Comments for Inside the new Club 33, updated with elegance enhancing the Disneyland private restaurant with new menu and lounge

37 Comments

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    Sharon

    Loved the pictures of the new changes thank you so much. You do not say whether you could view Fantasmic from the lounge? Did you see a Club 33 recipe book or is one on the way?

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      Ricky Brigante

      I unfortunately didn’t look out the lounge windows. But I imagine you can see it from there. I did not see a recipe book – but didn’t ask either.

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    Jeff Lynch

    “Cheap” is the word that comes to mind with this renovation. It all looks so cheaply done. Which astonishes me, that they would value engineer this, of all things. What they did to Court of Angels is gaudy. That ugly double railing looks insane going up the stairs. That cheap plastic, hideous “stained glass”. Everything looks so cheap. It looks like high school students decorated the place, like they were decorating the stage for a school play. Club 33 should have been elegant and expensive-looking. The best of the best. Something just beyond imagination and magic. Instead, they lowered the quality of the look and made it look so bargain basement while charging so much to be a member. I am so angry about this.

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      Ricky Brigante

      There is nothing cheap at all about how it feels inside. In fact, the new look makes the old one feel extremely dated in hindsight. The club now gives a more elegant impression than ever, even if it doesn’t echo the old motif.

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        Nick Hronis

        The new 33 is a hot mess. My cousin called me at the last minute to be her date at the members preview/opening, I was looking forward to seeing the new Jazz Club, which I thought on paper was a great idea. I like the wine cellar-ish bridge and the cozy table nooks leading to the club. But a player piano playing Jazz does not a Jazz Club make. Where’s the real jazz? I gave the Jazz Club a pass. As for the rest of the club……….

        My first reaction is, where is New Orleans in the new Club 33? The style? The grace? (Nola to us that have gone to Tulane). There is nothing in the new rooms that say this is First Empire or French Creole (the only style of the French Quarter), BTW, art nouveau is nowhere to be found in the real French quarter, and is not recognized as a style period by the Louisiana State Architectural Board. The Art Nouveau here is badly executed, especially the stain glass gates that seal the court of angels from the pagans. Judson Studios, one of the oldest stain glass makers in L.A. that made art nouveau glass for Forest Lawn and Tiffany in New York the first time around in the 1920s, and made the stain glass for the Blue Bayou and the old Club 33, why weren’t they called? Real Art Nouveau is bright and deeply vividly color glass that erupts with intensity, the glass on the gates is muddy and another poor design of art nouveau.

        The draping and decor across the old Lounge Alley Bridge is a mishmash of contemporary styles (see the swaging in the Portrait Hallway in the Haunted Mansion for First Empire-Nola drapery); the (English?) mural is bland and doesn’t tie into any theme. Why not a mural of Nola or the Mississippi Valley at the turn of the century?

        And where did Walt Disney go? I don’t think any of Disneyland’s designers have a clue what a private dining club like the Jonathon or St. James in L.A. are really like. They are cozy, little worlds secured with deep wooded walls and warm palettes of deep color. They are to escape from the real world; not show off in front of giant windows for the world to see their privileges. The baby blue (really?) walls of the new maitre-d station here look more like the Radisson check in than inviting you to escape into another realm that was Walt’s special place. There is no drama in these spaces.

        The reason many of us were members of 33 was because this was Walt’s special place. And one of the last places on earth he personally touched before dying. You could feel Walt’s presence in the atmosphere of the warm woods and thick drapes and cozy dining spaces and the genteel southern service and most of all, the attitude of its style. To gut the Lounge Alley and other rooms completely has ripped the soul out of the place. There is nothing in the new club that radiates Walt’s touch. In style the new 33 could be any nondescript upscale restaurant in the southern OC. I don’t know if folks will stick around and pay 30k to come to a club adorned with digital prints on display (most you can order for printing) and have a 7 course meal that would be less expensive at the St. Regis in Dana Point.

        I’ve tried to be restrained in my criticism, because I’m still a bit in shock and very disappointed. The notion that they are easing in the new Club 33 by limiting reservations I believe is not true. My cousins had lunch there a week ago and told me the place was almost empty. I have no desire to return. I’m sure there are other people who’ll see the new club in a different light, and I hope they’ll enjoy their new club as much as I enjoyed the old club. But for me, the party’s over. And what a great party Walt threw……..

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          Anonymous

          Walt was dead before it was completed. He never even ate in the club.

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            Nick Hronis

            Walt visited the club many times prior to its opening and his imprint touched every aspect of its creation.

