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carthay circle restaurant and lounge

10 ways to have the most luxurious VIP Disneyland experience ever

Disneyland will roll out the red carpet right down Main Street USA for price-is-no-object visitors.

brady mcdonaldBy Brady MacDonald

Is the price of a park hopper ticket mere tip money to you? Does your taste vere more toward king crab-stuffed lobster tail than cinnamon-flavored churros? Would you rather play basketball inside the Matterhorn than wait in line for the ride?

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have plenty of high-end offerings for visitors with unlimited budgets.

Most visitors are aware of early-morning access to the parks for Disney hotel guests, premium character dining experiences and upcharge packages for the World of Color, Fantasmic and fireworks show. But for the more discerning guest, Disney offers a seemingly endless array of white-glove services.

You don’t have to be a celebrity like Blac Chyna, Heidi Klum or Kourtney Kardashian to get VIP treatment at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. (Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Gwen Stefani are also big fans BTW.) All you need is a platinum credit card with an astronomical limit for these over-the-top Mouse House offerings.

1. VIP Tours

A-list celebrities and well-heeled families don’t wait in line like the rest of us for rides, shows and restaurants at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. They hire a VIP tour guide that serves as a personal concierge throughout the parks.

Want to skip the line at 30 attractions? Need a hard-to-get last-minute reservation at Blue Bayou? Hoping to bump into Goofy for that impromptu photo op? Want VIP seating for a parade, show or nighttime spectacular? Your guide can arrange that and more.

The guides, informally known as “Plaids,” are easy to spot in the park with their distinctive plaid vests.

Some celebrities have been known to trade a marketable photo op with a Disney character for a VIP tour guide while they’re in the park. But non-celebs will have to pony up $2,550 for a minimum of 6 hours of guide service. That’s $425 an hour.

1901 lounge VIP disneyland luxury experience disney california adventure
The 1901 lounge

2. Private Clubs

Access is severely restricted and membership is exceptionally limited to Club 33 in Disneyland and the 1901 Lounge in Disney California Adventure.

The private clubs are hidden from view from the casual visitor. Club 33 above the Cafe Orleans and French Market restaurants in New Orleans Square. The 1901 Lounge is next to the Carthay Circle Restaurant on Buena Vista Street.

Depending on the season, the exclusive five-star Club 33 restaurant may be serving a vintner prix fixe five-course meal, a filet of pan-roasted Châteaubriand or that crab-stuffed lobster we mentioned earlier.

It’s also the only place in Disneyland that serves alcohol. Club 33’s prestige spirits have included a $295 Balvenie 40-year whiskey and a $535 Hardy Perfection, made with world’s oldest unblended cognac dating back to 1870.

The secluded sanctuary has hosted U.S. presidents, world leaders, foreign dignitaries and captains of industry.

1901 lounge VIP disneyland luxury experience
The 1901 lounge

At one point, the waiting list for membership reportedly stretched for more than a decade. If you can get in, membership will run you $10,000 per year after an initiation fee of $25,000 for individuals and $40,000 for corporations.

Club members valet parking at Disney hotels and receive invitations to exclusive private events.

A Club 33 membership also entitles members access to the newer 1901 Lounge in Disney California Adventure. The smaller 1901, named for the year Walt Disney was born, is decorated with artwork from the early years of the filmmaker’s animation studio.

3. Exclusive Access

There are plenty of places in Disneyland that are typically off limits to the general public. But connections – and sometimes cold cash – can get you exclusive access.

The Lilly Belle luxury observation parlor car on the Disneyland railroad has carried royalty and heads of state.

Named for Walt’s wife, the presidential train car doesn’t operate every day. Upcharge guided experiences like the Grand Circle tour includes a trip in the Lilly Belle. VIP tour guides can get you aboard as well. Or you could just politely ask a Disneyland Railroad employee if you see the Lilly Belle on the track. Anyone can ride, if you know to ask.

Walt’s apartment above the fire station served as his home away from home during construction of Disneyland. And a peaceful respite for Disney family and friends during busy days at the park.

Disney Railroad at Main Street Station. (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

The apartment remains essentially unchanged since Walt’s death in 1966. Antiques, vintage instruments and a grandfather clock fill the cozy space. The light in the window is always left on in honor of Walt.

Walt’s apartment is off limits to the public, but you can gain exclusive access via the behind-the-scenes Backstage Magic tour.

The legendary basketball court under the Mattherhorn

One spot in the park that’s out of reach to all but the most connected guests is the legendary basketball court tucked into the top of Disneyland’s Matterhorn mountain.

