Unmarked doors at trendy and popular restaurants are now commonplace but could Walt Disney have known all along that not having signage only adds to the mystique of a locale? Club 33 Disneyland opened in the late 1960s and to this day the only way you’d know a restaurant is hidden behind its doors is if you’re in-the-know. In fact, the only way you can even gain entry is if you’re a card-carrying member. Read more to find out what’s behind that secret door with only the number 33 sparkling conspicuously to park visitors.

The Secret Behind Club 33 Disneyland

Leslie

Leslie Neeland Harvey dines at Disneyland’s exclusive Club 33 before it was remodeled in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Neeland Harvey.)

Hidden behind an unmarked door, save for the glittering 33 marker just outside, is Club 33, Disneyland’s exclusive and private club located in New Orleans Square in Anaheim, California. Could it be that when it opened in the late 1960s it was one of the first restaurants in the country to shun advertising its name for the sake of adding to its mystique?

In today’s dining age, it’s not uncommon for restaurants to intentionally choose locations off-the-beaten path and without any signage outside advertising its business so its patrons can feel like they’re “in the know” when they finally discover it. EL Ideas, a fine dining restaurant in Chicago, couldn’t have been located in a more off-the-beaten path location. Even I questioned my GPS directions when it took me down some strange streets. But find it I did and I’ll admit, when I finally walked through the dark black door, it felt like only a handful of people really knew this place existed.

Feeling Special at Club 33 Disneyland

Club 33 Disnelyand is similar except that not anyone can make reservations, which, of course, only adds to its allure. Some research and talking with some friends who have managed to snag a seat at this exclusive restaurant I learned that pre-Internet days the only way people knew it existed was by being a die-hard Disneyland fan.

“Word traveled in the super-fan circles, I suppose,” Leslie Neeland Harvey, Frequent Flyer TravelingMom, proffers a guess.

Disneyland Resort Announces Diamond Celebration. Photo credit: Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort Announces Diamond Celebration. Photo credit: Disneyland Resort

And once they found out about it, they needed to find an existing member to make a reservation for them because the restaurant is only available to members. Members can be individuals or corporations. Many people score a spot at the table because someone knows someone who works for a major Southern California business that maintains a corporate membership.

But even that’s not easy because, according to Neeland Harvey and others I’ve spoken to for this story, “a significant no-show fee [is] charged to the member if a guest doesn’t come, so members will normally only offer to make a reservation for someone they know and trust.”

Club 33 Membership Fees

Neeland Harvey and her husband dined at Club 33 in 2012, before a recently completed major renovation. Before then, around 2005 or 2006, she and her husband found the address of the club and wrote a letter requesting to be added to the waiting list for individual membership.

The renovation must have been a good time to ask people to become members because it took that long for her and her husband to learn they were up for membership if they were willing to pay the fee. Except for the fact that they also took the opportunity to radically change its fee structure. To become a member was now out of their budgets–$25,000 in first year initiation fees and annual dues of $10,000–so they declined the opportunity.

While Disneyland has done a great job keeping the whole experience under wraps, several websites offer peeks into Club 33, whether via photos or information. Some claim Club 33 is the only place in the entire park that serves alcohol, for example.

Of course, if you don’t have your own Club 33 membership, work for a corporation with membership or don’t have any friends with one, you’re out of luck. No worries, however, as Disneyland does have plenty of other dining options and Amy Barseghian, Lifestyle TravelingMom, serves us suggestions based on who is in your party.