New Orleans Square’s Disneyland Debut July 24, 1966
Walt and Lillian Disney loved New Orleans and wanted to bring the charm of the area to Disneyland. New Orleans Square was the first major land to open since Disneyland opened in 1955. It is also the first land not to be connected to the hub off Main Street, U.S.A.
The Imagineers were working on New Orleans Square as early as 1957 however in the early 60’s the project was put on hold so that they could work on major attractions for the 1963-64 World’s Fair. New Orleans Square opened 6 months before Walt’s death.
These are videos from July 1966 of New Orleans Square taken by my grandfather just after the area opened. (Disney Nerd runs deep in my family)
New Orleans Square Today
Most of the area has remained the same since opening in 1966 with one exception. The Court of Angels area (see below) is no longer accessible to guests.
Live Dixieland music can still be heard in the air as you stroll through the area. Look behind the band and you can see the new larger window installed that looks into (or out of) Club 33.
Walt Disney had the idea for a private club where he could entertain VIP’s that were visiting the park. Unfortunately the club opened in 1967 just 6 months after Walt died. Today Club 33 is a members only club which costs $10,000 to join and upwards of $3,500 yearly dues. Wow, yup that’s right.
If you know someone who is a member then you can join them for lunch or dinner. They can also make a reservation on your behalf so you can enjoy the club with your friends. Dinner costs as much as $100 but it is well worth it.
I had some pixie dust sprinkled my way in August 2013 and was able to have dinner at Club 33. Yeah, it was one of those OMG moments and to this day I still can’t believe I was there and had a fabulous meal with two of my friends and made a new friend who I still am connected with today. <—-THAT is the magic of Disney friends. They will even print the menu for you on their fancy paper. I took one of the copies to my dad and he loved it.
Here is one of my favorite pictures from my visit to Club 33 in August 2013. The park was near closing time and we were headed out of the club. You can read more about my experience here.
Court of Angels
I was very sad to learn that the beautiful Court of Angels is now closed. This was always an area that I love to visit at Disneyland. It was a nice peaceful area tucked in the back of New Orleans Square. Today the area is used as an entrance for Club 33 members. Which means that if you are not a member of Club 33 (or know someone who can make reservations for you then you will never see this space again.)
See this wonderful article from Disney Tourist Blog about the ending of Court of Angels.
Court of Angels – closed ;(
Why I love New Orleans Square
Even as a young girl New Orleans Square has always been a favorite place of mine to visit. My dad and my grandparents are from New Orleans and they also enjoyed this area of the park so perhaps their love for it rubbed off on me. My daughter who is almost nine as I write this also likes to stroll around with me in New Orleans Square. She enjoys looking at the trinkets in the stores.
When I enter New Orleans Square I am transported to a new place and I feel like I am not in Anaheim anymore. Sure the other lands at Disneyland can do this as well (read Cars Land) but New Orleans has a special feel to it. The pace in New Orleans Square is slower because there are no loud rides, long lines or giant stores and most kids don’t like to visit this area.
I like to take a break from the Disneyland crowds and relax in New Orleans. I meander through the streets and duck into the wonderful stores. I enjoy the Nightmare Before Christmas store, which now has more Haunted Mansion merchandise as well. However, one thing I am not happy with is that the Christmas ornament store is no longer there. ;(
The decor inside the stores and the window displays are amazing and I notice a new item each time I visit.
Read More Disneyland History Posts