Walt Disney reviews a model for the Matterhorn Bobsleds which opened in 1959 at a height of 147 feet.
1958: Walt Disney reviews a model for the Matterhorn Bobsleds which opened in 1959 at a height of 147 feet.

The cramped Matterhorn court features a rim, backboard and floor markings in a space about half the width of a regulation basketball key.

The attic-like space is used as a preparation area for the costumed climbers who occasionally scale the mountain. Tinker Bell reportedly hangs out at the half court before her appearance in the nightly fireworks show.

Los Angeles Lakers center Vlade Divac once shot hoops inside the Matterhorn for a segment on the Mark & Brian Show on the L.A. radio station KLOS 95.5 FM.

You’ll have to know someone with serious Disney connections to get a coveted photo of yourself playing basketball inside the Matterhorn. Or be good friends with a current player on the Lakers or Clippers.

tomorrowland skyline lounge experience disneyland seating x (1)
Tomorrowland skyline lounge experience.

4. Nighttime Spectaculars

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure offer plenty of upcharge opportunities that will secure you a reserved seat for nighttime parades, fireworks shows and nighttime spectaculars like Fantasmic and World of Color.

The packages usually include some sort of meal, snack or dessert plus a spot in a VIP section with unobstructed views.

One example: The Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience ($45 per person) offers a perfect spot to watch the Disneyland fireworks show from a terrace above the crowds. You’ll snack on a goodie box filled with fruits, cheese and sweets while sipping a hot or cold beverage.

tomorrowland skyline experience VIP disneyland luxury experience food box

5. Fine Dining

If you can’t secure a seat at Club 33 or the 1901 Lounge, there’s still several high-end fine dining options for visitors with more refined tastes.

The Napa Rose restaurant specializes in seasonal California cuisine and Napa Valley wines. The AAA Four Diamond restaurant at the Grand Californian Hotel stocks its wine cellar with 17,000 bottles — 80 of them available by the glass. They have more than 50 sommeliers on staff.

The most exclusive seat in the restaurant is at the Chef’s Counter. There’s only two seatings per night.

Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge
Carthay Circle Theatre (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

You can order off the menu. But why do that? Go for the four-course Vintner’s Table prix fixe menu that changes weekly based on the best available seasonal ingredients. Or better yet, leave your gastronomic journey to the chef — based on your tastes and preferences, of course. Expect a five-course meal with additional small tastes and off-menu extras that lasts at least three hours.

The Carthay Circle restaurant in DCA offers California cuisine sourced with fresh seasonal ingredients. The restaurant’s decor recalls the Golden Age of Cinema set in a recreation of the theater where Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937.

The ever-changing Carthay Circle menu typically includes steak, fish and duck. But why not get something extra with your meal? The Frozen dining package includes a three-course meal plus reserved seating for the theatrical production of the instant Disney classic in the Hyperion Theater. Adults choose from entrees that include a petite filet of Angus beef while kids can dine on orecchiette pasta tossed with tomato sauce. The package costs $59 for kids and $89 for adults.

carthay circle restaurant and lounge
Carthay Circle restaurant and lounge (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

6. Premium Dining Experiences

Ever dreamed of skippering the Jungle Cruise? Want to dine inside the Haunted Mansion? Interested in contacting paranormal spirits along a cajun bayou?

Disney regularly offers premium dining experiences to members of Club 33 or the official D23 fan club. The dinners are typically in the $150 to $300 range and sell out fast. New offerings are always surfacing. Some earlier dining experiences have been truly unique.

The Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari experience included a gourmet breakfast along the shores of the verdant river and a souvenir photo of the guest skipper at the helm. Each participant got the chance to tell a few bad jokes over the intercom during the cruise along the world’s great rivers.

The Haunted Mansion Ghostly Retreat dinner honored Disney animator Marc Davis. One of Walt’s Nine Old Men, Davis worked on the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World attractions as well as the Haunted Mansion.

elephants on jungle cruise disneyland

The gourmet themed meal featured a deconstructed BLT, crab cakes and Chateaubriand with wine pairings. An exclusive table for 34 guests was set up in the portrait gallery next to the stretching elevator.

The Blue Bayou Mystical Spirits premium experience treated diners to a paranormal seance inside the restaurant that overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

The Halloween season event featured a trio of “murderous” main course options: sautéed red fish with crispy rock shrimp, braised bayou short ribs and bourbon-glazed chicken breast. The “to die for” desserts included a dark chocolate crème brûlée and an almond praline cheesecake.

Dr. Facilier, the voodoo man from The Princess and the Frog, was on hand to take photos after dinner.

