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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

 

Tuesday
Sep102013

WDW Construction: Cinderella Castle

By late 1970 the partially-built Cinderella Casltle was the tallest structure on the Magic Kingdom construction site. By February, 1971 its spires were nearing completion. A scroll-shaped sign above the Castle entrance reminded everyone: "REMEMBER, OPENING OCT. 1971".

How many bricks are in Cinderella Castle??? ZERO. Harharharharhar. Anyway. No more "fun" facts. But really, what a beautiful sight this must have been. How great would it have been to walk around and see everything come to life??

 

Related posts:

WDW Construction: Magic Kingdom
WDW Construction: Liberty Square
WDW Construction: Contemporary Resort
Walt Disney World in 1971 [Part 1]
Walt Disney World in 1971 [Part 2]
Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain Construction
EPCOT Construction from the Air

 

Wednesday
Jul312013

"Saving Mr. Banks" vs. the 1960s

I present side-by-side photo comparisons featuring images from the "Saving Mr. Banks" trailer(right) and images of people and places that inspired scenes from the movie (left). 

I found myself more and more anxiously for the December release of "Saving Mr. Banks" starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. The film takes place during the years leading up to and including the 1964 release of "Mary Poppins". How well did movie-makers recreate the period? 

In the trailer we see a persistent Walt Disney invite a reluctant P.L. Travers (author of the Mary Poppins children novels) to come with him to Disneyland. During filming last November, reproductions of various now-extinct props were temporarily added to parts of Disneyland. The classic oval "D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D" letters were added to the turnstyle rooftops. Attraction posters were added to the wall in front of the Floral Mickey and Railroad Station. And on the Railroad Station, a Santa Fe sign covering up the current sign.

Extras wore clothing from the era. And look... No new-school snow on Sleeping Beauty Castle (like many fans have been fearing).

Here we see a very close replica of Walt's office.

Walt's office (above left) displayed the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Photo by Michael Kane.

Back when the first images of production appeared online, I created and tweeted this photo comparison. It was quickly used by hundreds of movie and news sites. But the joke's on you, Hollywood! I mistakenly used the wrong Walt portrait. I later found the correct one (below). It appears they added a photo of Tom Hanks' head onto the photo of Walt Disney, keeping the same suit and background.

Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers and pulls off the look rather well.

Robert and Richard Sherman are played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman.

This black-and-white television footage of Walt Disney interacting with an animated Tinkerbell is nicely recreated with Tom Hanks.

In the original footage, Walt is elevated towards the ceiling of his studio office with Pixie Dust but then is lowered to the ground once he brushes the dust off his suit jacket. Tom Hanks is also elevated until he brushes off the Pixie Dust in the same manner.

The Hollywood premiere of "Mary Poppins" is beautifully recreated. The exterior of Graumann's Chinese Theatre has changed a bit since 1964 but the feeling the premiere is captured beautifully.

How fun is it to see Walt's wife, Lillian, in the film as well (played by Dendrie Taylor).

From what little we've seen, how well do the actors capture the personalities of the people the depict? I say quite well. How well does the film capture the period? Very well. Are there post-1964 architecture and props visible in the Disneyland shots? Yes. Pinocchio's Daring Journey (opened in 1983) can be seen behind Tom Hanks while he's on the Carousel. But really, everything in the trailer feels right, in my opinion. No views of Tomorrowland '98! Overall, was 1960s Disneyland presented well? Absolutely. Will overly-picky fans find endless fault with the film? Most-likely. Will the film present a completely accurate version of the Walt–P.L story? Not likely. Will there be some creative and/or historical license taken? Duh. It's not a documentary. Will the film offer a charming, delightful, and nostalgic "based on" account of this true story? Let's hope so.

 

Related posts:

THEN AND NOWWalt at Disneyland
That's What Walt Said
Walt's Wife Talks About EPCOT Center
THEN AND NOW Photo Collection