My Club 33 Experience

Rarely a day goes by when I’m not planning or at least thinking about my next trip to a Disney park. It’s the best way I have of distracting myself from the depressing fact that I’m not currently at a Disney park.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Disney regularly for the past decade or so, and every single trip is special. Whether I’m venturing into Disney Springs just long enough to eat at Raglan Road or I’m spending an entire week in Walt’s original Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, I don’t take a minute of my time for granted.

But even I know some Disney experiences happen only once in a lifetime. For me, some of these are things I have done and have chosen never to experience again, like a Dole Whip or a ride on Mickey’s Fun Wheel in the swinging death cars gondolas. Other experiences are ones I simply can’t relive because they left the earth forever after my first time, like Luigi’s Flying Tires (raise a glass) or The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management (just raze it).

Some Disney experiences are ones I consider to be  “once in a lifetime” because I hope one day they will happen, but I never dream they really will. For me, Club 33 is one of those experiences. Or rather, it was.

Club 33 Doorbell

Due to some lucky, right-time-right-place circumstances that I won’t bore you with, Jeremy and I were given the opportunity to dine at Club 33 this past September. We shared our story on the podcast, but we never posted photos like we said we would. So now, seven months later, I’m finally putting some thoughts on record, not only so our listeners and readers can get a closer look, but also so I can relive that fun day once again through photos and good memories.

Our lunch reservations were for noon on a rainy Thursday. If you know anything about Jeremy and me, you know we agonized a bit over what to wear. We had seen online that lunch attire was fairly relaxed, but still, we weren’t about to be the schlumpiest guys in the joint. In the end we settled on shorts and collared shirts, which, based on what others were wearing, seemed to be the right choice.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Trying to time something perfectly while at a Disney park is very difficult. Do I have time for another attraction? How long will it take us to walk to the other side of the park? Because the last thing we wanted was to be late for our reservation, we ended up walking aimlessly around New Orleans Square for the better part of an hour, waiting for 12:00 to arrive. When it did, we slowly and nervously made our way to the unassuming bluish gray door and rang the doorbell.

Club 33 Door

Have I made it clear enough how ill-suited and under-qualified we were to be entering an establishment like Club 33? I can’t overemphasize how unconfident and out-of-place we felt. But, to our surprise, someone on the other side of the door took our names and welcomed us inside a small courtyard. There we were given glasses of cucumber water and wet towels, which we pretended were perfectly ordinary starts to any meal and accepted as though we couldn’t imagine eating lunch without a few sips of cucumber water beforehand.

Being the ever professional guests we were, we drilled our hostess for information about how long she had worked there and what celebrities she had seen come through the door. (She named a few Disney bigwigs and a Jennifer something-or-other for which we put on a surprised/impressed face, even though we didn’t recognize the name at all.)

After returning our glasses and towels, we took some photos in front of the famous staircase that used to be available to everyone as part of the Court of Angels but is now exclusively for Club 33 guests.

Club 33 Stairs Standing

Because of the rain, the hostess said it would be safer for us to take the elevator rather than the stairs, which we were more than happy to do since we wouldn’t have been able to see the inside of the elevator otherwise. Once we reached the lobby on the second floor, we were shown to our table, which was situated by a window in a dining room that was completely empty except for us.

Club 33 Dining Room

Club 33 Place Setting

Because we were the only ones there, all attention was placed on us. A server immediately brought us a few menus, took our drink orders, and invited us to explore the room and the balconies while we waited. A second server (to whom I gave the name Lurch) stood nearby throughout our meal, always ready to remove a cleared plate or refill an empty glass. He rarely spoke a word or cracked a smile, but he made sure we were taken care of. In fact, after we had taken a few minutes to take in the view from the balcony, we retuned to find that Lurch had refolded the napkins we had left in our seats and had placed them on the table. Again, we acted as though this was totally normal and expected—just another typical lunch for Derek and Jeremy.

Club 33 Balcony 2

Club 33 Balcony 1

Now, let’s get to the good stuff: the food. And when I say “good,” I mean some-of-the-best-I’ve-ever-tasted GOOD.

