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Tuesday
Oct012013

Club 33 Expansion

Disneyland's private "hidden" Club 33 restaurant will soon undergo major changes. To help understand the Club 33 layout and its expansion, we've created some visuals.

The design of Disneyland's New Orleans Square is elaborate, yet small. It's layout is simple, yet it's architecture is complex. The detailed land appears to be made up of dozens of buildings, yet the basic structure of the main square consists of only three main buildings, connected by enclosed bridges. A fourth building sits beyond the Railroad tracks and houses the bulk of Pirates of the Caribbean. Outside the main square sits The Haunted Mansion which is connected to it's show building, also beyond the tracks.

The diagram above shows the current Club 33 layout.

Below we see the space soon to be occupied by the jazz club expansion. Please note: That details of this space (walls, furniture, backstage areas, etc.) have not been publicly released, therefore we present only the most basic structure of the building.

Simple Expansion Summary

  • New Club 33 logo
  • The Club 33 entrance door will no longer be used.
  • Court of Angels will be sealed off on side and the other will be used as the new Club 33 entrance.
  • The glass elevator will be moved but won’t be used day-to-day.
  • A new, more-compliant elevator will be installed and accessed from within Court of Angels.
  • The Trophy Room will be closed.
  • Kitchen facilities will expand into what was the Trophy Room.
  • The main Club 33 hallway will be expanded. 
  • Restrooms will be relocated (unconfirmed).
  • The fireplace will be removed and windows will be added in its place.
  • The decor of the current Club 33 space will be redesigned with a brighter color palette.
  • New decor will be more “New Orleans” and less “Country Club”.
  • A jazz club will be added to space above the French Market and adjoining shops.
  • The jazz club will be called Salon du Nouveau.
  • Salon du Nouveau will exhibit concept art from Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”.
  • The decor of Salon du Nouveau will feature dark woods, reds, and greens.
  • A skylight will be included in Salon du Nouveau.
  • A “magic” piano will be added to Salon du Nouveau. This allows a pianist at a remote site to “play” this piano.


Humor me as I share a few thoughts about some of the things we already know.

Club 33 Expansion

Expanding Club 33 is a fine idea, in my opinion. It’s not one of those expansions where they take a small, intimate room and triple its size, making the space noisy and unfriendly. The expansion will take place in a neighboring building, connected only by a hallway and a narrow bridge. One of the most charming things about the current Club 33 is its various rooms of different shapes and sizes. Adding a couple more of these rooms will be nice.

Court of Angels

Closing the Court of Angels to general park guests is a real shame. It was one of the best and most peaceful little environments in any park in the world. It had a way of making you feel that you were the first person to discover its charm. It would be nice if no private expansion took away from any public area. 

Unused Space

We often complain about unused or under-utilized space in the parks (The old Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland land, Motor Boat Cruise Lagoon, Magic Kingdom’s Adventurland Veranda and Diamond Horseshoe, Epcot’s Wonders of Life, and Walt Disney World’s abandoned River County, to name a few). The upper levels of New Orleans Square are prime real estate for fine dining. Those views need not go wasted any longer.

Exclusivity

Here’s a touchy one. I’m not a member of Club 33 and will most-likely never be one. I’d like to be one but there’s that little $25,000 fee that gets in the way. But should a private club like this be cheap? And look at the demand for membership, even at that price. May I make a prediction? If Disneyland ever opens Club 33 to the general public (which I’m sure they won’t), the same fans who cry out against exclusivity will be upset that the Club would be losing its sophistication and hidden nature.

Price

Right now, from what I understand, Club 33 memberships start at $25,000 and are maintained at a price of $11,000 every year after the the initial year.

Consider this... There are different levels of dining throughout Disney properties. This makes sense. Walt Disney World’s Victoria and Albert's Restaurant at The Grand Floridian Resort offers a drastically different meal and dining experience than the Corn Dog Wagon on Main Street. A drastic price difference can be expected. Club 33 is a step up from Cafe Orleans which is a step up from French Market which is a step up from the churro cart. 

Money Money Money

The Club 33 expansion is about money. It just is. People are lined up for years waiting to pay thousands of dollars for the opportunity to pay hundreds of dollars for quality meal in a nice place. Should money be the driving force behind creative offerings like theme parks? I don’t believe so. Should excellent environments and guest experiences come first? I’m one who believes more money will come if you do things in this order. 

What Walt Wanted

Walt wanted a place to wine-and-dine his special guests. He loved showing his park to his friends and associates. But remember... Walt couldn’t easily walk though Disneyland or dine or enjoy attractions without interruption. Park-goers generally knew who he was and often approached him for autographs and such. He enjoyed being among the people but also needed private space. 

It’s unclear, from what I can tell, exactly what Walt would have done with his club. I believe he wanted people to use it when he wasn’t using it. I believe he planned on reserving the Trophy Room for his private affairs while park guest used the other portions of the restaurant. 

Would he have advertised it? Did he want private memberships? I can’t be certain. If the unmarked entrance is any indication, I'd say it was supposed to remain somewhat secretive. I say "unmarked" because, technically, the "33" sign is an address marker, not a restaurant marker.

