of Club33 it certainly is sad to see the trophy room gone forever. I remember when I would be working that room and a guest would ask about the microphones in the chandeliers, it was always fun to explain to them why they were there, and also tell them about the audio animatronic birds in the room. It makes me wonder what they did with the radio room where the equipment for the trophy room was. At the time I was there we were using it for a managers office.

    I’ll also have fun memories of working the coat check downstairs and helping guests go into the lift to go upstairs. For most the ride wasn’t to avoid the stairs, but to be able to ride in a piece of history.

    The jazz club expansion is nice, it was just a storage area for us we called ‘the cage’, and I’ll always remember going out onto one of the small fake balconies from the cage to catch part of Fantasmic each night.

  • ChrisNJ

    Really enjoyed your heartfelt update on Club 33. I feel your pain. I got a bit angry when I saw the French lift – that’s really a kick in the head.

  • eicarr

    The Dole whip souvenir cup is genius. Already making space in my cupboard.

    I’ve NEVER liked the existence of Club 33, so the destruction of its charm and history warms my heart.

    • stevek

      What exactly did you dislike about it? The exclusiveness of it? Inaccessibility to the average guest?

    • Kennyland

      Why does Club 33’s destruction of its charm and history warm your heart? Is it because it’s not accessible to you? Just imagine all those local low income families who pass by Disneyland knowing it’s not accessible to them. It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist. Club 33 is not accessible to me, but I still feel sad about what’s being done to it.

    • Westsider

      eicarr, you have to excuse our chuckles. Someone who is lucky enough socio-economically to visit Disneyland regularly such as yourself shouldn’t begrudge the 00.005% of the park’s visitors who can also visit a remodeled Club 33.

      There are a couple Billion people on the planet who don’t know how, or if, they will get tonight’s meager dinner. Those Billions would kill to be in a place where Disneyland is a normal entertainment option for them.

    • daveyjones

      the cup was introduced last summer. then they ran out. and now they’re back! the bowl, however, is totally new, and i can’t wait to grab one. ps the cup comes with a sweet flexy straw.

      • stevek

        They had the cups at Trader Sams outside as well for awhile.

  • stevek

    I’m a bit torn on the changes overall. I was lucky enough to visit the original club 33 once but never really felt any connection to it before or after the visit. The change will neither improve or diminish my visits to the park. As for the new club itself (based solely on pictures), the interior looks beautiful IMO. Nice features, great design. The one think I will agree with Andy on is the Lift. While I understand that it was not going to survive the redo, it should have not been put into the actual club as a seat. Looks completely out of place and let’s hope it finds a better home in the near future.

    Unfortunately, the only area that would likely impact any visit for me would be the exterior changes and I’ll really have to judge those in person. The pics look ok to me beyond the off-centered window and yes, it’s disappointing to lose the Court of Angels. But that loss is likely felt by a minority of the folks visiting the park, not the average guest. NOS appears to still be a beautiful area of the park by everything I can tell.

    And yes, I completely understand that concern that the park is morphing into something that is no longer Walt’s Park. But the reality is that it stopped being Walt’s Park decades ago. Very little remains unchanged or untouched since his death and there are likely a multitude of changes that never would have happened under his watch…or maybe he would have changed it more. We can no longer play the What Would Walt Do card as the park as he only spent 11 of the 59 years in the actual park. His legacy still remains in name, in certain spaces and in the overall concept of the park but this is not the same park from 1955 or even the one I started visiting 40+ years ago. But despite those changes, some far, far more dramatic than those at club 33, it’s still a place I love coming back to year after year.

    • disneyland255

      “Very little remains unchanged or untouched since his death and there are likely a multitude of changes that never would have happened under his watch…or maybe he would have changed it more. We can no longer play the What Would Walt Do card as the park as he only spent 11 of the 59 years in the actual park. His legacy still remains in name, in certain spaces and in the overall concept of the park but this is not the same park from 1955 or even the one I started visiting 40+ years ago. But despite those changes, some far, far more dramatic than those at club 33, it’s still a place I love coming back to year after year.”

      You Nailed it EXACTLY! Thank you!

    • Cory Gross

      I don’t know of anyone who is against any changes to Disneyland for the sake of being against changes to Disneyland. I totally agree that I wouldn’t want it to be the same park it was in 1955 (1995 is another story).

      Certainly there are the gripers who just want to complain and don’t even know what they would actually want Disneyland or WDW to do. But what I think most fans who care at all about this kind of stuff have a problem with are negative changes… Poor design choices, bad show, diminished artistry, and basically making something worse than it was before instead of better. I think we can all point to relatively recent changes that we’ve liked (for me, Constance is a good example) and ones that we haven’t (for me, all the vandalism to Pirates of the Caribbean). Some people reach a point where the changes are just too great to justify going there any more, not because they changed but because it’s not a place they enjoy going anymore. At the very least, between the loss of the Court of Angels and the ugly reminders everywhere that Club 33 exists and losing the Disney Gallery and the vandalism to Pirates, New Orleans Square has shot down from one of my favourite lands to being towards the bottom with Tomorrowland and Critter Country.

      The mega-gripers are useful insofar as they help the rest of us focus on not being like them. Like you, I think it would still be a while before I’d look at Disneyland like it’s not a good investment of my time and money. But I do think there is a place for sensible, rational, critical thinking when engaging with theme park design. It’s good to maintain a positive view overall… it is a theme park, when all is said and done… but not every change is a good one either.

      • stevek

        No doubt. As someone said on Twitter, can you imagine if the internet was around when The Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland was removed? Just think of the uproar when the peoplemover or adventure thru innerspace closed. And don’t get me started on the TL redo of gold/rust.

      • Cory Gross

        Heh, those are all attractions that I wish I could have seen and I actually liked the idea of the 1998 Tomorrowland. It’s just too bad that it was undone by cost-cutting.

