Disneyland truly is one of the happiest places on Earth. With sights like Sleeping Beauty's Castle and the amazing "World of Color" light show, it's plain to see there's a little magic at every corner. However not all of the magic is set out in plain sight. At 33 Royal Street, tucked away in New Orleans Square, a little green door leads the way to the finest and most exclusive establishment in Disneyland. A place envisioned by Walt Disney, himself, to entertain VIPs, corporate sponsors, and dignitaries, this secret restaurant and oasis is known simply as Club 33.
There are many myths as to how the secretive Club 33 got its name. The common explanation is that it comes from its park address of 33 Royal Street, although there are many who think the origins are much more intricate. Walt Disney died from lung cancer a short 5 months before the club was completed and many were unsure of its future. It's said that soon after, the park's 47 main sponsors came together to discuss the club and only 33 of them voted to put more money towards finishing the construction, giving life to Club 33. There are also a few other rumors like each '3' represents a pair of mouse ears for Mickey and Minnie, but to this day the reason for the name is still unknown.
If you're lucky enough to be a member or be offered a reservation to this mysterious spot for lunch or dinner, you would go up to the hidden green 33 door in New Orleans Square in the main Disneyland park and lift the cover on the brass speaker to press a button, where a hostess would ask for your name and party and proceed to let you in. Once inside, you have the option to take the staircase or a beautiful glass elevator up to the dining area.
This elevator is based off of the one Walt and Lillian Disney saw on one of their vacations to Paris in an old hotel. Walt had asked to buy the original from the hotel owner, but they refused to sell it. Still determined, he sent engineers back to France to take measurements of the elevator and make an exact replica, which is the same one that is still in use today!
Once you make your way upstairs, you would most likely be seated in the main dining area, although there are guest tables set up in the Trophy Room. Depending on the occasion, you can either order off the Club 33 menu, or help yourself to a buffet. Aside from the entrees, the club also offers a salad bar, dessert bar, and an alcoholic bar, and is the only restaurant in the park to serve alcohol.
Membership into Club 33 is incredibly difficult to get if you're an individual who's not associated with any corporation. It is not advertised and many get word of it through fan sites or contacts who hold membership. *If* the club is accepting members, you first have to send in a formal letter asking for an informational packet, and then another letter requesting to be put on the wait list, which can been as long as 2 to 14 years! Once accepted, members have to pay a one time entry fee that goes up to around $25,000, as well as annual dues of $10,000 to maintain their membership.
With membership, you receive 4 black membership cards that give access to any U.S Disney theme park, access to Club 33 and its special events, 50 separate guest passes to the club, 20% off park admission tickets for guests, free general parking, and access to ride the Lily Belle train car that circles Main Street.
Personally, I would love to be able to visit and have a meal at Club 33 one day. Although I'm not quite sure it'll be in my future, I think Club 33 membership would be an amazing opportunity. I hope one day I'll at least be lucky enough to be a guest there and get to experience this historic oasis, dreamt up by Walt Disney, himself. With a little Disney magic, who knows? Anything is possible!