When Walt Disney envisioned Disneyland Park, one small component of that dream was a private escape within the Park where Walt and his beloved wife Lillian could entertain family, friends, dignitaries, and celebrities. The space wasn’t completed before his death, but the design persisted, and 21 Royal was born.
The space has been used for several different purposes — the Dream Suite, an Art Gallery, etc — previously. But since 2015, 21 Royal has been an exclusive space in the heart of New Orleans Square available for private dining events. Anyone can book this space — so long as they can afford it. Because 21 Royal is the most expensive dining experience in Disneyland Resort. The cost of the experience is $15,000 with a maximum party of 12. At that price, 21 Royal events are the height of luxury — in the theme park and in the real world.
I attended an evening at 21 Royal with several friends (old and new!), spearheaded by my buddy and fabulous adventurer @DiningInDisney, who gathered close friends and friends of friends willing to cough up the cash to experience Disneyland’s most luxurious event.
To say it was an unforgettable night is an understatement. And because this is an exclusive opportunity, I want to share it with you. So join me in this historic space above Pirates of the Caribbean for a look inside Walt and Lillian Disney’s dream suite.
Your five-hour dining experience begins, surprisingly, at the Grand Californian Hotel. That’s where diners gather to board a shuttle to Disneyland Park. This short ride helps to build the anticipation even more, and by the time you arrive at 21 Royal, you’re primed for the meal of a lifetime.
Guests disembark the shuttle backstage at New Orleans Square, and are brought up to the…train tracks. So if you’re ever waiting for the train in New Orleans Square and see 12 randos in fancy dress literally coming OUT OF THE WOODS and CROSSING THE TRAIN TRACKS…that’s the 21 Royal group for the evening LOL!
Upon arrival, diners are led upstairs to 21 Royal’s Parlor and are greeted with a cocktail, the first of many alcoholic beverages provided throughout the course of the night.
Note that if you’re not a drinker, you’re really cutting into the value (don’t laugh) of the meal significantly, because the wine and cocktails are top-notch and would be incredibly expensive if purchased elsewhere. The Welcome Cocktail was a light and bright way to kick off the night.
The first part of the experience is…basically a free-for-all. Your host for the evening will invite you to partake in a cocktail hour while exploring the entire suite, which, in addition to a grand parlor, includes a lovely courtyard, two bedrooms with two full bathrooms, a balcony, and an elegant dining room. Richly appointed hallways and pass-throughs are also worth exploring.
We began in the Parlor, with cocktails in hand, to appreciate the sophisticated and classic design. Heavy blue curtains and ornate ceiling moldings create dimension in a space that is filled with dark wood furnishings, fabulously upholstered couches and chairs, and gorgeous area rug in red, blue, and ivory.
Artwork on the walls and tchotchkes on just about every surface create an almost museum-like feel. You do have a sense of look-but-don’t-touch. But that’s not entirely fair (more in this in a bit!).
Inlaid murals on one wall of the Parlor walls evoke some European grandeur, and their subjects might look a bit familiar… .
The Neuschwanstein Castle (left) and the Chateau de Chenonceau (right) are said to have inspired Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle, but whether that lore is true or not, these murals do lend a sense of history to the room.
This painted mirror serves not just to reflect light and provide whimsey in the space, it’s also got the Disney touch if you look a little closer.
It’s true: those mischievous chipmunks are everywhere!
Other notable features in the room include this gilded mirror which features creatures (birds, primarily) in its sculpted frame.
But remember how I said you don’t feel like you can touch anything? Well, 21 Royal has a cure for the kid in all of us that just has to touch something: our host was sure to share with us that there would be plenty of buttons and switches throughout the suite…and that we should touch them ALL!
There are buttons in each of the main rooms (Parlor, Dining, and Bed) that trigger reactions in the space.
The most exciting is the Good Night Kiss button. Press this and magical effects begin all around you.
In the Parlor, the main Good Night Kiss effect is in the face of this grandfather clock. Cinderella and Prince Charming appear to be caught mid-waltz.
And the Tiki Birds are here, too. Keep watching this space because there’s more to see as the images continue to change in the clock face.
The first of the two bedrooms is the Frontierland Bedroom, a space festooned in deep red and taupe tones, heavy wooden beds, and subtly patterned wallpaper.
Note that you can not get into the beds, but you’re welcome to lay on them to take some pictures. The details in here are tailor-made for adventurers, with a wooden shelf running around the perimeter of the room that’s loaded with figures, books, and models…and a special surprise… .
A themed chandelier sheds warm light on the space. Peep those details of spurs and Disneyland Ds! (Sadly they do not sell this in any of the gift shops at Disneyland Park, and what a tragedy that is.)
The Frontierland Bedroom also has a Good Night Kiss button that diners are encouraged to press. In this room, that perimeter shelf comes to life…
With a working model train! Now, unfortunately, diners aren’t allowed to take video inside 21 Royal, so these photos will have to suffice (until you dine there yourself, of course!).
The train starts out looking like it’s stationery — a museum piece inside a glass box.
But it soon breaks free of its container, and as the train makes its tour around the room, various effects are triggered with lights and whistles, and the whole thing is very exciting.
The Frontierland Bathroom is another study in burgundy and beige, with a mix of patterns in the wallpaper and tile.
There’s also a shower in here which, during your dinner, you are not invited to use. But if you want to be silly after several of those cocktails and some wine, you can take pictures in here.
The Frontierland Bedroom has another great feature: a balcony overlooking the street below, which is kind of a transition between New Orleans Square and Frontierland.
The Balcony also has another pretty awesome view: Rivers of America and Fantasmic.
In fact, viewing Fantasmic from the Balcony is included in your evening’s festivities, and there’s really no better view of this show from anywhere in the Park.
If you want to see what the view is like, click here for our 21 Royal DFB Guide video, where I included some video footage of the show. It’s really spectacular, and a beautiful way to cap the night at 21 Royal.
Once you’ve pulled yourself away from that view, you and your 11 best friends will naturally wander to the Courtyard. This outdoor space in the center of the squarely laid out suite is for mingling, taking a deep breath to remind yourself this experience is really real, and having a couple drinks.
For those in the know, 21 Royal is one of the only places you can drink alcohol inside Disneyland Park, with the others being the exclusive, members-only Club 33 and now Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. And in the Courtyard, the drinks are unlimited. But there’s a lot of wine coming, so try to pace yourself a little.
Diners can take some time to explore all the details out in the Courtyard, including this stylized fountain, and the feeling is light and bright and relaxed.
Paul, Jackie, and Natalie were our butlers for the night, and from what we hear about 21 Royal, these hand-picked pros are generally the butlers all the time here.
And that’s with good reason: they’re experts who’ve seen everything, and they can handle any situation that arises throughout your night. We didn’t test this theory too much (I hope), but rest assured, you’re in the best hands possible with this team.
We’ll come back to those drinks and hors d’ouevres in the Courtyard below, but for now let’s finish up our tour of the suite.
The Master Bedroom is decidedly lighter than the Frontierland Bedroom. The color scheme here is pale blue, rich green (check out that amazing carpet!), and dark metals.
Again, no crawling into bed, but you can walk through and take in all of the details, particularly some really quirky, fun lighting and decor items.
There’s a parrot on hand, which drives home the Adventureland theme of the room.
And a table lamp also includes a bird, this one in metal holding a glowing lantern on bamboo perch.
The Good Night Kiss button in here transforms the room into something of a tropical oasis, with palm leaf shadows cast on the walls and an atmospheric track of waves, birds, and other adventure-y things that definitely set a mood.
The Master Bathroom is a work of art in 21 Royal. Tile travels up the wall, and a large recessed area provides a spot for glass collectibles and some mood lighting.
Details in here are in keeping with the elegant, perhaps over-the-top design of the suite and include ornate medallions on the ceiling, moldings, and columns.
Behind the huge tub in here there’s a stained glass art piece that glows from behind.
And when you press the Good Night Kiss button in the Master Bathroom, you get lighting effects in the dome over the tub that include a glittering Hidden Mickey.
The Water Closet in the Master Bathroom is a whole other decorative space, proving that there’s really nowhere floral wallpaper and stained glass can’t go in 21 Royal.
It’s a fairly large space — more of a walk-in closet than the standard Water Closet size. And there are lots of detail in the tiles.
These peacock accent tiles are a particularly lovely touch.
There’s a stained glass light fixture in here, and two windows (with curtains) let in diffused natural light as well.
Adjacent to the Master Bedroom is the Dressing Room. This room is wallpaper overload, but if you can get past that, there are some lovely details. Hats rest on stands on the shelf, and shiny light fixtures make getting dressed in here (in theory) a fabulous affair.
There’s a lovely vanity with some pretty tchotkes and more lighting from wall sconces. The space feels cozy when you’re in it, but what a glamorous place to get ready.
Throughout the Suite there are hallways and pass-throughs that are also decorated to the hilt. In this bright hallway near the Courtyard there are bird cages (we sense a very slight bird theme in the Suite, come to think of it), large plants, and inlaid floor tile.
This organic-looking chandelier is a work of art in metal and glass.
And concept art on the walls evokes the spirit of the space without being a literal translation.
The Dining Room at 21 Royal is where your food adventure takes place, and you’ll find it behind this beautiful stained glass door.
And when you pass into the room, you’ll be utterly taken aback. The space is grandeur itself, with teal wall accents, tons of moldings, touches of gold and bronze, and a stunning painted ceiling.
The large table sits up to twelve, of course, and the table setting is kept really simple.
That’s because nothing needs to distract from the room design, which also includes the beautiful paintings that capture iconic images of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.
The ornate mirror over the fireplace isn’t as intricate as the one in the Parlor, but this mirror has a little (read: totally amazing!) secret.
The mirror comes to life with lights and effects that are truly magical — including Tinkerbell herself!
Place settings include a gold-rimmed charger, wine glasses, and sealed envelopes that contain the night’s menu.
We were told that most diners leave their envelopes sealed (peep that beautiful gold wax seal with the 21 Royal crest embedded in it!), but you know I couldn’t help myself. So I’ll be sharing the menu with you in just a bit.
The centerpiece of the tablescape is this stunning floral display which runs across the whole table. The design is low so as not to obstruct views across the table.
Tour complete, it was time to eat.
Dining at 21 Royal is a regal affair with six courses accompanied by sommelier-selected wines and champagne. But the dining adventure begins not in the Dining Room but in the Courtyard. Remember those unlimited cocktails?
The Lilly Belle Sour is a specialty gin fizz named after Walt’s beloved.
And the Royal Street Cocktail is a bourbon manhattan. These drinks (plus anything else you might like — just ask!) are accompanied by the first bites of the evening.
Passed hors d’oeuvres are carefully designed to be easy to hold and eat (you’ll have a Lilly Belle Sour in your other hand, so this is important!). Some, like the seafood cabbage rolls, are slightly larger than a one-bite amuse-bouche, but otherwise, they’re calibrated for ease and enjoyment.
And they’re aesthetically lovely, too.
In fact, these are beautiful bites of food — not too heavy but big on flavor.
The 21 Royal monogrammed napkins are a nice touch, too.
The main event, though, is in the Dining Room, and it’s time to open this envelope and see what 21 Royal had in store for us.
21 Royal accepts input from diners about what they’d like to see (or not see) in their courses. We requested no caviar (you’ll see if we got this wish) and asked for the chef’s interpretations on “comfort food” — our favorite kind. The six courses definitely delivered on this in a very upscale and thoughtful way.
The menus themselves are printed, as one would expect, on high-quality, embossed paper with gold accents. Because this is a one-of-a-kind meal, the menu is also a lovely souvenir.
The meal started with a Reserved and Elegant Beginning. This dish featured Golden Osetra Caviar, Potato Pillows, and Creme Fraiche Sabayon.
Yup, they served us caviar. But the chef described it as “caviar for people who don’t like caviar” and was, I think, inviting us to challenge our perceptions of what caviar could be. And it was good, adding a balanced salty pop to the dish. But the real star were the three Potato Pillows which were soft, light, and delicious.
The combination of the sabayon, caviar, and potato pillows was really good, I admit! So it turns out this IS caviar for people who don’t like caviar!
The sommelier (Hi, Matt!!) tested 24 wines and champagnes before selecting the Pierre Morlet champagne to accompany this course, so you know the pairing is as good as it gets.
Next up in our fancy comfort food was When Spring Calls. We dined at 21 Royal in April, so spring vegetables and presentations were seasonal at the time, and you’ll find that is one focus of 21 Royal. When Spring Calls combines Agnolotti of Iberico Ham and Etorki Cheese, English Pea Coulis, Leeks, and Toasted Hazelnuts.
No matter what you call it, it was incredible. These best ‘ravioli’ style pasta I’ve ever had, for sure. The Iberico Ham is a specialty ingredient — highly prized and the mark of a kitchen serious about its ham.
The English Pea Coulis was fresh and vibrant, and everything was seasoned perfectly. The only complaint I have is that I could’ve eaten many, many more of them… if I didn’t still have four courses left to go!
A Chenin Blanc from Ballentine Vineyards was light and a thoughtful accompaniment to the dish.
Super Bloom was our third course, and it was a celebration of squash! It consisted of Zucchini Blossom, Pheasant Confit, Spring Onion, and Zucchini Blossom Glace.
This was one of my favorite dishes of the night… which honestly I could say about all of the courses, I suppose, but this was a particularly strong dish. The pheasant confit was fantastic, and with several preparations of squash and zucchini, it was something special.
Garrus Chateau D’Esclans accompanied this dish, and I’ll be frank: the alcohol was fully coursing through our veins at this point, so be forewarned if you participate in a dinner at 21 Royal.
The next course was simply called Circles, but don’t let the simple moniker fool you: it was a complex dish. It was Grilled Buffalo Meatloaf with Rhubarb Chimichurri, Fava Bean, and Mint Parmesan Foam.
We asked for comfort food, and this is the definition of comfort food redefined for the setting. The Buffalo meat, which is often touted as a lighter red meat, was incredibly moist and flavorful.
The rhubarb chimichurri was a tart contrasting element and a real surprise. The mint Parmesan foam was the only outlier here, as it was an interesting combination that didn’t fully work for me. But otherwise, this was a brilliant dish. So well composed.
Hartford Vineyard zinfandel was the wine for this fourth course, and it was lovely.
The final savory course was Opening New Doors. What a fantastic and hopeful name for a dish. It consisted of A-5 Japanese Wagyu Beef (a personal favorite of mine), Green Garlic Coulis, Roasted Beet, and Perigord Sauce.
You know I’ve never met a Wagyu I didn’t like, but this was a particularly good preparation.
The meat had good marbling and was super flavorful and seasoned well, and the green garlic coulis provided some beautiful color and a bright contrast of flavor. Really a stunning dish.
A red Morlet was served with this course in a fabulous decanter!
Dessert was a two-fold affair. First was A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, a Valrhona Chocolate Mousse sphere with Passion Fruit Curd, Strawberry Essence, and Lemongrass.
The presentation here is pretty fascinating. It’s a sugar globe encasing the mousse sphere. We’ve seen this presentation before (DiningInDisney had something similar at a Haunted Mansion-inspired meal for Club 33, also helmed by Chef Clint Chin whom you’ll see below), but it’s still impressive.
The mousse was good, but it wasn’t comfort food for me. The quality was there, and of course it suited the tone of the meal, but for me, I prefer more casual desserts. Still, it was great — just not my thing.
A tiered tray of chocolates, cookies, and caramels was also brought out during the dessert course. Of particular note was the salted caramel. It was creamy and salty and sweet, and we savored these with cups of tea and coffee.
We met our chefs during the meal — they introduced dishes and ingredients and answered our many questions. Chef Clint Chin is the chef de cuisine, and he was accompanied in the kitchen by four other chefs from Disneyland’s restaurants including sous chef Dan Perry.
Before the meal began, Chef Chin came out of the kitchen to talk to us about the dishes we would be eating, and it was really nice to interact with part of the team of culinary geniuses behind the meal.
Each course, again, was expertly paired with wine and champagne, and that’s all thanks to 21 Royal’s sommelier Matt Ellingson.
After the meal, we were escorted to the Balcony to watch Fantasmic, and I have to say, this is the way to see the show! But when we came back into the Dining Room, we each had a gift bag waiting at our seats.
Inside was an exclusive 21 Royal pin given only to guests who dine here, so this is a really special piece.
And typically there aren’t any drinks served after dinner, but by some grace (who’s name was Paul) I was given a Hot Toddy. So that’s how I ended my meal at 21 Royal.
21 Royal is a meal like no other, and it was a bucket list item for us that DiningInDisney really made happen. It was something I wanted to try and share with you, and we paid for this meal with no sponsorship from Disney of any kind. So that said, is it worth the price of $1250 per person? Well, it’s a five-hour-long experience in an invaluably exclusive location with a view of Fantasmic, Park Hopper tickets included for every diner, endless drinks, and rare and special food. It was absolutely a spectacular experience for me, in part because the people I dined with were wonderful. So do keep that variable in mind if you are considering gathering some folks for a meal here.
But whether it’s worth the price is fully subjective. For me, the night was a priceless, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m not sure how to put a price on that. On the other hand, it’s the equivalent of a mortgage payment, so it’s not a cost to be taken lightly.
But if you want to dine in the absolute height of luxury, walking where Walt never had the chance to tread, seeing Disneyland Park from a new perspective, 21 Royal might be right for you.