Drink up at the ‘Real’ Mickey Mouse Club

If you have ever been to Disneyland, chances are that you have passed by Club 33 many times without noticing it. Located in New Orleans Square and identified only by an inconspicuous plaque displaying the number, Club 33 may be one of the best-kept secrets of Disneyland. Open only to about 400 members and their guests, Club 33 is a lavish, high-end dining club and features the only bar in Disneyland.

Walt Disney devised the club in 1966 to function as an entertainment lounge for visiting VIPs. Disney passed away in 1967, only months before its completion, and its founding members to decide to open the membership to the public.

Interested parties must send a letter of inquiry to Club 33, where they are added to a waiting list. As of May 2007, the waiting list closes with a wait of an estimated 14 years, as open spots are extremely rare. Upon notification, they are allowed to join Club 33, and individual members (not of corporate standing) are expected to pay an initiation fee of around $10,000 and an annual fee of around $3,000. Club 33 members enjoy such benefits as access to the park 365 days a year and a high-class table service dining experience.

At the ordinary-looking door, members are buzzed in once their reservations are confirmed. They walk into an intricate Victorian lobby with a very noticeable and fully functional Parisian-style elevator.

Detail-oriented Disney touches continue inside the lounge where guests are then seated by a maitre d’. On the way is the trophy room and a giant animatronic vulture that perches atop a corner, originally meant to interact with guests.

Members then enter a room devoted to the man who imagined it all, with various memorabilia and rare personal photographs of Disney on the wall. The room was originally a showroom for the various stuffed prizes that Disney’s friends gave to him.

Hidden in a chandelier is what remains of the never-fully-realized microphone that would have picked up sounds for the animatronic vulture to interact with guests.

Proceeding to the main dining room, guests are treated to cuisine such as Australian lobster tail, crispy artichoke and potato, an endive fumet, sweet corn polenta ravioli, fontina cheese and an arugula reduction. You can’t get that anywhere else in the park. However, the prices are not like anything else in the park, with meals ranging from $9 to $42 and a minimum food charge of $63 per person.

Also worth mentioning is a place not readily mentioned. The ladies’ bathrooms are themed with toilets set up to look like thrones while the men’s bathroom is bedecked in bold black marble fit for any king.

Heavenly music wafts from the specially-crafted harpsichord with a painting of the New Orleans harbor on the inside of the lid, or from Disneyland’s various street entertainment attractions for a more jazzy twist.

The club overlooks the busy streets of Rue Royale, or Royal Street, in New Orleans Square and the atmosphere alone is worth the membership at this exclusive. Maybe one day, you could make friends with a Club 33 member.