What is Club 33 and what is in there, anyway? Here is the history of this exclusive club, and how to get inside…
If you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying pillowy beignets in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, you may have been chowing down directly below world-famous celebrities. That’s right – an exclusive VIP lounge is hidden in plain sight, where world leaders, pop culture icons, and corporate bigwigs discretely gather.
Known simply as Club 33, the lounge is an ultra-exclusive venue for important figures to duck out of the crowds, cool down with a beverage, and enjoy gourmet cuisine. Membership is highly coveted by powerful Disney fans – so much so that the waitlist is rumored to be over 15 years long (but that’s just a Disney myth!). But if the most prominent big shots are frequenting a lounge located in one of the most popular destinations in the world, how are so many fans unaware of Club 33’s existence?
Well, the answer is simple – Disney does its best to keep the club under wraps. Despite Mickey’s best efforts, a thorough internet deep dive might reveal the park’s best-kept secret! We’ve compiled all of our insider knowledge here – so even if you can’t get past the fifteen-year waitlist, you can still get the scoop on Club 33.
What is Club 33?
So what’s the big deal, anyway? Between the waitlist and the price tag (we’ll get to that later…), it’s easy to question what the appeal of Club 33 really is. In short, Club 33 is a sophisticated and luxurious fine dining establishment for elite guests who value their privacy—and are willing to pay for it.
For well-known visitors enjoying the park, the club serves as an oasis from gawking fans and the California heat. For business associates such as valued investors and corporate leaders, the club acts as a sophisticated venue for business dealings right in the heart of where the Walt Disney Company began.
To protect the privacy of members and maintain its prestigious reputation, Disney has gone to unmatched lengths to protect the anonymity of members and the air of mystery that surrounds Club 33. However, in the 55 years since the opening of the club, leaked photos and anecdotes from members were bound to slip through the cracks. When curious fans like us piece together info from members and rare news from Disney, the puzzle of Club 33 starts to come alive.
Today, award-winning executive chef Andrew Sutton serves as the culinary leader of Club 33. He and his team present gourmet cuisine in a fine dining setting, accented by the regal sophistication that can only be done by Disney. Members can also enjoy a chilled martini or rich glass of wine in their upscale bar area, prepared by master mixologists, all while looking over crowds of guests below.
History of Club 33
Any Disney history buff will tell you that the roots of Walt’s classic attractions come from the World’s Fair. Club 33 is no exception to this.
The 1964 World’s Fair was highly significant for Walt Disney. There, he engineered and debuted a variety of iconic experiences such as It’s A Small World, Ford’s Magic Skyway, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln for a handful of major corporations. At the Fair, Walt visited private lounges hosted by corporate sponsors, where potential investors and other special guests were invited to enjoy refreshments and engage in important conversation.
As Disneyland developed, General Electric was set to sponsor the classic attraction, the “Carousel of Progress”—but only under the condition that Walt constructed a private lounge within the park. Although it was originally supposed to be located inside the Carousel of Progress, Walt convinced executives that it would be a better fit within a new area of the park that was under construction: New Orleans Square.
Inspired by the VIP lounges that Walt Disney first witnessed at the 1964 World’s Fair, Club 33 opened in May of 1967 as a private arena within the park where Walt could entertain important visitors. Over half a century later, the club continues to host diplomats, celebrities, and corporate agents in an upscale environment. New Orleans Square, along with Club 33, would be the last land expansion that Walt Disney ever directly oversaw.
Inside the Original Club 33
In 2011, before an extensive refurbishment, Disney Parks Blog described the interior of the club and shared photos:
“Club 33 include[d] two dining rooms and several adjoining areas, all of which [held] a variety of antiques and original works of art. After ascending to the second floor in the unique Victorian-age, French-style lift – a reproduction of one Walt had admired during a trip to Europe – you [would] enter The Gallery. Here [you would] find an oak telephone booth with beveled leaded glass panels adapted from the one used in the Disney motion picture “The Happiest Millionaire” and a rare console table which was found in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Also in The Gallery [were] original works by Disney artists and design studies for New Orleans Square and the Pirates of the Caribbean.”
In Lounge Alley, [there was] a beautiful harpsichord – one of the results of the “shopping” trip to New Orleans. It feature[d] a scene showing Jackson Square and the Mississippi River in the 19th Century, hand-painted by WED artist Collin Campbell.