  • TOMCROSSMAN

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for the great article and pictures!!!

    Art nouveau design is in New Orleans and there is a tremendous amount of it in the new remodel. However, there is very little art nouveau in New Orleans, and not there is alot of it at Disneyland. So not only have they made some very bad design decisions, they have added theming that is completely out of character.

    It is a Disney trademark design style, but it has no place in Walt’s New Orleans Square.

    I believe this is Robert Igers email address: [email protected]. I’ve contacted him before, and you usually get a call back in 24 hours. Maybe they can fix it

    • FixitKronk

      Robert Igers title is chairman of the board, the boards sole duty is to protect the interests of the stockholders and insure their investment in the corporation is sound.

      The 500 shares of disney stock my son received when he was born 6 years ago have more than quadrupled. At its current rate those shares will probably pay for 3 years of college education in 2026.

      Tell me again how Robert Iger is doing a bad job?

      • atherton

        nailed it!

  • daliseurat

    Terrific update. I can’t believe how they mangled New Orleans Square. It WAS one of my favorite places to hang around. And while the interior of Club 33 looks nice, they have completely obliterated all of it’s charm. Removing all of the historic elements and turn the lift into a BOOTH? Ugh. First the Disney Gallery, now the Court of Angels and the mangling of the facades and the club itself. Very sad. It looks like a cruise ship to me.

    • daveyjones

      “Very sad. It looks like a cruise ship to me.”

      exactly.

  • tahoe9813

    Andy,

    I wanted to comment on how much I agree with your comments about Club 33 and what they’ve done to New Orleans Square. I live on the East Coast and try to get out to Disneyland at least every couple of years. I always enjoy the ins, outs, and “hidden” passageways around the resort, in general. New Orleans Square is the epitome of those “hidden” passageways.

    I’ve always been intrigued by Club 33, the concept, and it’s connection to Walt Disney. At this point, they’ve thrown away so much history, and your comment about what they did to the lift sums up so much. I believe they could have done so much more and still opened a fabulous new space.

    Despite the changes, I still hope to visit the club one day.

    Thank you, as always, for the update, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

    Best regards,
    Ben

  • muse4mouse

    I was lucky enough to visit and eat at Club 33 last year. It was so amazing and historical. Seeing the new pictures breaks my heart in a way. Walt’s creation is completely gone. The original lift is now a booth, which to me, seems like an insult. At least they kept it though? The coolest part of Club 33 was walking into the small lobby, taking the elevator up and seeing this grand, historical restaurant. I understand them wanting to modify and update things, that is fine. But this was such a historical landmark of the park, and now, it doesn’t seem that way.

    Thank you for the update

    • peoplemover1

      I think they would’ve done more justice to Walt’s lift if they would’ve just left it where it was, unused. It would’ve been that one little secret about Club 33… 🙁

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I am so glad that the wealthy have a nicer and more elaborate place to enjoy their park. Too bad there was no money in the budget to add to the elaborate ironwork treatment Walt did. But we have to remember that would just be for the common people and cannot really expect to get any extra special treatment. No new attractions, parades or fireworks to announce for the 60th — Well, that is just for the common people. We should feel privileged to be able to share the park with the wealthy people. We get to look up to the windows and see glimpses of the luxury that we will never know. Those in the club have got it and they flaunt it. That is their privilege. Let the rest of the people eat cake…

    • Stinkerella

      My sentiments exactly. While the new interior is lovely, it looks like every other high end restaurant available to anyone with the desire and ability to pay. I’ll stick with Blue Bayou for theme and Napa Rose for flavor (it is the same chef). Turning that budget into additional rides, themed spaces, or even better cuisine in the established eateries would have been a positive long-term business move imo. Seems as though the 60th Anniversary will only be as good as the fake diamonds they used for the faux sneek preview while management panders to the few. Glad I gave up that top end AP and moved to Knott’s.

    • stevek

      It’s been there for decades. There is also one in DCA. Epcot had all sorts of VIP lounges in their rides as well. This is not a unique concept and it sounds like you are bitter that you don’t have access to it. I always wanted to visit and got to once. But I never felt the contempt you feel for the “wealthy” (which I am not) that have access to it.

      • JiminyCricketFan

        Walt never intended Club 33 to be an exclusive experience for rich people. It originally was a place to reward corporate sponsors who invested greatly in Disneyland. On opening day, celebrities like Frank Sinatra were just ordinary guests. There was no special treatment for the rich and wealthy. Walt wanted Disneyland itself to be the VIP experience, not a second class experience. If Walt was around, that area would be accessible to everyone. There is no need to reward cooperate sponsors now.

        Yes, over the years, Disney’s move to greed has now made Disney corporate want to make Club 33 a cash cow. Ten thousand a year to get in! That is an exclusive club now that wants to flaunt their exclusivity to the average guest at Disneyland, “we are just a class better than you.”

    • Will G

      “I am so glad that the wealthy have a nicer and more elaborate place to enjoy their park. Too bad there was no money in the budget to add to the elaborate ironwork treatment Walt did. But we have to remember that would just be for the common people and cannot really expect to get any extra special treatment.”

      Where is everyone’s concern for the poor weathly people that no one really cares for? Disney smiles and welcomes them into beautiful spaces, but all they really want is their money! :,-(
      And if they have no money, the “love” goes away.
      How would that make you feel if you were burdened with wealth?! “They act like I’m special, but really it’s my money, isn’t it”

      WillG

  • AaroniusPolonius

    I’m none too happy about what Disney did to New Orleans Square. It looks really out of proportion and disjointed.

