A Visit to Club 33
Remembrance of a visit to Disneyland's Club 33. A TPI Audition Piece.
Most guests to Walt Disney's original Disneyland pass through New Orleans Square and don't even notice it. Too busy to notice a little detail amongst the Mardi Gras atmosphere of Disney's sanitized version of the Big Easy, they move on towards Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion or those hidden restrooms just past the train station. However, for those of us in the know, that little, unassuming sign bearing a crystal encrusted "33" is Never Neverland, meaning that most of us will Never Never get to go inside. This is Club 33, the private supper club hiding in plain sight on the second story of New Orleans Square. I'm sure you've heard the stories. built in the late 60s for friends of the Disney's and corporate sponsors of the park, Club 33 is the place that pretty much every Disney fan wishes they could get into. They'd beg, borrow or steal just to get in the place. a veritable holy grail for Disneyland enthusiasts and here I was. My wife, her mother and myself waiting outside the entrance to the club and pressing the buzzer next to the door, the sign to the hostess working the door of the club that members have arrived and are ready to be name checked and granted admittance.
Club 33 is a special place, and a special dress code is a part of the experience. While most guests to the park that summer day were sporting tshirts and shorts, we're in dining attire, myself in a coat and tie sweltering in the 90 degree plus weather at 530 pm. It's strange to be ogled by your fellow theme park visitors, half of them not sure if you're some sort of high ranking executive in the park or someone who didn't get the memo that it was July in Southern California and 90 degrees outside.
The hostess working the intercom opened the door and let us in. As we entered some stragglers tried to follow us in, but were kindly turned away by the hostess explaining to them it was a "private club". These are one of those times you feel like you're getting away with something. A time where just for a second you feel like visiting royalty. You think "Ha ha, I get to do something you can't do." You know, really mature and all.
Our party is then ushered into a glass elevator, small by modern standards, just barely holding the three of us, we are deposited onto the upper floor of New Orleans Square and escorted to the dining rooms. We are greeted by the maitre' d looking very sharp in his black tuxedo and sat down in the large dining room decorated elegantly with flowing curtains and french fleur de lis motifs. It reminded my wife and I of King Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles in France.
This is fine dining and believe you me you pay for it. It's not particularly overpriced as fine dining restaurants go, but all told a couple will easily drop 200 dollars in an evening. For that money you can bet your life the quality is higher than what you get at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port or even the Blue Bayou Restaurant. The money you spend is justified in the quality of food and service you receive. Of course any meal at Club 33 is not complete without a fine bottle of wine.
That's right. Club 33 is the only place at Disneyland where alcohol is served. Disneyland is the theme park equivalent of a dry town, in fact it makes Provo, Utah on a Sunday look like Oktoberfest in comparison. Now I am not really that much of a drinker, truth be told, but there is just enough of the "Oooh, look at us we're soooo naughty" factor to it that you've got to enjoy at least a little of the grape just to say you did. We had a bottle (or two, but who's counting) of a really nice red wine from Fess Parker's winery in Northern California. Yes, THAT Fess Parker, the guy who played Davy Crockett. How funny, we thought, that we're drinking wine at Disneyland grown at Davy Crockett's vineyard. How random is that?
It was a great experience and like any Disneyland visitor it was time to go souvenir shopping. My wife and I have been to many fine restaurants but none have ever had merchandise. Well, Club 33 does. Its not exactly a store, more of a glass case with displayed items inside. We got a pair of mouse ears, a keychain and a lapel pin all emblazoned with a gold "33" on the front.
We made sure to thank the very kind friend, a club member, who signed us in for this amazing evening, one that we will truly never forget.
Thanks for the review! I got a bit of a thrill just finding that doorway when I visited DL last year, along with a friend who had never heard of Club 33. We searched it out, and when I found it, I was quickly approached by a couple who had been standing nearby. They came over to say that they had been watching the door for a very long time, just to see who came by and knew what it was. I was apparently the first person in a long time! Tell us more about the food- what did you have?
I want to go, does WDW have anything like it?
WDW does not (strangely)
They should, there are alot of good places.
KJ, I had the steak and my wife had ahi. The question often comes up regarding why pay 40 dollars for a steak or 30 dollars for ahi at Club 33 when you go to Outback for half that price. The answer lay in the presentation. The ahi was surrounded by a mango sauce that really brought the flavors bursting into your mouth. The steak was some of the tenderest I've ever had. Thick and juicy paired with summer vegetables and red potatoes. Really good stuff, honestly.
Tyler, WDW does have something similar. At the Grand Floridian there is a place called Victoria and Albert's, while NOT a private club, it is still quite exclusive. Featuring a prix fixe (or fixed price) menu, the restaurant is by reservation only and has a very strict dress code. My wife and I have been twice, the most recently on our 8th anniversary last October. At same point I'll take the time to write a review of it (maybe if I get the TPI writing assignment I'll do it sooner than later. HINT HINT Robert Niles)
My grandparents had their anniversary there a few ago.
So they DO serve alcohol, thanks for mentioning it. A co-worker said that patrons have to bring in their own bottles and 33 just charges an uncorking fee.. which made no sense to me.
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