Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Club 33!

Just to prepare you in advance, this blog will be the blog to end all blogs. Here we go. So yesterday, I went to Club 33. For those of you not in the know (which knowing me, I've probably have given you the history of Disneyland 48 times already, so why you wouldn't know I'm not sure...) and may ask "What the hell is a Club 33 anyway?" here's the scoop. When Walt Disney built Disneyland in 1955, he created an apartment above the firehouse on Main Street. It was his own personal apartment, where he could rest from work, and watch all the countless people enjoying his park. Of course, his park would never be finished, so the next major overhall on the plate would be in 1966, with the construction of New Orleans Square (along with Pirates). In the original design, Walt designed a new larger apartment, where more than 2 people could stay, so to better entertain his grandchildren. This was located right about Pirates of the Caribbean. Sadly, Walt passed away before New Orleans Square was completed, so his apartment was never finished. He was re-done, and is now the Disney Gallery. A few doors down, another of Walt's secret get-aways did survive however. Next door to the Blue Bayou restaurant, which is right next to the exit of Pirates, you may notice a door with a '33' on it. This is Club 33. It was originally intended to be a private dinner hall, where Walt and his brother Roy would meet and entertain potential Disneyland backers, corporate leaders, and celebrities. It is still in use for that purpose to this day. Along with being the only place within Disneyland to serve alcohol, it is also an exclusive club, whose membership fee $10,000 a year with a 10 year waiting list.

Now that you know the history, here's my story. Yesterday I had the privledge to dine in this exclusive club, thanks to a charity dinner. It's actually pretty funny how I got invited to go. I post on a Disney message board online every now and then, and the topic of Club 33 came up. I posted that I would love to go if I ever had the chance, and this was back in September. Well, the head of the charity, who is also a huge Disney fan, posts on those message boards as well. He must have done a search for Club 33, saw that I was interested in going, and e-mailed me an invite!! This opportunity was a once in a lifetime chance, and for a great organziation to boot. Now, before you ask, the ticket price was, well, expensive. But I figured "hey, I'm probably never going to have this chance again, so who cares about money..." So my reservation was set for January 16th, 2006 at 6:00pm. I arrived at Disneyland around noonish, went to the Guest Relations window and told them I had reservations for Club 33 that night. How cool is that??? They took my name off a list, checked my ID, then gave me a special pass for Disneyland that day. Disneyland was a blur. I was just so excited for that night. Oh, I also forgot to mention that the club has a strict dress code: collared shirt and slacks minimum for the men. So here I am, at Disneyland, wearing my nicest collared shirt and slacks I own. It was fun actually, it made me feel important, and I could tell the Disneyland cast members treated me a little bit better than usual. After going on some rides, and just enjoying the park, 6:00 came. A group of us who were all going to the dinner waited outside the club, and when that door finally opened... now keep in mind I have been fantasizing about stepping through that door ever since I heard of that place... I was on cloud 9.

Here's a picture tour. I had my camera with me, and took tons of pics!

The entrance, located right next to the Blue Bayou:

They took our name at the entrance, and we were then lead upstairs. You'll notice the old style lift elevator!

As you walked up the stairs, you actually walk up and over the New Orleans pathway.

As you walk down the hallway, you'll first notice an old timey phone booth on your right.

As well as a grandfather clock.

On your left, you'll see Marc Davis' original stretching room paintings from the Haunted Mansion! I nearly shat myself.

You'll also see the men's restroom as well.

As you round the corner, you'll see the beautiful hand painted piano on your left

And then you'll see the only bar at Disneyland on your right! I had a margarita. On the rocks of course ;) I am now part of the select few who has had Disneyland serve them alcohol.

The hallway, looking from the inside back

As you keep walking, the buffet is set up on either side on the hall. The food was excellent!! The servers were also top notch. If you thought service was good at Disneyland already, take your best experience and multiply it by 10. The best service you can imagine.

Even further in, looking back.

You then take a right hand turn into the main dinner room.

This picture is taken from the far back corner, so you're actually enetering from the top left of the picture, in the far background.

Various pictures around the club:

The original Haunted Mansion paintings, circa 1951. One of the first concept paintings of Disneyland.

Gotta love Marc Davis!

A sweet pirate map! The border contains all the main scenes from Pirates!

One of the cool things of the club is the balcony area. You can walk outside on the balcony, just like any of the fascade balconies you see in New Orleans square. So it's a very rare view. here are some pics of the view!

However, that isn't everything. There is one more room. By far the coolest room of all. Walt's trophy room. As you go up the stairs, instead of turning left to go past the clock, there is a doorway right to your right. This was Walt's private dinning room, to entertain only his closest guests. The pictures on the walls are incredible.

As you enter the room, if you look back and above you, you'll see a stuffed vulture. This is an audio-animatronic vulture, like the birds in the Tiki Room. Walt hid microphones in the chandeliers around the room, and would listen in on his guests, and have the bird interact with them! Sadly, the bird is non operational now...

Here's me next to the hunting cabinet!

Well, our tour has come to an end. Needless to say, the experience was amazing. It was incredible seeing all that history, and touring Walt's private dining hall. It was just so awesome walking through the halls, knowing these were Walt's private rooms. To quote Syndrome, "I'm still geeking out about it!" I was in there for over 3 hours, I just wanted to soak everything in. But the thing that tops it all off: I watched Fantasmic from the balconey of Club 33!! For a Disneyland fanatic like me, it just doesn't get any better than that.

So, I had to get souvinir's to remember the event! And of course, in true Disney fashion, if the possibility of souvinirs is there, there will be souvinirs to be had. I bought some Mickey Mouse ears, but instead of the Mickey Mouse Club logo, it has the cool Club 33 logo. I also bought a limited edition pin with a painting of Walt looking out the window of the club, limited edition of 333 of course, as well as another pin. I also 'acquired' some napkins with the '33' logo, a swizzle stick, and a notepad :)

The Mouse Ears, as displayed by creepy bald clay man.

So, as you may have guessed, I had a blast. And for now, this is where I

1 comment:

Animaniac said...

I was lucky enough to be invited to let my daughter spend 8:30 to 11:30 for her 20th birthday at Club 33 a few weeks ago. We ate in the trophy room (10 of us) and we even had a Pirates of the Caribbean cake brought in. Fortunate are we who get the opportunity to share that kind of moment in Disneyland. I bought lapel pins for all of us. Wish I'd bought more. Seems pin collectors covet them.