Jeremy and I both opted for the four-course meal. (Actually, Jeremy initially wanted only three courses, but I convinced him to add a cheese plate as his fourth course so we could share it.)

Club 33 Appetizer Menu

Club 33 Entree Menu

To start, we were given a plate of bread. I failed to get a photo of the bread (Sorry!), but it was a round loaf cut into slices all the way around. The consistency was much like angel food cake, but it was savory, moist, buttery, and oh so delicious.

For our first course, we both unknowingly chose the same appetizer: Sautéed Asparagus with Black Truffle Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Fennel Coulis.

Club 33 Asparagus

Although everything I ate was beyond amazing, this was my favorite course. The white asparagus was perfection, and it paired so wonderfully with the coulis and other vegetables underneath.

After Lurch promptly removed our clean plates, the second course followed. Jeremy received his cheese plate, while I was given a Salad of Frisée with Coastal Strawberries, Avocado, Pistachio, and Buttermilk Dressing.

Club 33 Salad

I love strawberries on my salad, but I’ve only ever had them on salads that were dressed with a vinaigrette. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the combination of avocado, strawberries, and ranch. Course number two was another win.

Besides cucumber water, over-attentive servers, and empty dining rooms, four-course meals are also something I’m unused too. I had long given up on the bread by this point, but I was still afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish all four courses. I have to say, though, that the portion sizes and timing between courses were perfect and made for a meal that was just the right amount of satisfying.

Next we were given our entrées. Being a fan of seafood, I ordered the special of the day: Iron-Seared Swordfish and Royal Red Shrimp in a Sungold Tomato Broth.

Club 33 Swordfish

Jeremy opted for the Petite Filet Mignon, which was served with Haricot Verts and Cabernet Jus.

Club 33 Steak

We both enjoyed our entrées very much. My fish was cooked perfectly, and the broth really brought the whole thing together.

For me, the hardest decision of the meal was which dessert to order. The sweet-toothed side of me wanted to order one of everything, but we were still putting on our “refined and cultured” act and this wasn’t Golden Corral. In the end I chose the monkey bread because it sounded playful and different, and I knew if anyone could master monkey bread it was Club 33.

Club 33 Monkey Bread

While I enjoyed the monkey bread thoroughly (it was very moist and had just the right amount of cinnamon-y syrup), I think I might have liked one of the other desserts better.

By the time we had finished dessert, a few other parties had entered the dining room. But our own Club 33 experience was sadly coming to an end, so we took the opportunity to explore a bit more. First up: the bathroom.

Club 33 Urinals

You’re not crazy. That is in fact a photo of urinals. That was one of the perks of visiting Club 33 on a slow day. We could take pictures at our own leisure without the fear of being judged (unless, of course, you’re silently judging me through the internet right now).

Club 33 Bathroom

Complimentary toiletries included floss picks, mouthwash, and something in that glass jar pictured on the far right. I can’t remember what was inside. Handkerchiefs maybe? Anyway, Jeremy and I both stealthily pocketed some Club 33-embroidered paper towels to keep as souvenirs.

Speaking of souvenirs, we couldn’t leave before stocking up on physical, tangible memories of our time at Club 33. The glass case in the lobby was full of goodies, both simple and gaudy, both reasonable and ridiculously expensive. Choosing which souvenirs to buy might have been harder than choosing what to eat, but in the end we both got some Mickey ears and a limited-edition Club 33/Diamond Celebration pin. Plus, I got a Club 33 mug, which I still use every chance I get. (Whether or not I wear the ears in my living room on occasion is something I’ll leave you guessing about.)

Club 33 Elevator

The bag the souvenirs came in was legit. I don’t think I could rip it if I tried, and the strap was thick rope. Club 33 leaves no detail overlooked.

Club 33 Merchandise

Our experience at Club 33 is something I will never forget. From the kindness we were shown to the gorgeous dining room to the incredible food, every minute was nothing short of perfect. The only thing I regret is that we couldn’t enjoy it as a Mad Chatter trio. If I’m ever lucky enough to go back, I hope Jeremy, Matt, and I can all dine together. We’ll eat as much angel food bread as we can stomach, we’ll toast Lurch and his unsettling watchfulness, we’ll gush about how exciting it is to be eating just above the greatest Disney attraction ever built, and we’ll give thanks for being able to dine in a place that holds so much history and is tied so closely to the man himself, Walt Disney. Until that day, I’ll just keep dreaming about that white asparagus.