7. Ultimate Dinner Party

The upscale 21 Royal private dinner for 12 guests in the Disney Dream Suite comes with a steep price tag: $15,000. That’s a minimum of $1,250 per person (and that’s before the tip).

The evening begins in the salon with cocktails served by butlers. Two master chefs prepare the seven-course meal to your tastes. A sommelier is on hand to walk you through the wines. The five-hour experience all takes place in the luxury suite above the Pirates of the Caribbean that was originally intended to serve as Walt’s larger in-park apartment.

Dessert is served on the outdoor patio overlooking the Rivers of America as Fantasmic lights up the night sky.

21 royal luxury experience vip disneyland
21 Royal

8. Luxury Suites

After a long day in the parks, why not rest your head in luxury in one of the signature themed suites in the trio of Disney hotels in Anaheim.

The kids will want to stay in one of the deluxe suites at the Disneyland Hotel. You’ve got your choice of themes: Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean or Adventureland. The 1,500-square-foot suites run about $3,200 to $4,900 per night depending on the time of year.

The Adventureland suite evokes the feel of a 1930s explorers camp. The safari lodge-themed master bedroom includes a grotto with a foot spa, steam shower and special effects that will make you think you’re in a rainforest. The Asian- and Indian-inspired living room has a wet bar and a flat-screen TV hidden behind the artwork hanging over the fireplace. Even the doorbell “rings” with the sound of tiki drums.

For lovebirds, the Fairy Tale suite sleeps a maximum of two people, making it perfect for a romantic getaway or a honeymoon. And it’s a relative bargain at $950 to $1,600 per night.

fairy tale suite disneyland hotel
The Fairy Tale suite, Disneyland Hotel.

The most luxurious accommodations are at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.

The 2,300-square-foot two-bedroom Mt. Whitney suite goes for a cool $9,200 during peak season. It can comfortably entertain 75 people. The suite is said to be the favorite of Whoopi Goldberg and Johnny Depp when they are staying at the resort, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The budget-conscious big spenders may prefer the themed suites at Paradise Pier Hotel, the lowest end of the Disney properties. The 1,100-square-foot three bedroom Dana Point suite goes for $2,000 to $3000, depending on the season.

But why start skimping now? We’ve only begun to put a dent in your wallet.

9. Disney Dream Suite

But who wants to sleep where Jack Sparrow slept when you can sleep where Walt Disney almost slept.

The 2,600-square-foot suite above New Orleans Square was originally built for the Disney family as a replacement for the much smaller apartment above the Town Square firehouse. Club 33 would have served as the family’s “kitchen,” just a few steps from the luxury apartment. Walt died before the apartment was completed.

Today, the Disney Dream Suite is an invitation-only private retreat from the park reserved for VIPs and special guests, such as kids from the Make-A-Wish charity. Disney fan Mariah Carey always wants to stay in the Dream Suite whenever she visits the park.

But you can’t buy your way into the Dream Suite. Even if you’re an international pop star who has sold more than 200 million albums. It might help if you’re a Disney Channel star. Or your last name was Iger.

Former Playboy bunny and TV star Holly Madison got dressed for her wedding in the Disney Dream Suite, according to US magazine. The former “Girl Next Door” star tied the knot just downstairs inside the Blue Bayou restaurant.

10. Cinderella Wedding

Has your daughter always dreamed of a Cinderella wedding? Disney is happy to oblige with a six-figure package that includes Mickey and Minnie presiding over the ceremony in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. But we’re going to need to check your credit rating first.

Prices start at $15,000 just to step foot into the park in a wedding dress and go up steeply from there. Mickey and Minnie will show up for 30 minutes for $1,700. That’s about a dollar a second. Fanfare trumpeters will set you back another $1,985. But we’re just getting started.

disney weddings sleeping_beauty_forecourt
Disney Weddings.

A bright and early in-park wedding before visitors arrive for the day costs $45,000. Tack on another $17,000 if you want Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background. The price jumps to an astronomical $180,000 if you want the castle ceremony at night. But we aren’t done yet.

Why not have the wedding reception at Disney California Adventure? That will run you another $72,000 to rent out Stage 17. Or $82,000 to use the Disney Animation building. The full package could easily top a quarter of a million dollars.

And the grand total?

There’s literally no limit to what you can spend at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure if price is no object. The luxury VIP offerings are seemingly endless.

Want one of everything? The grand total for all the big-ticket items mentioned in this story: $354,000. Give or take a few thousand.

All images ©Disney.

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brady mcdonald

Brady MacDonald

Brady MacDonald is a freelance writer based in California. He wrote the Funland theme park blog for the Los Angeles Times for a decade. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, New York Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Seattle Times, Orlando Sentinel and Orange County Register.

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