Recently, insidethemagic.net and eater.com featured articles about a new highly exclusive dining experience at Disneyland. It allows guests to enjoy a 7-course meal at 21 Royal—a lavish apartment in New Orleans Square designed and outfitted for Walt and Lillian Disney just prior to Walt’s death in 1966. According to foxnews.com, the space was formerly open only to members of Disneyland’s Club 33. The Huffington Post reported that their call to the reservation phone number went straight to voicemail. Makes you wonder if the line was truly busy or if Disneyland is just screening the calls.
Guests decide on the theme for their meal, and (according to the 21 Royal website) chefs then build a custom menu using the “chosen theme for the evening as inspiration.” Reservations can be made for parties of up to 12 diners at an all-in price tag of $1,250 per person, which includes park admission and transportation from the Grand California hotel. I’m not sure what theme my family would choose, but I’m leaning toward Swiss Family Robinson, Pirates of the Caribbean, or maybe even the Jungle Cruise. The fact that I would insist on a Dole Whip being included is probably the best evidence that 21 Royal is not for me!
Just for the sake of comparison, a 7-course meal with a wine pairing runs $250 per person at Walt Disney World’s Victoria and Albert’s in the Grand Floridian resort. This does not include park admission or any other extras, and is obviously far less exclusive than 21 Royal.
Like many involving Disney price increases or upcharges for premium experiences, this announcement will certainly spark comments about the company’s greed, drift away from Walt’s original vision, and general devolution. While paying more than $1,000 per person for a single dinner would make it impossible for me to enjoy (regardless of how delicious and/or exclusive it might be), adding the option seems consistent with Walt’s view of Disneyland as a fluid venue that’s never finished and can always be “plussed” with new and unique experiences. In Walt’s own words from a 1956 interview available at waltdisney.org:
"I wanted something live, something that could grow, something I could keep plussing with ideas, you see? The park is that. Not only can I add things but even the trees will keep growing; the thing will get more beautiful every year. And as I find what the public likes—and when a picture's finished and I put it out—I find out what they like, or they don't like, and I have to apply that to some other thing; I can't change that picture, so that's why I wanted that park."
Following the company’s attempts to “plus” the guest experience is a lot of fun—even (and sometimes especially) when those attempts don’t turn out so well: take The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management, for example. Only time will tell if the new Royal 21 dining experience turns out to be something an acceptable percentage of the public likes. Either way, it will be interesting to see if Disney can live up to the undoubtedly high expectations of those who decide to try it out. One thing’s for sure: if you’re interested, any of our planners here at ConciEARS will be more than happy to help with your reservation!