    I’m less annoyed with the interactive frontierland stuff, as it, at least, looks and plays to the theme of the land itself. It makes sense to have the game there, however one feels about these in park interactive experiences (I’m not a fan, but I’m not the audience, and I don’t knock what looks to be thematically right and complete.)

    The Nashville show…oy. Beyond the cheap and tacky cut outs of the cast (see also: DHS and the Frozen “event,”) the thing that really bugs is that it’s so entirely off for the theme of Frontierland, and it could act as a device to take a guest out of the theme, which is to say, out of the experience of being on the American Frontier 150 years ago. Tomorrowland in Florida makes the same mistake, where four of the seven attractions happen in the present. What adds insult to injury here is that right across the berm, they could have added the Nashville concert to Hollywoodland at DCA, and it would have fit in just fine.

    It seems that we’ve gotten to a very bizarre place with Disney, where theme is defined extraordinarily broadly, where Stitch in Hawaii is somehow the future because aliens, where contemporary country music is somehow frontier because country, and where royalty from the kingdom of arendelle can visit the kingdom of Hollywood because profit.

  • linkeq2001

    The picture that stirs up the most regret and frustration for me is that off center window…. Sure the park should not be a museum yes they can and probably should update things I can live with that I am not so in love with the park that changes are like a dagger to my heart. HOWEVER, to offset a window so obviously on the outside, to the point that in any kind of commercial or residential building a project manager would have a fit and make someone change it before the building was done….simply so it could be on center inside the club where a few elites can see. That is not disneyland, that is disneyland “jumping the shark”, moving away from what it meant and is. You would never see that at universal, or heck ANYWHERE in a public building. It is ugly, and kind of pathetic.

  • MonteJ

    Not only did they mutilate NOS, they seem to have forgotten the meaning of the word “discreet”. I have no problem with Walt’s original Club 33. It was a place to entertain VIPs and high end clientele – but it was totally discreet, without any airs of class discrimination. Making the new Club 33 so visible (and yet unobtainable for the average guest) while at the same time compromising the appearance of NOS is a significant P.R. faux pas. (at least in my opinion)

  • Charly871

    Thank you for the wonderful pictures! I’m saddened access to Court of Angels was blocked off. Have so many beautiful pictures there with family and friends. I loved NOS, it was one of my favorite spots, well, still is, but looks like it has lost it’s charm a bit. I’m also not very good with “change” so any changes in the park send me in to orbit 🙂

  • atherton

    Great update as usual and I really appreciated seeing the new club 33. I do have to say that I think your take on New Orleans Square is extremely biased due to your love of that area of the park. I, too, have a strong love for Disneyland and the history of it all. I worked there and I continue to own a Premium pass and go far more than I should at my age because I feel like a kid.

    I find it a tad odd that New Orleans Square was where your fervor for Disneyland really got a foot hold, but to each their own. I would probably list it far down my list of reasons why I love Disneyland. I definitely see some of your points about the refurbishment and none more than that ghastly off-centered window. However, I feel many of your points are incredibly harsh and nit picky to say the least. I suppose it’s your job to overly critique the park and I think if I was forced to do that it would take away much of my love of being there. I tend to just lose myself while there just as I did when I was a kid. When i was younger I never looked around and tried to spot places that needed paint or areas with rust or anything like that and as an adult I make sure to do the same. Many times it actually takes articles on Micechat or Dateline Disneyland or somewhere else to even realize some of the areas that need attention. I just don’t want to be that person and until I walk around the resort and feel like it is run down (like Knotts or MM or the like) then I’m not going to worry about it because I know there is nobody better at keeping up a park than the DLR people.

    Disneyland hasn’t lost any of the historic feel in my eyes. And nothing in this article changes that. I promise you that if i get to go into the new Club 33 I’m not going to sweat the updates and cry about the history lost. We will never get 1955 back. Never. I embrace the new changes intermingled with the past.

  • KENfromOC

    Great article Andy I bet it was fun to go into the new 33. I had the privaliage of eating there twice and it was a great experience. I have to agree with the comments made by “stevek” – It hasn’t been Walt’s park for decades. and in reality there are plenty of Walt’s touches still throughout the park.
    But I do agree with you concerning the Lift – in someway that should have been preserved.

  • atherton

    And I’m cracking up reading the people crying about the wealthy people compared to the “poor, huddled masses” Boo hoo!!!!

    I don’t know ANYBODY that has gone to Club 33 because they are wealthy. I know people who know people that work for corporations that own memberships. So what if we see them through the window. I think that’s kinda cool. If anything it’s the people in the club that should want it private.

    Disneyland is so mean to the common folk. Just such a snobby place where only the rich are courted and served. Give ma a break!!!! Guess what….DON’T GO!!!

    Please…i beg of you…if you are whining about so many things Disneyland does wrong and the Disney Resort then please…do me a gigantic favor….please don’t go. I would cherish that!

    • stevek

      Classic, love it. The only reason I went was because a friend worked for a corporation that had membership. This whining about the rich comes off as a jealous rant. Had I never gone (and I likely won’t ever go again after the $400 in food costs), I wouldn’t care nor would I have had even a twinge of regret or jealousy.

      • atherton

        Exactly!! It’s like crying that I’ve never stayed in the Dream Suite. Guess what else I’ve only done once….stay at one of the main hotels on the resort. That’s by choice. it’s too expensive for me. And what about a SUITE at one of those hotels? Shouldnt your every day joe get to do that whenever they want?!?

        So jealous!!

        And i TOTALLY disagree with the person that said that if Walt were alive today Club 33 would be available to everybody. Umm…..think again.

  • TodAZ1

    The inside pic of Club 33 that made my heart sink was the ‘new lobby’ photo. It looks like the check-in desk at a Vegas hotel. And not even one of the good hotels on the Strip!!

    Well, as someone said before, I can scratch off wanting to be a Club 33 member off of my ‘to do’ list.