The Main Dining Room [was] decorated in First Empire style, recalling the era of Napoleon and the early 19th Century. The room, decorated with framed artwork by Disney artists, [was] lit by wall sconces and three chandeliers. Fresh flowers, parquet floors, and antique bronzes create an atmosphere of serenity and warmth.
The Disney Room, or Trophy Room, [was] the second dining room. It was originally to be the setting for a show featuring five Audio-Animatronics figures: two magpies, an owl, a raccoon, and a vulture who would entertain the guests and even participate in their conversations through the use of microphones which were hidden in the chandeliers above each table. The show never developed, however, and only the vulture remain[ed] on his perch in the corner of the room.
While the original Club 33 was elegant and refined, Imagineers envisioned a fine dining experience that truly leaned into the surrounding area’s devotion to 19th-century New Orleans. Erin Glover, Former Manager, Social Media, and Print for Disney Parks Blog, commented at the time that her favorite artifact at Club 33 was a table from the filming of Mary Poppins.
What is Inside Club 33 Now?
In 2014, Club 33 underwent a major renovation, which included a full re-theme. In 2022, Disney announced that Chef Gloria Tae was named the first female chef de cuisine at Club 33.
Disney doesn’t publish any official photos of Club 33 on their websites, brochures, social media, or other promotional material. Glimpses of the club can be trudged up online by determined fans, typically taken by third-party publications during occasional media events. Distributing photos of the interior is strictly prohibited within the club (unless individually approved by management), so photos are still quite rare.
Some YouTubers have published photos of their visits to the club, but no video has been permitted for publication:
Disney Parks Blog has occasionally posted stories that include updates or special events at Club 33, and these can offer brief glimpses of the inside.
Snapping pics of the elite is a major faux pas anywhere, but that mistake can come with some harsh consequences at Club 33! If it’s discovered that a member or their guests posted photos to social media, they risk the suspension of their membership – which includes admission to the park. That being said, getting a peek inside Club 33 is a rare privilege that’s well worth the wait.
Disneyland’s Club 33 is inspired by the land it resides in – New Orleans! The Big Easy is one-of-a-kind, influenced both by the historcal landscape of the American South and the artistic and architectural contributions of French culture. This marriage between the charming old South and the French art nouveau movement is palpable in all areas of the club, creating a uniquely upscale atmosphere in the middle of Anaheim.
A Club 33 Tour
Visitors enter the club through a quaint courtyard known as the Court of Angels, where New Orleans-style balconies look over a cobblestone area dressed with wrought iron patio tables. A curved staircase welcomes esteemed guests to ascend to an inviting, yet unassuming door, where a small plaque reads “33.” Here, members can scan in and enter the foyer. They are greeted by reception staff at a desk, and they continue through the foyer.
The decor is that which you would perhaps find in a wealthy baron’s estate in the Crescent City, furnished with luxurious antique pieces including a handpainted grand piano that depicts a beautiful Southern landscape. Hallways are lined with bright expansive windows overlooking the park, guiding members toward the two main areas enjoyed by guests: Le Salon Nouveau and Le Grand Salon.
Le Salon Nouveau Lounge
Le Salon Nouveau is Club 33’s very own watering hole, where prestigious members can sip artfully crafted cocktails and savor sommelier-selected wine. The design of the bar is heavily inspired by the art nouveau movement (hence the name), employing the use of ethereal stained glass along the ceiling and elegantly rounded woodwork across the back bar. Several intimate tables are scattered around the lounge, inviting members to sit and converse as they wait for their table.
Le Grand Salon Dining Room
The main dining room, or Le Grand Salon, sends guests back in time to dining parlors of a bygone era in heart of Louisiana. Marble-checkered flooring, wicker-backed dining chairs, and elegant chandeliers continue the New Orleans theming while maintaining the level of upscale dining that Club 33 members are accustomed to.
But this visit to the past isn’t the only in-park oasis that prestigious guests can enjoy across Disney parks…
Club 33 Locations Around the World
Believe it or not, more VIP Disney clubs are tucked away across the globe. No attempt to replicate the original Club 33 in Anaheim, California could ever capture its one-of-a-kind magic. Thankfully, the other Club 33 destinations hidden around the world are inspired by unique themes that take members on entirely new journeys.
