Disney will bring its Club 33 to the Walt Disney World Resort

April 13, 2017, 2:32 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort confirmed today something we passive-aggressively hinted to you earlier this year — that it would bring duplicate Disneyland's private Club 33 at the resort. (See item seven in the page linked above.)

The Orlando Sentinel got a Disney spokesperson to confirm the development, which will see the establishment of Club 33 locations at each of the resort's four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The original Club 33, at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., is built atop the park's New Orleans Square and is the only place in the park that serves alcohol. Disney has brought Club 33 to Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland, so this will be the club's first expansion in the United States.

Members pay a reported $25,000 initiation fee to the club, which is said to charge dues of $12,000 a year. Not that you can join it — the waiting list for the club is said to be as long as the line of cars exiting Disney's Hollywood Studios at the end of a summer day.

There's no word from Disney what the fees for the WDW club will be, where in the parks they will be located, or what other requirements for or benefits of membership will be. Nor do we know if membership in Disneyland's Club 33 will grant any privileges for Walt Disney World's Club 33, or vice versa.

The Walt Disney World Resort has been making a strong pitch to appeal to highly affluent visitors in recent years, with the development of multimillion-dollar homes in its Golden Oak residential development, high-priced new hotel accommodations including the over-water bungalows at the Polynesian, private day-use cabanas in Tomorrowland, and special events such as the Delicious Disney chefs' series. Club 33 should provide another program and additional venues to accommodate who want to visit the highly popular Disney theme parks, while still enjoying a more exclusive retreat.

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Replies (15)

April 13, 2017 at 2:45 PM · Rich people love to feel privileged and companies are happy to take their money and feed those egos.
April 13, 2017 at 2:56 PM · I'm a little surprised that Disney even confirmed this. The marketing for this is extremely hush, hush and sharply targeted at people with the income to jump at this without a second thought about cost. This isn't Disney Parks Blog/PR team fare. It's the theme park Skull and Bones. If Disney hasn't tapped you on the shoulder to ask you to join, the club is not for you.

But I do want to revive our #Club33HazingRituals hashtag for this one.

April 13, 2017 at 4:28 PM · Just posted this to Twitter: To people complaining about WDW Club 33: "Disney" is not just one thing. It's a multitude of experiences, aimed at multiple audiences.

To expand upon that, Disney is a huge company that's perfectly capable of developing stuff such as Club 33 for an upper-income market as it deploys other resources to develop stuff for middle class consumers and other market segments.

The rich get a new Club 33. The middle class gets Blaze Pizza and a ton of new stores at Disney Springs, a new Muppets show in Liberty Square, Rivers of Light, Pandora and whatever else the resort has added in the past 12 months that I didn't brain-dump onto this short list. So excuse me while I roll my eyes at complaints that establishing a Club 33 somehow proves that Disney has turned its back on the middle class.

April 13, 2017 at 5:09 PM · My wife and I are NOT members but are friends with members and get to visit Club 33 a few times a year. Frankly, when in Orlando we much prefer dining at Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian. The experience is IMHO better than Club 33. The food quality is some of the best in the US, the service is amazing and the ambience top notch. I'll go as far as to say that even though it is not technically a private club, it feels more exclusive than 33. This is very apparent to me as when you visit the V & A you MUST adhere to a strict dress code or you will not be admitted. While on most occasions at Club 33 there are numbers of people in shorts and t shirts. We've even seen men wear ball caps while dining. With the amount that members pay to belong to such an exclusive club it appalls me to think that they believe casual theme park wear is appropriate while easily spending 300 dollars on a dinner for two with alcohol.
April 13, 2017 at 6:03 PM · This is interesting.I visit the parks between 75-90 days a year. As a retired former special events cast member I have dealt with many guests. What I see at WDW are a majority of families that have save up for 3-5 years for their one week of fun. Though the 1 percenters due visit a majority of Disney's income is not from them but from the true working class. The 1 percent prefer Europe, Caribbean, or Far East for their fun vacations. It would be nice if there were exclusive venues for the working class to enjoy.
April 13, 2017 at 6:16 PM · In addition to my earlier comment pertaining to the one percent vs working class. Think about this if the working class were to suddenly stop going to Disney Parks would what the one percents spend be enough to keep the park afloat.
April 13, 2017 at 8:00 PM · No surprise that Disney will continue to clone and milk the "exclusive" cow for as long as it continues to produce.

