In the darkness the trees are full of starlight (henwy) wrote,
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight

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Journey to Socal: Day 1.3 to 1.5

Ever been in one of those situations where something happens and you're unaware of the significance of it? Lets say someone tells you they just won a scholarship and you congratulate them and later find out that something like 50,000 people enter each year and only 3 are selected. So something along the lines where it becomes more of a big deal after you get some info.

Anyway, the whole club 33 thing was more or less of a lark. I signed up for it mostly because I knew I would be getting there early and I had nothing better to do. Shiney had mentioned in his messages that it was a fancy schmancy place and that lunch would cost a pretty penny. I thought it would just be like any other smarmy and pricey resturant but apparently club 33 is more than that. When Walt put together the park, he apparently wanted a private club of sorts where he could entertain buisness guests not to mention get some booze. To this day, club 33 is the only place in the park where you can get liquor. If I had known that going in I would have ordered some booze just for the oppertunity to take a picture and have the annecdote.

So Walt wanted a little gentleman's club of sorts and Club 33 is what resulted. The name for the location is a generally debated fact with some arguing it's because Walt was a mason and 3 is an important number to them that it's masonic in origin. Others claim that it's named for the 33 people on the board who didn't think he was crazy when he proposed the idea for a disney theme park. Let others claim that it just happened that the building they selected had a street address of 33 Rue Royal. Pick your poison.

What it has become is an exclusive club to which there is a waiting list which runs anywhere from 4 to 10 years for new members. You can read a little summary about one person's membership experience. As you can see in the article, it's also not a cheap sort of thing to become a member of club 33 either. According to the official membership leaflet you would drop a pretty penny for an individual membership:

This particular membership is for individuals and is available at Gold level. $7,500 for a Gold membership fee and $2,500 annual dues. These memberships are nontransferable.

In return you get a series of perks and whozits that you can read about in the article above.

Anyway, I didn't find out most of this until getting snippets from the other people there and then after I had gotten home and did some checking about. Knowing about the exclusivity (not to mention the fact that the chances of ever getting back in there is next to nil) makes me more appreciative of the experience. I'm sure I must've said thanks at some point to Shiney, but in case I didn't make it clear enough and he's reading this now, I was really happy to be included.

So all that side, we should get on to the picture captioning. I'm sure you'll notice that I'm handling an even smaller chunk of pictures in this entry. I find that more than half of my pictures are disney-related. That means that things should thin out as I go but these first couple days are going to be murder for number of pictures.

So El, Bea, and I were the first to arrive and we spent some time waiting around engaging what we we assumed were two gencon goers. One of them was wearing some sort of zelda t-shirt or something and the other had some gothy shirt message as I recall. I could be entirely wrong since it was quite a bit ago. Anyway, turns out they were gamers but they had no clue gencon was even there. No surprise really. Apparently they were waiting to go up into club 33 with their families.

Eventually the auction people showed up and I sent out some feelers to figure out if I was going to have a civil war on my hands. Turns out that Frank had admitted to Jane that he was wrong and had misread my posts. His comments had then lead to me telling him to eat shit and die. I guess I could have felt sorta bad about it but he in turn had ratted me out to the mods and I had another ban warning attached to me so I figure it sorta evened out even if it was his fault to start with.

Shiney arrived last and when our party was completed we buzzed the intercom and ventured inside. It seems that the lobby area has one of those old fashioned elevator lifts that Walt had admired in some european something or other. Liking it so much he apparently had purchased it and had to shipped over to be installed in club 33. I guess that's the sort of thing that filthy rich men can do. Just point at things, pay ungodly sums of money for it, and then ship it halfway around the world. Reminds me of those idiots who have castles moved from europe to the states stone by stone.

I chose to pass on riding the elevator up to the second floor since, quite frakly, it was tiny and the idea of being shut in as the engineers tried to pry us out with the jaws of life didn't appeal to me. Funny considering that I rode it down and as you'll see later, it might have been an even tighter squish.

