Club 33

club 33

Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. Officially maintained as a secret feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club is located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at ’33 Royal Street’ with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it. Club 33 members and their guests have exclusive access to the club’s restaurant, and the premises are not open to the public at large. It is the only location within Disneyland to offer alcoholic beverages.

Members get free access to both Disney parks whenever they are open, plus early park admission several days each week. In addition, members are provided with valet parking to the overall Disney resort and access to Lilly Belle, the presidential caboose car on the Disneyland Railroad.

When Walt Disney was working with various corporate promoters for his attractions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, he noted the various ‘VIP Lounges’ provided as an accommodation for the corporate elite. This gave him the idea that culminated in Club 33. When New Orleans Square was planned, this special area for corporate sponsors and VIPs was included. Disney asked artist Dorothea Redmond to paint renderings and hired Hollywood set director Emil Kuri to decorate the facility.

While originally intended for exclusive use by Disneyland’s Corporate sponsors and other industry VIPs, when Club 33 opened in May 1967—five months after Disney’s death—individual memberships were also offered. As of 2010, there is a 14 year wait list for membership and it is closed to new additions. It only allows 487 members. Members pay an initiation fee of $27,500 (if they are a corporation) or $10,450 (for individuals). On top of that, they pay annual fees of about $6,100 or $3,275, respectively.

To enter Club 33, a guest must press a buzzer on an intercom concealed by a hidden panel in the doorway. A receptionist will ask for their name over the intercom and, if access is granted, open the door to a small, ornate lobby. Guests have the option of going to the dining level via an antique-style glass lift, an exact replica of one Disney saw and fell in love with during a vacation in Paris, but the owner of the original refused to sell. Undaunted, Disney sent a team of engineers to the Parisian hotel to take exact measurements for use in the creation of a replica; even a sample of the original finish was taken so that it could be duplicated. A staircase to the second level wraps around the lift.

Once at the dining level, guests can view antique furniture pieces collected by Walt’s wife Lillian. The walls are adorned, in part, with butterflies pinned under glass and hand-painted animation cels from the original Fantasia film. Walt Disney also handpicked much of the Victorian bric-a-brac in New Orleans antique stores. The club is also furnished with props from Disney films. There is a fully functional glass telephone booth just off the elevator that was used in ‘The Happiest Millionaire’ and an ornate walnut table with white marble top that was used in ‘Mary Poppins.’

Walt Disney also wanted to make use of Audio-Animatronic technology within Club 33. Microphones in overhead lighting fixtures would pick up the sounds of normal conversation while an operator would respond via the characters. Though the system was never fully implemented, it was partially installed and remains so to this day. An Audio-Animatronic vulture is perched in one corner of the club’s ‘Trophy Room.’ The animal trophies (Walt inherited them from a friend), for which the room was named, have been removed by Disney family members. Photos of the room with the trophies still installed can be seen on the walls now.

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