Membership Has Its Privileges
Disneyland's "secret" Club
33 provides exclusive experience
Thursday, November 27, 2001
by Lani Teshima, staff writer
Stewart J. is a familiar face to the regular
visitors at MousePlanet's
discussion board, posting as “Steamboat
Stu.” Stewart recently joined a very elite club of Disneyphiles by
becoming a member of the Disneyland's exclusive Club 33, located in New
Orleans Square and tucked away upstairs from the Blue Bayou Restaurant.
A small sign in Disneyland's New Orleans Square identifies the secret
club. Photo by Kevin Yee.
Stewart waited patiently for three and a half
years, until Disneyland finally contacted him and invited him to join
Club 33. Today, Stewart shares his experience—and excitement—about
becoming a member of Disneyland's elite club.
How did you go about letting Disneyland know
you wanted to be on the Club 33 waiting list?
Having no idea how to get on the waiting list,
I did what any Disney fan would do—I went to city hall. They gave me
Disneyland's address, and instructed me to send it “Attn: Club 33.” I
then simply sent a letter requesting to be added to the waiting list;
there was no form to fill out.
Club 33 members and their guests sit down for a relaxing meal at Club
33. Photo by Kevin Yee.
How long did you have to wait on the wait
list? How long have you been a member?
We decided to add our name to the Club 33
waiting list in 1997. I had heard that the wait could be quite
extensive—some had said as many as 10 years—so we decided to add our
name to the list without financial consideration. Notification came via
a package in the mail June of this year (good thing I included a return
address in my letter). I was given a little less than a month to
decide—and we took the whole month to come to this decision. We dined
there for the first time on June 27, 2001, our 14th wedding anniversary.
What made you decide to become a member? How
tough was your decision to pay for a membership?
This was not an easy decision to make! Unlike
some of the members I have met, we are by no means wealthy. The $7,500
initiation fee was manageable but would certainly be felt. However, the
lure of belonging to a club that Walt himself intended to use for
entertaining dignitaries was very strong. And although we were only on
the waiting list for three and a half years, there is no guarantee that
a similar wait would get us to the top of the list again. So all that
was left was how to justify the expenditure in our own mind. Since
country club memberships are similar in price, if not more, the question
is, would you rather have a membership to play at a golf course or be at
Disneyland? In our case, we chose Disneyland.
Mickey and Minnie stroll through Club 33 as a guest serves some food
onto her plate from the buffet. Photo by Kevin Yee.
What type of membership do you have?
When we signed onto the waiting list there was
a choice of two memberships: corporate or individual. We, of course,
chose individual. Now there are Corporate, Limited Company, Gold and
Silver memberships. I am a Gold member.
Has anything changed now that you are a
Club 33 membership has allowed me to let two of
my annual passes expire. Like premium APs, we get admission to both
parks with no blockout days, regardless of whether we dine at the club
or not. We no longer have to deal with the parking structures and all
their headaches. Parking for members is the valet at the Grand
Californian. Membership also includes a subscription to the Disney
magazine and a Disney Club card.
I was under the impression that Club 33
memberships did not include admission into the park unless you dined at
the club on the day of your park visit.
No. The membership permits the actual member
and one guest to enter both parks 365 days a year, without having to
dine at the club. However, guests of members who are admitted into the
park must dine at the Club, or the members are charged for the guests'
New Orleans Square from a perspective most people never get to see—from
the second floor balcony. Photo by Kevin Yee.
Do you find that all your acquaintances are
“best buddies” who want to dine there?
Surprisingly this has not been the case. Other
than true Disney fans, no one really knows the club exists. The friends
and acquaintances that are Disney fans have been very respectful. Club
33 membership is a privilege, not a right. The rules do state that it
can be revoked without compensation and most people seem to understand
Several months ago a member on MousePlanet's
MousePad discussion board
started a discussion, asking about a unique way to propose at
Disneyland. He was against the tried-and-true areas but rather, looking
for a unique, unvisited area to propose in a more personal manner. Since
my proposal to my wife was completely unromantic, his romantic
intentions caught my eye.
