Disneyland may be one of the happiest places on earth, but even the biggest Disney fans won’t be able to get into one of Disneyland’s worst-kept secrets. Tucked away at the top of the staircase in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square is Club 33, an elite 5-star restaurant you can only access if you’re a member or invited by one. For those interested in joining, there’s a rumored 14-year waiting list. But its luxury isn’t the only reason the waitlist is so long; the process to become a member and its history is what makes this club so exclusive.
In 1964, the New York’s World Fair brought in 51 million people—and one of them was Walt Disney. (Check out this mysterious note he left behind before he died.) It was here that Walt began approaching large corporations with a preposition: to create what would be the most popular attractions in the world. Walt teamed up with Ford, General Electric, Pepsi-Cola, and the State of Illinois. The combination of these sponsors and Walt’s creative mind ultimately resulted in rides and attractions like “It’s A Small World,” “Ford’s Magic Skyway,” “Progressland,” and “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”
During Walt’s stay at the 1964 fair, he was invited to the private VIP lounges of these large corporations. It was then that another idea sparked: to create a lounge in Disneyland devoted to his sponsors—and that’s exactly what he did. So in 1967, Walt returned the favor to his sponsors and welcomed them to his private VIP lounge, called Club 33. (Imagine being there the opening day of Disneyland and actually meeting Walt Disney!)
The official story behind the club’s name is because of its address: 33 Royal Street. However, there’s another speculation that it is named after the 33 corporations that originally sponsored Disney.
Want to join? A membership costs a rumored $25,000 plus an additional $12,000 in annual dues. That’s if they’re actually accepting new members; some years no new members are accepted at all. But before that, you must send a written letter of inquiry to the Club 33 services in California. (Use one of Walt’s quotes or some of these impressive words from Disney songs in your letter to really impress them!) If there are memberships available, the management will contact you.
Here are 24 other mind-blowing facts about Disneyland!