August 19, 2013

Visiting Club 33 and Walt's Apartment (or the best Disneyland day ever)

If you've been to Disneyland more than a few times or are into Disney history, you've probably heard of Club 33. The sign revealing the location is tucked away in New Orleans Square right beside the Blue Bayou, and it's exclusive to members and their guests. Walt Disney created the area as a VIP lounge of sorts, but it didn't open until after he passed away. Membership - when it's available - is not cheap. Not by a long shot. I had going to the restaurant and lounge on my Disney list, but I honestly wasn't sure it would ever happen. Thanks to the generosity of friends who made a dinner reservation for us though, it did. And it was magical.

The day of the Club 33 reservation also happened to be the day I'd booked the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour, and I was like a kid on Christmas Eve the night before. I could hardly sleep.

The tour started in the morning and lasted for a few hours (it ended with lunch). Our guide took us through the park and went over some stories about Walt and his family and various points in the park's history. It included a ride on Peter Pan, visiting the lobby of Club 33, and a stop at Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. It was enjoyable but none of the information presented was necessarily new or fresh to me. That said, the tour ended with a visit to Walt's apartment above the firehouse so for that reason alone it was completely worth the cost of admission to me.

Per an agreement with the Disney family, photographs can only be taken at one spot in the small apartment. It was one of those moments you didn't want to override by snapping hundreds of photos anyway. The decorations were very Victorian and floral. Antiques were everywhere. Walt worked with the space he had, but it was definitely cozy. Just a small sitting room (I believe the couches folded out into beds), an itty bitty kitchen area, and a bathroom with multiple shower heads - seriously, I wanted to jump in. Pictures of the family hung around the room and being there was indescribable.

A few hours after the tour ended, we arrived at Club 33 for dinner. The intercom is hidden on the right side and after our reservation was confirmed, we took the lift upstairs. We had a table in the corner right by one of the balcony doors. Everything about the place screamed elegance and class - it's easy to get distracted by the surroundings and history and forget you're there for food. Once we'd ordered though, our waiter encouraged us to walk outside and look around. I saw Disneyland from a new perspective.

It was a perfect balmy evening, and I could have sat outside with a glass of wine forever. I would have missed out on dinner though, and that would have been sad. I'm a fan of food throughout the park so I had high expectations for Club 33, and they absolutely delivered. My lamb was mouthwatering, as was dessert. Every bite of the meal was delicious, and we were in no way rushed. The staff was all incredibly respectful and nice and fabulous.

I was so the person photographing my food.

After dinner, we asked for a tour. There are two large rooms - the one where we ate and the trophy room. The latter is decorated in a rustic style. Just imagine Gaston designing a room but tastefully and you've about got it. Antiques were everywhere as were photographs, art, sketches, and so much more. Really, the Club is like a museum, restaurant, and bar all wrapped into one.

I could have stayed all evening, but I figured three hours was enough. Club 33 is the kind of place you just want to walk around and absorb. I felt like if I put my hand against the wall that I was reaching back through history and taking a small part of it with me. Cheesy? Yes, but I don't care. I am so grateful for getting to have the special experience. And let me leave you with my own brand of classiness. When Club 33 came up in conversation, women urged me to go the bathroom. I assured them with the size of my bladder that going to the bathroom over the course of the evening was a given, but I didn't understand the fuss until I walked into the stall. I give you the ultimate bathroom throne:

See a few more pictures from Club 33 over at Flickr.


  1. How in heaven's name did you score a reservation to club 33?? What an awesome experience for you.

    1. A friend with a membership made a reservation for me. :)


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