Peek inside Disneyland's most fanciful lounge: Here's the $15,000 experience at 21 Royal

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There are a million ways to see Disneyland. The park is, at its core, an age-irreverent place with tea cups and train rides for children, the carnival-like pier for teens and soon, a “Star Wars” cantina for the 21+ crowd.

a dining room table in front of a building: The dining room inside 21 Royal in New Orleans Square at Disneyland.

But for the contingency of Disney park fans out there searching for the ultimate Disneyland visit, there’s another option. In early 2017, the park quietly rolled out an experience slightly more attainable than gaining entrance to the extra-exclusive Club 33: a visit to 21 Royal.

The secret-ish dining and event space above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride can actually be booked by the public for a particularly special meal or event. It’s a “one-of-a-kind enchanted experience,” the site for the space reads, but it does require an expensive price that reflects that: $15,000.

The space itself is storied. Designed by famed set designer Dorothea Redmond, it was intended to be Walt Disney’s onsite apartment, but he passed before it was completed. In recent years it was used as an art gallery where collectors could purchase Disney-themed oil paintings, or a place where keen guests to the park could buy a dessert plate and get a primo view of park fireworks for under $100.

At some point, shortly before becoming 21 Royal, it operated as the Disney Dream Suite, a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment given out to random park guests for overnight stays as part of a rare promotion. For the change, it was given a brisk remodel by Disney Imagineers using Redmond’s own plan; when the space eventually reopened as 21 Royal in January 2017, it kept the look so it would appear just as Walt Disney had intended.

But today, fervent Disney fans can book the space for private parties or special occasions — for a fee.

There is some respite: That $15,000 price is not all for one person, it covers a group of 12. The 7-course meal provided, of course, cuts no corners in presentation — this is Disney, after all — and is prepped by Disney’s Culinary Director of Signature Restaurants Andrew Sutton and Chef de Cuisine Clint Chin.

a living room filled with furniture and a fireplace: Inside the 21 Royal suite.© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc
Inside the 21 Royal suite.
a man standing in front of a brick wall: Andrew Sutton, Executive Chef at Napa Rose, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure par© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc
Andrew Sutton, Executive Chef at Napa Rose, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure par

It is, as Disney explains, a night of “epicurean theater” and storytelling, where chefs explain the background of each dish while program manager and sommelier Matt Ellingson pairs the wine.

“We want the food and wine to tell a personal story,” Sutton says. “Our guests are in a one-of-a-kind, private setting, and we want the food to be dazzling, as well as delicious.”

But the experience doesn’t only include food. VIP parking at the Grand Californian hotel is provided, as are Park Hopper passes for entry to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for the group for the day. There is also a butler on hand who greets guests with cocktails when they arrive.

As Ellingson says, “You are entertained from the moment you step inside 21 Royal.”

But it’s what comes after the meal that has some diehard Disney fans excited: an elevated view of the fireworks show. One writer for Eater, Carlye Wisel, went to see the place firsthand, and after the pomp of the wine-paired meal, she wrote about the joy of being able to see the light show from this perspective.

“This, Disney fans, is what you pay for,” she wrote. “Not the caviar.”

If the price tag doesn’t scare you off, reservations of the space can be made at 21royaldisneyland.com.

Alyssa Pereira is an SFGATE staff writer. Email her at apereira@sfchronicle.com or find her on Twitter at @alyspereira.

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