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The Art of Club 33

The Art of Club 33

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Picking up where we left off on Monday ... 

After making one too many trips to Club 33's buffet, I decided that it was finally time to get up and explore the restaurant. Take a look at some of these reportedly exquisite pieces of Disneyland concept art that I'd heard so much about over the years.


Photo by Jeff Lange

And it IS here. You just have to know where to look in order to find it. Take -- for example -- the above photo. Which is of a beautiful antique mirrored bar that you'll see in Club 33's main dining room. But do you see that little, tiny painting off to the left? That's actually early concept art for Disneyland's "Haunted Mansion."

Okay. Admittedly, not all of the pieces in the restaurant are that hard to spot. This handsome Herbie Ryman painting -- which shows what New Orleans Square would look like after construction was completed -- was prominently displayed.


Photo by Jeff Lange

As was this intriguing color study by Marc Davis. Which helped give Walt a sense of what the quieter, more-tucked-away corners of this 1960s-era Disneyland addition could possibly look like.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Mind you, not all of the art that you'd find on the walls of Club 33 is actually WDI concept stuff. Some of the paintings are just meant to remind you of what part of the theme park you're dining in. That -- for instance -- this terrific watercolor of a trio of New Orleans Square jazz musicians.


Photo by Jeff Lange

Or -- better yet -- how about this impressionistic take on the attack-on-the-Spanish-fort sequence from the "Pirates of the Caribbean"?


Photo by Jeff Lange

In addition to all the paintings on display, Club 33 has some great pieces of decorative art. Like this beautiful bust ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

As well as some colorful curios. Like this elegant glassed-in phone booth. Which is modeled after the one that you see in Walt Disney Productions' 1967 release, "The Happiest Millionaire."


Photo by Jeff Lange

But -- to be honest -- out of all the colorful paintings and beautiful objects you'll find at Club 33, do you know what made the biggest impression on me? This simple photo of Walt that you'll find in the Trophy Room.


Photo by Jeff Lange

The picture shows Walt seated on a park bench in Disneyland's Town Square area. And -- as you look at this thing -- you just know that this photo was taken early, early in the morning. Before the theme park had actually opened for the day.

How do you know that? Because ... Well ... There's a 1950s era pick-up truck parked right next to Town Hall. More importantly, there's this sweeper already at work in the background, trying to get rid of a puddle of water. Which probably accumulated as Disneyland's streets were being washed down the previous night.

And Walt's just sort of oblivious to all this. He's just sitting there on that bench. Seemingly unaware that his photo is being taken. Disney's staring off-camera, seemingly up Main Street U.S.A. toward Sleeping Beauty Castle. And the man has such a peaceful yet pensive expression on his face. As if Walt is really proud of what he's done ... But he also knows that there's so much more work to do.

The picture that I took of that photo doesn't really do it justice. There's just this sort of soulfulness that comes directly off of that image (Which was taken back in 1957, by the way) as you're standing there, looking at it.

That's what made the strongest impression on me during my most recent trip to Club 33. This weird little window into what it must have really been like to be Walt Disney. To have basically what was then the world's largest train set at your disposal.

Here's hoping that -- someday soon -- you too get the chance to eyeball of the artwork & curios tucked away upstairs at 33 Royale Street. That most exclusive of Disneyland eateries ... 


Photo by Jeff Lange

Special thanks to CR  for making this extra-special visit to Club 33 actually possible,
and to SM too for inviting Angela, Flo & I  to come along on your reservation.

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