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Dining in Disneyland: Marc Davis Centennial Dinner INSIDE the Haunted Mansion

I recently attended what I’d consider the most awesome dining experience of my life – eating dinner inside of one of my very favorite Disneyland attractions.

That’s right folks, I got to eat dinner INSIDE the Haunted Mansion.  Dubbed the “Ghostly Retreat,” this special Club 33 event honoring Marc Davis was truly incredible (see details at the end of this post).

Haunted Mansion: "Restaurant" for a Night

Atmosphere

Dinner started out with a ride down the stretching elevator to where we’d be eating.  As the doors opened, we were awestruck when we saw a long table set for 34 in the portrait corridor of the Haunted Mansion.

I literally squealed with delight. It was the most amazing table setting I’ve ever seen. Fresh flowers, gorgeous vases, elegant table ware, goblets to drink from — it was very overwhelming.

Table for 34

From what I could tell, the table was basically a replica of the table in the Haunted Mansion ballroom. Even the plates, goblets & tablecloth looked the same!

After claiming a seat, I joined everyone else in taking a million photos!  Thankfully, we were allowed to use flash, so please don’t get upset with me for taking flash photography in an attraction — I had permission. ; )

Haunted Mansion Flower Arrangement and Table Decor (plus Alice Davis in Red)

Because this was a special event to celebrate 100 years of Marc Davis, we had some very special guests join us for dinner. Guests included Marc’s wife, the lovely Alice Davis, Animator Andreas Deja, Imagineer Kim Irvine, and our “host” for the evening was Disney Historian Tim O’ Day. And as if that wasn’t enough, Imagineer Bob Gurr joined us for dessert at the end of the evening.

Talk about a star studded dinner party! WOW. All of our special guests were miked for the evening, so while we dined we could listen to them chat about Marc and working with Disney. We could ask questions and interact as though we were having a casual dinner with friends. A-MA-ZING.

Dinner Host Tim O'Day Keeps the Conversation Flowing

Eats

While we listened and chatted, dinner began.  The menu was themed to the stretching portraits in the elevator. We started off with a lovely bread basket that was followed by 5 themed dishes, each served with a wine paring.

Bread Basket

First up was the Amuse Bouche “Quick Sand-wich;” a deconstructed BLT.

Its description was as clever as its ingredients: “A Well Dressed Trio of Lettuce Supported by Crispy Pork Shoulder & Sinking Slowly into a Tomato Marmalade Abyss.”  Wine paring was Clark-Claudon, Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Iris 2010.

"Quick Sand-Wich"

Each dish also had a quote to go with it. In this case it was “It’s love at first Doom Buggy bite.” 

I will have to agree with this quote as I pretty much ate the whole thing in one bite. So delicious.

Quick Sand-wich Close Up

The First Course was called “Out with a Bang;” A Distinguished Duo of Dynamite Bayou Crab Cakes Embellished with a Sash of Charred Cajun Corn Relish & Ignited by Nitrokoff Firecracker Sauce.

This one is “So explosive it might just blow your pants off.”  Although I love the description, I really didn’t think it was that spicy, which for me is a good thing because I can’t handle too much spice.

I’m also usually not a crab lover, but the mix of flavors in this dish was so amazing.  I’m still thinking about that corn relish!

"Out with a Bang"

And the cute decorative “fuse” on top was such a fun addition.  The wine paired with this dish was Livio Felluga, Pinot Grigio, Colio DOC, Italy.

"Out with a Bang" Close Up

The second course, and my very favorite stretching portrait, was the “Tightrope;” A Tussle of Tattered Garden Twining Perpetually Balanced atop a Tail of Callous Scales & Assisted by a Parasol of Petals.

I mean, come on. Seriously the most awesome description of a cucumber salad, EVER.

"Tightrope"

This salad was so gorgeous. I loved the description and a paper umbrella always makes me smile!

The quote of this dish was “One should always try to eat well balanced.” HAHAHA! Get it? She’s on a TIGHTROPE. Seriously in love with the creativity that went into planning this meal.

Not only was this salad beautiful, but it was also delicious. The cucumbers were sliced so thin, and the dressing was very light tasting, which meant we could enjoy the fun ingredients such as edible flowers.  The salad was paired with Livio Felluga, Pinot Grigio, Colio DOC, Italy.