I hope at least it's 4 unique clubs like the 1901 Lounge in DCA and not just 4 Club 33 clones.

April 14, 2017 at 3:56 AM · I am curious on how this will pan out because unlike Anaheim/LA, Orlando does not have that wealthy class right outside of their door (movie stars, executives, lawyers, etc). WDW does not have too much of that captive local audience.

Then again, like most things, WDW will probably copy from DL and charge more....and create a bigger success.

April 14, 2017 at 8:03 AM · @Anthony - Orlando might not have a the celebrity wealth like LA, but there's plenty of corporate types that will pony up for the exclusive experience. Plus they have oodles of DVC members that visit 4, 5, 6 times every year from other parts of the country that would gladly spend another $10k/year on top of their DVC membership to have access to exclusive experiences. Note that the most expensive reservation-only events (like celebrity dinners at F&W and F&G) sell out almost immediately even at obscene prices like $500+ for a 6-course meal. They might not be able to charge quite as much for the experience as they do in DL, partially because they'll have 4 different clubs to fill, but there's definitely a market there.
April 14, 2017 at 7:19 AM · I believe this kind of thing is an issue when WDW starts taking things away from average WDW visitor.

Personally I don't mind letting wealthy people pay large amounts to sit privately and away from the masses to enjoy more high end fare at ideal times. I'm content because high end options are still available around the resort like mentioned above at Victoria & Albert's.

But the locations may be the thing I pay attention to. I can imagine being frustrated I'll never see the fireworks from some exclusive vantage point.

April 14, 2017 at 10:12 AM · Disney executives are smart to clone Walt's good decisions. Iger and Chapek don't have a creative bone in their body. Look at the terrible decisions made when left to their own devices: The Guardians of the Galaxy Tower of Terror, The CGI Soarin' Over the World, etc., etc., etc.
April 14, 2017 at 2:46 PM · The members of Club 33 in Anaheim largely aren't movie stars, executives, and lawyers. Most are Disney fans who see value in the membership and the events.

Also, last time I spoke with friends who are members, about a year ago, the waiting list to join was long gone. The increase in the initiation fee and annual dues basically eliminated the waiting list.

April 14, 2017 at 2:49 PM · Rather than wondering “Why”, how about we all wonder “Where”. When Club 33 was conceived it was during an expansion to Disneyland and it was built into those plans. Will WDW’s Club 33 expansion locations be built during upcoming expansions, or will they be wedged into existing structures? I’d like to open discussion on where we as a community think they will be built. Another thing to consider is will the facilities be multiple recreations of what is already in Disneyland, or will there be something more unique offered at each park. The real purpose of Club 33 was to give Walt a place to entertain important people in the park. After he passed, the Club evolved in to an exclusive dining location that also served alcohol. The Walt Disney World property is already well stocked with places that offer booze and in many cased dining options that are recognized as some of the finest anywhere – Victoria and Albert’s being the preeminent example. My suspicion is each will offer some dining, some drinking but most importantly a unique experience not available at the other locations around WDW.

Magic Kingdom – I don’t have any idea if there is functioning second story to the Town Hall Exposition Hall/Theater, but if there is, that seems to be a likely location to me if the goal is to recreate something similar to what is in New Orleans Square. If the goal is to do something that offers a unique experience, I’d suggest a second story facility be built above The Tomorrowland Terrace. Broad panoramic views of the castle would be available for parades and firework viewing.

