BACKSTORY (June 15, 1967 —Present): Club 33, The most exclusive restaurant in all of Disneyland is located above the Blue Bayou Restaurant around the corner from the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and opened June 15, 1967. Not open to the general public and rarely mentioned in any promotional material, Club 33’s membership costs anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 per year with a waiting list several years long. The entrance to the club is a plain teal blue door, marked only with an address plaque bearing the number “33” and is located to the right of the Blue Bayou. Many of its windows are adorned as balconies, easily seen from the walkways below. It is the only place in Disneyland that serves alcoholic beverages. The idea for Club 33 originated years earlier from a private room Walt Disney maintained at the Red Wagon Inn (now the Plaza Inn) for VIPs. Walt made plans for a private restaurant adjacent to the new apartment he was having built for he and his family in New Orleans Square so that he would have a place to entertain guests and VIPs away from the noise of the park. Walt and his wife Lillian made trips to New Orleans to purchase period antiques for the club, while ideas were generated that included interactive audio animatronic birds (equipped with speakers and microphones) that could "talk" to guests. The club would also have a trophy room for Walt to store the hunting trophies he had received as gifts.
Club 33, named after its address, 33 Royal Street, is comprised of two dining rooms and several adjoining areas, all of which hold a wide array of magnificent antiques and original works of art. After ascending in the French lift to the second floor, guests enter into The Gallery. Here they find interesting items such as an oak telephone booth with beveled leaded glass panels adapted from the one used in the Disney motion picture "The Happiest Millionaire" and a rare console table which was found in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In The Gallery, as elsewhere in the Club, are many original works by Disney artists and sketches done as design studies for New Orleans Square and the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The Gallery leads into Lounge Alley which serves as a vestibule and also the buffet for the Main Dining Room and Trophy Room. Here you can also view conceptual sketches of New Orleans Square and a custom-designed harpsichord decorated with a hand-painted scene depicting New Orleans harbor in the 19th century. Imagineer Collin Campbell is credited with the lush landscape painted inside the lid of this harpsichord.
The Main Dining Room is decorated in the First Empire style. Decor includes three chandeliers, wall sconces, framed artwork from Disney artists, parquet floors, and antique bronzes. The Trophy Room is the second dining room and offers a more informal atmosphere. The cypress-planked walls serve as the backdrop for design studies for the Jungle Cruise and Tiki Room attractions. The design of the room incorporated microphones in the center of each chandelier and a vulture with the ability to speak. Walt Disney’s intention for this concept was for the vulture to converse with guests during dinner.
Rumors broke out in August 2013 that the Club was going to be completely remodeled. Some of the controversial changes were "leaked" that the Trophy Room would be replaced by a new and larger kitchen, and that the Court of Angels would be transformed into the new entrance area. Members who initially asked if the rumors were true were told, "We can neither confirm nor deny." When the Club reopened in Summer 2014, all of those rumors were confirmed to be true. In addition, a number of poorly executed architectural changes were made that detracted from the charm of New Orleans Square, including an off-center window above Cafe Orleans and a very ostentatious new entrance to Club 33 (dubbed "Club 34" by some disgruntled long-term members).
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