Trip Taken: 2010
Most of the thousands of daily visitors who come for a day of fun at the happiest place on earth are fully unaware of Disneyland’s full-service sit down in New Orleans Square. No, I am not talking about the Blue Bayou restaurant that overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but it is very close. Situated right by the exit to the Pirates ride is a side alley with numbered doors. The gift shops and restaurants have numbers. Then there is the unassuming closed door with the number 33 on it. That is where you will find Club 33, Disneyland’s exclusive members-only restaurant. So, how in the bloody hell did I, a simpleton, gain entrance to one of the hardest places to get into in the world? Read on.
Rumors, Gossip, History, and other Hearsay
Before I start with my experience of Club 33, let’s get down to some rumor-mongering. According to my research (minimal and based mostly on what I have heard), the club was formed to be for the original 33 investors of Disneyland. It was a place for the families of the investors to relax and eat; away from the crowds of Disneyland. Membership has to come from a hand written request for membership. There are corporate memberships that go to employees who are part of a member company and individual memberships. I have heard that individual membership dues can be as much as $10,000 annually. I have not confirmed the latter but this from what I have heard. The waiting time from submission to actual membership could take years.
The Veiled Fantasmic
In any case, I got into Club 33 as part of a guest of a member. Members can reserve a table for their friends. This was the case for my brother and on his birthday, his friend reserved a table for six at Club 33. We arrived right when one of the big night time shows was beginning, Fantasmic. The crowds were large and the path to the restaurant wasn’t clear cut. It was around all the people and to a back alley behind Pirates of the Caribbean. We rang the doorbell and the maître d’ came out to greet us. They were still preparing our table and we had to wait outside for about ten minutes before being let in.
The inside was beautifully appointed with Victorian decorations and furnishings. There were paintings of different Disney scenes, such as Walt overlooking New Orleans Square or original Mary Poppins sketches. The only real drawback was that the balcony had trees blocking the view to Fantasmic. I can see why they would have trees to keep the club more hidden but it would have been nice to have dinner and fireworks.
Food of Marcel St. Pierre
I am a sucker for a prix-fixe menu and this meal was no exception. The five course tasting menu included a summer salad, a charred monkfish filet, a New York strip steak, a cheese plate, and a dessert. My meal was definitely great with the salad and the chocolate dessert as high notes. One thing that definitely marred the experience was that they forgot my second course and already brought my cheese plate before I had to remind them. Most of the other party just ordered a starter and the Chateaubriand. As far as food is concerned, there is definite skill but I don’t know if there is anything that was just ‘Wow!’.
Mickey Mouse Service
Even though the service was sometimes absent-minded (forgetting a course or sighing at customers who were standing in the hallways in the path of the servers), it was still super friendly. A big shout out to our server Jo, although I doubt this will ever reach her. Overall, it was a once in a lifetime meal. Growing up in Southern California, you don’t expect such an intimate setting at Disneyland. You expect crowds and cheering. It was a new perspective to a place that was already one of the happiest places on earth.