Thursday, June 21, 2007

Exclusive Club 33

You talk about exclusive, even their logo can't be copied or pasted off the internet. It just makes it that much more mysterious and unattainable for most of us. Club 33 is a rarely advertised restaurant in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. It is only marked by a single green door next to the Blue Bayoo Restaurant entrance and the address marker "33". It is locked. There is a doorbell and a speaker phone but no one responds without the secret code. Yes, very mysterious, indeed. The significance of the number "33" is just an address: 33 Royal St. in the park, so it could serve alcoholic beverages.

Walt Disney himself started it back when he was alive for wining and dining potential investors and celebrities. It has only been open for "business" after his death around 1967. It has earned many strange rumors and tales on the internet. i.e. a talking vulture, microphones in the lobby near the antique, glass elevator. (you can also use the stairs, it's upstairs above N.O.S. There is a gourmet buffet and a very small, dark and lushly appointed dining room with appolstered everything. How do I know?

My wife and I have been lucky enough to be invited there, separately. We didn't even have to pay. Oh yes, we're celebrities now!...not really. You see, my wife's sister has inlaws who are members of the exclusively small list and they are invited annually(probably to renew their investment in it). They are guests of the park for the day with special entertainment and then dinner. Oh so posh! I, on the other hand, was part of a group of So. Calif. Pardee Employees who had a party there two or three years ago. I'm guessing the Pardee Brothers, true blue southland developers, who go way back, were connected to the originally building or the land where Disneyland is. They still have a corporate membership. At least for now...with new homes not selling much nowadays, maybe they won't be able to pay ther annual fees either. These are rumored to be: initial: $25,000. and then annual: $5,925. Whereas the individuals only have to pay $9,500. and $3,175 annually. This wouldn't be so bad, but the list is only 487 people/companies long. They are in the news, L.A. Times Business Section because they are thinking of increasing the list to 500. Big whoop, 13 +!
Still there are over 1000 on the waiting list or more just dying to get in and experience it, spend their money and try the buffet. There's even a website hosted by Dale Mattson who has been on the list since 2001 http://www.disneylandclub33/ Think how frustrated he must be.

Elton John, Kobe Bryant and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all dined there. (not together, I'll bet) When I went, it capped a day of "Trivial Pursuit" with 20 questions our team had to find the answer for to be revealed at Club 33 that evening. Our group came in third. We got most of our answers on Main Street at the "Memorabilia Store" from a friendly clerk...who may have been pulling our collective "leg".

As a family we used to go once a year, free, because my wife was the "Employee Group Rep." for places like Disneyland, Knotts, Magic Mountain etc. This was great when you have four boys and like to stand in lines alot. We got a free annual picture with Mickey or Minnie and we just loved it. Later on, I went with my church choir at Christmas and or took my own classes there as rewards in classroom contests. I've already mentioned in this blog that I've seen "behind the sets/streets" because several of my students (Jr. Hi.) were picked up for "shoplifiting" and their parents had to be called. I met them at the Disneyland Police Station (full size). Come on, we couldn't watch them all the time. We'd let them go off for acouple hours and then "touch base" or check-in before we let them go again. No one could leave until all had checked in...bummer with the late-comers.

Now we have So.Cal. Season tickets and try to take our grandchildren when they aren't busy, in school, etc. This is difficult. So we usually just spend a day there ourselves and reminisce. "Soaring over California" is our favorite. We are looking forward to getting back on those submarines too. The last time they were in operation, I got claustrophobic and had to sit by the door (hatch?) It should be better this time. (and dryer)

What is it with this attraction to "exclusivity"? We all want to think we are special or different or something, don't we. I wonder if this is the way Walt wanted it to be? Probably. After all, when you're at the "Happiest Place on Earth", what more could you want? Rat...atouille? Bob!


At 9:50 AM, Blogger BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

Time for another "jejune" comment. The Press Enterprise today had the same article about "Club 33" only a different reporter I think. Andy Fixmer from the Bloomberg News (wherever that is) quotes Alex Yelland, a Chevron spokesman, "It's a once-in-a-lifetime, priceless experience. It has that cachet." It has a chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. A recent lunch without alcohol came to $257. before tip. It has an antique harpsichord in the hallway which was played by Elton John. It has props from movies like a table from "Mary Poppins". It isn't a big money-maker for Disney, maybe $25 Mil a year, with the average check of only $65. Bob!


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