Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reservations at Club 33? Think Again

Dining at Disneyland's exclusive, members-only restaurant, Club 33, has always required one of two things: a boatload of money or connections (preferably both). The boatload of money comes from Club members who have ponied up $25,000 for the right to join and then pay up to $11,000 in annual dues. Most of the rest of us who have been to Club 33 don't go that route. We require connections: know a Club member who likes you and is willing to make a reservation for you. Once upon a time you could book up to 60 days in advance (90 days if the Club member went with you) for the privilege of plunking down $150 for a quiet lunch or dinner in Disneyland's most luxe location. Network with the right people and it was a pretty easy process--and you could make a reservation as often as time and budget allowed.

That's about to change.

In a letter sent to members this week, Club 33 is adjusting its reservations policy to coincide with its reopening on July 18, following a six-month remodel and refurbishment. According to the letter, non-member reservations are going to be harder to come by:
Each Membership will continue to have the opportunity to make dining reservations for unaccompanied guests in Le Grand Salon dining room. To allow for appropriate availability and access for all Members, the following policy for unaccompanied guest reservations will be in effect:
  • For all weekends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and the holiday period from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, dining reservations for unaccompanied guests may be requested up to three (3) days in advance.
  • During all other time periods, unaccompanied guest reservations may be requested up to fourteen (14) days in advance.
  • Each Membership may book up to twenty (20) reservations for unaccompanied guests during one calendar year.
So the window for "unaccompanied guests" to book reservations has gotten shorter and there's a ceiling on the total amount of these reservations a member can make. Rumor has it that this policy came about because of members making excessive "unaccompanied guest" reservations, causing the restaurant to sell out, and denying other members the opportunity to book their own reservations.

Makes sense to me. If I was a member and found out I couldn't make a reservation because non-members shut me out, I'd be pissed. For the amount of money members pay, a degree of exclusivity should come with it. Members should always have first crack at booking a table.

First World problems, I know.

I also know I can't wait to see the newly remodeled Club 33 when it reopens. The new Le Salon Nouveau lounge (available to members only and their guests) and a refurbished dining room are quite enticing. I expect it might take me a while before I can get back in there--the place is going to be packed in July and August--but rest assured when I do you'll read all about it in The Mouse Castle, with pictures.

I hope my Club 33 friends keep me in mind. You know, 20 reservations a year is really quite a lot. Right? Right?

Inside Club 33


  1. I'm with you Tim, I'm fine with this. I'm sure most members probably are as well as the club is for the members afterall.

  2. Like everything, companies are forced to make changes based on people that use the system. The few that reserve a table possibly hundred of times a year, now pinch those that don't continue to milk every last drop from the Disney teat. No sir, I don't like it.

  3. Chad, I agree Club 33 used a shotgun where a sniper rifle might have sufficed. By changing the policy, however, I think it gives more value to members who pay for exclusivity as much as anything. And I say that fully aware it will probably limit my own access to Club 33. But, I'm not a member. I haven't paid a huge chunk of money upfront to go there, so I'm not out anything.

  4. I'm thinking they are also trying to keep people from hanging out in the Nouveau Lounge all. day. long. And that makes sense to me, too. The restaurant doesn't mind if you take a leisurely dinner, but I'm sure they don't want you hanging out for 6 hours, hogging up seats and denying others a fair chance of having a table turn over. Totally get it.

    That said, who wants to escort this ragtag group of friends to check out the new Club? ;-)

  5. Great article, Tim!