Club 33 Piano

– Mad Chatter Derek

Audio

74: Mad Q Party (With Guest Aaron Wallace)

Our favorite hypothetical extravaganza has returned, and this week we’ve added a fourth number to the party. Podcaster and author Aaron Wallace (aaronwallaceonline.com and @aaronspod on Twitter) joins us as we answer ten ridiculous hypothetical questions related to Walt Disney World and the rest of the Disney universe. Topics this week include a 2010s section of Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney baby names, and touring the parks with the elderly.

We also share our thoughts on last week’s ABC special, “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60,” including special announcements about the upcoming Star Wars-themed lands. Plus, we spout off some 11-Second Rants. Come join the party now on another episode of The Mad Chatters Podcast!

To connect with us, follow us on Twitter (@MadChatters) or Facebook (/madchatterspodcast). Send your emails to comments@madchatters.net. Thanks for listening!

Be sure to check out Aaron’s book, The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom. You can find it on his website and on Amazon.

SubscribeiTunes

Stitcher

Audio

73: Top 5 Favorite Views at WDW

What scenes from Walt Disney World make you gasp? What landscapes, facades, or interiors give you that “wow” moment? On this week’s show, we attempt to do the impossible and narrow down our favorite views at Walt Disney World to just five. Our lists take us to everywhere from Animal Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge to World Showcase as we gush about the Vacation Kingdom’s most picture-perfect spots.

In “You Be the Judge,” we debate topics like Disney Afternoon meet-and-greets, annoying park guests, and Magic Kingdom transportation. Plus, Matt reviews Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Come argue, laugh, and ooh and aah along with us on another episode of The Mad Chatters Podcast!

Have you connected with us online? Find us on Twitter (@MadChatters) and Facebook (/madchatterspodcast). Send your thoughts, comments, and questions to comments@madchatters.net. You also can help out the show by leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

SubscribeiTunes

Stitcher

 

Audio

53: Disneyland Diamond Celebration Trip Report

We’ve been teasing (and boring) you for months about a Mad Chatter trip to Disneyland, and it finally happened. On this week’s show, Jeremy and Derek give the lowdown on their week spent in Anaheim. Tune in as they review Disneyland’s newest nighttime shows, spill the details about Club 33, talk about their experience at Napa Rose’s chef’s counter, and gush about all of the other exciting things happening in celebration of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary.

Also on episode 53, Matt holds nothing back as he reports on Magic Kingdom’s “Night of Joy,” which was held September 11-12 in Walt Disney World. Plus, we discuss the latest park news, including the end of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the beginning of Food & Wine, Duffy’s farewell, and more.

1:40 — Night of Joy report

13:36 Disney news

30:33 Disneyland Diamond Celebration report

For more of the Chatters, follow us on Twitter (@MadChatters) and Facebook (/madchatterspodcast), and send your feedback to comments@madchatters.net. Thanks for listening!

Click Here to Listen

SubscribeiTunes

Stitcher

Audio

42: Countdown to Parkstinction – Disneyland: 1955

The 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration is in full swing at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, so this week we take a break from our regularly scheduled Walt Disney World programming to bring you the latest news from the original Disney park. First we discuss the many exciting things Disneyland has planned for its birthday celebration, including a bedazzled castle, updated attractions, sparkly merchandise, sweepstakes, animated windows on Main Street, U.S.A., and more!

Then, we hop once again into our Time Rovers and journey to the past, this time ending up at Disneyland in its opening year: 1955. Tour the park with us as we check out opening-day attractions like Space Station X-1, Canal Boats of the World, and the pack mules in Frontierland.

Plus, in a Mad Chatter game, we celebrate another Disney anniversary: the opening of Splash Mountain! Play along and test your knowledge of this classic Disney attraction.

To connect with us, follow us on Twitter (@MadChatters) and Facebook (/madchatterspodcast). Send your emails to comments@madchatters.net. Thanks for listening!

SubscribeiTunes

Stitcher