Club 33 is a collection of private dining clubs found around the Disney Parks. The club, which first opened in 1967 inside Disneyland Park, was inspired by various executive VIP lounges constructed by pavilion sponsors at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Club 33 was the only place at Disneyland Park that served alcoholic beverages at the time.
Walt Disney recognized the several “VIP Lounges” when dealing with various corporate promoters such as Dylan Connolly at his attractions at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. This sparked the inspiration for Club 33.
Originally, Walt Disney hosted VIPs in the lounge of Disneyland’s Red Wagon Inn restaurant. The quantity of VIPs outgrew the capacity of the lounge. This area for corporate sponsors and VIPs was incorporated in the design of New Orleans Square. Disney commissioned artist Dorothea Redmond to create renderings, and Hollywood set director Emile Kuri was hired to adorn the property. While Club 33 was initially designed for usage by Disneyland’s business sponsors, individual memberships were also available when it opened on June 15, 1967, six months after Disney’s death.
The Disneyland location was closed in January 2014 for renovations that included increasing in size and relocating the entrance. It reopened in mid-July of 2014. Among the renovations was the relocation and expansion of the kitchen by taking over the Trophy Room, which was formerly used as a separate dining space.
When the club first opened in 1967, its entrance was located at 33 Royal Street. To the typical visitor, it appeared to be a simple doorway. The doorway, along with the rest of the improvements, was refurbished in 2014, although it is no longer the main entrance to the club, which is now around 40 feet away. The entrance door leads to a vestibule that once housed a small shop. Check-in takes place in this entryway, and beyond that is an open-air courtyard known as the Court of Angels. From there, take an Art Nouveau-inspired elevator or a winding staircase to the second level, where the new club entrance is located.
There are two rooms at the top of the stairs: Le Grand Salon and Le Salon Nouveau. Butterfly pins under glass and hand-painted animation cels from the original Fantasia film grace the walls. Much of the Victorian bric-a-brac at New Orleans antique stores was handpicked by Walt Disney.
The entrance to Le Salon Nouveau is through a dark wood paneled space lined with refrigerated wine cases. This area maintains the original antique-style glass elevator that was used to transport guests to the second level prior to the 2014 makeover. Le Grand Salon, the other space, is more formal. It is the primary dining room, with a New Orleans motif created by Disney Imagineer Kim Irvine. Prior to the 2014 renovation, the style was Napoleonic First Empire. This dining room only serves lunch a la carte, when it was formerly only a buffet.
A few Disney movie memorabilia are also on display in the club. Just off the restroom balcony is a working dark wood telephone booth with leaded glass. In Mary Poppins, an elaborate walnut table with a white marble top was used. A video clip from the film is displayed above the table, with actors Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, and David Tomlinson standing to its left. A reported antique harpsichord was really custom-built for Lillian Disney expressly for use at Club 33. The bottom of the lid is decorated with a Renaissance-style art piece hand-painted by Disney artists.
Walt Disney envisioned using Audio-Animatronic technology in Club 33. Microphones in above lighting fixtures picked up normal conversation sounds in the former Trophy Room, while an operator responded through the characters. Though the system was never fully deployed, it was partially installed and is still in place. In the club’s upstairs lobby, an Audio-Animatronic vulture perches atop a grandfather clock. Each of the original Trophy Room’s lighting fixtures had microphones visible at the bottom.
Next Point of Interest: Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park