Disneyland celebrates 59 years and looks ahead to 60 as Club 33 reopens with major changes

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

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Published on July 21, 2014 at 7:03 am with 128 Comments

About Andy Castro

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

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  • 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


      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.