            It was L.A.’s renowned architect and Walt Disney’s neighbor that had a tremendous influence on Walt’s idea for 33. Having just designed Disney’s Progressland G.E. Pavilion for the New York World’s Fair, Walt was impressed with another Beckett achievement in ’64: The opening of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the L.A. Music Center. Walt especially loved the private dining salons Beckett created for the Founders Circle, of which Walt & Lily donated 50,000. to become members. Beckett was asked to consult on New Orleans Square, and especially the architecture and layout of 33. It was Becket who came up with the idea of using fake beams as air vents for Pirates and the rest of New Orleans Square, having invented them first for the Curtain Call Restaurant at the new Music Center.

            The original Club 33 color scheme of olive green, black first empire chairs with gold accents is the same as the Founders Circle, which still exists today in the private music center salon. While Dorothea Redman created the decor scheme for each of the rooms, all the art in 33 was selected by Walt from his personal art collection and loaned to 33. This would include the world’s largest collection of original Heinrich Kley cartoon drawings, sketches of Disney ancestral homes in Ireland and London, a rare and very large African Butterfly collection, and African big game trophies and elephant tusks all owned by Walt. He personally selected the places in 33 where his art would be displayed. Marc Davis’ pen and ink designs for Pirates would be the only other original art displayed and selected by Walt before he died. The original art on the walls remained until 1984 when Lilian Disney asked Michael Eisner to return her husband’s art collection which he did.

            Beckett said Walt spent a lot of time on 33 making changes up until his death in December ’66. The Trophy room with its AA figures had Walt’s personal stamp on every element that went into its design.

            Walt insisted the menu of 33 be as classy as his favorite haunt Lawry’s Tam O’Shanter Inn. It was Lawry’s chairman and Walt’s friend Lawrence Frank who agreed to loan Walt chefs from Lawry’s The Prime Rib to get the kitchen set right months before it opened.

            An interesting side note: Walt asked Weldon Beckett to get involved in 33 in ‘64 which he did. The Curtain Call restaurant at the Music Center, which opened after Beckett got involved with 33 in ‘65, had inexplicably New Orleans 1865 as its theme with a theater dining room. On stage was a handsome set depicting the moonlit Louisiana Bayous complete with blinking fireflies. Beckett never explained why he chose that as its theme, but obviously it has a connection (perhaps as a homage) to Walt and working with him on the new 33.

            His flesh may not have ever dined there, but the atoms he left behind certainly did.

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        Nick Hronis

        “There is nothing cheap at all about how it feels inside.”

        How about that wrought iron stain glass gate outside completely made of plastic? The only thing missing is the monsanto logo…

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    Matt

    Do you know if the exterior work is complete, or if there is still more theming to be done?

    Obviously this is a microscope compared to the experience of actually walking through the park on a typical day, but the exterior theming seems to be lacking and almost looks…plain. Yes, the paints are properly aged, but nearly none of the (all really large) windows identified as part of the construction have any of the styled balconies or props that make up the picturesque upper floors of NOS so idyllic. For instance, the bold blue shutters on the plain bridge side seem like an afterthought; and that off-center window looks careless and gives the impression the experience of guests on the outside is unimportant compared to those who can afford the exorbitant membership fees, plus it goes without any sort of detailed theming at all.

    The project is beautiful on the inside, I’m just not sure it’s really complete or up to par on the exterior quite yet

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      Ricky Brigante

      They are definitely still working on the finishing touches throughout. The restaurant was far from full when I was there – on purpose. They’re easing into it. I agree the exterior additions look unfinished. However, they’re only noticeable when zoomed in on. From the ground and from a distance, they’re hardly noticeable.

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    Kirsten

    While I’m sad not to have access to the Court of Angels, I am happy it’s still there and hasn’t been demolished. And if you peak through the crack between the doors, you can still see the staircase. That will have to do until I can get a friend of a friend to get me in sometime.

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    K. A. Pursell

    Not only has Club 33 under gone a complete physical makeover…the rules & terms of conditions of membership has dramatically changed. The corporation I work for has a membership and we, employees, were able to dine there once we y s 25 yrs of employment or upon retirement. This was a special recognition that many looked onward to…well, as of 8/12 we can no longer use the corporate membership for this type of event. I’m sure the corporation still had the membership, but will now only use it for the sales/marketing groups when trying to make large $$$ sales.

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    Mike Pierce

    Great pictures. The food looked great. Thank you for the great report.
    Just FYI I put in my website. http://www.mickeyphotos.com and it says that it is not a valid URL. I tried using the www and also without it.

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    Rusty

    Help and get a qualified ager in there to go over all the exterior and interiors. What happened to the rich dark cherry wood finishes and dark rich wall papers????? that made the Club 33 Special. The One of a Kind Shop would be a treat to bring back even if the Court of Angels were for just 33 guests now. Lillian Disney was a big spender there in it’s day.

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    disneygeek1961

    All I want it to have one meal there before I die please.

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    Gary

    Normally, I really wouldn’t care to dine in such an uppity environment, but knowing that it is such a hard place to get into, makes me actually want to go. Of course, now that I have seen a picture of the Haunted Mansion themed area, I would only want to eat in there – probably 2 more lifetimes of waiting to get into that seat.

    Has Disney ever admitted that the off-center window was a mistake by the contractors (or anyone else) or is there some ‘legend’ about off-center windows being good luck or something like that?

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      Ricky Brigante

      Our server pointed out the off center window as the one oddity of the refurbishment. He didn’t have an explanation for it.

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        Gary

        Thanks!

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      an old member

      the window is not ‘off center’ inside the club

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    JimK

    This looks really neat. I’ve been to DL before but didn’t know about the restaurant. My wife is a Disney fanatic and didn’t know about it. How does the membership work? is there any way for an average person to have a visit for a special occasion or something?

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      Ricky Brigante

      Non-members can dine there if a member makes the reservation for them. So… find a member and make a friend. 🙂

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    Dallas

    I like how this article talks down to those opposed to the changes. Not all of us are Club 33 members.

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      Ricky Brigante

      Not talking down at all. I’m not a member either. But I do feel the changes are, for the most part, improvements. It’s tough to judge from a distance. I can understand the connection to nostalgia. But Disneyland is ever changing, including Club 33.

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        SueEllen S

        I have to agree with Ricky here. I went for lunch three weeks ago, and I thought the changes were quite nice and an improvement. The colors are brighter and more inviting, yet still quite regal. I think they have done a wonderful job with this, and loved the waiting area in the Court of Angels, instead of in the alley across from the old Club and Blue Bayou. The food was fabulous, and while I enjoyed the old buffet at lunch, I loved this new menu. Everything was very well done.

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    JimK

    Thanks Ricky. Didnt feel you were talking down to anyone. i dont know any members. i live in No-Cal. would there be members up here, or would i just find them in So-Cal? Was looking to do a once in a lifetime thing for my disney-fanatic wife for a special occasion. i’m probably not the only one looking though…. 🙂

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    Mary R.

    Looking forward to having dinner at the “new” club this coming weekend to see the changes. Everything looks nice in the photos…I like the lighter colors, but do miss the darker woods. I love how they used the blue and white in the Grand Salon, a nod toward Lillian Disney. Her favorite was blue and white china, thus the water fountain in her honor at the Disney Music Hall in LA! The new menu looks wonderful but yes, a little frou-frou. But that’s what Club 33 is all about. Sorry that the membership requirements have become so stringent, but that’s because some members took advantage…and ruined it for everyone else.
    And oh, no, I am not a member…just a friend of…and I am disappointed to be cut off from the Court of Angels! I would go there for quiet time while my family ran around and we always took a Christmas picture at the tree that was set up at the base of the stairs. Our “tradition” is gone…:(

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    JimK

    is the only way to get into the club is to be invited by a club member? Do they every have special days where non-members can visit? I’m sure i dont know any current members. I was just curious if there would be any way to treat my disney-fanatic wife to such a visit on a special occasion. Any information you could offer would be helpful. [climbmp@yahoo.com]

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      Ricky Brigante

      The only ways to dine at Club 33 are to either be a member or know a member.

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        JimK

        Thanks for the info. we are heading to LA and Disney in December. do you know of any other places where where i can treat my wife to some Disney history either in park or off site? as for other restaurants; i see people recommend blue bayou or Napa rose. do you have a preference? does one have more Disney history than the other?

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          Ricky Brigante

          Blue Bayou and Napa Rose are VERY different restaurants. Blue Bayou definitely has a Disney feel and history to it whereas Napa Rose is much more modern. But Napa Rose is from the same chef as Carthay Circle and now Club 33 (Chef Sutton). I would personally recommend Carthay Circle at DCA.

          Outside of the Disneyland Resort, you could visit the Tam O’Shanter, one of Walt’s old favorite hangouts.

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            JimK

            Thanks Ricky. i looked it up, what a neat little place. we will put that in our plans to go to the Tam O’Shanter. i think my wife will enjoy that. someday, hopefully we’ll meet a club 33 member, but this looks like a fun alternative. Thanks for the advice…

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    BU

    Does anyone know if they are offering new memberships now that club has grown?

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    Keith

    No pictures of the Hosts/Hostesses, or of their nametags? Has the style or logo on the nametags been changed?

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