Harder to get into than a Broadway performance of Hamilton and more exclusive than a Pool Circle Box at the Hollywood Bowl, Club 33 has long been on my bucket list. Club 33 is the private dining club hidden in New Orleans Square in Disneyland not far from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It opened around 50 years ago as a secret feature of the theme park accessed by top Disney brass, corporate sponsors and other VIP’s. Today, it remains as difficult as ever to infiltrate, with membership costing a small fortune and a waiting list many years long. Thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend, my dream of dining in this legendary club finally became a reality last month.
There are two parts to Club 33. The first is a dining room serving upscale sesonally-inspired New American cuisine and a wide variety of classic and modern cocktails, beer and wine. Before dining there, I expected the food to be good not great, with the main draws of the restaurant being the exclusivity and the distinction of being the only place in the Disneyland Park that serves alcohol. But my lunch there far exceeded my expectations, and I was very impressed with Club 33’s talented chef Andrew Sutton and many of his dishes including an amazing “Lobster Rockefeller” with Crispy Oysters and Lemon Hollandaise and a perfectly grilled Lamb T-bone with Braised Lamb Ravioli and Green Fennel Puree.
A lot of people don’t know about the second part of Club 33 — a jazz lounge known as Le Salon Nouveau, with an elegant bar and live music. It’s essentially a super cool clandestine oasis in the middle of the park; a refuge for the privileged away from the hoi polloi and bustling crowds. Both the lounge and its wine cellar-like corridor entrance have magical paintings that slowly change before your eyes, including one of a jazz quartet where the trumpeter disappears during his solo and emerges like a Haunted Mansion ghost above the club’s bar. Props from classic Disney films and other collectibles also can be found all around the club, adding to the uniqueness and charm of the venue.
I would love to return to Club 33 one day. Maybe if I wish upon a star, my dream will once again come true.