    • WDWorldly

      Spot on–really awful lobby.

    • atherton

      You could have scratched that off a long time ago, brother. You ain’t getting to be a member regardless if the lobby was AMAZING!!

  • Disney_Dad

    The comments so far have been quite measured I feel. As a long time Disneyland enthusiast who fell in love with NOS some forty years ago when I first saw it in photographs, I have to say that the external changes represent an act of pure vandalism to what was the most impressive part of the whole park. I can hardly believe what I’m seeing and am incredulous that Disney allowed these insensitive ham-fisted changes to be made. Thank God Herb Ryman isn’t still around to witness this.

    • Country Bear

      “Vandalism” – what an appropriate word to use here. I agree totally.

      • stevek

        Vandalism? C’mon, let’s not be overly dramatic. There is a clear line between the true meaning of vandalism and poor design. This clearly falls into the latter for many.

    • Tinkbelle

      I agree. I can hardly believe what I’m seeing as well. It’s like the people making the changes have no clue what makes Disneyland great.

  • Dizzey

    We went to Universal a few years back to see what it’s all about and to see if we would like it as much as Disney. The theming was poor, the “spaces” disjoint, everything was too loud, but what I really hated was getting bombarded constantly by advertisements for new movies coming up, TV shows, etc. The Nashville cheap cut-outs remind me EXACTLY of that. I want to lose my sense of current place and time, not be reminded that I should be watching TV instead.

    I’m also one of the “whiners” that’s going to gripe about the Court of Angels. We took a family photo there every year the entire time our kids were growing up. It was beautiful and quiet. Resent it’s new “exclusivity?” – You bet.

    There’s enough left of Disneyland that we still go and still love it. But this year I’m buying one day at Knott’s and getting one less day of Park Hopper Pass. I won’t buy anything from NOS. I’m reducing my Disney spending in proportion to my disappointment. I encourage ya’ll to do the same. Vote – just a bit – with your dollars.

    • WDWorldly

      In this case, it won’t matter unless Club 33 members are as vociferously against this as we are here and “vote with their dollars.” I wonder how they’ll react to the changes.

      • stevek

        I doubt they will care as the interior of the club looks quite nice. That being said, if any of them are dead set against the overall changes in NOS and the club, they should have conviction and end their memberships or at the very least, make their disappointment known.

      • vnormth

        WDWorldly:

        We Club 33 members were as shocked at the loss of CoA to the public just as much as we are still shocked at the mind-numbing criticism we take from so many about just being members (see JiminyCricketFan as an apt example; I doubt he uses his brain for much more than to hold his ears apart).

        The cost of a Gold-level membership to Club 33 is about $11/day. That doesn’t require being “wealthy” to the degree that so many critics assume members possess.

        Our member discussions generally show we were quite mixed about losing the Trophy Room, we’re overwhelmed by the beauty of the interior, frustrated with the added restrictions Disney has put on how we use our membership, sad to see Chef Marcel go but delighted with the new staff and menu and still scratching our heads in dismay at how the exterior happened.

        We “vote with our dollars” every time we decide to drop in for a visit and dine there…which is as often as we can.

    • atherton

      Knotts is HORRIBLE!!!!

      But i’m glad you won’t go there as much. You won’t be missed.

      • stevek

        Knott’s is much, much better than it used to be and I’m very happy they are investing in it again. I’m still not a fan of the steel coasters everywhere but Ghost Town, The Log Ride and Calico Mine Train are classic areas or attractions that rival Disney. It’s not my first choice for a theme park visit and the clientele gets a bit dicey at times due to lower price of entry.

  • WDWorldly

    Should we storm the bastille and #OccupyNewOrleansSquare, or is this justified because DLR’s AP-heavy visitor base means they need Club 33 as another vital revenue stream? Theme parks don’t profit much off of admission tickets, supposedly, because its so costly to operate the park. Dining and merchandise sales thus become essential, but the majority of DLR’s local visitors don’t spend much. So it seems like expanded exclusive offerings for the higher end of the Southern California market like Club 33 are necessary to make up for those shortcomings.

    • stevek

      No, we shouldn’t. It would only make Disney despise the hardcore fanbase more than they likely already do. The resort is doing just fine but I’m sure that any other ancillary revenue stream i.e. Club 33 helps. There are probably much better revenue streams like hard ticket Christmas events…which they hopefully never do.

  • Country Bear

    Looks like the folks who built the original DCA are still alive and well in Disney’s management group. Imagineering (if it still exists) has clearly been squashed by someone in an executive office.

    I see the differences in the Club 33 interior and while I don’t like them for their lack of nostalgia, they don’t really impact my personal visit to Disneyland. What does impact it is the “find anywhere” architecture and lack of theming to the outside of this renovation. You can clearly see that these changes are based on modern construction and design ideals and have little to no consideration for where the dang thing was built. There is certainly no consideration to the integrity of the original design (or scale!). Like building a WalMart in a historic district. “Oh sure, we’ll put up a couple of theme appropriate window covers with shutters to make it fit in better.” I would expect to see this afterthought theming at a Six Flags but not at a company who’s entire existence is based on the word “Quality”. However, it seems to be right in line with all of the de-Disneyification that is happening in their hotels each time they “renovate” them. At least those hotels don’t sit in the middle of the greatest themed environment ever created. But this does.

    This was not built by Disney; it was built by Iger.

  • jcruise86

    I resent “losing” the Court of Angles a little and, I guess, the Lily Belle train car, but all of my favorite places to hang out for an hour or so are still around, so to quote Monty Python and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, ” we still have:
    –under the Hungry Bear
    –the south, outdoor patio of Flo’s V8 Cafe facing the Radiator Springs Racers
    –the lobby of the Grand Californian
    –and the River Belle’s patio

    Get to the Tomorrowland Pizza Restaurant when it opens and face the giant windows facing Tomorrowland.

