Member Of Secret Disneyland Club Tells All

A member of Disneyland’s most exclusive club has been opening up to inquiring minds on Reddit, a social news website. The anonymous user has been defending the club’s $35,000 per year price tag, and also dished about dining with celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks.

The user introduced himself by saying he has been member of Club 33, a secret feature of Disneyland located in the heart of the New Orleans Square, for more than 10 years – and that the membership has been with his family for more than 30 years. The private club was opened in the 1960s, and the waiting list for membership is rumored to be 14 years.

Describing the scene, the member noted that celebrities can often be spotted at the club. “I’ve spoken to Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks one on one while in the club,” he noted, adding that he tends to try and give celebrities their space.

He said a membership covers up to four family members. Besides access to the club, benefits include valet parking on a private lot, automatic upgrades at Disney properties, reserved seating at shows, a private car on the Disneyland Railroad, behind the scenes tours, immediate fast passes, invitations to special events and the ability to make reservations for friends and family members.

A former Disney Imagineer who was unable to access Club 33 asked if there were any of Walt Disney’s trademark gags inside. The member explained that there is an animatronic vulture in the Trophy Room, one of two dining rooms inside the club. He also noted Disney put an elevator that comes up from an underground garage so VIPs could be ushered in and out of New Orleans Square quickly and easily.

According to Wikipedia, the elevator is an exact replica of one Disney saw during a vacation in Paris. The owner of the original refused to sell, so Disney sent a team of engineers to the Parisian hotel to take measurements and a sample of the original finish for an exact replica.

Most of the people leaving comments on Reddit questioned whether or not the membership to the club was worth it. The member seemed undecided on the matter, pointing out that he mainly keeps his membership because it is a family tradition.

“While I make good money, I consciously pay the dues each year from some inheritance that was left to me by my parents,” he said. He also explained that dinner at the club comes at a cost of around $150 (without alcohol), and he only took advantage of his membership four times last year.

“If you’re a big Disney fan and want to enjoy 33 once, the price is worth the experience and memory,” he said, but he also pointed out that the best experiences he’s had because of the membership took place outside of the club.

The member also explained that Disneyland as a whole seems a little less magical than it was in years past.

“The attention to detail is fading quickly in the park,” he wrote, adding that maintenance and repair is also slipping. “[Twenty] years ago, something would be repaired the next day if the part was handy. Now things go for weeks before [they’re] replaced. If you ever meet an original Disney employee, ask them how often they saw a light bulb out.”

The member also offered a surprising tool for those looking to get into Club 33: Craigslist.

“Some members, especially the corporate ones, have been known to charge a hefty price tag to take guests,” he explained. “Alternatively, if you know any executives in the big well known brands in the [United States], ask them. Fewer and fewer corporate accounts are joining, but I’d have to assume it’s still the majority of the reservations.”

[Photo Credit: Creative Commons]

Disneyland, a place to see stars

Last week, somewhere, I saw a picture of Harrison Ford with his daughter on a ride at Disneyland. Turns out, according to Marla Matzer Rose who details in an article where to see stars in Los Angeles, Disneyland is a place to keep your eyes open. Here’s a shot of Diane Keaton taken two years ago. Interestingly, the only celebrity I’ve seen in Los Angeles when I’ve gone there over the years is Diane Keaton.

From what Matzer Rose says, look closely at anyone with baggy sweats and sunglasses. I’d throw in a baseball hat as well. In order to see Disneyland like a star, she suggests the “A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour.” This is a way to get the behind the scenes look at Disneyland’s beginnings which includes seeing Walt Disney’s apartment and a peek at Club 33, the members-only restaurant that Neil wrote about.

Even if you can’t afford the $400 a room price-tag for a night in the Grand Californian, the Disney resort hotel where stars frequent, you can go on a tour of it. Matzer Rose suggests calling ahead to find out when the tours are and to make a reservation.

My thinking is that if you don’t see a star, pretend that you are one. It might be kind of fun to wear dark sunglasses, baggy clothes and a baseball hat just to see if anyone might wonder who you are. My problem is, every time I go to Disneyland or Disney World it rains. Instead of looking mysterious, I end up in one of those plastic ponchos with Mickey Mouse on the back–not star material at all.

The other places Matzer Rose suggests for LA star sightings are: studio tours, coffee shops, upscale grocery stores, and independent movies. I saw Diane Keaton going to a movie. See? [via Columbus Dispatch] Here’s more about star spotting at Disneyland.