Friday, March 23, 2012

A small kingdom for big-spending suckers

A Secret Disneyesque royal 1% in Disney in Anaheim

You almost certainly have not been inside Club 33.

Located behind a pedestrian-looking door in the theme park’s New Orleans Square, just next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant, is this incredibly exclusive, closed-to-the-public part of the Disneyland experience.  Entrance is restricted to members who, in a process reminiscent of a Prohibition-era speakeasy, announce themselves via an intercom hidden under a panel on the doorway.  A receptionist checks to make sure that the guest is indeed a member and, if so, admits the person to the club.

Once inside, members are met with an ornate elevator wrapped by a similarly ornate staircase, as seen here.  The elevator is a replica of one Walt Disney himself wished to buy from a Parisian hotel, but the owner would not sell.  The ladies’ restroom resembles a throne (or at least it did in 1998.) Upstairs are two restaurants, which by reputation are two of the best in the area.  And these restaurants — with their extensive wine lists — are also the only places in Disneyland where a guest can purchase alcohol.

Membership comes with benefits beyond club access.  Members are given free access to Disneyland, of course, and are often allowed entry before the park regularly opens.  They are entitled to up to six special Fastpasses – special, because they can be used to skip the Fastpass line itself — and are given access to other parts of the park which are typically reserved for special occasions and/or first-comers.

Want to become a member?  Sorry, you can’t.  Membership is limited to 487 people at a time, and the waiting list — which is so long, the estimated wait time (by most every account) is 14 years.  In fact, the waiting list has become so long that, rumor has it, Disney has stopped accepting applications.   (If you really want to try anyway, this unofficial information site suggests that you send a letter requesting membership information to Disneyland, Attn: Club 33, 1313 South Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, California 92803.)  And even if you are offered a spot, be prepared to take out a hefty loan, as memberships start at just over $3,000 a year with a $10,450 initiation fee.  Found here.

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