    OK, now back to our (often justified) griping. 🙂

    There might be a couple of cool areas where commoners can hang out at Universal Hollywood’s Wizarding World of HP in 2016.

    Not too happy about the Club 33 branches that are scheduled to open at every Orange County beach, but I’m happy for the members.

    • daveyjones

      for me, personally, the biggest loss of all time in NOS—bigger than the court of angels—is when the disney gallery relocated and the dream suite took over the veranda above the chowder stand. that was our absolute FAVORITE place to sit and have lunch. grab your chowder, head up the stairs, cut through the gallery and sit out there and just take it all in. it was like our own private club 33 balcony. we always had it all to ourselves.

      • stevek

        Yep, the Gallery was a perfect for that space. Unlike the C33 redo, the Dream Suite was totally a promotional tool and is now a complete waste of space. If someone wants to really whine about an exclusivity issue, the Dream Suite is far worse than C33.

  • BostOfPrey

    My feelings on the Club 33 remodel are that they lost the whole idea of a “secret club” inside the park. Yes I feel the expansion was probably needed and some of the decorations had to change for practical reasons, like the inability to match what was there. However the outside should have taken priority over the inside décor when they were designing. For the charm of a secret club they should have kept the outside decor in scale and maybe expand the lobby into the Court of Angels but not take the whole court. What it appears they have done is change the club from a low key special place into a “Don’t you wish you were here!” area. As far as the French lift I think it should have been repurposed in a different way, making it a single booth seems wrong, why not place the vulture on top of the lift instead of the clock. I also don’t have a problem with the window not being centered this somehow adds to the realism of the area to me, don’t ask me to explain it because I can’t make it sound reasonable. These are my thoughts but my thoughts don’t always make sense.

  • TimmyTimmyTimmy

    I always dreamed of going to Club 33. Now it doesn’t matter any more. The sad thing is that it really looks bad from the outside as mentioned. If this is the best Disney can do today we all know that Disneyland’s glory days are truly a thing of the past.

  • Justonedream

    As someone who studies architecture and has seen many Art Nouveau buildings in person, I have to say this entire remodel is disappointing, inside and out.

    Many designers care about the joint. How do you transition from one material to another? How do you detail connections between structural members? How do two surfaces meet each other? When these questions are not considered thoughtfully, you get something resembling this New Orleans Square redo. It is just so haphazard.

    Almost every detail is awkward: the way the bridge abuts the former entrance of the court of angels and throws off its symmetry, the way the elevator is only slightly disengaged from the wall , the awkward shape of the lobby and its ceiling details, the way that THERE ARE COLUMNS DIRECTLY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WALKWAY/BRIDGE THAT LEADS TO THE DINING ROOM (???) And on this same topic, what is the need for that large of windows in a walkway/bridge , a transition space where people spend 30 seconds at most? They aren’t affording anyone any views and no one is spending time in there. We could have gotten away with no windows at all.

    On the topic of art Nouveau: understanding an entire architectural movement takes more than just slapping some of its most superficial details together and calling it a day. Art Nouveau was a showcase of the possibilities of new construction materials and detailing. For instance , an art nouveau architect would obsesses over how two iron members may connect, or flow into, each other. That is not an Art Nouveau gate. Look at the gate on Castel beranger in Paris to see an actual A. N. gate.

    I’ve said it a million times, but using straight-off-the-shelf windows that look like they belong over the front entrance of some Ryan Home is not acceptable in a land where nearly every window from the 1966 design is impeccably detailed and custom.

    • Tinkerbell

      Thank you for this! I’ve been echoing similar sentiments to people. It’s clear that those in charge of this remodel did not study the style at all.

      • Justonedream

        We are in full agreement! Art Nouveau, like other movements, was a way of thinking, not just the superficial copying of some light fixture. I feel like in the past Disney has done extensive research before designing their lands(Animal Kingdom comes to mind)

    • Asterix

      +1 — thank you, Justonedream.

    • LoveStallion

      Amen and amen. And on top of this, while Art Nouveau has some representation in New Orleans, it’s mostly on the interiors of the buildings and not the exteriors. Walk the French Quarter in NOLA. You won’t see anything like this.

      Previously? Yes. Yes you would have.

  • jcruise86

    Hey, it won’t be as bad as the improved Tomorrowland entrance with it’s guest-blocking rocks, much lowered Astro-Orbiter that now obstructs a view it once improved, and, most depressing of all, the abandoned Peoplemover tracks.

    I personally will be inspired to work hard to join the upper class or at least their their corporate servants as I watch drunk, randy gadabouts cross the Marie Antionette Memorial Bridge mooning families while spilling their cocktail glasses. New Orleans in the new gilded age will per perfect since we’re just 5 years from the new 20s.

    Maybe it won’t be so bad.

    Or if it is, think of the finger-pointing fun we’ll have on Micechat! 🙂

  • atherton

    I love that people are going to go to Disneyland LESS now!!!! That makes me smile like the Cheshire Cat!!!

    • Westsider

      Not only that, but a whole lot of people that are not currently members of Club 33 nor had any reasonable expectation of ever joining Club 33 are now not going to like the new Club facilities that they will never actually see except for an Andy Castro photo update. Take that TDA!

      What’s next? Maybe folks who never shop at Nordstrom will be furious to learn they changed the cotton supplier for the John W. Nordstrom dress shirts? OUTRAGE!

  • peoplemover1

    Thanks Andy for bringing us great updates and beautiful pictures even if it’s painful. We appreciate everything you do and the sacrifices you make to inform us all every week!!

  • jcruise86

    Yes, thank you Andy!

    What was cool about the Court of Angels for me was that it seemed like it seemed like it was almost always empty.

