Monday, 4 February 2013

Disney’s $10,000-a-year private members club

Mickey has a mischievous side. It emerged last week that in addition to big dippers and whizzing tea cups, Disney boasts a private members club inside its California theme park with annual fees costing US$10,000 a year. With an 800-strong waiting list, Club 33 in New Orleans Square, named after its address on 33 Royal Street, is the only place in Disneyland where you can buy a cocktail.

The name also supposedly honors the 33 original corporate sponsors at Disneyland in 1967 when the club opened, including Kodak, Coca-Cola and Goodyear. Among its previous patrons are Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks, singer Elton John, songstress Christina Aguilera, and the late “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson.

The entrance to Club 33
Inspired by the VIP lounges on offer at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Club 33 opened in May 1967. Good old Walt wanted a place to entertain visiting dignitaries in a quiet environment away from the prying eyes of Daffy Duck and Goofy, though he died five months before Club 33 opened its doors. Among the Champagnes on sale in the restaurant are Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Perrier-Jouët and Laurent-Perrier

As for the whites, Club 33 leans towards Californian wines, such as Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc, Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc and Far Niente Chardonnay, but also sells Dr. Loosen Riesling from the Mosel and Trimbach Gewurztraminer from Alsace. The reds also have a US focus, an include Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Duckhorn Merlot, Grgich Hills Zinfandel and Saintsbury Pinot Noir.

Mickey Mouse dessert

To pair with the wines are dishes like California corn bisque, seared scallop and king crab soubise, American Kobe carpaccio and a trio of artisan caviar. Last year, to mark the Club's 45th anniversary, the membership list was opened up, having been closed for a decade. It costs $25,000 to join with an additional fee of $10,000 a year.

Members have access to two chandelier-filled dining areas, a bar, and the 1901 lounge decked out with antique furniture sourced by Walt in New Orleans. Marked only by a small plaque bearing the number 33, guests are taken up to Club 33 via an old-fashioned glass elevator. 


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