Thursday, August 21, 2014

A visit to Disneyland's Club 33 and the new Le Salon Nouveau

Oh boy! We're in for a special treat today. Not only do we get to visit Disneyland but we get to see the newly renovated Club 33 including the new lounge Le Salon Nouveau!
Theresa's brother and his wife are visiting from Michigan and they were invited along too! We left the kids with the grandparents and drove to Disneyland.

And it's not just the four of us doing lunch at Club 33. Jacob, Ruston, two of Ruston's friends from Florida, and the Club 33 members themselves will all be there.
We've got about an hour before we're meeting the members in front of the new club entrance, so we went off to go on some rides. 

First up was The Haunted Mansion. At 10:15 we walked directly through the gates right into the mansion without going through any switchbacks. I can't even remember the last time I was in the stretching room without someone's cellphone glowing or someone screaming when the lights went out. Today was a special day though and this was one of those rare times. I don't even remember anyone reciting the narration. Truly a special day.

With one ride down, we had just enough time to go on Theresa's favorite ride. Of course Winnie the Pooh had no line. Theresa and I enjoy it even more now because when we put Ian to bed, we read him stories from the Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh. 

By 11am, it was time to walk to New Orleans Square to meet up with the members. Passing in front of the old entrance to Club 33. For years Theresa and I had wondered if we would ever get the chance to visit this exclusive club. We have been truly blessed and were able to see the old club before the renovation, and now we were just about to get to see the brand new club. So excited!

Continuing down Royal Street, we arrive at the new entrance. Frosted into the glass above the door is a new Club 33 logo.

And beside the door is a buzzer which also has the new logo. I was told by the member that this is also an RFID reader and when they hold their membership card up to it, it will alert the cast member inside the door to their arrival. Magic Band technology has arrived at Disneyland!

Inside is a small room just big enough for the host/hostess to sit, as well as a display cabinet for all the new Club 33 merchandise. We'll take a closer look at the end of our visit. 

Exiting this room, we arrive at Court des Anges. I'm not going to get into the controversy regarding the closing of this once public space and turning into a private area for Club 33 members only. 

Looking back at the old entrance to the courtyard. 

I wasn't able to spend much time exploring the courtyard, but over by the fountain I did find a fairy trapped in a lantern. 

Posing for photo at the base of the spiral staircase. 

The group walked up the stairs to the new entrance to Club 33. Straight ahead you can see the green covering of the new elevator entrance to Club 33. Sadly the old glass elevator could not be used. 

The new lighting and metal rails for the staircase. 

At the top of the staircase, the entrance is to the right. To the left are the new restrooms and let me tell you, they are opulent. No photos are allowed inside the restrooms, but finally they've brought the men's restrooms up to the level of niceness of the women's restrooms.

Continuing around to the left, we see the phone booth from The Happiest Millionaire is still here. And you can still make phone calls from it, provided you see a host or hostess first.

Okay, back to the entrance to the club that you see at the top of the stairs. 

You cross over an elaborate tile mosaic of the new club logo. 

I really spaced it and didn't get a single photo of the new lobby. It was one of those "kid in a candy store" moments when there is just so much to try to take in. Grr. Well here's one shot. There is a beautiful chandelier with the new logos.

To get to Le Salon Nouveau, the new speak-easy style club, you walk down a dark hallway filled with wine and then you pass a few small hole in the wall tables.
Finally you enter the new Salon. Ah, so that's what happened to the old glass elevator.

Glad to see it's being used for something at least and not just lost to history.

Looking at the bar that dominates this room. One of the cast members told me all the counter tops were hand carved for them which isn't surprising. We asked what the interesting looking box in the center was. Apparently it is a special wine preserver that fills a newly opened bottle with argon gas, allowing a bottle to be uncorked and then saved for 2-3 months. This allows them to offer single glasses of expensive wines instead of making the patron pay for the entire bottle.

The other item that highlights the room is the player piano. Jazz music is playing on this piano and played in the background the entire time in this lounge.

A giant picture window overlooks the park.