So here we are seated at the table and chatting about this and that. Apparently the auction folks were also disney fanatics much like shiney. They kept trading facts about how long the pirates of the carribean ride was here in disneyland as opposed to disney world or the ride that one really had to go on was at the disneywhatever in tokyo. Most of this went over my head and I sorta wrote it off as being a bit crackpot.

Jane managed to duck back just as I had managed to squeeze her into the shot here. That's her husband larry sitting next to her and he's a pretty whacky fellow. Fun guy if slightly nuts. The other auction couple were far more reserved and I didn't end up getting to know them very well at all.

So what does one get for their 80 dollars? The meal consisted of a buffet with a variety of seafoods and sliced coldcuts and cheeze and salad and a dessert bar in addition to an entre that you ordered. Giant shrimip cocktail? Ka-ching! I wasn't about to let that pass me by. I did my best orca whale impression and scarfed down a bunch of the little guys.

Everyone at the table ordered the steak except for me. I find that I don't really care for steak all that much. It's often a disapointment in my mind and I can have steak almost anywhere I want. It's actually harder to get a nice pork chop, which is what I ended up ordering. What you see in the upper righthand corner is the remains of some dessert sampling and a piece of a lobster shell. I was mixing and matching.

So after the meal was wrapping itself up, by no means a short period of time btw since we ended up staying for a total of around 3 hours there, I decided to take a look from up on the balcony and snap a few pictures. Club 33 is located in the new orleans section of disneyland which I thought was sorta humorous and ironic given recent events.

Here's another wider shot of the street and buildings the balcony looks out upon.

Everyone else took the time to roam around the club, looking at trophy cases full of who knows what and the other dining rooms while I more or less just sat around and loafed. Now that the meal was over, it was time to spend additional cash. Club 33 offers a series of exclusive memorabilia avaliable only to its members and their guests. I was told that this stuff has a pretty good resale value on ebay and that even things like plastic cocktail stirers with the club's logo received monetary bids. At first I hadn't wanted to buy anything quite frankly since it was quite pricey but I got sort of swept along by everyone else. These were people who actually said things like, 'I'll have one of everything and two of that and that' while pointing to the display case. I think between them they walked off with 3 copies of the lithograph which while I don't recall the cost off the top of my head, must've been a pretty penny when I payed 30 bucks for a pin. In the end, I bought more than just a pin. I got a 30 dollar limited edition club 33 pin, a normal 10 dollar club 33 pin, and a 30 dollar club 33 schmancy pen in case. All of that should still be lying around here somewhere.

While we were waiting to make our purchases, El and Bea got sorta chummy.

So as we were leaving, four of us decided to take the elevator down. The auction people had already raced off on their own and so we stuffed ourselves into the thing, which for a while I wasn't even sure if the doors would close and made the trek downwards. I thought about jumping up and down as a joke, but weighed that against the chance I would actually break something and get stuck in there and passed on the idea. Shiney ended up having to leave to go pick up a friend or somesuch and so that left me with the girls again.

Arrrr, it be pirate booty. So things for the rest of the day ended up being shopping interspersed with more shopping and the occassional ride here or there.

I popped 50 cents or whatever it is and this damn pirate was supposed to move around and tell me my fortune. It was only after I had put in the money, the picture had been snapped and nothing had happened that I found the freaking out of order sign which had been obscured. I want my fortune god damnit.

So we did end up catching 3 rides while at the park, all of which were pretty spiffy. The first was the pirates of the carribean. No surprise since it was so close to club 33 and we had just wandered through its gift shop and everything. There were almost no lines at all the entire time we were there. You never really had to wait more than 10 minutes for any of the rides and I'm sorta regretful that we ended up leaving due to the stink. In crowd conditions like that you could probaly do just about everything worth doing in the part in 3 hours or so if you really hussled.

So I spent most of my time on these rides trying to take pictures. It was pretty stupid since I found that without the flash, any picture I took usually became a god awful blurry mess. Having never read the instruction book for my camera, I had no clue how to adjust the shutter speed or whatever it was that was required to compensate for it. Because of that, not 1 out of 10 shots actually were worth a damn. I ended up using the flash every once and a while and it was only at the end of the ride that I saw something which said 'No flash photography'. Oops. I did however end up using my autofocus beam as a headlight for our little ship, scanning ahead for interesting whozits. Here you can see we're about to rush down the big drop.

