Without fail, we were up early once again the next morning. We had a dilemma this time. We would be switching hotels that day and since there was a gap between our check out time at Del Sol Inn and our check-in time at Candy Cane Inn, we had a potential issue. We needed to figure out whether we’d be able to check-in early to Candy Cane Inn or whether we’d need to store our luggage in Henry’s room for a few hours.
We started by calling the front desk to ask if we could check out late. They’d give us an extra hour, which still put us three hours away from our check-in time at Candy Cane Inn. Then, we called Candy Cane Inn. Being used to Disney hotels, I fully expected they’d let us check-in whenever. Nope. They’d give us an hour, as well.
I didn’t call Henry right away (as a bit of an aside, Henry just concluded the last episode of his excellent podcast, Betamouse; check it out if you’ve never listened), as it was still early in the morning and he sleeps until around 2pm everyday. Sarah was planning on getting another Matterhorn Macaroon, so while she did that I went to pick up our tickets for Club 33, after which I called Sarah to scare her into thinking that our reservation had been lost. This was becoming something of a hobby of mine. Someday, we’ll actually have an issue and she’ll think I’m just kidding. You can only cry wolf so many times before no one believes you. But, as someone who lives in the present, scaring her makes me chuckle.
I called Sarah when I got into the park, and she was still in a long line at the Blue Ribbon Bakery, so I rode around on the Main Street Vehicles for a while we she got her food. In retrospect, it probably would have been wise to grab FastPasses for what would be a fairly busy day, but we were working at a leisurely pace.
After Sarah was done at the Bakery and I was done riding around in the vehicles, we met up at the end of Main Street and headed for New Orleans Square. It should come as no surprise that the first item on the agenda was Haunted Mansion Holiday.
However, before we headed to Haunted Mansion Holiday, we decided to admire our favorite gift shop: the Court of Angels.
When we arrived at the Haunted Mansion, we were surprised that none of the butlers greeted us by name. I mean, we had been coming to this attraction enough that it seems like it would have been appropriate to know us this well by now. In fact, but for there only being one vacancy, I think they might have offered us permanent residence in the Mansion.
We screwed around and took photos in New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Frontierland before heading over to Fantasyland for “it’s a small world” holiday. Somewhere along the way we also called Henry to ask if we could store our bags in his room.
Presumably no further description of the excellence that is “it’s a small world” holiday is necessary.
Once we were done with that, we figured we had better head out, because we’d either have to walk from our hotel to Disneyland Hotel or take a cab there. At the time, we didn’t think of the fact that we’d have to walk through security with our bags to get to Disneyland Hotel, so walking was pretty much out of the question.
As we headed out, we stopped on Main Street to take some more photos. We wasted far too much time doing this, and when we realized what time it was, we started hustling, as we were in a bit of a time crunch.
My fault–I was distracted by some turtles.
Once we got back to our room, Sarah called Candy Cane Inn again. The front desk there informed her that we could check-in 30 minutes from that time. This was a huge relief, as I was really worried about storing my bags in Henry’s room. Henry has a reputation for being a bit of an Underpants Gnome.
As Sarah finished packing up, I went to check out (we were about to hit the time after which we’d be charged some astronomical fee if we didn’t check out, so this division of labor was necessary). Unfortunately for me, there was an interesting couple at the front desk. When I told the lady behind the desk that we were checking out of our room, and the room number, the female said, “we were in the room next to you, hope we weren’t too loud” and touched my arm. She then proceeded to say something equally creepy (fortunately my brain has cleansed the memory of what, exactly, she said from itself) and her husband smiled at me. I wish I would have stayed in the room to pack while Sarah check-out!
Back at the room, Sarah had everything ready so I grabbed the suitcases, carried them downstairs, and we made our way to Candy Cane Inn. It was quite the trek compared to Del Sol Inn. It abutted the Cars Land expansion whereas Del Sol Inn was basically right across the street from the Esplanade. A 5 minute walk versus a 12 minute walk for those unfamiliar with Harbor Boulevard. It might not seem like much of a walk, especially compared to, say, Contemporary-Magic Kingdom or Boardwalk-Epcot, but when you’re used to a really short walk and use your room in lieu of an in-park locker, that difference is quite a bit.
To its credit, Candy Cane Inn was a nicer hotel. However, it was also more expensive to stay there for two nights than it was to stay at Del Sol Inn for three nights. I would have much rather stayed in the less-nice room at Del Sol Inn even if they were both priced exactly the same. Not that Del Sol Inn was nice, but it wasn’t bad, and I’d rather be close. Right now, it rates second overall to Desert Inn and Suites for us.
The walk to Candy Cane Inn and check-in process had taken longer than expected, but we still had plenty of time to get ready. We finished in plenty of time, and didn’t have to rush back to Disneyland. It was peculiar for us to actually be on time to something while at one of the Disney theme parks, but we were actually early!
We started by checking with City Hall to see if there was any availability on the Lilly Belle car for the rest of the day. No dice, but it wasn’t a huge deal. We had experienced it on our last trip. While it was really awesome, and we would’ve loved to do it again, not being able to ride it wasn’t earth-shattering.
Henry and Kate soon arrived (we only Kate to come, but unfortunately, they seem to be a package deal). Next stop, New Orleans Square! As soon as we buzzed, we were allowed to enter into the mystical palace.
