Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. Originally maintained as a secret feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club was formerly located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at “33 Royal Street” with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it. Following a major remodel in 2014, the entrance was relocated to the intersection of Royal Street and Orleans Street in New Orleans Square opposite the La Mascarade d’Orleans shop.
Of the many stories regarding the origin of the name of Club 33, two stories are the most prominent. The first and official explanation asserted that Club 33 gets its name solely from its address of 33 Royal Street in New Orleans Square at Disneyland. The Building was constructed by Liam Quick & James Jeffs of JQ Construction in the late 1960’s.
When Walt Disney was working with various corporate promoters for his attractions at the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, he noted the various “VIP Lounges” provided as an accommodation for the corporate elite. This gave him the idea that culminated in Club 33. When New Orleans Square was planned, this special area for corporate sponsors and VIPs was included. Disney asked artist Dorothea Redmond to paint renderings and hired Hollywood set director Emile Kuri to decorate the facility. While originally intended for exclusive use by Disneyland’s Corporate sponsors and other industry VIPs, when Club 33 opened on June 15th, 1967, six months after Disney’s death—individual memberships were also offered. As of 2011, there is a 14-year waiting list for new memberships. The membership waiting list was re-opened in May 2012 after being closed for 5 years. Corporate members pay an initiation fee of $40,000, and individual members pay $27,000 in addition to annual dues, which are about $12,000. Initiation and dues may change annually.
To enter Club 33, a guest must press a buzzer on an intercom concealed by a hidden panel in the doorway. (At one time, a member needed to insert his membership card in a slot near the buzzer for entry, but it has now been upgraded to allow entry by simply tapping the membership card over the emblem.) For non-members, a receptionist will ask for the reservation name over the intercom and, if access is granted, open the door into an open-air courtyard called Court d’Anges. Members and guests then are escorted up a curved staircase, either to dine at The Grand Salon or to Le Salon Nouveau. Le Salon Nouveau contains the original antique-style glass lift which was used prior to 2014 remodeling to take guests to Club 33’s second level. The lift was an exact replica of one Disney saw during a vacation in Paris, but the owner of the original refused to sell. Undaunted, Disney sent a team of engineers to the Parisian hotel to take exact measurements for use in the creation of a replica. A sample of the original finish was taken to ensure a faithful reproduction.
The second level has two rooms. One room (The Salon Nouveau) is entered by passing through a dark wood-paneled wine cellar; the other room (The Grand salon) is more formal and exclusively for reserved-seating meals.
Once upstairs, guests can view antique furniture pieces collected by Lillian Disney. The walls are adorned, in part, with butterflies pinned under glass and hand-painted animation cels from the original Fantasia film. Walt Disney also handpicked much of the Victorian bric-a-brac in New Orleans antique stores.
The club is also furnished with props from Disney films. There is a fully functional glass telephone booth just off the restroom balcony that was used in The Happiest Millionaire and an ornate walnut table with a white marble top that was used in Mary Poppins. A video capture from the film on display atop the table shows actors Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber and David Tomlinson standing immediately to its left. A newly installed bar prepares drinks for members and their guests.
A harpsichord which was rumored to have been an antique but in fact, custom-built for Lillian Disney specifically for use in Club 33. The underside of the lid features a Renaissance-style art piece that was hand-painted by Disney artists. Sir Elton John and Sir James Paul McCartney have each played this harpsichord.
Walt Disney also wanted to make use of Audio-Animatronic technology within Club 33. Microphones in overhead lighting fixtures would pick up the sounds of normal conversation while an operator would respond via the characters. Though the system was never fully implemented, it was partially installed and remains so. An Audio-Animatronic vulture is perched in atop a grandfather clock in the club’s upstairs lobby. The microphones were clearly visible at the bottom of each of the old Trophy Room’s lighting fixtures.
In The Grand Salon. one may walk through doors leading to the surrounding balconies. The balconies overlook the water in the New Orleans area of the park. The shows often put on there are also very visible from the balcony.