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Tokyo Disney Resort - Tokyo Club 33

Today’s blog is going to be all about Jack. I experienced something wonderful and I simply must brag about it. Please excuse my self-indulgence.

But as is typical of me, first I must give you some background.

When Walt became involved with the New York World’s Fair, he discovered that many of the corporate sponsors, including the ones he was working with, required nicely appointed offices or lounges to be included in their pavilions. These would be places where corporate bigwigs could entertain clients and guests in lavish style, away from the masses outside.

Walt was already entertaining dignitaries on a regular basis at Disneyland and he realized that this same concept would be useful at his theme park. When the fair ended, work began in earnest on New Orleans Square and Pirates of the Caribbean. It was decided that this new land would be the perfect place to build a private sanctuary. It would be located on the second floor of the twisting buildings of this Crescent City reproduction. This refuge would be called Club 33. The number 33 comes from the Club’s address, 33 Royal Street. The Blue Bayou next door is 31 Royal Street.


Club 33 and Blue Bayou

Club 33 Entrance


However, maintaining a first class lounge and restaurant would be expensive and Disney wasn’t entertaining dignitaries and celebrities on an everyday basis. So it was decided to open the Club 33 to others – create a membership. This way, the corporations that were already sponsoring attractions at Disneyland could join and help defray the costs. For example, this would provide The Bell System, who sponsored the CircleVision Theater in Tomorrowland, a place to wine and dine guests and customers. Individual memberships were also made available to local businessmen (and later, Disney fanatics). Memberships were not cheap yet a years-long waiting list quickly ensued.

Members are given the right to eat at the Club 33 and are provided free parking and free admission to Disneyland (as long as the use the Club on that given day). They may also make reservations for their guests and do not have to accompany them. All meals are extra as they are not included in the price of membership. In addition, the Club 33 is the only place at Disneyland where alcohol is served.


Club 33 Dining Room


As many of you might know, I was the maitre d’ at Club 33 for three years (1977-1980). I loved working there and was fortunate enough to meet a number of celebrities and Disney bigwigs.

When the Oriental Land Company (the company that owns Tokyo Disneyland) was designing their park, they used Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Florida as a shopping cart. They would select the best of what each park had to offer – and the Club 33 was one of the items selected. However, in their park, the Club 33 would be located in World Bazaar, their version of Main Street. Tokyo’s Club 33 is located on the second floor of World Bazaar. If you compared it to the Magic Kingdom it would be above Casey’s Corner (sort of).

Tokyo’s Club 33 fulfills the same purpose as its California cousin. It allows the Oriental Land Company and the corporate sponsors of Tokyo Disneyland to entertain guests in lavish style. Their Club 33 is also the only spot inside the park that serves alcohol.

Arranging a meal at the Club 33 in Disneyland is no easy task for your average Disney fan. You must know a member who is willing to make a reservation for you. And in the scheme of things, there aren’t all that many members. Eating at the Club 33 gives you “Disney bragging rights.” Arranging a meal at the Club 33 in Tokyo Disneyland is even a greater challenge for American Disney fans. Most of us don’t know all that many Japanese corporate leaders with memberships. By the way, memberships in the two Clubs are not reciprocal.

So why am I going into this long explanation?

I was able to pull some strings -- strings that must remain anonymous. You see, on my recent visit to Tokyo Disneyland, I was able to eat at their Club 33. You have no idea how excited I was. But the member who made my reservation did more than just secure me a dinner at this exclusive club. He also arranged for me to visit a number of the corporate lounges scattered around the park. You see at Tokyo Disneyland, many of the sponsored rides and attractions have lounges of their own. However, because of the anonymity I must respect, I can’t tell you which corporations and attractions I visited.

Before I left home, I was provided with a detailed schedule to follow on the day of my Club 33 reservation. I was to arrive at the first private lounge at exactly 3:45 (the Japanese are very precise). I was given a map beforehand to help me find the lounge as they are more or less hidden and you’d never locate them without instructions. When I arrived at the first lounge, I was greeted by a lovely hostess and given something cool to drink (non-alcoholic). After relaxing a while, I was taken through a “back door” of an “E” attraction, bypassing an hour-long line, and given a front row seat. After the ride, I was escorted to another private lounge where more drinks and relaxation ensued. Then, once again, I was taken through a back door and bypassed another long line. This happened for three attractions and I easily avoided over two hours of queue.

I have pictures of all of the lounges, but I can’t share them with you because it would be obvious which company’s quarters I was in. However, I did crop this one photo. As you can tell by the smile on my face, I was in Disney heaven.


