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Ruminations: Opening night at Disneyland's Club 33

Ruminations: Opening night at Disneyland's Club 33

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If there is one place in Anaheim that has more than its fair share of urban legends, it has to be Disneyland's fabled Club 33. As a place that few guests no even exists, only a select few of those in the know actually get the chance to step inside and enjoy the finest dining inside the Park.

As it is with all things at Disneyland, there have been many changes to Club 33 since it first admitted members and their guests on the night of June 15, 1967. For its 30th anniversary, a reproduction of the program from that evening was produced.

Introduction to Club 33, Royal Street

To millions of people around the world, few words so symbolize the phrase "good host" as does the name Disneyland. The Disneyland way of making every guest feel welcome in the midst of masses of people is famed from the main streets across America to the royal palaces of Europe and Asia

To a select few among more than 60 million guests, the Magic Kingdom has been even more than simply a "good host." To these Very Important People - Kings and Queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents of both nations and corporations - Disneyland is the embodiment of the hospitality that has been called "red carpet." No one who has known it will soon forget his day and his tour of Walt Disney's "Magic Kingdom."

Now a new era has dawned in the entertaining of Very Important People in a Very Important Fashion at Disneyland. Now - for the very first time - you and your company cam participate in a new service that will cater exclusively to those visitors who merit your most courteous business care.

We call it Club 33, after the most exclusive address in all Disneyland:

33 Royal Street, New Orleans Square.

The Concept

High above the streets and courtyards pf New Orleans Square, hidden from public view and the bustle of a typical day at Disneyland, is a page out of old New Orleans that even the proud Creole society might have chosen and cherished as its own.

Here French doors open onto balconies that overlook Disneyland's own muddy Mississippi, the Rivers of America. Here, in the tradition of the good host, Walt Disney, and his staff planned and executed Disneyland's most exclusive setting - part elegant dining room, part relaxed refreshment center, part distinguished art gallery, part meeting room and part private showplace.

This was Walt Disney's concept - an elegant, exclusive club for Very Important People... a place for conversation, and in turn a conversation piece in its own right.

It was Walt's idea to create "a private show within a public show" with the opening of Club 33 in Disneyland.

Everything - from plush furnishings to crystal chandeliers, from original paintings and sketches to a personalized Audio-Animatronics show for members and guests only - has been chosen or specifically created for Club 33, by the staff of WED Enterprises and by other Disney artisans.

Here, away from the general public, adult beverages will be available, including the finest wines to match the food specialities of the house.

Nearly two year's time and artistic talent has gone into the creation of this private club service and convenience for you and your special guests.

Entrance

Your personal key-card unlocks the ornate paneled door at 33 Royal Street, New Orleans Square.

Inside a hostess welcomes you and leads your party to the French-style cage elevator standing nearby (it is one of perhaps a dozen that still exist in Southern California today).

Within moments, aboard your Victorian-age lift, you have arrived in the private world of Club 33.


The inviting lobby to Club 33 on Royal Street in New Orleans Square

The Trophy Room

No British men's club ever enjoyed a more masculine atmosphere than the Trophy Room. And the stories spun here are likely to be taller by far than those that fill a big game hunter's den.

The walls of the Trophy Room (the rich wood look and the touch of natural finish cypress) are lined with samples of the hunter's skill. Over a period of years, friends of Walt Disney had given him a prize collection of princely value: African antelope, mountain goat, native spears, masks and plumes. And the room's most valuable showpiece, a nine-foot long, solid ivory mammoth tusk.

Forty-two guests dining at pub-like, natural oak tables will find their attention drawn to not only these treasures, but to several other seemingly passive birds and animals around the room. Above the fireplace, an owl and two magpies. Nearby, a raccoon. Across the room, a leering, hungry vulture.

This is no ordinary menagerie. For when the feathers begin to fly, and the tall tales are spun back and forth across the Trophy Room, the voices may not be those of your luncheon companions alone. To the contrary: the Audio-Animatronic performers are as talented as the marvelous Macaws in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and as talkative as "mother" in the General Electric Carousel of Progress. And the wise old owl on his fireplace perch has one more extraordinary talent; for a tuppence or two, he can talk directly to you. He may even know your guests by name!


The Trophy Room

Lounge Alley

Enter Club 33 by stepping into Lounge Alley, a broad vestibule serving as cocktail lounge, art gallery and a place where businessmen may discuss the day's events while watching the passing parade of people.

Near its entrance will be a Club 33 highlight, a gallery setting for the display of original paintings. It is planned that this rotating exhibit will feature the original private works of artists from the Disney Studio and WED Enterprises. Many of these paintings will be available for purchase by Club members and their guests.

For its premiere showing, however, and for periodic display thereafter, the gallery in Lounge Alley will present on of the world's largest collections of original pen and ink sketches by Henrich Kley, one of the great cartoonists of modern times. These brilliant, satirical and sometimes bizarre cartoon sketches are from the private collection of the late Walt Disney. Never before have these Kley originals been exhibited.


Lounge Alley - a view from the south end


Lounge Alley - Let the Buffet begin!

The Banquet Room

No expense has been spared in the creation of the Banquet Room, a setting of elegance where only 78 patrons will dine at any one time.

Its woods are the finest of natural grains. Its imported chairs are made to order, Napoleonic style, by Italian craftsmen. Its candelabras and other dressings are genuine antiques. Its three empire chandeliers are one-of-a-kind, handcrafted by the same artisans who created those that so dominate the interior of the Los Angeles Music Center.

Gracing the walls of the Banquet Room is a permanent collection of original art, created by artists at WED Enterprises in the design of New Orleans Square and (on a much lighter note) the idea sketches and paintings for the new Disneyland adventure, "Pirates of the Caribbean."

The tall French doors of the Banquet Room open onto small balconies that afford one of the most exciting views in all Disneyland - the streets of New Orleans Square below, and beyond, the bustling Rivers of America and the "Mark Twain" stern-wheeler.


The Banquet Room - note the absence of table linens!


Another view of the Banquet Room

The "Royal Suite" Club 33, Disneyland U.S.A

Space has been provided for expansion of Club 33 at some future date, dependent upon the use of present facilities by patrons and their guests.

In concept, this area has been called "the Royal Suite."

These artists' renderings visualize some of the ideas for d├ęcor and atmosphere in "the Royal Suite"


The Royal Suite, as envisioned for expansion of Club 33. Today the Entry to the Disney Gallery


The formal dining room in the Royal Suite. Today the major display space in the Disney Gallery


The Courtyard of the Royal Suite

Hope that you enjoyed this interesting look back at the earliest days of Club 33!

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