The Jazz Club: Part 3 of Walt’s 3-Part Plan to Wine-and-Dine

I’ve recently learned a little about Walt’s intentions for the Jazz Club Space above French Market. Supposedly, Walt planned on using what will soon become Club 33’s Jazz Club as an actual Jazz Club. His wine-and-dine plan for special guests would have included:

  1. Visit time in his private apartment above the Pirates of the Caribbean entrance.
  2. Dinning in Club 33.
  3. Live Music and cocktails in the Jazz Club.

Are Walt’s Intentions Relevant?

This 47-year-old dilemma is a tough one. 

One one hand, you might say Walt has been gone for a long time and that things have changed. You might say that since Club 33’s current purpose is so different from its original purpose, Walt’s wishes don’t apply. 

On the other hand, you could say that Walt clearly knew what he was doing and had pure motivations. 

Perhaps the best answers come about when both sides are considered.

Conclusion

It is my conclusion that the announced (and still very mysterious) Club 33 expansion is too complex to entirely dislike or entirely love.

I really like the idea of opening the upper level of the already-connected and under-utilized building next door. I love that the new space will offer a different decor. I love the introduction to more land-appropriate music 

I dislike the idea of repurposing Court of Angels. It is, however, comforting to know the Court will still exist in one form or another (hopefully it won’t be changed too dramatically). I’m saddened to see the Trophy Room go extinct. It’s a little sad to see the beautiful interiors of Club 33 take on new forms. I’m sure the new designs will be tip-top and I look forward to returning to the location.

 

Related posts:

New Fantasyland 1983
Imaaaaaagination
THEN AND NOW: Disneyland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Walt at Disneyland
Walt Disney and the Santa Maria Railroad
A Story About Disneyland Fireflies

 

Reader Comments (17)

KILLER MAPS!! I love the style. It's like you built physical models out of matte board or something.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliams

If it weren't sealing off my beloved Court of Angels, I'd probably be all for the expansion. I too love the idea of a new area upstairs in New Orleans Square, and it's great to see them adding a new place to see live jazz.

Like you, I'm sad to see the trophy room go, just because it was an original and sorta wacky Walt idea. And now that I see they're planning to make over the remaining dining room, I fear that Dorothea Redmond's charming interior decor will be replaced by Kim Irvine's ham-handed asthetics, as happened with the Dream Suite.

On the other hand, I've always complained that the quality of the food at Club 33 is not commensurate with its prices or ambitions, so I guess I should be glad they're expanding the kitchen.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

I was lucky enough to visit the Club in 2011 as a guest of a member. I was so thrilled to be in the exclusive Club 33, but I was taken aback by the seemingly lack of space. When I heard about the expansion, I thought that would be a great idea since if you're paying a high membership fee, you shouldn't have to feel crammed while dining.

That being said, I don't like the idea of sacrificing parts of the park or the Club for that matter. For example: closing the Court of Angels I feel is a mistake. My best friend's family take a picture there every visit, which usually ends up as their holiday card. I understand wanting to re-do some of the interior decorations to fit the world of New Orleans Square, but the thought of incorporating "The Princess and the Frog" just makes no sense to me. I personally love the movie and think it is very underrated. However, I'm getting very tired of seeing the resort be more and more consumed with their films. Walt's quoted as saying "Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money." Somewhere along the way I feel the brass has forgotten that.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

A few points I'd like to add:

The current dining room will not be expanded, and will hold approx the same number of seats. Besides the slight change in decor in the main dining room, the only thing that is majorly changing is the removal of the fireplace, and putting in a large window to add more light. This does very little to the actual number of tables in the main dining room.

The new jazz club will be called Salon Nouveau and is more like a bar/lounge with the player piano. There will be lots of couches and some table nooks that will eventually serve food and possibly the full club menu when the main dining room is full.

In regards to what Walt wanted, the answers will vary, as there were many ideas given to Walt during the development of the club. We were told at the Club 33 Member Preview that there were many plans drawn up for a jazz club, but they were also throwing around the idea of a fancy steak house, where the jazz lounge is going. There were also plans to make the private apartment (now the Dream Suite) into a second dining room for Club 33. We were told this directly from Kim Irvine.

And lastly, current Platinum membership dues are $11,000 per year but they increased the initiation fee to $30K for all new members that apply. From what we were told, they are not allowing any new members to join until the club expansion is nearing competition in early summer 2014.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulesDrool

Great model of the current and expected expansion. Looks like you have a lot of the details right.

On the actual model, there is access into the Trophy Room from the back side so I believe there is another bridge there over the Pirates exit that expands into limited kitchen space.

The story of the Trophy Room is better than the actual space. As long as they relocate the vulture somewhere I think most people would be happy. A full and complete kitchen for Chef Marcel and his team will be great and and much needed improvement.

Concept art from Princess and the Frog decorating the new lounge......hope not.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDisneyMapGuy

I think the fan community is pretty much in agreement in opposition to taking away one of the quiet spaces that make Disneyland special.