"Tightrope" Salad Close Up

The third course, cleverly named “A Tall Tale,” was Constance Hatchaway’s Hatchet Severed Chateaubriand Adoringly Adorned by Desiccated Rose Crystals & Mournfully Accompanied by a Tormented Hightower of Terror All Restlessly Resting on a Bed of Freshly Mortal Morsels.

“Be careful not to lose your head” was the quote for this dish — and I almost did lose my head when I tried that “Hightower of Terror.”

"A Tall Tale"

This was my absolute favorite part of the course. A cylinder of potato topped with mashed potato? Yes, please. SO fabulous.

And the Chateaubriand wasn’t too bad either! ; ) The third course was paired with Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

"Tall Tale" Close Up

Now, you’ll have to wait a bit for dessert — just like we did!

A Round Trip Doom Buggy Ride

To distract us while the cast members were dressing  the table up for dessert, we were all told that we were going to take a ride on the Haunted Mansion. Because we were not done with our dining experience, we were going to ride the Doom Buggies round trip and exit the attraction where we entered. Already cool, right???

Well, at this time, we were also informed that our special dinner guests had to leave for a photo opp and they’d be back in a bit to join us  for dessert.  BUT, tricky Disney… They actually planted our guests IN the ride and the photo opp was for us! Seriously hysterical. So, as we rode around in our Doom Buggies, each person had a special spot to wave to us.  AND yep, we were allowed to take photos, with flash!

First up was the adorable Alice Davis accompanied by Tim O’Day. They stood at the entrance and waved to us as we were entering, heading down the hallway.

Alice Davis & Tim O'Day

After seeing Alice and Tim, I really thought, “Oh that’s nice of them to wave goodbye before they head to their photo opp.”  I didn’t even have my camera ready because I wasn’t expecting anything more.

So thankful that my lovely new friend Gail let me use her photos; thanks Gail!!!  Once through the hallway and heading toward the coffin, I then realized that there WAS more; because there was Animator Andreas Deja sitting in a chair in front of the coffin sketching funny Haunted Mansion themed drawings and showing them to us as we went by.

Andreas Deja

Super excited to see who would come next, I kept my eyes open around every turn. I thought for sure we’d see Kim Irvine in Madam Leota’s séance room.  After all, Madame Leota was based on Kim’s mother and imagineer, Leota Toombs.

But nope, Kim Irvine had a spot at the table in the ballroom. It was very hard to photograph, but I did manage to get an OK picture with my phone! Kim waved to us as we went by and later told us she couldn’t see a thing from where she was!

Kim Irvine at the Dining Table (Check out the similarities of the place settings to the ones we had at dinner!)

Remember how I told you Bob Gurr would be joining us for dessert? Here is where he comes in.

I could NOT stop laughing when we turned the corner into the graveyard and I saw Bob Gurr holding a lantern doing the “oooooo soooo scarrrrry” shake. It was hysterical.  He even had sound effects — he was doing “ghost-y” noises. I. Was. Dying.

"Scary" Bob Gurr

This was the “Grand Finale” of our guests planted throughout the ride. And let me tell you, what an amazing experience it was. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear as I rode through.

Little did I know that my smile would turn into a total freak out of ecstaticness when I got off the ride and saw what was for dessert. We all literally gasped when we turned the corner to see the table set for dessert.

Dessert

Knowing that dessert was named “Madam Leota’s Sweet Séance,” I thought it might be something pretty cool. The description read “A Dark and Delectable Spirited Psychic Spell Summoned from the Other Side & Eternally Suspended in Crystal Purgatory.”

I was not, however, prepared to see something so amazing that I ALMOST couldn’t even eat it. Almost….

When we exited the attraction, we walked back to our table to find it glowing with individual Madam Leota crystal balls at each place setting.

Seriously???? I mean COME ON. Unreal.

Here’s where I go a little berserk with the photos. I couldn’t stop. I think I took about 50 pics of this before I had the nerve to crack the crystal ball and dig in.

The crystal ball that you see is a clear sugar “orb” that we had to crack with our fork to get to the dark chocolate mousse-like cake inside.  Madam Leota’s face was screened on a piece of chocolate, while her purple hair was created from spun colored sugar that tasted very much like cotton candy.

