33 Royal Street is arguably the most “famous” address among Disney fans. What’s at that address? None other than the exclusive and somewhat mysterious restaurant, Club 33. Access to the Club is by membership (or as the guest of a member) only, which costs $25,000 for initiation plus $10,000 per year as of 2013.
The existence of the restaurant is denoted only by a cryptic “33” sign near the entrance to the restaurant. This article contains some “secrets” or little known facts about Club 33, plus our impression of dinner at Club 33. Click here if you’re looking for our Club 33 lunch review.
Much lore exists as to how the restaurant got its name. Some claim that the restaurant is named after the original 33 investors in Disneyland, who Walt would entertain in the restaurant. Others have suggested that the name refers to the number of “yay” votes for proceeding with the Club after Walt’s death.
Others yet think it’s because 33 sideways looks like “mm.” Another more well-respected rumor is that it represents the number of Disneyland lessees in 1966-67 when the Club was being built. Countless other fables likely exist to offer explanation for the name. While there may be some truth to these rumors, especially the last, the official reason goes back to the address. Club 33 serves liquor, and as such, needed a liquor license. To receive a license, it needed an address separate from Disneyland. It is named after its address.
Here’s some more info about Club 33, plus our photos from this Disneyland restaurant…
Backtracking a bit, we started our voyage into Club 33 by heading to the doorway where I pressed a speak-easy style speaker-box. After a couple of seconds, a voice came over the other side of the intercom, and asked for our information. A few seconds later, we were buzzed inside.
No matter how much I had read about the restaurant and despite all of the photos I had seen online, I was blown away as I was enveloped in the sea of rich burgundy and ornate details. Everything about the lobby was lavish. Although I wasn’t around back in the 20s, it felt like what I envision the inside of a ritzy 20s speak-easy looking like. Much like the Lilly Belle, it appeared as if it had remained in pristine condition since 1967.
Right then, I knew the ambiance alone would justify the cost of the experience. I cannot fully stress how important it is to view this restaurant as an experience and not a meal. If you’re considering dining at Club 33 and you don’t really care about Disney history, don’t.
Immediately visible in the lobby is the most impressive piece of Club 33 lore, the French Lift. These lifts were frequently used in the late 1880’s, but are now quite rare. They were similarly rare when Club 33 was being constructed.
When shopping in France with his wife, Lillian, Walt spotted a French Lift he immediately had to have in an older hotel. He tried to purchase the elevator, but the hotel would not sell the elevator (uhh…did they not recognize Walt FREAKIN’ Disney?! They should have given the thing to him, along with any other elevator in the premises, even if he didn’t request them!), so Walt had artists and engineers (Imagineers) visit the hotel to study the lift so that they could replicate the lift with necessary modernizations. If you dine at Club 33, you’d be remiss if you didn’t take the lift.
More on the next page…