There's so much space in this new lounge. It's much more spacious than 1901.

Around 11:50 it was time to head to Le Grand Salon for lunch. With the update, everything in here feels a lot brighter.

In large part, that's due to a large picture window where the fireplace used to be. And our table was positioned directly in front of it. We had a great view of the park as we were dining.

To start, I ordered an Apple Lemonade which came with an apple straw. It was pretty tasty and the next time I make lemonade, I might just mix a little apple juice into it. YMMV with that apple straw though. I tried to drink through it and it didn't work so well. Jacob tried it on his though and had no problems.

For lunch, you have the option of either the three course experience ($70) or the four course experience ($80). You choose between an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert.

Of the appetizers that were offered, I chose the sausage and pate platter. Check out the Club 33 logo etched into the stone serving platter. I enjoyed just about everything on the platter. What I originally thought was a tomato was actually a grilled apricot. T stole the okra which was fine with me.

Theresa chose the blue crab and artichoke gratin and said it was very rich. I'm not a seafood fan, so I can't speak to how it tasted.

Just enjoying a great afternoon hanging out with friends inside a cool place at Disneyland.

Next it was time for the salad course. What's this? All the food comes out to the table covered by silver cloche (yes I had to look that up). Once everyone has their plate in front of them, multiple servers lift all the domes at once to present everyone with their food at the same time. Fancy. I like this much better than a single server bringing everyone's dish.

Theresa chose a delicious heirloom tomato salad with a fried piece of cheese on top. I was offered a bite and mmm tomatoes can be really tasty.

Which is why I ordered the tomato soup. The menu said it came with smoked chicken but didn't specify it was a grilled smoked chicken sandwich. This might have been my favorite dish of the day.

Next it was time for the entree and again it came out covered and once everyone received their plate, they were all uncovered.

My vegetarian ratatouille...
Just kidding. Someone else ordered this, but it looked so pretty I had to get a picture.

No this is what I got. Of course it's the filet mignon.

Was it good? Hmm. I'll let the picture speak for me.

Amy and Donald enjoying their meals.

For dessert even though there were four different options, every single person at the table chose the warm monkey bread and vanilla ice cream. I think everyone made a great decision too. Between the tomato soup and the monkey bread, this is probably the best meal I've enjoyed at the club.

After lunch we retired to the balcony to look over the rest of the park.

Looking back to the old Club entrance.

The new controversial window. It's centered from the inside.

After 4 hours in the club, it was finally time to leave. Walking down the re-themed hallway. Before it was so very dark. Now there are huge windows letting in lots of sunlight.

And yes, it is very visible to the Disney guests below. As we were walking I saw a dad holding his son in his arms and his son was pointing up at us. I waved at the little boy and got a wave back. The dad mouthed "Club 33?", I nodded yes and received a thumbs up in return.

We've got one last thing we have to do. There is a separate display case in the lobby apart from the one we saw at the entrance that showcases all the items you can purchase. We did get a few items which I'll share at the end.

We were invited by the member to join them on a few rides, but we've left the grandparents alone with 4 kids to watch for a while now and we're already past when we said we'd be back. Just a quick stop at the Main Street Candy Palace for treats to bring the kids.

It was a very fun day and it was great to see the new club and hang out with some great people.

Here's our entire haul.

First up is of course the Mickey ears. A little pricy at $25, but it's the souvenir I like most. Compared to the previous hat it's a little different. Instead of the logo being stitched into the hat, it appears to be an iron-on patch on the front.

But on the inside now is a liner with the new club logo all over it.

Here's the previous hat by comparison. It was $20.

Next is the only official pin available at the club right now. It's $20 and it's a trade-able pin if you're into that sort of thing.

It's gold with black enamel filling in the numerals.

The back is stamped with tiny 33s and the official pin trading logo.

Next is a $30 paperweight that we just thought looked cool. It looks like it could hang outside a door.

And finally the obligatory coffee mug. For $20, it's black with a gold club logo on one side.

So that was our awesome Club 33 visit. We had a great time. Big thank you to the members for inviting us to join them!

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