Secrets of Disneyland – Club 33
History of Club 33
During the New York World’s Fair in 1964-1965 Walt Disney had learned the value of having a private dining place for his sponsors. Walt was persuaded to have a “lessee club” like many of the other exhibitors at the fair. When the New York World’s Fair closed, Walt agreed to bring back to Disneyland, along with “it’s a small world”, and “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” a place to “lessees club.”
As New Orleans Square was being built, an apartment was created for Walt. The apartment is was open to the public for a time as the Dream Suite. It’s now been remodeled as the exclusive Dream Suite. You can find it above the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean. The apartment easily connected to what would later become Club 33. Club 33 was created so that Walt could entertain dignitaries, celebrities, members and his personal guests in a quiet area. Here he would offer first class cuisine, nestled in magnificent décor.
Academy Award winning set designer Dorothea Redmond, known for her work on “Gone with the Wind,” “Rebecca,” and “Rear Window,” was asked to create some watercolor sketches for Club 33’s design. Emile Kuri accompanied Walt and Lilly Disney to New Orleans to furnish the club with antiques and other furniture. Emile Kuri is also known for decorating Walt’s apartment above the fire station and many films such as “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” where he won an Oscar and “Mary Poppins” where he was nominated for one.
Sadly Walt Disney died just a few months before Club 33 ever opened. Although no date specifically is credited with the opening of Club 33 it is known that meals were starting to be served as early as May 1967. Mostly utilized by members and their guests, Club 33 occasionally has a celebrity or dignitary visit. It is the only place inside of Disneyland where alcohol is served, but alcohol is not the focus of dining there.
How to find Club 33
To look for Club 33, just turn down Royal Street in New Orleans Square and look for a “33” sign by a green door, next to the Blue Bayou restaurant. You might see guests coming or going from this secret place in Disneyland.
Hidden Mickey and Trivia
There are no Hidden Mickey’s officially in Club 33, but wonderful movie props and signature pieces by Disney artists instead.
Contrary to popular belief, the lift is not an antique. Walt and Lilly stayed at a hotel in France with a lift very much like it. When the hotelier refused Walt’s offer to purchase the lift, Walt sent a couple of his artists to France to study and draw the lift so that it could be reproduced in Los Angeles.
The legend is true about the phone booth. The functional oak phone booth at the top of the stairs with beveled glass is a movie prop from the 1960’s film, “The Happiest Millionaire.”
Another popular movie prop is a lovely table with a white top. It was used in the 1964 film, “Mary Poppins.” Recently there was a photograph of actor David Tomlinson standing next to the table in the film.
Other Secrets of Club 33
There is a large painting of Pirates of the Caribbean, created for Disneyland Paris hanging in the lounge. The artist made one of the pirates in the bottom border look like Disney Legend Marc Davis. Also hidden among the islands is “Gilligan’s Island.”