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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  • 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.