Epcot – A recent story on Theme Park Insider discussed all the abandoned corporate VIP lounges at Epcot. If the plan is to renovate a lounge into Club 33, The American Adventure would be the most logical location. The biggest drawback to this location is to the best of my knowledge the lack of access to a significant kitchen space. The other spot that would be well situated to house a Club 33 is the Discovery Restaurant. It is only used for special events and surly a portion of that large facility could be carved out for a Club 33 space. It’s also right in the middle of Future World and World Showcase, which make is very convenient.

Disney Hollywood Studios – There is so much renovation going on at this park, it’s really anybody’s guess. I don’t know The Brown Derby building very well, but I remember there used to be an upstairs lounge. I wonder if that might be a possible location. Of course, a lounge on an upper level above the new Star Wars land would be a great place to have a private club.

Disney Animal Kingdom – This park offers I think the most exciting opportunity for a unique Club 33 location. Imagine a spectacular tricked out tent somewhere out on the Savannah accessible only by private safari vehicle. Google any high end safari trips to Africa and you will see the kind of structure I’m talking about.

Where do you guys think they might be built, and what will make them unique?

April 14, 2017 at 4:33 PM · The concept of different clubs at each theme park is just odd. I'm sure the Magic Kingdom Club 33 is more coveted. The others are less pricey on a sliding scale. The good thing is the parks are improving just in time. Only thing is location. If a Club 33 is located right in Star Wars Land, forget about anyone wanting one at MK. One in Pandora is surely the ticket. A Club 33 at Epcot's France with the anticipated Ratatouille ride is extra special. Finally, one next to Pirates in MK is the best spot or located next to prime fireworks and parade viewing spots.
April 17, 2017 at 8:05 AM · It's critical that any Club 33 location be discrete yet not "buried" at the back of the park. Obviously EPCOT offers the most potential locations from the old corporate areas of FutureWorld to the wealth of possibilities in World Showcase. The area in the American Pavilion would obviously be the easiest to convert, because there is already space there (Chase Lounge), and I don't think the kitchen facilities would be a huge issue (we had a brewer's dinner there about 10 years ago during F&W that featured a fresh-prepared meal in the main foyer of the pavilion). However, I don't think that location is discrete enough, and is the farthest possible distance away from the main entrance (not too far from the International Gateway though). I think a location in the Great Britain pavilion would work far better. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the back section of the pavilion. It's not too far from the International Gateway, and is much closer to the main gate than most of the other pavilions save for Canada and Mexico. Plus since the area already hosts exclusive seating for Illuminations, it's recognized as a prime viewing location for the end of night show. Creating a roof-top viewing area near the back of the pavilion would provide a spectacular location for the show.

Main Street USA would be the spot where I would put one in MK. I'm not sure what currently exists on the upper floors of the buildings (my guess would be storage and perhaps offices and park security), but those upper floors would be prime real estate to create a Club 33-like atmosphere. Entrance to the club could be through a subtlety-marked door at the back of one of the Main Street shops. Most of the other locations in WDW's MK would have an obscured view of night-time shows and parades. Perhaps above Hall of Presidents might work, but I'm not sure what the viewing angles would be like from there. Tomorrowland already has exclusive viewing areas for dessert parties and the like, but Disney probably doesn't want to take out a solid money-maker to create a Club 33 there.

The obvious choice for DHS would be above the Brown Derby (not Star Wars land). Club 33 is about having a posh, exclusive atmosphere, not something themed to an IP. The Brown Derby is already a pretty exclusive restaurant, and placing a Club 33 above or adjacent would provide that additional step up for guests willing to shell out. It would also give guests the best view of evening fireworks if Disney chooses to continue them after SW Land opens.

On the Savannah is clearly the best spot for a Club 33 at DAK, but I wonder if it would offer the exclusivity that members are looking for since Animal Kingdom Lodge guests already get exclusive access to the Savannah for meals and the like. I think something near Yak and Yeti might actually be better since it would offer good views of Rivers of Light, and would fit well with the British Imperial themes in that general area (a sort of "Adventurer's Club").

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