Even Disneyland has its secrets. Right in the middle of “the Happiest Place on Earth” in Southern California, hidden above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at 21 Royal Street, is a home originally planned for Walt and Lillian Disney. Planned, because although the designs had been commissioned and delivered, it wasn’t completed until 2007.
The space became a dining spot for members of Disney’s exclusive Club 33, and now is open to the public as 21 Royal. “We decided to create a very unique experience and host an exquisite dinner party in the same fashion Walt and Lillian would have, with butlers, chef and a sommelier,” says manager Matthew Ellingson.
For $15,000, 21 Royal can be booked for private dinners for a maximum of 12 guests; the evening features a bespoke menu created by chef Andrew Sutton, formerly of Napa’s Auberge du Soleil. From the outside, 21 Royal looks like a small 19th-century house in New Orleans’ French Quarter; inside is a full apartment with classic Empire style furnishing and finishes. Craft cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are passed on the patio by a small army of servers, but ask for your heart’s desire—in my case, aged rum—and it will be delivered from 21 Royal’s substantial wine and liquor cellar. A fromager presides over a selection of artisanal cheeses and tells you the story behind each.
Each menu is created from scratch based on the occasion. Expect anything from ahi and yellowtail topped with golden osetra caviar to imported white asparagus, Spanish ham and Meyer lemon bubbles. You’ll be served six to nine courses in the formal dining room, with ingredients flown in for that evening.
Dinners at 21 Royal conclude with a view of Disneyland’s fireworks from the balcony. As we enjoyed dessert, coffee and after-dinner drinks, it was easy to imagine Walt and Lillian sitting next to us.