Jack in a Corporate Lounge


After visiting the lounges, I was free to wander the park until my dinner reservation time. These next pictures show the Club 33 entrance and me standing next to the door. Take a look at the brass plate to my left. Beneath this panel is an intercom that connects to the hostess inside. Before being granted entrance, you must speak your reservation name here and then you will be “buzzed” in.


Tokyo Club 33 Entrance

Tokyo Club 33 Entrance


Befitting of Main Street, the interior of the Club 33 is Victorian in style. The lobby is on the first floor and guests use either an elevator or stairway to reach the lounge and restaurant on the second floor. These pictures are of the downstairs lobby.


Tokyo Club 33 Lobby

Tokyo Club 33 Lobby


When entering the second floor you’ll find a large lounge and several smaller, private rooms where guests can have cocktails or conduct business. I was seated here for a short time until my table was ready.


Tokyo Club 33 Lounge

Tokyo Club 33 Lounge

Tokyo Club 33 Lounge


I was told in advance that “the best table in the house” had been arranged for me. I was skeptical. Since I used to work at the Club 33 in California, I knew we told people this all the time when it wasn’t necessarily true. But in this case, it was true.

First, the tables at the Tokyo Club 33 are arranged very spaciously – much more so than its California counterpart. You could easily put twice as many tables in this room. This allowed for a very intimate dining experience as you could speak freely without fearing that someone at the next table would overhear you. I only took a picture of my own table as I did not want to intrude on the other diners.


Tokyo Club 33 Table

Tokyo Club 33 Place Setting


My table was located in a sort of alcove. From my table I looked out onto the Hub and parade route. This next picture shows an exterior view of the window I looked out of.


Tokyo Club 33 Exterior


When my waitress arrived at the table, I quickly discovered she spoke very little English. But since the menu was printed in both Japanese and English, “pointing” became the language of choice. I enjoyed a six course meal with cocktails and wine. However, I could not begin to tell you what I ate or drank. It’s all a Disney fantasy blur to me. But I can tell you it was magical and special in every sense of the word. And I do remember that one course was topped with real gold flakes. For those of you who have dined at Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian, I would say that this evening was comparable.

When I write a restaurant review for Allears, I take pictures of each course. However, I had decided in advance that this would not be the case when I dined at Club 33 for several reasons. First, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wasn’t about to diminish this event in anyway by interrupting my meal. But more than that, once I entered the dining room, I knew it would be gauche and disruptive to take too many pictures. After all, I was a visitor in their country and I wanted to put my best foot forward.

At one point during my meal, I noticed that cast members had taken position at each window in the restaurant. A moment later, the background music stopped playing and the room went dark. At that moment, the cast members quickly opened the sheer curtains to provide us with a view of the Electrical Parade below. Of course, the parade’s music was piped into the room. As soon as the parade ended, the curtains were closed and the lights came back up. Later in the evening, this same exercise took place for the firework presentation. These pictures were taken from my table. I did use a zoom lens, but as you can see, my view was impressive. I really was given the best table in the house.


Tokyo Main Street Electrical Parade

Tokyo Main Street Electrical Parade

Tokyo Disneyland Fireworks

So what did my two and a half hours of Disney bliss cost? Not counting the souvenirs that I bought, $380 for two.

I want to thank my anonymous friend for giving me a Disney memory that will last a lifetime and be very difficult to top.



The previous post in this blog was Wilderness Lodge Resort and Villas.

The next post in this blog is Main Street Electrical Parade - Walt Disney World.

Comments (20)

Tony:

Wow! I loved reading every word! What a great experience! Thanks for sharing.

Jason:

Oh wow!!! Jack...wow! You answered a long time question for me, "what is Club 33 at TDL like?" but now I have more. Was the food Japanese? Continetal? How did the merch compare to DL's Club 33?
Jack...again...wow! Great article! Thank you!

Jack's Answer:

The food was Contemporary/Continental, if that makes any sense. I don't think the Tokyo Club 33 offers as many souvenirs as the California version. And they were out of the dinner plate I wanted to buy. But I did get a couple of pins, a wine-chain, and match book that I have taken to a top-notch framer to preserve my memories.

Andree Godin:

Wow for this article and wow for the price you paid, so not expensive considering all that was offered to you! What a lovely experience to have had and to share with us. Thanks.

Amy:

Toooooo cool. Congrats on the invite, and thank you for sharing!

Jamie:

Wow, this sounds amazing! Truly magical. You must have felt like a VIP. Thanks for reporting it! I don't think I'll ever go to Tokyo Disneyland, so any news from overseas is always welcome.
I have been in the HP lounge for Mission Space before: The Red PLanet Room. Have you ever been there? And how does it compare to the lounges in Tokyo?
Thanks for the blogs!