After several private message exchanges, I had
decided that this person would be the first one I would leave a Club 33
reservation and Disneyland tickets for. He proposed that following day
on the balcony overlooking New Orleans Square, and I received a thankful
message the day after his successful proposal.
This is how I would like to use my membership.
If I can leave such an indelible memory with a true Disney fan or cast
member, then I feel that I am honoring Walt's true intentions for the
club. I have read many MousePad posts from people who desire to dine at
Club 33, but I have a difficult time distinguishing those who are truly
looking to create an everlasting Disney memory from those who just want
to add a notch to their Disneyland accomplishments belt.
Stewart noted that other Club 33 members are
finding creative ways to use their memberships: “I noticed on eBay a
fellow member has auctioned of the right to dine at Club 33. It included
club reservations and four Disneyland tickets, food and drink not
included.” Before you get upset that people are making money off of
their Club 33 memberships, note that this auction had permission from
Disney, as every penny of the auction was going directly to a non-profit
charity. The winning auction price? $451!
One of the dining areas in Club 33. Photo by Kevin Yee.
Stewart looked into this himself as a possible
way to help out a good cause and to also get some of the money back via
a tax deduction. Stewart contacted the person who placed the auction on
eBay, and learned that the person had a signed letter from the Walt
Disney Company giving him permission to do fundraisers this way. The
charity he supports is also the benefactor of the annual
Ducks in Tux
event sponsored by the Anaheim Ducks professional hockey team, which is
owned by Disney. The rules that come with the membership explicitly
state that you cannot charge anyone for the use of the club. “If I
attempted to do this for any charity without Disney's permission I risk
losing my membership,” said Stewart.
Stewart recently received an invitation for his
first special event. Club 33 was celebrating Walt's 100th birthday on
November 19 with a special meal and speakers to share personal
remembrances of Walt, including insights into the man behind the Mouse.
The evening included a secret behind-the-scenes walking tour.
I bet Stewart had a great time!
below is current as of November 2001, and is courtesy of Club 33 member
Stewart. It is all subject to change; if you are interested in joining,
contact Disneyland directly for the most up-to-date information.
there are two types of memberships, Corporate and Individual, and there
are approximately 400 members altogether at this time.
There are no
"sabbaticals" or time off; that is, once you become a member, you cannot
become inactive for a year, then re-sign. This, says Stewart, makes
sense. "If you have a three year list of people ready and willing to
part with $10,000 of their hard earned cash, why allow someone to take
$5525 for primary charter member, $4175 per additional associate member
(up to nine permitted)
permits a corporation to grant one charter member and up to nine
associate members. Corporations hold title to this corporate account,
and are allowed to transfer membership within their organizations.
permits a corporation to grant a single membership to one of its
employees. Corporations hold title to this corporate account, and are
allowed to transfer membership within their organizations.
permits an individual to hold a single membership. Membership is not
transferable. Gold members may make reservations for themselves at Club
33 up to three months in advance, and up to two months in advance for
for the holiday season open in August for members and in October for
guests of members.
Silver-level memberships were discontinued in late 2000 and are no
longer available. This information is provided for historical reference
permits an individual to hold a single membership. Membership is not
transferable. Gold members may make reservations for Sundays through
Thursdays for themselves at Club 33 up to three months in advance, and
up to 30 days in advance for Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations for
guests could be made 30 days in advance.
for the December Holiday Season open in September for members and in
November for guests of members.
about Club 33 in these MousePlanet articles:
Chef Kevin: Club 33
by Kevin Yee.
Happiest Potties on Earth: Club 33
by Adrienne and Kevin Krock, reviews and evaluates the poshest restrooms
Ryman-Carroll Foundation Special Tribute Event
by Sue Kruse, who reports on a Club 33 buffet lunch as part of a special
The Magic Years: Club 33
by Jewel, who talks to a friend about dining at Club 33 as a teenager.