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Disneyland Article
Disneyland Fan Ousted From Exclusive Club 33 Will Not Be Returning

Pirates Of The Caribbean
Orange County Register
Marla Jo Fisher
July 06, 2018
July 13, 2018
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A man who was such a Disney fan that he wrote a book about Walt Disney has quietly settled his lawsuit against the company after he was ousted from Disneyland's exclusive Club 33, accused of breaking its rules.

For four decades, according to court documents and interviews, Joseph Cosgrove of Lake Forest considered himself a self-proclaimed ambassador to the park's legendary private VIP club, which lies behind a locked secret door in New Orleans Square, next to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou restaurant.

The club has strict rules for its members, who reportedly pay a $25,000 initiation fee plus $10,000 annually - or more depending on the type of membership - for the privilege of entering a door tucked away in a side street, coming upstairs and having drinks or fine dining in uncrowded luxury.

It's the only place inside Disneyland that serves liquor. Members also get other perks, such as valet parking, extra park tickets, Fast Passes, reserved seating to special events and, of course, bragging rights to their elite membership.

The club, which opened in 1967, has a long waiting list for membership, even at its high prices. Its fame among insiders is such that some visitors even collect the monogrammed hand towels from the lavatories as souvenirs of their visits. But it also has a strict rules that members must follow, including what may be posted on social media about it and how people can be invited as guests.

Joseph Cosgrove, now 87, was such a fan that he wrote a book in appreciation of Walt Disney. He said he was among the first members of Club 33 after its opening. However, as of Jan. 1, 2015, Cosgrove's membership was terminated by the club, according to court documents. He filed suit in April 2016.

Court records filed June 27 for dismissal of the case show it was settled May 10. No one was awarded legal fees. A jury trial had previously been set for July 30 in Orange County Superior Court.

Janet Cosgrove, Joseph Cosgrove's wife, said on Thursday that she was precluded from commenting about the lawsuit because of a confidentiality agreement.

"No, we're on a gag order by them," Janet Cosgrove said when asked about the settlement. Asked if the couple would be returning to the park, she merely said, "It's a no" and declined to speak further.

Disneyland spokeswoman Liz Jaeger confirmed Thursday by email that "the case is resolved" but would not elaborate.

In 2015, Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown responded to the lawsuit in an email statement, saying that the Cosgroves "repeatedly transferred and sold their membership privileges, which was a clear violation of membership. We, unfortunately, were left with no other choice, in order to preserve the integrity of membership."

Joseph Cosgrove was a longtime fan and booster of the park. In the lawsuit, his lawyer alleged that his membership was "unilaterally, unceremoniously and abruptly terminated despite his 45 years of loyal Club Membership" and that due to his age he was "within the ambit of the protections provided by California's financial elder abuse laws."

The lawsuit alleged that Cosgrove's membership was terminated because he gave someone tickets for Club 33 that were subsequently sold at a charity auction, which is against the club's rules. As a result of the loss of his membership, the suit alleged, he suffered "great mental, emotional, physical and nervous pain and suffering."

The lawsuit also alleged that Cosgrove was "having his contractual and personal rights trammeled by a new generation of millennials trying to convert "Club 33' into a billionaires' exclusive domain."

Author David Koenig, who wrote "The People v. Disneyland: How Lawsuits & Lawyers Transformed the Magic," produced an in-depth story in 2015 for the Mouseplanet blog about the Cosgrove case that involved interviewing numerous Club 33 members. He said Thursday that the Cosgroves were ousted from Club 33 - technically their membership was not renewed - because they constantly allowed friends and even strangers to use their Club 33 membership benefits, sometimes making it difficult for other members to get dining reservations.

"I know a lot of people liked him personally, but the typical Club 33 member wants a more private, exclusive dining experience, and it was turning into Chili's," Koenig said. "Still, apparently, he's a lovable old guy."

Cosgrove isn't the only former member who has sued Disney over Club 33.

Another couple banned from Club 33 sued in 2017, alleging they were retaliated against for bringing to light sexual harassment and other problems. That suit is scheduled for trial next year.

Carlton Enterprises, Inc., an Arizona-based company, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is run by married couple Scott and Diana Anderson of Los Angeles. Their lawyer, Sean Macias, said in an interview that "new management has been told to force the older members out so they can bring in new members and charge them more with less benefits."

After the suit was filed, Disneyland issued a statement saying the couple's membership was terminated "due to multiple violations of Club 33 rules."
Attractions Referenced

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Restaurants Referenced

Blue Bayou Restaurant

Club 33

Lands Referenced

New Orleans Square

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