The captain's quarters and a head.

It's too bad the boat didn't swig within reach. Iwoudln't have minded swiping myself a little souvineer of sorts.

And of course, no trip through would be complete with a picture of the wench auction. I could have sworn that I read somewhere they had pulled this part because of PC hippie and feminazi bullshit. Maybe it was referring to disney world or perhaps disney simply resisted the pressure.

After the pirates, it was off to the haunted mansion. I haven't been to any disney theme park since I was like 14 or so. This means that I hadn't seen the transformation and the fact that they had changed it to a nightmare beore christmas theme. That kicked ass as far as I was concerend since I love NBC. It actually got me to go back on my word and buy booster boxes of a CCG, something I had vowed not to get myself back into. Look, here's the card Wreath of Wrath just like the picture.

Here's the picture of the mansion as we wind our way up the short line to the door.

Me with the pumpkin scarecrow. While trying to follow directions about where I shoudl move to get into the shot, I almost managed to fall into the whole thing. Balance. Never been a strong suit.

You know, I didn't notice it at the time but I wonder why they didn't just run the days before christmas counter. Ya, I know that the idea of the ride is that it's supposed to be christmas right now, but I think it would be cool if it actually did the countdown until christmas. Then maybe when it finally hit zero something special could happen just like a gigantic cookoo clock.

The 'elevator room' down to where we would board the ride. I think this was the last picture I took with a flash while in there and this one was accidental. Poor El. These rides were made to fit two people and we tried to squish three onto there. It's like what happens when you try to stuff a 6" hotdog in a 5" hotdog bun. Something always pops out. It's not like I'm exactly a small person either so I'm pretty sure she got squished good being in the middle.

I had to take this shot like 7 times before I got one that wasn't all blurred up but it was worth it. I fucking love oogie boogie. I tried to take additional shots in there but not a single one turned out well except one, and there's a reason for that. Without being able to adjust the shutter speed, I had to hold the camera absolutely still when taking a shot, and nothing could move. This basically meant that since we were moving with the ride, it was an exercise in futility.

So this is the only other shot I got and the only reason I got this one is because the ride got stuck. God knows what happened but it stopped right before the exit for us and we were told repeatedly to stay in the cart and they would start running again soon. I figure it was perhaps a couple minutes before it got chugging along again. Enough time for me to get a shot of the 'ghost mirror' El should be behind that weird thing somewhere but she's obscurred.

Another picture of some weird whatsit that I have no clue what it's there for. There must've been some reason behind the photo but it escapes me now.

Space mountain was the last ride of the day. We had picked up those fast pass tickets earlier in the day. The ones that allow you to basically save a spot for yourself and bypass most of the line. It turned out to be unnecessary since there was almost no line at all and just a ton of empty corridors until we got into the final room.

Remember kids. You must be at least this tall to ride. Space mountain is worth it though. The damn thing was freaky and much better than what I recall from disney world. I remember thinking that it was almost boring in disney world but this one freaked me out. I spent a lot of time shrieking bloody murder and thinking 'I'm going to die! I'm going to die!' over and over to myself. It's a miracle I didn't give myself whiplash with the way the thing was jerking about in the dark. THey had apparently taken the ride down for years in order to improve it and even without seeing how it was before, I'm willing to wager it was worth it.

So by the time we ventured out it was too late to do any other rides and still make it to the stink so it so it was back to shopping again. I snapped a picture or two of main street USA and generally wandered around trying to find a place to rest my weary feet. No luck.

And here's a picture of the disney christmas tree along with the 50th anniversary lightpole decorations. This was the last shot I took. El and I needed to get to the stink and Bea was off to do more shopping before she met up with other people for more disney fun. I hitched a ride with El back to the parkside and I think that's where I'll end here. I'll finish up with the stink next and then move on to gencon itself.

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