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Exclusive Disneyland club gets more difficult to join

by Vickie Vértiz

Just like ticket prices went up for regular admission to the park this year, membership changes are coming to the ultra-exclusive Club 33 at Disneyland.
Platinum members already pay a $25,000 initiation fee, along with $11,000-plus in annual dues for the restaurant in New Orleans Square and other benefits. Those members in particular were singled out and were recently informed that “only charter members and their spouses or domestic partners can get equivalent privileges,” said the Orange County Register.
Before the recent announcement, the paper said a Platinum member could give three additional people the benefits of their membership that included “valet parking at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels, a premier annual passport for Disneyland, Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney World, Fastpasses, and entrance into the Club 33 restaurant and Club 1901 in California Adventure.”
The new changes will mean that, reported the press, only “Platinum members and their spouse or partner can receive most of the benefits, although Platinum members will receive four premier annual passports.” Further, only Platinum members and their spouses or partners can make Club 33 reservations. One wonders what happens at Club 33, exactly, that anyone would want to pay such exorbitant rates for membership of any kind, especially during a difficult economic time in the country. The paper did not describe the club or the events that happen inside.
Cathi Killian, who is vice president of communications at Disneyland, talked to the paper and urged Platinum members to meet with the general manager of Club 33.
“We’re working with each member to determine the option that best suits their needs,” Killian said in an emailed statement to the paper.
What the paper did describe was that founder Walt Disney modeled Club 33 after the VIP lounges at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Even though, Disney died before the private club opened in June 1967, he used it to host VIPs, investors, sponsors, and business associates. What this description brings to mind are places like the early years of the Playboy clubs in New York, smoke-filled rooms, mid-century furniture and many, many cocktails.
People speculate about the location of the club. Some say it is located inside the Sleeping Beauty castle, while others say it is located inside the Pirates of the Carribean complex. Still others have reported that members now include young socialites like Paris Hilton. A few years after Disney used it for business meetings, Club 33 became a private club with a paid membership, said the paper.

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