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Orange County Register Article July 1st, 2014
Secretive Club 33 sheds much of its past in major renovation
Please Note: The photos utilized by the O.C. Register were older images of Club prior to the 2014 renovation.
Published: July 1, 2014 Updated: July 2, 2014 3:51 p.m.
Disneyland’s secretive Club 33 is getting a massive – and somewhat controversial – makeover that will eliminate nostalgic touches when the swanky upgrades are unveiled July 18.
The top-to-bottom rehab includes the addition of a full-service lounge overlooking New Orleans Square and a menu overhaul by award-winning Napa Rose chef Andrew Sutton, according to club members who received renovation details in recent weeks. Gone is the beloved Trophy Room, which previously was used by large dining parties.
“This is certainly the biggest change since I’ve been there,” said Laguna Beach resident Michael Ervin, a Club 33 member for 18 years.
The 47-year-old venue closed in January, leaving members like Ervin eager for a glimpse of the private restaurant when it reopens July 18. Some members, who pay up to $11,000 a year in top-tier membership fees, will get a first look July 16 during a preview tour.
“I’m looking forward to a new chapter of Club 33,” said Carlos Lopez, a Newport Beach resident and club member since 2003.
Still, some legacy members say they have mixed feelings about losing the Trophy Room, which was filled with Walt Disney paraphernalia and animatronics. It is being replaced to make room for a kitchen expansion.
“I hate to see the Trophy Room go, because it was so historical,” said Ervin, 66.
The new kitchen will be led by Sutton, who is taking a break from Napa Rose and Carthay Circle Restaurant to oversee Club 33’s culinary transformation.
Among the highlights: a lounge dubbed Salon Nouveau, which is expected to have views of New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America.
Club 33 members have been told the classic steak and seafood menu is being scrapped for one that “leans more toward New Orleans-style cuisine,” Ervin said, with some new entrees and appetizers featuring duck. Entree prices will range from $25 to $40.
“It’s completely different,” he said. “There’s nothing on the menu I’ve ever ordered.”
Club 33 members also pointed out other potential changes that have been bantered about via media reports, fan sites and Disney communications, including a possible change in menu pricing, a limit to the number of “unaccompanied” guests members can sign into the dining room and drop-in (no reservation required) access to the new, full-service bar.
Walt Disney was inspired to create the club after he saw the VIP lounges for corporate sponsors at the New York World’s Fair. Disney died before the club opened in June 1967.
Only club members and their guests are allowed behind the door next to a “33” plaque, marking 33 Royal St. Club 33 is the only place in the park where alcohol is regularly served.
Top-tier club members typically get four annual passes valid at both California and Florida Disney parks, as well as 50 day passes that can be given to guests.