Jack's Answer:

I have been in a number of the Epcot lounges, but not the one at Mission: Space.

To be honest, none of the three lounges at Tokyo Disneyland knocked my socks off. They were nice, but not lavish. I would say they were comparable to the lounge at the Land Pavilion in Epcot.

Kevin:

What an amazing post! You are at once giddy and respectful - a winning combination. Once again, it is delightful to live these Disney experiences through your eyes. Your way with words, and their marriage to pictures, make every one of your blogs a delight. This was fantastic.

Julia:

What an incredible experience! Thanks for sharing, and as always great photos. Perhaps one day I might have the same honor (a girl can hope, right?).

Jennifer Horst:

What a special treat! It's fun that you were the guest! How was it to be the maitre d' in Disneyland vs. the guest in Tokyo? Sounds like a wonderful experience!

Jess M:

Hi Jack! What an awesome experience! I am glad you had such a special memory, for someone who gets to do so many special disney things, this must have truly out of this world. My father was a big wig at fed-ex, as a result we got access to the fex-ex lounge at space mountain when they were sponsors. Just like you described it was a hard to find area where they gave us free drinks and snacks, and we could access the attraction without waiting in line. I guess the corporate sponsers trade access to their various lounges, because we were also given access to lounges at test track and mission space. I remember the view at the test track lounge to be specifically special. Thanks for all the great blogs!

Wendy Snelgrove:

Jack,

What a great story and experience for you. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think the sentence that epitomizes the whole experience is "And I do remember that one course was topped with real gold flakes." How amazing is that!

All the best, Wendy

Joanne S., Frederick, MD:

Hello, Jack. Congratulations on your special "perc". I can't think of anyone more deserving. And you're not bragging; you're sharing.

Howie:

Wow, Jack! Your Disney adventures never cease to amaze me. I'm glad to hear you had such a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing everything that you could with all of us. Many of us would never get such an extraordinary glimpse into these fascinating locations if it wasn't for you.

Cheers,
Howie

Jack's Comment:

Being a part of Allears has given me some wonderful opportunities that I never could have experienced if I wasn't involved with this great webpage. However, my Club 33 adventure was obtained from a completely different source.

But regardless where my Disney adventures come from, I'm extremely grateful and realize that most people would give anything to experience some of what I've done.

Clare C.:

Jack,

What an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing all the magic. At least when you are given a special privilege, we all get to enjoy it vicariously.

Hating you right now!! No, Just kidding but WOW, what an experience! Glad the "tables were turned" for you at Club 33.

Neil Norlund:

Jack,

What a fantastic treat! And a special thanks for sharing some of the magic with us. I can't think of a more-deserving person to enjoy some of the special "pixie dust" that Tokyo Disneyland has to offer. Without sharing too much, you've given your readers (me, at least) a chance to vicariously enjoy something that most of us will never experience in person. Again, thanks for another top-notch blog!

Neil

Kirstin:

Hey Jack,

I can't say how happy I am for you. And, I also can't thank you enough for taking time out of such a special event for you and sharing it with your readers. You gave us a peek into a world many of us won't ever see.

I'm really enjoying your peeks at TDL, especially this blog. Well deserved, Jack!!

-Kirstin

dusty cheatham:

JACK WHAT YOU SHARE WITH ALL OF US MAKES IT SO EASY TO UNDERSTAND , ENJOY , & MAKES US ALL WISH WE WERE THEIR.

MY BEST, DUSTY

Jen:

Jack, what a lovely article...I'm so glad you enjoyed your Club 33 experience at TDL, you deserve it!

As a veteran Disneyphile (45 trips to WDW as of last weekend, and I'm from Canada, so that's saying something!) it's always those experiences that regular guests can't just walk up to that are so special. My daughter and I were asked to be in the AK parade in May, and I almost fell off the float I was so excited!!!!

Joost, Tilburg Netherlands:

Wow! I wish Disneyland Paris had a Club33!
However, they do have a 'Salon Mickey' which is only open to ShareholdersClub members(ofcourse I happen to be one of them..)
You only need at least 20 shares to be able to become a member. Does anyone know if the other parks offer the same kind of services for shareholders??

Steve Leone:

Jack, I am a member of Club 33 in California and would like to find a member in Tokyo who might reciprocate. I of course would be willing to do the same for their visit. Would you know of anyone? (not meant to post on the blog)

Jack's Answer:

Unfortunately, I do not know any Tokyo Club 33 members.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 6, 2010 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Wilderness Lodge Resort and Villas.

The next post in this blog is Main Street Electrical Parade - Walt Disney World.

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