Hmmm, OK, here goes.
The food was excellent. There was a buffet set-up for salad/appetizers and dessert, both extremely generous. I didn’t care for the salad much, but they had Tortellini, fruit & cheese (including a lime-green colored cheese that was fine) and lots of shellfish: crab legs, lobster segments (in the shell, not quite tails) and tons of shrimp. The dessert tray had all sorts of cake/mousse concoctions. I had an incredibly tart lemon custard (it surprised a lot of people who were expecting vanilla) plus some cheesecake, but there were many other selections, too.
The entree was very California cuisine-y in that it was expertly prepared but rather small in a single pile in the middle of your plate. I had the beef which was exceedingly tender (but not made to order; I prefer rare and this was well done) on a modest pile of mashed potatoes. My wife had halibut on top of a creamy risotto. Both were quite good (though I liked mine better); chicken was an option but nobody ordered that. The vegetarian option was a “Three pasta” dish that ended up being literally three separate small dishes of three different pastas with three different sauces (marinera, pesto, alfredo). All in all, it was delicious.
The ambience was very relaxing because it wasn’t noisy or crowded like the environs outside. They were playing classical music (mostly Vivaldi) instead of piped in Disney stuff, and we were immediately above the Blue Bayou, so we could also hear the N.O. jazz band downstairs on the street–again, playing jazz standards and not Disney-ish covers. The service was impeccable–speedy, polite, efficient (though sadly, they all still wore those Disney nametags).
You entered in an alcove next to Blue Bayou via some type of speaker address system. Upon entering, there was a lovely spiral staircase circling around a small classic-style cage elevator (it fit 4 barely) that had (from all appearances) the type of original fixtures you’d expect. There was also an old-style phone (the Art Deco cradle type) that you could use to call out if you wanted (none of us did, though; you needed the staff’s help anyway).
Upstairs were two dining rooms–a smaller, darker panelled room with some B&W photos (Walt-related) and stuffed birds perched on some high mantels, and a slightly larger Victorian-type room with lots of natural light, white walls and mirrors. Very sunny (though not much of a view through the curtains; just the N.O.Sq. alley you entered). Rumor has it that some of the birds were actually animatronic, and Walt would play host by having verbal exchanges with the animals to impress his VIPs–a notion that managed to be both thoroughly absurd and wholly believable, given the man and his reputation.
There was a full bar (except no root beer) directly across from a Harpsichord on display. A few waiting benches near the restrooms. The guy’s restroom wasn’t anything special (except for Club 33 paper towels inside), but the ladies’ restroom had an actual throne-style toilet (I know this because one of the women took a shot with her camera phone).
I only noticed a few wall art pieces–mostly watercolors of the Haunted Mansion and a PotC ship, plus miniature versions of the four humerous extending panels in the H.M. They also sold souvenirs, which I found quite reasonable given where you were (and given how much the meal had cost). Only one piece (a baseball t-shirt) had a cartoon character on it (Mickey); the rest simply had the Club 33 logo on it (and nary a reference to Disney, either, IIRC). This was also handled quite discreetly, with a simple display case with the items; you had to ask the manager for prices, and he’d go in the back to retrieve what you wanted.
It was all very high class (by my standards, anyway; I don’t eat out at places like this in my everyday life). I’m not much of a Disneyphile (though I grew up visiting the park as a kid), but I did appreciate that this was a special (and no doubt, once-in-a-lifetime) event, and we all had a good time.
As for California Adventures, I think I liked the Bugs Life area the most, not only in the actual production design of the rides & walkways, but how the children weren’t quite as spastic (and there were a lot fewer of them, too). The movie was also a lot of fun.
Checked out the Animation area. The Walt movie was good in its use of archival material (both film and his own voice recordings), but would’ve benefited from going into a little more depth about the growth of the company. The multi-screen lobby area was well-done, but the show about “how characters develop” (with an interactive Mushu) was pretty bad.
Muppets was closed by the time we arrived (there was a special event that day) but I caught the Aladdin show (front row, center) and thought it was pretty weak (though Jasmine was hot and the carpet was a cutie).
The boardwalk was fine (especially pretty at night) but didn’t feel compelled to ride anything (mostly out of time considrations). Didn’t bother with the Electrical Parade (saw that plenty as a child), though I caught the tail end while exiting the Golden Dreams movie (which was a weird inspirational downer, with way too much Whoopi Goldberg).
The best ride I went on (having skipped Tower) was Soarin’, which was impressively done (if frustratingly short) and the one ride that day I went on twice.
New rides (for me) in the Park I went on were Winnie-the-Pooh (a bit more surreal than I expected, but fun and they used the Sherman Bros. music well), Honey I Shrunk the Audience (lame), and the new Abe Lincoln set-up (with the additional audio program that worked well).
My favorite ride is still probably Pirates, though there’s no moment quite like cresting over the hill and getting your first glimpse of the graveyard in H.M. And this was proably my first visit where I didn’t even bother with Fantasyland (because of the lines). This was my first experience with FastPass and found it to be very convenient (though touring most of the park by myself made it equally so).
All in all, it was a fine trip, but I honestly can’t imagine feeling the need to visit that park again for another decade or so (though I really do want to catch the Nightmare H.M. set-up; maybe as part of a Disneyworld trip, since I’ve never been to that park).