    But how could it have been almost empty so much of the time if it was the favorite place to hang out of so many Micechatters?

    New Court of Angels location: northern Greenland. Let’s see Thomas Staggs mess with THAT!

    • LoveStallion

      US government has a huge Air Force base there. Be careful.

  • OprylandUSA

    The “Nashville” experience really belongs back in Nashville. It’s funny to see a pseudo Grand Ole Opry stage at Disneyland instead of the dearly departed Opryland USA Themepark. But, the two parks’ owners are production partners on “Nashville” so it only makes sense, I guess.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    What I am glad about is that the wonderful Main Street is going to be left alone and no changes will be made to Walt’s original vision of how you enter and exist the park. OH, Wait a minute…

    That is right. The same people who brought you the Faux Nouveau of Club 33 is bringing us a new Main Street. I am sure we will enjoy those plastic candles and round cornered windows on the New Main Street.

    • Justonedream

      Can’t wait for more plastic candles. At which seasonal Halloween and party goods shop did Disney purchase those?

      • stevek

        Do you really expect them to use real candles that high up and in the sun? Most people, beyond those that scrutinize every detail, won’t have a clue they are plastic from a distance.

      • Justonedream

        Great point, stevek. Why are they even candles in the first place? Can you explain to me how you would light one of those ? Would it entail standing on your tippy toes and waving a match over one of those balconies, hoping you don’t fall and burn your face off in the effort to locate the wick?

        Or would it entail trying to operate those useless blue shutters? Which in that case you’re out of luck. Notice the balcony is too small to allow them to open at all. Even if the balcony WERE proper size, by the time you open the shutters and have clearance to light the candle, the shutter itself would be in your way!

  • Scotty

    Thanks for the update.

    Nothing from DCA this week?

  • Will G

    Just an observation.
    It’s interesting to read comments here about how Disney is maring their version of New Orleans with inacurate details and blown forced perspecitve

    I believe critics outside of Disney fandom have long bemoaned Disney’s creation of false environments and the public’s consumption of them.
    They’ve long complained about the “Disneyfication” of the world – things like a perfect Main Street, with little to no trash, no boarded up shops that have failed, no town drunks or homeless. Complained about the sanitized Frontierland with no disgruntled, displaced indians (Native Americans), Town drunks or vile prospectors, card sharps, cattle rustlers, land barrons or corrupt sheriffs, judges and mayors.

    So, it’s interesting to hear about how Disney’s getting the details wrong again. The authenticity is being ruined.

    Of course, some might say (especially if you’re not a local), for authenticity, you can’t beat New Orleans, Louisiana. They could definitely use the tourist dollars.

    Will G

    • Justonedream

      Will–

      My issue is not with the lack of authenticity. In fact, oftentimes the public is more willing to accept these idealized or romanticized versions more so than their actual counterparts. Real New Orleans is built on a grid. However, New Orleans square adopts a medieval European organization because it is cuter. I’m fine with this. It was well-done. Good design!

      However when the design is so lackluster that is reminds you of the suburbs, no thank you.

    • second blue teacup

      Oh, i just consider APs to represent homeless people on Main Street… unwanted, annoying, and slightly sad.

  • Tinkerbell

    I echo your Club 33 sentiments. It all makes me angry and sad. To me, it looks like any other upscale restaurant. I see nothing special, none of those little touches that make (or made) Disney so ahead of the game. The lift is one of the larger tragedies of the remodel… a real slap in the face to the guests who loved it and paid heavily for the privilege of doing so, or dreamed of riding it.
    The placement of the vulture looks like an afterthought. The exterior is completely uninspired, the weird desk lamps on the stairs will likely be damaged by feet and purses in no time, and the plastic gates… I have no polite words for them. It’s unfortunate that Disney feels it’s more important to do what they want rather than listen to the likes, desires, and needs of their guests the way Walt did. The minute you start shunning the people who made you what you are, you begin digging a deep hole for yourself. If changes were really necessary (for what reason I do not know) then it could have been done much better.
    But on the bright side, I’m glad to hear the food was exceptional! I’ll have to drop in again if for only that. Thanks for your photos and commentary on a great update!

  • LongAgo

    Andy, As a Past Cast Member and frequent visitor to the Club (Candlelight nights, especially), I find your review brilliant and insightful. Keep up the great work as it elicits a very diverse array of feedback – reflective of the Resort Guests!

  • animatronic

    I don’t like the bridge exterior and changes to the flow of New Orleans Square. It’s my favorite themed area of any park anywhere, so I feel you, Andy. It was where I fell in love with Disneyland. It makes me sad. That being said, members will love that lounge as a getaway. The bar in the lounge looks really beautiful. Alas, commonfolk won’t really get to see it. oh, yeah – they need to finish the windows.

  • SpectroMan

    Thank you for that heartfelt essay on NOS. I really agree with all of it. The few 33 members I know are generally thrilled with the redo, as of course one would expect as they pay thousands per year for a premium experience. But me, the casual day guest who has been to the Club only a handful of times since the 80s will always miss the old version. Sure, bringing Sutton’s cuisine in was a great move either way, but I don’t see the need for the expansion, especially when there’s now a second club in DCA. Whatever; it’s done.

    I love the Nashville thing – haven’t seen it, but as a fan of the show I love that they’ve tried to bring a piece of it into the Park temporarily.

  • Dan Bee

    Not sure if its possible but I’d be very keen to see a “before-and-after” type review of the external appearance of the Club 33 expansion? I’ve never been to Disneyland (I live in Australia) and have only recently discovered this amazing website so have nothing that I can really compare the new works to.

    While I understand that the changes had to work from inside the Club (i.e. the off-centre window) I can’t imagine that the external appearance would have just been an afterthought. Surely further theming will follow to tie the expansion works in with the rest of NOS…??

