What it's like to dine at Club 33
The magic of Club 33 is peak Disney hospitality. New cast members go through three months of training, Murray says; normal Disney hospitality experience is already excellent. (Shout out to the Disneyland Hotel receptionist who, on my last visit to the House of Mouse, was magnificent while dealing with me, a hysterical mess who’d lost her iPhone.) Bojlesen and McPeek describe the Club 33 service as “above and beyond,” with staff who dote while you select your drinks and courses, never rushing you.
Oh, and it's also schmancy as all get-out. Club 33’s interior riffs on the 19th-century New Orleans Square architecture, with light blue baroque wallpaper and golden brown parquet floors throughout. The harpsichord at reception belonged to Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife. Once you pass muster at reception, you enter a large atrium called the Court of Angels before climbing a blue iron staircase to the Salon Nouveau or Le Grande Salon.
The Salon Nouveau lounge -- open to non-members only when escorted by a member -- offers an $18 caviar appetizer and a $75 signature hamburger entree, paired with a glass of La Sirena Champagne (or cut the bubbly and opt for just the burger to save a cool $42). The five-course menu at the neighboring Le Grande Salon is a $120 prix fixe and lets the diner choose from diver scallops, steak tartare, duck breast, and saddle of lamb, as well as a variety of salads and the requisite vegetarian selections. The desserts include pumpkin layer cake (how very on-trend), caramel mousse, and “diligently-selected cheeses,” among others. Both restaurants’ bars offer cocktails and craft beers in the otherwise-dry theme park.
But you’re still at Disney. To wit: When leaving the club, you’ll have no choice but to exit through the gift shop, which is stocked with ephemera such as Club 33 shot glasses, Pandora bracelet charms, and custom Dooney & Bourke handbags. Members and non-members can purchase challenge coins, which are to be kept on your person at all times. McPeek says if someone walks up to you and “challenges” you, you must produce your coin. If you don’t have it, you owe the other person a drink.