Demolish Club 33?
Demolish Club 33?
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 11:46a Pacific Time
A few years ago, a friend invited my wife and me, along with another couple, to use his Club 33 membership for a day. I loved everything about it. Well, almost everything. The food--while good--wasn't the best I've had at a Disney resort (the Napa Rose at the Grand Californian blows it away), but in every other way I was in heaven. I loved the free entry into the park that his membership granted us; loved entering through the club's secret door; loved the fact that I could get a better-than-average meal inside of Disneyland; loved that I could take a break from the hustle and bustle of a day at the park; and loved most of all the fact that I could drink a martini and peer out a window overlooking my favorite place in the world. It's every Disney fan's dream to live in Disneyland: this felt, a little bit, like a fulfillment of that dream. Yet Club 33 troubled me in a way I had a hard time resolving.
When the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite opened in the Magic Kingdom in 2006, I was excited as anyone to see what it would look like...yet disturbed that it might be the beginning of a trend towards premium attractions for the ultra-rich inside a park that I've always believed was for everyone. Things like this have been rumored in the past (I wrote about my fear of special FastPasses available only for resort guests a while back). Then I realized: isn't Club 33—the place I loved visiting, the place created by Walt himself—the real beginning of this trend? Is the "elite" Club 33 in conflict with what I think Disneyland is supposed to be?
I believe it is. (And I suspect that if Disney today tried to build a super-premium private club in a park, the fan community wouldn't be terribly enthusiastic about it.) But that doesn't mean I think that Club 33 has to be demolished. What I enjoyed about Club 33 wasn't its exclusivity, but rather, the opportunity to have a leisurely meal in beautiful surroundings at Disneyland. I got nearly as much satisfaction out of eating at Walt's in Disneyland Paris, a restaurant similar in design to Club 33, yet accessible to anyone who bothers to make a reservation.
How do you feel about Club 33? Does a private club inside the park clash with what Disneyland stands for? And if it doesn't, should there be more Club 33s—along with other "members-only" attractions, including DVC-only perks—opening up in the Disney parks?
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tags: Disneyland Resort Food and Dining, Grand Californian Hotel, Disney Vacation Club, Disneyland Paris, Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Resort, Other Disney Destinations, Walt Disney World