  • houseofmouse722

    How bizarre. We are all in agreement that the big off-center window looks awful. I guess it will provide a great view of Fantasmic for those inside, though. I hope that they do some painting and distressing to the facade of that building. While I believe that it has been painted gray, that color gives the appearance of unpainted concrete and sticks out like a sore thumb.

    The outside looks cheap. And yet I fear that it wasn’t cheap. Somebody got ripped off.

    A thought about the French lift: I was wondering if the “booth for one” was done with the idea of it being “Walt’s booth”? Maybe they don’t even let anyone sit there and it’s supposed to be Walt’s honorary spot? I admit it looks odd and they could’ve come up with a better idea, but if that was their intent, maybe their hearts were in the quasi-right place.

  • jenmurray

    Thank you so much Andy for saying EXACTLY how I feel about all this new expansion stuff. That lift is EXACTLY what Disney is doing to it’s history and magic. It actually made me cry to see these poor things just set up as little hidden Mickeys to people who don’t even have the money to enjoy the importance of places like this. I have never been there, and now, I can say, I am taking it off my bucket list and no longer want inside. Breaks my heart.

    • grizzlybear55

      I agree with you, jenmurray. I used to think I would like to be on the waiting list for Club 33, just to see what might happen. Now? No thanks. The magic is gone.

  • Eeee-va

    Thank you for the detailed update. That lift! 🙁 I never visited the old Club 33 and now the new one looks neat, but not too much more special than the upscale dining places available to the public at Disneyland resort. I used to kind of want to visit for the Walt connection but now I really don’t mind if I never visit it. (Fortunately for Disney, my income places me far outside their target audience!)

  • Awe_inspired

    Andy,
    WOW! What an update. Incredible photos and moving prose. I know that that had to be a ton of work. I really appreciate it. Outstanding.

  • Timekeeper

    On the new Club 33: I will be more honest this time, as I was being a bit judgmental overall previously (outside of Micechat), as the interiors look really nice, even the renewed interior courtyard looks nice. But… the new exteriors for the club makes NOS’ identity as to where it’s from; Is it New Orleans, Louisiana or is it Paris, France? If it’s France, their should be a forced-perspective model of the Eiffel tower and a bicycle, decorated with faux flowers and a flower cart. But if it’s New Orleans, make the transitions between areas better. For now, the land looks like a district from either the Traverse Town or Twilight Town worlds from the Kingdom Hearts Series.

    As for the off-center window overlooking Cafe Orleans, they could easily fix that with an aged bronze relief of a stylized art-nouveau peacock (or two frogs among the lilies), it’s probably even not that expensive to custom make that.

    Also, is it just Me or does the murals inside the new club depict the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino? I wonder what purpose they serve besides looking pretty for a brief 30 seconds.

    On #MyFrontierland and Nashville: The game looks cramped, but I know it’s not staying for along (I hope.) The Nashville show I think would do better in DCA over by the former millionaire building; as that could easily change the stage inside for whatever new show they are trying to promote on DVD, it could be air-conditioned inside and calling it the ABC/WDC Television Theater as the temporary name.

    On the Adventureland game: I highly doubt they would remove shelf space inside one of their shops for a game, think of the loss in profit from merchandise sales; the underused Aladdin’s Oasis on the hand, in the past it used to be a really nice themed restaurant that complimented the Tiki Room, then they changed it to cash on the short popularity of Aladdin and then closed the place; it’s occasionally used for a ‘Storytime with Jafar’ and generally used as a restroom for people with disabilities, it being one of the few quiet places left in the park and one of the most underused spaces. I think Aladdin’s Oasis would be the most likely place to host the game (I would be surprised if it was hosted in the Adventureland Bazzar, as it’s located in one of the most congested area of the park.)

    Off-topic: I’m really beginning to hate games inside the parks, as they really have no place for them, I’m probably in the audience, but mobile gaming isn’t the wave of the future for entertainment as proposed by Iger. In some rare cases, a game works out nicely (such as the Pirate’s Lair on TSi or the Pirate game at MK in WDW), but if it’s interactive elements, build it so it doesn’t look a like a certain blue, cartoon alien cartoon alien just invaded and disrupted the Tiki Gods and went inside the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and stole Indy’s left shoe (or at the very least remove the spirits of McDonalds’ Playland from WDW’s HM Grounds.) I don’t want it to look cheap and plasticy (no Chesters’n’Hesters Dinorama please!!!) So far the promise of mobile game is just a bad excuse for not building anything new and just being cheap for cheapness sake. End of Rant.

    Anyways, on a lighter note, I’m glad the new walkway is coming along.

    Sidenote: Some people here mentioned that there’s no art-nouveau in Disneyland, pre-renewed Club 33; well, remember that the Gibson Girl was part the Art-Nouveau movement in America and the Art-Nouveau decor is apparent inside the Gibson Girl Ice Cream parlor, along the shades of Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry.

    -Timekeeper

  • ser5250

    The remodeling is lovely, but the heart has gone out of the Club.

  • Co Foo

    I don’t care for the cheaper re-theming, but I think I’ll get over it in time. I’m more opposed to the increased exclusivity of these areas to cater to a few select people who are able to gain access to Club 33. It’s disappointing that they would take away public space while making the private areas more visible, thereby making the elitism more apparent. I thought it was more tasteful when there was one discrete entrance, but now with the changes (especially the walkway with the big windows) it’s just going to be more obvious that there is a place where only certain people are welcome.

  • Slightly

    What they’ve done to the French Lift and excessive paraphernalia in the Court of Angels is like a slap in the face. Or two. Or three. Or four.

    Not impressed by any of the over-the-top, “luxury” designs inside the new club or the underwhelming, half-baked “theming” outside of it.