I won’t belabor the stunning details and craftsmanship found inside Club 33. I did that in my previous Club 33 dinner review, and not much has changed since then. Unsurprisingly, the place is still pretty pretty.
If you read that review, you may notice that I’m one of the few people to have written a less-than-glowing review of Club 33. Part of the reason for this, I think, is due to the mystique of the Club. If you’re dining at Club 33, you’re having an awesome experience regardless of the cuisine by virtue of where you are. It’s such a spectacular location, rife with Disney history, that it’s difficult for any Disney fan to say anything negative about the place.
Even though Walt never stepped foot in the completed restaurant, it seems more lore surrounds Club 33 than anything else in Disneyland, and it also seems more like a Disneyland “original” than most of the rest of the park (nevermind that New Orleans Square didn’t open with the park in 1955).
The other part of the reason for this is that we simply had a bad meal. After dining again at Club 33, I can say that the dinner we previously had was not indicative of the quality of food at Club 33. Club 33’s lunch/buffet is typically regarded as the lesser of the two meals, but our lunch was far superior to dinner. It still wasn’t quite on par with the only other comparably-priced Disney restaurant in the United States (Victoria & Albert’s at Walt Disney World), but the ambiance made up (and then some) for this.
We were seated by a man who I would presume was around our age, and was filling in for our waitress. He started the experience out on the right foot, joking around with us and offering a few drink suggestions. Although the Club is far from stuffy (in fact, I would say the dress code is far too lax), it was still nice to have a server with whom we could relate a little better. Although our normal server was fine, we all wished he were our server for the entire meal.
After the fill-in server took our order, we headed to the buffet. Normally, I don’t associate buffets with great food. It’s a quantity over quality compromise. While the buffet wasn’t as good as my main course, it was far from mediocre. It was easily the best buffet-food we’ve consumed, and had some great options.
The mozzarella and tomatoes were the surprise hit for me, but it all was great. Lobster, shrimp, meats, cheeses, fruits. The only thing that was missing was someone to fan me and feed me grapes as I contemptuously lounged across a throne!
This was my first meal of the day, and I was fully prepared for it. I made the most of the buffet, but was still left plenty hungry afterward so that I’d fully enjoy my meal.
After enjoying some food from the buffet, I headed to the lobby to take some foods and take in the atmosphere. While there, I also shouted down at people in New Orleans Square, “foolish commoners, I let you eat cake!” and other derisive comments while loudly blasting out a deep belly-laugh.
While enjoying the balcony, I let me camera take some photos for my Disneyland Christmas Time Lapse video. There was only the most strained relationship between this scene and Christmas (some random wreaths and garland in New Orleans Square), but I really wanted a Club 33 shot for the video. I mean, c’mon, it’s CLUB 33! After a while out there, Henry poked out to let me know that our food had arrived.
Earlier, while we waited in the lobby, someone suggested that we try the Chateaubriand with Truffled Mac & Cheese. Had I not tried mac & cheese with steak at Jiko last year, I probably would have dismissed this suggestion out of hand. However, knowing that the similar Jiko combination was excellent, I decided to give it a try at Club 33, too.
Sarah wasn’t quite so brave, instead opting for the Colorado Lamp Chops. As I was underwhelmed by the Chateaubriand (widely regarded as the Club’s signature item) on our previous visit, I was apprehensive about trying it again, but I figured I would give it a second chance. After all, if so many people love it, chances are that my cuisine was unrepresentative of the norm last time, rather than so many people being wrong.
A lot was at stake, including bragging rights between Sarah and I as to who picked the better main course. This was always a bit of a competition between us, and I’m pleased to say that I won on this occasion!
My Chateaubriand was nothing short of phenomenal, and the mac and cheese was the best I’ve ever consumed. My vocabulary doesn’t contain a sufficient number of superlatives to describe the meal. Tender, flavorful, moist, and perfectly cooked. This steak basically had its doctorate degree in tasting awesome.
Sarah’s lamb was very excellent, as well, but it didn’t compare to the Chateaubriand. Henry and Kate also enjoyed their meals, and we all managed to persevere to save enough room for dessert.
This was especially true for Sarah. No one else was up at the buffet while she was to confirm this story, but legend has it that a chef was up there while she was and encouraged her to try every dessert. So she did. Having in the past experienced Sarah’s penchant for sweets, I’m a bit incredulous of her story, but I don’t fault her for sampling the whole selection of desserts. Most of the ones I tried tasted great.
After dessert, we again headed out to the balcony (all of us, this time) and enjoyed our surroundings. Normally, I’m not all that keen on dragging out meals. I have the patience of a miniature dachshund (I assume all of them are as impatient as ours), and unless something entertaining is happening, an hour is about my limit for a meal. However, I barely noticed that our meal had far exceeded two hours by that point. I probably could have stayed there for another few hours without growing restless.
After a while, we headed back inside, sat down for a little longer and finally headed out, approximately two hours and forty-five minutes after arriving. As we headed out, Henry bought a bathrobe or something for himself as I took some more photos. (Many of the Club 33 photos aren’t posted here but will be in our separate upcoming Club 33 Lunch Review.)
It was a bit painful as the door of Club 33 locked closed behind us, but it was another great experience, and hopefully we’ll be back again in the future. In the meantime, we had our SUITED UP Disneyland Resort bar crawl in front of us to help ease the pain…
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