Madam Leota Dessert Glowing Green

Each plate had a battery powered color changing disc on it that caused Madam Leota to glow. I can not even put into words how amazing it was to see all of these glowing at the table before we sat down to dig in.

Here’s a little collage of the color changing.

Madam Leota's Color Changing Spectacular!

I even took a little video because I was worried that the photos wouldn’t do it justice.

After cracking open my “crystal” ball, I dug right in to the rich chocolate ganache style dessert. It was definitely a chocolate lovers dream come true.  The quote that went with this one?

“It’s to die for…” HAHA! A perfect fit wouldn’t you say?

Madam Leota's Cracked Crystal Ball

The wine paring with dessert was Dolce, from Napa Valley.

Now, here’s something a little embarrassing. I didn’t take a photo of the chocolate ganache part. I literally started eating and forgot to even snap a pic. So, trust me when I say that it was spectacular. I do have this photo that I snapped on the way out.  I thought it was funny to see Madam Leota staring up at me. You can kind of get an idea of what the ganache looked like!

Devoured Madam Leota

The highlight of dessert, though, was hearing Bob Gurr yell across the table at Kim Irvine, “Hey Kim, I’m gonna eat your mom’s face!”

Imagineer Kim Irvine Holds Dessert Modeled After Her Mom, Leota Toombs

After dessert, we basically had to be kicked out of the Haunted Mansion corridor as no one wanted the night to end. But not before Bob Gurr came around giving everyone hugs and handshakes while he asked us if we had a good time.

And I have to give props to these awesome Club 33 Chefs who created the incredible and imaginative meal!

Chefs of the Evening!

Overall

Good does not even describe this event.  It was absolutely amazing. But all absolutely amazing (and good) things must come to an end, so we rode the stretching elevator UP and watched the portraits shrink back into normalcy.

Unfortunately, it was time to head back to real life.

Please note that this dinner was a private Club 33 event. You had to either be a member or a guest of a member to attend. This was a personal, self-paid experience of mine and I was not compensated by Disney in any way to attend this event or write this post. Unfortunately, I don’t know if Club 33 will ever do another one of these events, and I count myself very lucky to have been able to attend.

 

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!

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71 Comments

  1. Julie says:

    Absolutely amazing!!!! What an incredible experience! Thanks for sharing the story!

  2. Rebecca says:

    WOW! What a special celebration!

  3. John says:

    I heard there was original Marc Davis art at the event. How was that?

  4. TammieQ says:

    This sounds like such a wonderful experience! I was dying laughing at those awesome menu descriptions. That dessert is the cherry on the cake of the evening. Simply amazing. Thanks for sharing those incredible photos.

  5. Evil Queen says:

    Thank you so much for posting!!! Loved seeing the event!!!!! I was hoping to go, but was told I was not eligible. Just want to clarify…I have been a member of Club 33 for 18 years and yet I was not allowed to go to this event. This was ONLY available to the new members who have joined the new Club 1901 and Club 33. SO grateful for this blog!!!!!

  6. ChristinaM says:

    A-M-A-ZING!!! Reading this I got goosebumps and I think I stopped breathing a few times! I can only imagine how you must of felt. I got to eat at Club33 last year for my birthday and I thought it couldn’t ever get better… you just proved me wrong! Thank you SOOOO much for sharing this beyond the grave amazing experience!

  7. Kelly M says:

    Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow!!!!!!!!!!!
    I swear I almost cried as I scrolled down to the dessert pics!
    What an incredible experience it must have been!

  8. Sara says:

    That sounds like an absolutely incredible experience!!!!! That dessert is unbelievable!

  9. Lori k says:

    There are no words….. AMAZING! I am so glad you shared this experience! Haunted mansion is my favorite ride and the theming. I love that disney does dinners like this. There are grisly special.

  10. Sandy - winnieatepooh says:

    Wow, I would give my left arm to be able to have an experience like this! So jealous, everything looks absolutely amazing…especially dessert! Thank you so much for sharing, however now I will be eternally jealous!

  11. Joy O says:

    What an awesome experience! Beyond jealous but so glad you shared it with us. Going to make my ride on it next week a whole new experience! So cool.