Walt Disney World Clubs
Walt Disney World followed suit just a few years later when not one but four Club 33-style exclusive dining locations were opened in each of the four parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios. Unlike the other three worldwide locations, these VIP clubs would be coined with their very own names. Although members get access to all four clubs, they do not include the full-service dining that other Club 33 destinations do.
- Hollywood Studios welcomed the Spotlight Lounge, resting above the beloved Brown Derby Restaurant. One could guess that the lounge pays homage to old Hollywood, although our team couldn’t uncover any hidden photos on the web.
- EPCOT now boasts the Constellation Club, hidden away within the America pavilion at the midway point of EPCOT’s World Showcase. The space was previously a lounge for Chase Visa cardholders but has of course since been refurbished. Leaked photos show dark wooden interiors accented by modern touches, while black-and-white photos of Walt Disney watch over members.
- Animal Kingdom offers Harambe House which, as you may guess, is located in Africa. Unlike the other clubs, the exterior of Harambe House is visible to all guests. The building reads “Harambe House”, with the words “thelathini na tatu” underneath – which means “thirty-three” in Swahili. Snooping guests have managed to snap photos of the interior through the club’s massive windows, which show sweeping hallways, bright open rooms, and organically modern decor.
- Magic Kingdom welcomes members to Captain’s Quarters, which honors the extensive background of the Adventurer’s Club and is appropriately housed in Adventureland. The club is located just beyond the Adventureland sign to the left of Cinderella Castle.
Tokyo Disneyland Club 33
The second exclusive club to open in Disney parks made its debut in 1983 in Tokyo, Japan. The lounge and restaurant venue is located within World Bazaar. World Bazaar is Tokyo Disneyland’s take on Main Street, U.S.A., but is covered by an almost Parisian-style glass ceiling.
Tokyo Disneyland Club 33 members enter the club through a discrete doorway, where they are treated to lavish fine dining presented over multiple courses. The club is exquisitely decorated in an elegant style reflecting the World Bazaar’s turn-of-the-century inspiration. Guests also have the privilege of accessing a spectacular private balcony where they can enjoy incomparable views of Cinderella’s castle.
Shanghai Disney Club 33
It would be 33 years until the next Club 33 destination would be introduced to elite parkgoers. In 2016, Shanghai Disney Resort opened to the public – but not all features of the park would be accessible by everyone. With the park’s opening, Imagineers included the third Club 33 location on Mickey Avenue.
Mickey Avenue, like Tokyo’s World Bazaar, is the equivalent of Main Street U.S.A. Instead of calling upon 19th-century influences like its predecessors, Shanghai Disney’s Club 33 took a more magical route. Inspired by Fantasia, this location pays tribute to the animated classic film through whimsical yet sophisticated furnishings as well as hidden motifs that fans will recognize as they dine.
Who Can Get Into Club 33?
Club 33 is extremely exclusive, only accepting a few hundred members per destination. Additionally, membership to one Club 33 location won’t grant you access to other destinations. With such limited allowance for membership, not just anybody can join the club.
Membership comes with a hefty price tag that filters out most people – for the original Club 33 in Anaheim, members must deposit a $60,000 initial invitation investment along with $25,000 in annual dues. It’s rumored that membership cost varies based on destination, but either way—Club 33 ain’t cheap.
- An annual pass for each year you are a member of Club 33
- 50 single-day guest passes to the parks
- Private VIP tours, offered yearly
- Club 33 merchandise offered only to members
- Miscellaneous VIP services
- Sneak peeks on park news
- Complimentary resort hotel upgrades
- Valet parking
- Access to 1901, the exclusive lounge in Carthay Circle Theater
Club 33 at Disney Parks
On top of monetary cost, an even more challenging obstacle lies in the way of those seeking membership. Club 33 is accessible by invite only – so even if you’ve got the cash, there’s no guarantee that Disney will deem you worthy of the club. Several factors play into whether or not someone is eligible, but as you may expect, the primary variables are fame, money, and influence. Known members include Elizabeth Taylor, Christina Aguilera, Elton John, Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, and Katy Perry.
If you’re powerful enough to rub elbows with the Disney elite, membership will also grant you a few extra perks: