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Club 33 members sue Disneyland, saying they were booted for speaking out on harassment

Club 33 members sue Disneyland, saying they were booted for speaking out on harassment
Visitors enter the Club 33 restaurant at Disneyland in 2013. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Few people know what goes on behind the doors of Club 33 in Disneyland because membership to the private club at the Anaheim theme park is limited and expensive.

But a lawsuit filed this month gives a rare peek at the strict rules and code of conduct for members of the exclusive club, which has operated in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square since 1967.

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An Arizona couple who joined Club 33 in 2012 sued the theme park in Orange County Superior Court, saying Disneyland revoked their membership because they had been speaking out about bullying and harassment of other members at the club.

Disneyland rejected the allegations, implying that the couple, Scott and Diana Anderson, were kicked out because they had misbehaved.

“Like other private clubs, Club 33 has rules and regulations that address, among other things, member conduct,” said Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown. “All members must abide by these rules and regulations so that all members may enjoy Club 33 benefits without disruption. In this case, the termination of membership was due to multiple violations of Club 33 rules.”

Walt Disney dreamed up Club 33 as a place to entertain dignitaries, investors and other VIPs. Members get perks such as passes to the park and exclusive tours, but it doesn’t come cheap: The initiation fee is $50,000, and dues cost $15,000 a year, according to former members. Disney officials refuse to divulge how many members the club can have, but Disney experts say the waiting list is probably several years long.

Scott and Diana Anderson, who head a consulting company in Arizona, claim in the lawsuit that problems began in July 2016 when a new general manager, Luke Stedman, took over at the club. Their suit alleges that Stedman let “favorite” members bully and harass other members and staffers.

The couple also said in the suit that Stedman falsely accused them of videotaping a performance in the club, against club rules.

In September 2017, the lawsuit said, Scott Anderson had a “medical episode” at Disney California Adventure that made him “disoriented and acutely ill.” According to the suit, Stedman accused Anderson of being intoxicated. The following month, the couple were banned from all private lounges at Disney parks and their membership in Club 33 was terminated, the suit said.

The couple contend their membership was revoked because they had been complaining to Stedman about harassment.

The lawsuit is not the first from an unhappy member.

Two years ago, a member who also was booted from the club sued the park, saying Disneyland ended his membership after a friend auctioned his passes for charity. Joseph Cosgrove's suit acknowledged that auctioning the passes was against club rules, but contended that he didn’t know of the friend’s actions and that the park should have given him a chance to appeal its decision.

Cosgrove’s lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in a jury trial starting March 5.

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