  12. Holy mackarel this looks like it was totally amazing! Thank you so much for bringing us along for the ride…what a treat! :D

  13. Christa M. says:

    This is amazing. I follow Heather on Instagram and always enjoy her pics. That dessert is unreal. I would not want to eat that, and I love sweets!

  14. Mishia Woodruff says:

    Oh my goodness!! I loved reading this!! absolutely amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing!! This by far is the BEST blog I’ve read to date!! I’m so glad that you share this!! Awesome!!
    Thanks again for sharing!!

  15. Lara Lorton says:

    I would have DIED to attend this event! I hope you realize how many people read this blog post with dropped jaws and were extremely envious of you! The Madame Leota dessert was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! Just reading this and seeing the pics alone was fantastic, so thanks for sharing. Events like this are the EXACT reason why I LOVE Disney!

  16. Michelle says:

    This is ridiculously cool and completely made my day! :)

  17. Jenny says:

    Wow! That is so amazing. For me being able to meet all those people would have been good enough, the food was the bonus. :)

  18. Dana says:

    This event looks like it was amazing!!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures. And that’s dessert did look like it was “to die for”!

  19. Michelle says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing! This is unreal and you’re so blessed to have experienced this! I’m a huge fan of the haunted mansion, this would be a dream come true :)

  20. justJENN says:

    Love it! It looks amazing!

  21. Lisa says:

    Absolutely amazing. So glad you shared it with all of us.

  22. Vikki says:

    Absolutely incredible. Thanks for sharing it with all of us mere mortals!

  23. Heather Sievers says:

    @Julie – You are so welcome! A pleasure to share!

    @Rebecca – It was hard to put into words just how special it was.

    @John – There was, it was displayed in the dream suite. Pretty fantastic.

    @TammieQ- That dessert! So incredible!

    @EvilQueen – This could be true, although I am not positive. It applies to my invitation. So glad you enjoyed the post!

    @ChristinaM – So glad you enjoyed the post! And way cool you got to celebrate your birthday at Club 33!!!

    @Kelly M – I almost cried when I saw the dessert too!!!

    @Sara – I couldn’t believe that dessert when I saw it. Beyond incredible.

    @Lori K – It’s my favorite attraction too! Such a fab night!

    @Sandy – I’m left handed so I’d only be willing to give my right arm! ; )

  24. Heather Sievers says:

    @Joy O – So glad you enjoyed the post! After this event, I have noticed to many more details on the attraction. So cool!!!

    @Krissy – Holy Mackerel is right! ; )

    @Christa M. – Thanks for following me! I had a hard time cracking it to eat, I just wanted to keep staring at it!

    @Mishia – Thank you for the fantastic complement! I am blushing!

    @Lara – It was totally jaw dropping!

    @Michelle – Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the post!

    @JustJenn – Such an incredible evening!

    @Lisa – My pleasure, love that I could share.

    @Vikki – It was truly an unbelievable experience.

  25. Wendy S says:

    wOW, is all I can say.

  26. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I can’t even begin to imagine how neat that would have been! And I would have loved to have seen the looks on the chefs’ faces when they were assigned the task of coming up with these recipes (I can only imagine it would have been a dream come true)! And I LOVED reading the little bits about Bob Gurr! He seems like the neatest guy ever!

  27. jeffrey ressner says:

    Sounds like a blast. Wish I could have been there!

  28. V No Privacy says:

    This is SO awesome! I would KILL to have a chance to attend this event! Muahahahaha!!!

  29. Maseca says:

    Spectacular!

    I have to say I love the hijinks by Bob Gurr. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with him several times and both Disney events and just friendly get-togethers. He is an absolute treasure, hilarious, charming, tells a great story, and knows he’s perfectly adorable and hams it up whenever possible. I just love him to pieces!

  30. Beth in MI says:

    I can’t even imagine how fabulous this was. Bob Gurr sounds like a wonderful man and a lot of fun (“I’m going to eat your Mom’s face” is too funny). To meet Alice Davis would have been awesome. I’m glad you shared your experience with us since this is the closest I will ever get to an event like this. Very cool!

  31. DANIEL RUNNINGBRAVE says:

    The event was outstanding. I was lucky enough to get a invite. The presentation was A1. The guest speakers were great and memorable. The food could not have been better. The dessert was the best part of the dinner. How perfect was that. I was very lucky to take photos (over 600) to document out experience. The wife and I feel very fortunate to have been invited to this. Cant wait for my next disney experience. ……..

