Friday, September 13, 2013

Trip Report: Brunch at Club 33

With the impending closure of Club 33 for a remodel and the swirling rumors about what would be removed, I really wanted to have one last opportunity to dine there before it was transformed into something different from what had originally been created.

Piecing together the story from a number of sources (again...keep in mind these are all unofficial), it appears that the Court of Angels will be closed off in late September, and will be converted into a new entrance for Club 33. The wrought iron gates are to be replaced by stained glass doors and will prevent Disneyland guests who are not members of the Club from entering. How they are going to manage to still call it Club 33 when the entrance is clearly changing locations has yet to be addressed. I also wanted to get into the Club again so that I could snap a few last shots of the Trophy Room, which will supposedly be removed to accommodate a new (and larger) kitchen. On with my brunch...

While eating the buffet items from the cart, we were visited by Mickey and Pluto. This is a brunch extra that doesn't normally occur during the dinner hour.

For brunch, guests order an entrée and get to partake of the appetizer buffet in the hallway. The selections are nothing out of the ordinary; a selection of fresh fruits, cheeses, a few salads, shrimp...fairly basic. The one standout was the hot onion soup, which was creamy and flavorful. I went back for seconds on that one!

My entrée was a repeat of something I had enjoyed the year before; a trio of pastas. Disappointingly, the quality had slid considerably in that time period. All three pastas were the same; two of the sauces were the same bland marinara sauce, and the third was a watery cream sauce. The meatballs seemed as if they'd been made a week before and reheated.

Compare to what was served a year ago; three different pastas and sauces topped with fresh grated parmesan and mozzarella. What a world of difference in flavor, too.

Adding insult to injury, the service was poor. Over the years that I have dined here, the service has varied greatly. I still remember my first visit here about ten years ago; one of my guests asked for a wine pairing suggestion with her entrée. The waitress said she really didn't know...and that was all she wrote. I couldn't believe that a restaurant of such an exclusive nature had waitstaff that showed so little knowledge or enthusiasm with their position.

This occasion was not much better; our waiter (who I have had in the past) exhibited little interest in our table, only checking back once for the obligatory "how is everything?" and the final presentation of the check. We had to ask a busser to get refills on our drinks, and the napkins were never refolded during our trips to the buffet. The speed with which dishes were cleared from the table ran the gamut from fast to exceedingly slow. Early in the meal, a busser stood over one of my guests while she was finishing what was on her plate. When we got our desserts at the buffet, the dishes sat, and sat, and sat...

Overall, things had seemed to be on the upswing for Club 33 during my visits the last few years, but this particular one was a fail for me. The upstairs hostess could use a few classes on masking her true feelings for the guests, too. This one has consistently shown a sour face whenever I have seen her working there. There was a manager on site, who only stopped by one table to chat with guests that he apparently knew. No visits to other tables to inquire how their brunch was; I can only deduce that he didn't care or knew the answer already and just didn't want to hear it.

The famous elevator had a tacky "Out of Order" paper sign taped to it, which didn't make sense since I saw it go up and down a few times during my visit. I have been told that the sign appears when the staff does not want to be bothered with operating it.

In light of my experience, I had little desire to take many photos, even of the Trophy Room which was scheduled to disappear.

The floor of the Club suffers from severe scuffing on the hardwood, looking as if they are in dire need of a refinishing (and cleaning). A souvenir program from the Half Marathon was stuffed underneath one of the table legs to keep it from wobbling, and the table cloths needed a good pressing.

If this once beloved Club has degraded into a place with deferred maintenance issues and employees who don't care (and aren't afraid to show it), then I find it very hard to feel sad about the impending changes. Walt is long gone, and so (it seems) are the people who care about good customer service and giving guests value for their money. The night before, I had a fantastic meal and top notch service at Napa Rose for practically the same price...without the attitude. Even at its best, Club 33 does not hold a candle to its less stuffy sister restaurant at the Grand Californian.

Even the duck looks unhappy to be here. I can't blame him.

I can't take "credit" for the Ladies' Restroom shots; my friend Bunnie shot those for me.

I thought she did a pretty darn good job, don't you?

As soon as we left The Club, we craved air conditioning. We ducked into the Main Street Cinema for a few minutes; Tilly was already in her Halloween finery.

Our next air conditioned refuge was the Main Street Opera House. Mr. Lincoln welcomed us with his Gettysburg Address.

This audio animatronic figure impresses me every time I see it.

And what a "wow" of a finish!

If you don't feel patriotic at the end of the show, you better check your pulse!

It was fairly humorous to hear guests groaning about Miley Cyrus' portrait at the exit hallway for the show.

Next up: a quick trip through DCA!

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more vintage & current Disneyland Club 33 photos on my Club 33 web page.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave - I cannot agree with you more. For some reason the CMs that work in the restaurants at Disneyland have lousy attitudes and don't appear to care about the customer's experience. We went to the Blue Bayou during Christmas 2012, 3 times. I emailed a complaint after each visit. They sent me an apology via email, but when we returned for the next visit, nothing had changed. The waiter even complained about how he was sick of working there. Great huh? We enjoyed Carthay Circle, although the host seemed to be flustered that we were 5 minutes late for our reservation... on one of the busiest days of the year. He gave us a stern warning to not do it again because he couldn't promise our reservation would be available next time. Wow, now that's the Disney attitude. The wait staff at Carthay were very friendly, and attentive. My husband and I plan to try Napa Rose in November. Our fingers are crossed.

K. Martinez said...

Sorry to hear your experiences have been less than stellar. I personally haven't had a bad experience with a CM at a Disneyland Resort restaurant, however if a place has poor service and attitude, I simply won't go back.

Sometimes a long time favorite restaurant stops being special for one reason or another, so I look around for another and discover a whole new dining experience which in itself becomes a new Disneyland favorite and tradition.

As for Miley Cyrus, she sure has rattled a lot of cages out there. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, sad story about Club 33.

I feel less bad about not being able to get in.

I wonder how the people who pay big money for membership feel about this?


Irene said...

So sorry to hear that Club 33 has slipped so much. I've only eaten there once quite a few years ago now and it was wonderful.
I really think they should remove Miley's picture - just my opinion.

Janey said...

I've never been, and while I am bummed to hear about the slip in service and food, I feel WORSE about the closing of the Court of Angels!


Major Pepperidge said...

I agree with Janey, the Court of Angels changes will affect me, while Club 33 only exists in photos as far as I'm concerned.

thepicklebarrel said...

you know, as hardcore as i am about Disneyland for all these years, i've never been to Club 33.

i could've if i pushed it, but i've always feared this type of stuff.

i'd rather the 1967 Club 33 of my dreams stay intact- ULTRA exclusivity, all guests and staff impeccably dressed, the finest in both cuisine and service.

the chance of experiencing crappy service,mediocre food and overweight, sweaty people in shorts and mickey hats snapping iphone pics at every corner during the meal just turns me off and makes me feel that my quaint vision should not be jeopardized.

now that the final insult of an unnecessary remodel (meaning changing the decor as opposed to simple refurbishment) just compounds this for me.

oh well, at least i have Daveland to visit when i want a new, vintage Disneyland fix!