One place your VIP guide cannot get you is past the hidden door to the secretive Club 33, next to the Blue Bayou restaurant. With only a discreet “33” on the wall and an intercom to screen you out or buzz you in, “Club 33 is harder to get into than Soho House,” says Beckley. “Leonardo DiCaprio can’t call up and say, ‘I’d like to make a reservation.’ You have to be a member.”
Open to new members for the first time in years — the decade-long waiting list has some 800 people on it, or so insiders say (to get on it, e-mail email@example.com) — it’s $25,000 to join, with $10,000 in annual dues. What does that get you? A drink, for starters: Club 33 is the only place in the park to offer alcohol, which on hectic days seems worth the membership. “As a member, I have dined or had coffee in the club several times,” says Guillerno del Toro. Plus, the cherry-colored wood walls, Napoleonic chandeliers and British men’s club vibe in the Trophy Room add up to quiet elegance in stark contrast to the hubbub outside. You also get valet parking at the Grand Californian hotel, cartoon character visits at the club and access to 1901 (the year Walt Disney was born), a private lounge in California Adventure’s new Carthay Circle Theatre restaurant. But be prepared to ditch the flip-flops: “I was turned away once. I had a small rip in my jeans,” admits Beckley, who has frequented the club as a guest of members.
Ginnifer Goodwin says her new membership was on her bucket list. “I was endlessly begging to join out of my need to see everything Mr. Disney built,” she says. “Drinking champagne in the to-die-for restaurant, seeing fireworks from the club balcony, being snuck past the crowds with all my loved ones are experiences I do not take for granted.”
Perhaps the best perk is the ability to call in reservations for friends without having to join them. Until recently that privilege included unlimited day passes to Disneyland and California Adventure, but now there’s a limit of 50 annually, which has traditionalists (who can be grandfathered in for $3,600 a year) in a huff. No matter: The new blood with deep pockets won’t mind.