  32. Jennie says:

    A truly once in a lifetime event. I need to ask my acquaintance who upgraded to the 1901 if he went. What a special night. Now I want to host my own HM event. I’m so poaching these ideas….get it…poaching? Lol My tie in to DFB. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Happy trails,
    Jennie

  33. Gabriella B. says:

    You are truly fortunate to have had such an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. Words can’t even describe how crazy decadent that looked! The dessert sure hit the whole meal out of the ballpark though, so incredibly creative of the chefs! Fantastic review, thanks for sharing!!!

  34. David says:

    WOW, that is just beyond words fantastic. I wish I could have been there for that event. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the pictures.

  35. Taylor says:

    Does anyone happen to know if any pins are being released to celebrate Marc’s 100th birthday?
    Thanks!

  36. Paul says:

    Holy moly this looked amazing, like indescribably so. How do we convince Tables in Wonderland to do a similar event for us here in Florida? :-)

  37. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t read this. I would have cried with jealousy. I’m sure you had a wonderful time! ;)

  38. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Great. I’m not crying, jealousy killed me. Scatter my ashes at the HM

  39. Monique says:

    Can I tell you how absolutely amazing this was to read?! I am so happy that you were able to share this with us and I really wish these things were made available for members of other Disney groups like D23. This was amazing and I thank you for sharing.

  40. Randi says:

    This was so awesome to read about! I’m a pretty picky eater when it comes to fancier things, but I would totally eat every single one of those dishes! And my jaw dropped when I saw the first Leota picture! That’s the most clever dessert I think I’ve ever seen!

  41. Heather Sievers says:

    @Wendy S. – Wow is right! ; )

    @Holly – Bob Gurr is a pleasure to be around. I need more of him in my life!

    @Jeffrey – For sure a night to remember!

    @V – HAHA!

    @Maseca – Bob is the best!

    @Beth – He had us laughing the entire time he was there.

    @Daniel – I agree completely. Such an amazing night! I had about that many photos too!

    @Jennie – If you do, please share your photos with us! Would love to see your dinner.

    @Gabriella – That dessert was the most amazing I’ve ever seen.

    @David – My pleasure, glad you enjoyed!

    @Taylor – Not to my knowledge.

    @Paul – I’d be willing to fly to Orlando for that!!!

    @Galloping Gourmand – Sorry to hear about your passing. We will miss you! ; )

    @Monique – Thank you for your kind words! It was such a great night! I wish everyone could have this experience!!!

    @Randi – Surprisingly I am picky too! Shhhh! I ate everything they put in front of me. The menu themeing was just incredible.

  42. Mark Hickson says:

    Heather, You Rock!! I once ate a Ham sandwich in the Graveyard scene during a rehab, but your experience definitely beats that!

  43. Heather Sievers says:

    @Mark – HAHAHA! Thanks! Still, though, how many people can say they ate a ham sandwich there. That’s pretty awesome too!

  44. BettyG says:

    Unbelievable! You can bet this would be a Club 33 event. No other restaurant could have done this with so much class! Personally, I give all the credit to the chefs- the food topped the experience! Bravo, Chefs!!

  45. Steve says:

    Hail to the chef. Such an incredable job so very well done.

  46. PT / 400 Miles to Disneyland says:

    WOW!! What an amazing experience. Definitely something to remember forever. Very, very cool Madame Leota dessert too. Only Disney can come up with most magical experiences.

  47. Agnes says:

    Wow, all the creativity lavished on this event really went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined! Everyone involved must have poured their heart and soul into this amazing feat. I agree with all the previous posts: thanks for sharing and I’m so jealous!

  48. Heather Sievers says:

    @BettyG – Perfectly said; So classy, and chefs are beyond amazing.

    @Steve – They really went above and beyond, didn’t they???

    @PT – Totally magical on so many levels!

    @Agnes – You are so welcome, it was a pleasure to share.

  49. Steph M says:

    WOW! An experience of a lifetime!!!! I’m beyond jealous as well, but so GLAD you shared it w/ us! THANK YOU!

  50. Cynthia says:

    Are you going to talk about the tour of the Disneyland Suite? I haven’t had a chance to go there since 2010, but it was such an awesome trip.

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