In the mid-80's, when I was about 15 or 16, I heard about this legendary and
exclusive club hidden in Disneyland built by Walt to treat his park sponsors to
an elegant lunch or dinner away from the crowds. Dubbed Club 33 sometime after
Disney's passing, it was the only place in the park that would serve alcohol.
Memberships ran into the many thousands of dollars. I'd try to imagine what it
looked like inside ever since. Having worked there for a short time, it was one
of the few places in Disneyland I had never been. It's pretty much been on my
"Bucket List" for almost 30 years. As a teenager, I'd daydream sometimes about
taking Mary, my high school crush, there with me. We've since become a live-in
couple, raising a very energetic toddler named Ean.
Last Saturday, June 29th, this heartfelt and seemingly impossible dream came
true. With the help of a longtime friend with a connection (identity withheld), I was able to take
her there for her birthday.
It was dicey day to start with. My love simply did not feel like getting up that
morning. We'd had a choppy night with the little one, who is battling the
dreaded teething monster. I knew that if we missed this window - well, that
would be very bad. A lot of planning had gone into this and a lot of effort
spent to keep her from knowing what the actual docket was. She simply believed
our destination was the Blue Bayou, which is where we had treated one another to
lunch for our Birthdays since 2009.
News reports, as some of you Californians might be aware, were already calling
the weekend the hottest in a decade. This made the prospect of a full park day a
little trying, but it had an effect apparently of keeping the crowds very light.
I'm used to seeing waaaay more people than what we saw walking down Main Street.
However, even with the ease with which we entered, we still made our way hastily
to the air-conditioned comfort of the Lincoln Theater.
Ean is at that wonderful age where even though he has been here a couple dozen
times with us, each visit is like his first. He hasn't seen everything in the
parks yet, so each day is a new adventure for him.
We then took him on his first Snow White Scary Adventure.
And then tried to keep him from eating an Apprentice Mickey merchandise display
in Frontierland (what this is doing in Frontierland and not Fantasyland is
Actually it was in this gift shop that we accidentally ran
into the friends that were to get us into 33. The plan was to take Mary over to
the Blue Bayou at the time of our appointment and "coincidentally" run into
them. Then head into the club. I had to feign surprise right then and there on
the spot and about them being in the park at the same time as us.
In order to keep up the illusion, I invited them to join us for lunch at the
Bayou and pretended to get on my cell to Disney Dining to "change the
reservation". Mary didn't believe in a million years that this was possible (and
it may very well not be) but I convinced her that it had been done.
From here, it was time to head over. I really wish I had the camera out to get
the look on her face when we started entering the door next to the door.
She looked around the foyer, taking in the detail. I wanted to soak it in with
her but I decided that since it was her birthday that I would focus on keeping
Ean, who decided that he was not going to be held, from getting into too much
He decided that he wanted to literally hit on the hostess. He climbed the short
flight of stairs to her post next to the French elevator and repeatedly tapped
her arm. This kid simply has no fear.
All of us save for one were able to fit into the tiny elevator to ascend to the
meal both Mary and I had only fantasized of to this point. Of course, once we
were on the second level above NOS, Ean went into full exploratory mode. He
wanted to see everything, and really so did I.