We were fortunate to have had the privilege to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary at Club 33 on May 19th. There have been a lot of changes since our last visit two years ago, following the remodeling that took place in 2014.
To start, the “secret” door next to the Blue Bayou restaurant is no longer used. The entrance is now in the Court of Angels. There is still an unmarked door and a buzzer to summon a cast member to escort you in. Once inside, you pass the reservation desk and then proceed into an open courtyard, where one can bask in the warm sun away from the hustle and noise of the park. From there, a large staircase leads upstairs to the restaurant.
Entering the second floor, there is a long hallway to the left which leads to the member’s dining room. This hallway is lined on both sides with wine racks, filled with the best wines awaiting your enjoyment. Guests of the member are not allowed in this area unless accompanied by the club member (hence, we have no pictures of this area). In the main hallway between the dining rooms, Lillian’s harpsichord is still a part of the décor, and one of the animatronic vultures from the Trophy Room now greets you as you enter and leave.
There have been quite a number of changes in the club. The main dining room has changed significantly. The fireplace is gone; the maroon and gold Victorian curtains have been replaced with blue ones; the flooring is new; and the Club 33 logo was changed. The Trophy Room was removed to make room for an expanded kitchen, which now makes it difficult to seat large groups. The European Lift that was iconic to the old Club 33 was missing from the experience. Whether it was removed or is just no longer in use is unknown to us – but we’ll keep trying to find out.
Seemingly out of place to discuss in this post, but in need of mention – the restrooms have changed significantly. The new restrooms are more Victorian, and the “wicker thrones” were removed from the women’s room.
The menu has also gone through some major changes as well. The lunch buffet (our favorite) with its salad & appetizer bar and dessert table, is no longer available. Everything is now a full service menu, although you do have a choice of three, four, five or six courses, and dining is priced accordingly. A wine pairing is still available for a charge. Our favorite entrée, the Chateaubriand, has been has been replaced with Filet Mignon, but overall the food was still amazing.
While we generally don’t look for the negatives at Disney, we feel it necessary to discuss some of those aspects of the changes. Walt said that “Disneyland will never be complete. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” And while change is inevitable, some changes don’t always work.
The lift was one of those magical things about the club. The story about its creation just made you feel that Walt was still hanging around. The Trophy Room was just as iconic, and now it’s gone except for the vulture in the entry. The fireplace made your dining experience feel more like a home instead of a restaurant.
In speaking with others that have made recent trips to Club 33, they felt that it was now just an expensive restaurant. Unfortunately, we believe that many are now expressing their displeasure with their wallets. Of the five or six times we have been, we have never seen so many empty tables. The changes aren’t just in the restaurant. In January, there were major changes in the benefits of the Club 33 membership which have current members somewhat concerned about the value and uniqueness of the place they cherish so much.
We will go when occasion and opportunity present themselves, but we are concerned for the overall future of Club 33.