Similarly, the change from offering unlimited free park hopper tickets for guests of Club 33 members, even if the member is not dining with their guests and just reserves them a table, is an attempt to scale back what could only be seen as rampant abuse by a growing number of them. Routine audits of the records for all club members was showing a growing number of members were distributing hundreds of complimentary park hoppers per year to friends, extended family, and business acquaintances. And that same audit showed that the members themselves were only dining at the club a handful of times per year. At the current price of $101 per person for a park-hopper, the monetary value of all those free tickets was quickly surpassing the annual dues being collected by the club member passing them out to their friends, neighbors, clients, dentist, golf caddy, manicurist, etc.
While that laundry list of tweaks and changes to the club rules impacts only club members, plus the blatant grab for more money by the increase in annual dues and a phase out of the lower-level gold memberships, it was the recent posting of a change in ownership liquor license on Disneyland’s front gate that raised eyebrows amongst Disney fans whether or not they belonged to the club. And yet that change to club operation is really the most mundane and harmless, even though they unfortunately had to use the sinister sounding “Disney Parks” moniker on the filing with the liquor control board. It should be a warning flag here for the marketing group that the bland corporate Disney Parks title is now widely seen amongst fans as something to fear, not something to celebrate.
Disney parks = bad feelings.
But the transition of ownership of the Club 33 liquor license from the club itself over to the Disney Parks monolith does not mean that Orlando executives who are clueless as to the unique culture of Southern Californians that revere Walt Disney and his own Disneyland will be getting their hands on Club 33. What it does mean, however, is that TDA is finally getting a property-wide liquor license strategy that works for the 21st century, instead of the patchwork quilt of limited and temporary liquor licenses they had left over from the 20th century.
When Club 33 opened in 1967 it was granted its own liquor license not related to Disneyland, and it maintained that license as a separate entity for decades as any upscale restaurant would out in the real world. The original Club 33 alcohol storeroom exists to this day, housed behind the second-story windows above the French Market restaurant in New Orleans Square, where locked climate-controlled cages house hundreds of bottles of fine wine, expensive champagne, and very pricy liqueurs and cordials for Club 33 diners.
Disneyland would have to apply for temporary liquor licenses good for one day only if a private corporate party was ever held after-hours in the park, and that old-fashioned process continued through the 1990’s and 2000’s with big events like Liz Taylor’s 60th birthday, the four huge Pirates movie premieres, or lavish parties bankrolled by wealthy companies like Microsoft. Only in 2009 did Disneyland finally apply for and secure a standing license to serve alcohol anywhere inside Disneyland at any time, although that practice is still reserved only for special after-hours events. But the new Disneyland license did not cover Club 33’s license on the books since ’67.
When DCA opened in 2001 it received its own specific license that was good parkwide, but the bureaucracy of the liquor control licensing process meant that any alcohol stock served inside DCA could not be moved around property to be served under the separate licenses maintained by the hotels or Club 33. Likewise, if the hotel banquets team helped with any event serving alcohol inside DCA, temporary exemptions had to be filed with the liquor board to move any liquor stock around property and work within the patchwork quilt of licenses Disney had in Anaheim. But with Club 33 now opening a satellite location inside DCA, the club’s current license would not permit the movement of supplies of top-shelf liquor and expensive wine between New Orleans Square and Buena Vista Street, making the ordering and receiving of supplies for the smaller location in DCA particularly difficult.