    I’m disappointed and saddened.

  • Jabroniville

    Y’know, that window wouldn’t look so bad if the smaller ones were centered over it, and there was a tree or some tall bush beside it. If you absolutely MUST have a window in that spot, it’s best to put things there to offset it. Disney fans can be a bit unpleasable, but that just looks bad- hopefully it gets dealt with later.

  • dgpollard

    Thank you for the pictures!

    If it’s one thing that collectively we can all agree on, it’s that Walt Disney will never be forgotten.

    I think that Walt’s legacy continues with the generations; Grandparent to Parent to child, etc.

    Disneyland
    “….An enterprise where grandparents, parents and children can laugh and play together….”

    59 years isn’t too bad; not bad at all.

  • bayouguy

    Good post on the Club 33. Your feelings are definitely valid.

  • Stevenatharlan

    I had the opportunity to dine at Club 33 on five different occasions. I still remember the first time I went, I was so excited and in awe of a location that had so much of Walt’s influence and Disney history. I have to agree, the re-model of the club is now ‘heartless’ and while I see some of the Disneyland artwork is up on the walls, I have to say where are the pictures of Walt? The Trophy Room had many photos and awards, etc. Unless I missed it, I did not see one picture of Walt Disney in the ‘new’ Club 33. For a company that treasures it’s rich heritage, I don’t see the company walking the talk. It’s unfortunate that ‘they’ miss the idea of what many guests want – a connection to Walt Disney, whether at Club 33, or the Disney Gallery (above Pirates).

    These special connections are being lost to the ‘generic’ Disney brand. Which reminds me again how empty/heartless the word ‘Disney’ looks at the beginning of films under the castle. ‘Walt Disney Pictures’ on the movie screen again gave a special connection . . . Someone gave Iger a load of crap in stating he needed to brand Disney in this way – generic (and I think I know who that person was).

  • grizzlybear55

    Many, many thanks for your update, even though it has left me sad and depressed. The new Club 33 looks lovely, but how and why could the powers that be ever find it appropriate to gut what was such a rich, beautiful, living piece of history? I have had the privilege of spending time at Club 33 during various stages of my life, and it was amazing in ways I can’t even describe and will never forget, but, with this renovation, the magic is gone. If I never get the opportunity to cross its threshold again, that will be fine. The place I loved, the place Walt loved, a place unique in all the world, is gone, and I am just grateful that I did get the opportunity to experience it as it was meant to be. At least the Court of Angels still exists — I didn’t realize it would be preserved. Like everyone here, I, too, have fond memories of it. How sad that it will now be reserved only for members.

    Then, the last straw: “Nashville” featured as part of Disneyland! That is just too much. Talk about destroying the magic! Pirates, Avengers, Ewoks and Jedi and Once Upon a Time….those make sense. But some nighttime soap about Nashville?! Are you kidding? Looks like those notorious powers that be are doing all they can to break the bond I have had with this park since I was child. And what a great job they are doing. So sad.

  • delmarjohn

    Wow as I read some of the comments it is hard to fathom anything that Disney does will satisfy anyone,while I agree something needs to be done about the fantasmic poachers(like say rules changes)with the possibility of say world of color approach……to me laying a huge blanket down and sleeping there is rude APer OR not……..Disney is Disney what walt would’ve done no one knows…….Walt would probably be more disappointed in America more than anything else…the lack of vision and greed would have irritated him to no end..you see he was a futurist,he liked to preserve the past but innovate the future…..can we say as a country we have done that,transportation,education,power grid,modernization……we as a group would have disappointed him…so whatever Disneyland does so be it …they try to preserve the past while always moving forward …I truly wish American industries felt that way…..and believe you me if he was alive he would saying to us let innovate and move forward…there’s a great new tomorrow each and every day but we seem to have forgotten that part of Disney…oh by the way as an APer I have no priveges more than anyone else…the only thimg I wish is preserving the family atmosphere THAT IS DISNEY…..just be polite and respectful….

  • lance richlin

    The most appalling thing is that it was completely unnecessary. They could have expanded 33 without closing COA.
    At the top of the staircase, if you went to the left you would enter club 33. If you went to the right there was a very large storage room, hallways and dressing rooms for the musicians. They could have converted all this space into 33 (which is what they did) WITHOUT affecting the Court of Angels or the original 33.
    They would have made the same amount of money.
    A simple iron wrought bridge or an underground corridor could have linked it with the other building. God knows there are plenty of large basements under NOS. These rooms could also have been used to expand 33.
    But don’t take my word for it—just look at the photos-COA isn’t affected now.

  • Tinkbelle

    I know that there are many who say that Disneyland wasn’t meant to be a museum, and to an extent I agree with them, but I believe there are some parts that are special because of what they were and should not be transformed into something else. Club 33 was one of those places. It was rich in its history and going there would be a connection to the past. What next? Give Walt’s apartment a makeover? Renovating Club 33 takes away its intrigue and makes it just another expensive restaurant that could be anywhere in the park. The expansion doesn’t bother me except for how poorly it was done. The new railings and gates in COA look busy, out of place and cheap. The exteriors to the buildings of NOS look unfinished and don’t fit the time period. I truly hope they plan to paint the building with the off center window and put a balcony on it or something… the whole project was not done right. I also agree that all of this could have been done without taking away COA from public access. I didn’t realize the new jazz club was going to be just a lounge. I thought it would be an area with small stage with live jazz music/singers.

    Nashville in Frontierland? Why?! What happened to: “Here you leave today”? What about this show is leaving today? When I go to Disneyland I want to be transported to another time and place. A sleazy soap opera has no place in Frontierland. They have them answering trivia questions? Like what? How many people has this character slept with this season? Not exactly family entertainment. I’m very sad we lost the Billies for this.

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