I understand management's desire to sell an expensive item that people are waiting years to buy. But I'm probably not alone in thinking that the connection to Walt himself is most of what makes the price tag worthwhile. Although he never got to use it himself, the current Club 33 reflects his ideas and style, especially the vulture in the Trophy Room. Joining Club 33 is a way to be in "Walt's circle" despite being born after his death. A vastly remodeled Club 33 may not have that link, and it becomes just another expensive private club.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDean Finder

I had always heard stories of the invite-only 33 Club at Disneyland, but the charm was lost upon learning that the "invite" costs $30,000 and $11,000 a year to maintain it.

Good for Disneyland for finding a way to generate such a substantial profit out of such a tiny place, but I can't imagine how the staff keep straight faces in front of their guests!

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cropp

NOTE: I just modified the original post slightly with more accurate info. Modifications were based on some of these comments and on other sources.

Thanks, everyone.

October 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterMitch

I can confirm that the bathrooms will be moved and become ADA compliant. Historical elements of the bathrooms will be moved with the new bathrooms.

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDisneyMapGuy

Fantastic maps, but your image showing the space for the Royal Suite Apartment is a bit off. It does not include space for the apartment's dining room, or the Club's current kitchen, which is adjoining to the dining room. They were both connected so that the occupants of the apartment could be served from the Club's kitchen. Also Walt had a private backstage entrance to the apartment which would push the left side of your shaded area up further. He would have been able to park behind the Pirates Show building and walked along a landscaped path adjacent to the show building that led to the apartment's backstage front door. This opened on to a foyer/hallway that ran to the south of the Master Bedroom and ended at a door that opened on to the courtyard. When the space was converted to the Gallery, This hallway was used as a backstock area and held a simple bathroom that if fully completed would have been Walt's Master Bathroom. If you enter the Dream Suite from the elevator today, you enter the Suite in the general area where the backstage entrance/door would have been.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwdi33

In the original 1960's plan for New Orleans Square, the Jazz Club was not intended to be private, or a part of Club 33. It would have been a venue that was open to all Park guests to enjoy.

In Answer to your question: "Would he have advertised it? Did he want private memberships?" The answer is No. We were told by the Club's original membership director at the Club's 45th Anniversary that originally individual memberships were not a part of Club 33's plan. Membership was only going to be open to corporations and businesses. Even though they had several major corporations join, the Club was severely underused so they very discreetly began offering individual memberships to help fill the dining room at lunch and dinner. Over the years the Club maintained a quiet existence in the middle of a bustling Park, with many long time Cast Members not knowing of the Club's existence. It was never advertised or officially spoken of, until the late 90's when the internet let everyone in on Disneyland's best kept secret.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwdi33

Wonderful illustrations!! What program do you use to make the 3D buildings? Absolutely lovely!!

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

" If Disneyland ever opens Club 33 to the general public (which I’m sure they won’t), the same fans who cry out against exclusivity will be upset that the Club would be losing its sophistication and hidden nature."

That's ridiculous--the vast majority of Disney fanatics can't afford or access Club 33. Why would they be upset at the chance to go to Disney Heaven? The only people complaining would be its wealthy patrons. Even then, fine dining prices would keep most people out.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchris

Never heard of "Club 33" or it's existence until last year I believe. You may call me ignorant or whatever, but I feel like Club 33 is just an overpriced membership organization. If it was suppose to be a private dining area for Uncle Walt and his guests, then that's what it is or was. If you asked me to pay $25,000 for entry and an additional $11,000 to maintain membership, forget it! I rather used that money to stay at Disney resorts, go to the parks in Florida, and go on Disney Cruises. There are many things worth more than some "exclusive" club. And that is using your time for something else.

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJOSEPHINE DISNEY

That is the real loss is the WED gem-of-a-design, The Grand Courtyard - now referred to as The Court of Angels (this name change was not specifically official, as it was christen that by Disneyland merchandising in honor of a fellow worker that passed of cancer.) Sad as that is, I don't believe the person worked with Disney very long and should the park nomenclature be altered by park department divisions to honor cast members in memorium?

Anyway, The Grand Courtyard and the Royal Courtyard were two architectural features that really made New Orleans Square feel so expansive .....and thematically real. It will be sad to see this area be taken away from Disneyland guests.

October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Cozart

There will be a pedestrian bridge for staff only between the existing Club 33 corridor (approx. where the harpsichord is now) to the lounge, which will allow beverages served in the Club 33 restaurant to come from the service bar in the lounge. As the article stated, the existing corridor will be widened; the existing service bar removed; and a portion of the widened corridor walled off and dedicated to staff moving between the new kitchen and dining room. The "skylight" in the new lounge will be in name only; it will be a faux skylight. And, since the lounge is going into space currently used for storage, there will no longer be buffet service at lunch, since there won't be space to store the buffet equipment.

October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeeper

Ditto!! Please fill us in on the software you use to make these wonderful looking illustrations and designs!

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBryon

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