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Monday, March 13, 2023

an afternoon of disney adulting

the hub and i were recently invited to join his friends-slash-clients at disneyland one afternoon to have lunch and hang out at club 33.  you know that we've been lucky enough to go a few times in the past, but this visit would be a little different because there's a members-only bar area called le salon nouveau that i've never been able to check out aside from peeking down the hall like a creeper.  so obviously, i was super duper extra stoked.

when we arrived, we lucked out and got to park on the pixar side of the mickey & friends parking structure AND even scored one of the charging spots.  i always try to snag one of those spots down on the ground level, but if you get there any later than, say, 9am, they're typically all gone and then we just have to park where they tell us to.  it's such a crapshoot because you could find yourself in the far dark corners of the structure where you have to walk a country mile to get to the escalators, which sucks balls at the end of the day.

since i have a magic key (disneyland's special name for their annual passes), i didn't need a ticket to enter the parks - but since the hub doesn't hit the 'land as often as we do, he hasn't had a pass in years.  but club 33 members get a nice little yearly allotment of day passes, and so we met up with our friends at the membership desk at the grand californian.



there's also a members-only bar called the 1901 lounge at california adventure, but i learned that there are different levels of club 33 membership...and our friends didn't have access to it.  they've been members for a really long time, and the 1901 lounge is a fairly recent addition.  i guess it was just a way for disney to figure out how to add another layer of exclusivity (read: $$$$) to the whole club 33 experience.  

we did go into california adventure for a little while, though.  we didn't do much - we walked around a little, jumped into the single rider line at radiator springs racers, caught the tail end of mulan's lunar new year procession.







when you're with the club member and planning to hang out at the bar, you can enter the club an hour before your reservation time.  and so we left california adventure, crossed the esplanade and scanned into disneyland.  we looked for the old lady, who was on duty that day, but of course she happened to be on break.  

we walked through the turnstiles and headed straight up to the train station to catch a ride to new orleans square.  the lilly belle train car, which was largely designed by and named for lillian disney, was hooked up that day but rides are incredibly hard to come by.  you used to be able to ride in it when you booked a grand circle guided tour or if you were a club 33 member, but now if you're not VIP status, you ain't getting in.

so for our previous visits, we'd come to the entrance and ring this doorbell to check in for our reservation:

but this time, our friend whipped out her membership card and waved it in front of the light.  in seconds, a cast member swung open the door to welcome us in and greeted her by name.  while she got us checked in, i took a peek at the glass case along one wall to see what kind of fun merchandise they had available this time.



once we were good to go, we found ourselves in the court of angels.  our friends headed to the elevator while the hub and i took the stairs up to the entrance.  




here's that hallway to the the bar that i told you about:

only this time, we were actually allowed to go in.  and now i know what's along that hall - there are some very old and/or very expensive bottles of wine on display along one wall:



and there are several cozy booths that you can sit in and enjoy adult beverages in.  our hostess explained that each booth has a theme, and the frame on the wall is animated and on motion sensors.  unfortunately for us, they were glitching that day and none of the animations worked, but our friends assured us that we'd return another day together and then we'd get to see them in action (woohoo!).




the first time we visited club 33 in 2008 was when it was still in its original form, before the extensive remodel done a few years ago.  back then, in order to get upstairs to the restaurant you'd either climb up the red carpeted stairs or ride in the old-timey elevator.  that old elevator is still there, but now it lives here in the bar as a decorative piece.


this picture is also animated, with the jazz band players disappearing one by one as the music plays on.

we chose to sit inside one of the booths, hoping that the animation would restart (spoiler:  it didn't).  that's okay, though.  it was nice to relax in the comfort of the booth, munching on warm rosemary-spiced cashews and sipping on cocktails. i do love a disney pimm's cup.

when it was time for lunch, we were escorted from our booth across the way into le grand salon, and seated in the back corner table that was apparently lillian's favorite.  




here's the full menu for lunch:


i tried to get pictures of all the different food items that everyone had, although i tried not to be disruptive and snapped a few from a distance.  the hub is used to this and doesn't really care anymore by now, but i didn't want to bother our friends with my incessant photo taking.  heh.  anyway, this was the chilled shrimp tower that was one of the selections for the first course:


i'd ordered the tortellini with mushroom and black truffles because - well, truffles.  YUM.


and the hub, who hadn't loved any of the offerings, opted for a simple cheese plate.  this was actually part of the finale/dessert course, but i guess when you're in da club, you can do what you want.


second course - pink radicchio and arugula salad and french onion soup with braised beef (delish!).



all four of us had ordered the new york steak, served with roasted potatoes, squash and a cabernet sauce.


for my finale, i'd chosen the chocolate hazelnut tart.  it was amazing.


this was the buttermilk cake with blood orange sorbet.


and then the hub had the lemon trifle, served with lemon sorbet and raspberries.


we snuck out to the balcony to take a selfie:


there are a few tables set up outside too, but it's a tight area and you can only seat two per table.  that would make for one really cool date, though.


we decided to go back to the bar and enjoy another cocktail or two together, and this time we headed into the main seating area.  this time when we passed the jazz band frame, all of the performers were accounted for.


the bar was really lovely.  peaceful and calm, and you almost forget that you're smack dab in the middle of one of the most beloved amusement parks in the world.



...until you look out the window and see the hustle and bustle of the crowds down below.


they carry quite an extensive selection of very expensive booze here, which is no surprise.  it was fun to gaze at the bottles and marvel over the prices per ounce:


and i loved this framed shag print of le salon nouveau, which i would love to add to our collection at home of fun disney-inspired art.


by the time we finally left, it was already dark outside.


and on our way out, we finally managed to find the old lady, who'd been seething with jealousy the whole afternoon.  one text had read "are you drinking awesome shooters and soaking up each other's awesomeness?" heh.


but i couldn't blame her one bit.  it had, indeed, been an awesome time with awesome friends at an awesome place.  i know how lucky i am to have had these opportunities for something that is on countless disney adults' bucket lists.  

you know what else would be badass?  getting to experience the disney world version of club 33.  ooh...and the TOKYO version too.  i'm pretty sure those will remain unchecked on my own bucket list, though.  and that's okay.  still, a girl can dream...

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