Tourists weary of standing in line with the common folk at Walt Disney World may soon be able to pony up the cost of a country club membership to join Club 33, a secret club that started at Disneyland to cater to high-end clients.
The VIP lounges will be just another perk for big spenders at WDW. The theme park recently started renting private cabanas for $691 a day, including tax. The cabanas near Space Mountain include charging stations, sunscreen, food, drink, and lockers.
David Niles, the author of ThemeParkInsider.com, said the cabanas — along with the possibility of a Club 33 announcement coming by the end of the year — is Disney’s idea of “looking for new ways to earn money from people who want to take a break from its crowds.”
“Of course, for $691 a day you could book yourself a darned nice hotel room in the Disney resort area,” Niles said on the blog. “But let’s face it. The market for these cabanas is people who already have booked one of those darned nice hotel rooms and who have the extra cash to drop on the added convenience of an in-park cabana, too.”
Walt Disney himself started the VIP concept to thank corporate sponsors like Ford and General Electric during the 1964 New York World’s Fair. He intended the Disneyland club to be exclusively for corporate sponsors but when it opened June 15, 1967, six months after his death, individual memberships were offered.
The club name comes from its location, 33 Royal Street in New Orleans Square at Disneyland. Initially, members pressed a concealed buzzer on the door but it was replaced with the ability to swipe a membership card over the 33 on the door.
Corporate membership has been reported as $50,000 initially, plus $15,000 in annual dues. There’s a waitlist that takes years to climb up for membership.
Members receive Premier Passports good at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, early entry to the parks, valet parking at Disneyland hotels and invitations to private events at the Club 33 restaurant. Elton John and Paul McCartney have played an antique harpsichord custom built for Lillian Disney at the club.
The difference between Walt Disney’s original plan, where sponsors picked up the bill, is that everyday people, even if it only includes the one percenters, will soon have the opportunity to buy into the VIP privileges at Walt Disney World.