Disneyland's private Club 33 restaurant will double in size after an extensive six-month renovation that adds a new entrance, kitchen and jazz-inspired lounge.
Long maintained as a park secret and shrouded in mystery, the members-only club billed as "the most exclusive address in all of Disneyland" is expected to reopen in mid-July.
Located next to the Blue Bayou restaurant, the hidden club takes its name from its 33 Royal Street address in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, marked by only a "33" sign next to a locked green door. The restaurant was decorated with antique furniture collected by Walt Disney during family vacations to New Orleans and movie memorabilia from his live-action films.
Disney, who died shortly before Club 33 opened in 1967, initially conceived of the second-story dining room next to his private apartment above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as a place to entertain dignitaries, VIPs and corporate sponsors.
The club's $11,000 annual dues entitle members to entrance to Disneyland, exclusive entertainment amenities and access to the only alcohol served in the park. The similar members-only 1901 lounge at Disney California Adventure opened in 2012.
Disneyland officials have been tight-lipped about renovations to Club 33, forcing Disney fan websites to glean details about the makeover from members who have received email updates, toured a preview center or visited a password-protected website.
The entrance of the remodeled Club 33 will be moved down Royal Street to the Court of Angels, an underused alcove with a curving staircase. Club 33 members and their guests will enter through the former L'Ornement Magique holiday decoration store, which will be converted to a reception foyer. Visitors will wait for their table in the open-air courtyard, which will be hidden from the rest of the park by an iron gate with opaque glass panels.
Upstairs, the existing main dining room will be converted from a Napoleon-era First Empire style to a New Orleans theme based on designs by Disney Imagineer Kim Irvine. Redubbed Le Grand Salon, the remodeled main dining room will switch from a self-serve buffet to a la carte service at lunchtime. With the restaurant unveiling a new logo, china emblazoned with the old "33" emblem will be auctioned off to club members.
The new Salon Nouveau lounge above the French Market restaurant and adjoining shops will draw inspiration from Tiana's art nouveau restaurant in "The Princess and the Frog." Bartenders behind a hand-carved wooden bar are expected to serve Bourbon Street-inspired cocktails befitting the jazz club setting.
For hard-core Disney fans, the biggest disappointment of the Club 33 makeover will be the demolition of the Trophy Room, a secondary dining area that will be transformed into a state-of-the-art kitchen. Walt Disney's original plans for the Trophy Room called for audio-animatronic magpies, owls, raccoons and vultures that would interact with diners, whose conversations would be picked up by microphones hidden in the chandeliers above each table.
Andrew Sutton, executive chef at the Carthay Circle and Napa Rose restaurants at the Disneyland resort, will run the new Club 33 kitchen. The award-winning chef is expected to update the menu that currently includes steak, seafood, seasonal entrees and signature desserts.
Many of the most beloved elements from the original Club 33 — such as the animatronic vulture, the distinctive French lift elevator, the antique harpsichord and the throne-like toilets — are expected to be repurposed in the new restaurant.