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A Tribute to Disneyland's Court of Angels

The Court des Anges sign hanging above the staircase in the Court of Angels.

The Court des Anges sign hanging above the staircase in the Court of Angels.

The Court of Angels has been a part of Disneyland's New Orleans Square since 1966 when New Orleans Square was opened. It is actually one of the last features Walt Disney himself designed and built for Disneyland. He shortly died after it was completed inside the park. The Court of Angels is a nice quiet retreat from the crowds and long lines. It is beautifully decorated and like everything else Walt had a hand in, no detail was left unthought of. For years many guests have visited this beautiful piece of Disney history with family, friends, and loved ones. Pictures have been taken for all sorts of occasions: engagement pictures, Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Birthdays. We all thought that this unique feature would be here for generations to come but Disney recently threw a curve ball at us. The Court of Angels will be closed off to the public and made a part of the new expansion for Club 33. Ever since the news was leaked crowds flocked to the Court of Angles to say goodbye. Disney was not prepared for this and was astounded by how many people showed up to the already closed gates in outrage! Due to the reaction of the public, Disney decided to leave the courtyard open for one more week to appease their visitors. The internet has been a blaze with petitions and opinions about the take over of this beloved feature. There have been many petitions going around and other blogs voicing the opinion of many that Disney can not take away the Court of Angeles from the public. Like so many I am very sad that I will never again walk into the beautiful courtyard again (unless one day I am lucky enough to visit Club 33) but this Hub is a tribute to a beautiful piece of Disneyland history that most of us have not seen or will never see again.

The Court of Angels at night. View from the main entrance.

The Court of Angels at night. View from the main entrance.

Some history of New Orleans Square

New Orleans Square was the last "land" added to Disneyland since opening in 1955. It is set in a French Quarter style that caters to Jazz music and Pirates. The whole project of Walt's new "land" including the Court of Angels was derived from concept sketches by Mr. Herbert D. Ryman. Ryman was hand picked by Walt to create the concept sketches for Disneyland that he sold to build the park we know and love today. New Orleans Square is one of the most unique features at Disneyland and represents the beauty that Walt wanted in his theme park to set it apart form all other theme parks at the time (and still today). It was not the rides and the people who worked there that set it apart. It is all the beautiful details that create special environments and moments that set it apart. New Orleans Square has very many unique details from the balconies and decorations to the music to every building having its own address. The Court of Angels was no exception. Located at 27 Orleans Street the courtyard has been cherished by guests for years and years. The Video below shows the opening day of New Orleans Square. if you look closely you can see the Court of Angels in one of the clips.

The plaque on the wall where the staircase is that is in remembrance of Sally.

The plaque on the wall where the staircase is that is in remembrance of Sally.

The Court of Angels

Court des Anges or the Court of Angels is located in a corner of New Orleans Square next to the New Orleans Train Station. It is one of the most beautiful and quite places located inside Disneyland. There are two entrances to this somewhat hidden location. One has two rod iron gates that lets you enter from the side near the fountain and the other is a covered short passage way that leads you to the middle of the Court of Angels. The courtyard has s stone floor and is adorned with a fountain and grand staircase. There are also many balconies along the buildings that are decorated in the French Quarter style. Above the staircase is a sign with "Court des Anges" along with a plaque on the wall. The plaque is in remembrance of Sally McWhirter who was the director of store operations from 1995 until her death in 1997. She died at the age of 40 from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Sally loved to sing in her church choir which is why on the plaque music is mentioned. Halfway up the staircase there is a statue of a boy holding a musical instrument. There are also lush plants (mostly palms) and flowers located inside terra cotta pots all throughout the open aired courtyard. The top is covered with light strands that light up the courtyard at night along with lanterns on the ground and walls. There is also the Louisiana flag that waves proudly above the courtyard at the top of a building by the staircase.

What does Club 33 have to do with it?

The super exclusive, expensive Club 33 has always been a part of Disneyland. It sits above the ride Pirates of the Caribbean with its entrance near the restaurant Blue Bayou. The door is painted in noseeum green with a 33 marking its location. The club is now outgrowing its walls and Disney has every intention to expand and accommodate club members. The expansion will consume the Court of Angles and the once Christmas Ornament store next to it. The store will become the new entrance to Club 33 and the courtyard will be the new waiting area for members.

A look back at my memories

I raise my Mint Julep glass to the Court of Angels. I have had so many fun times in this beautiful place with friends and family throughout my Disneyland years. I will truly miss my favorite hideaway. Even though it is not completely disappearing from Disneyland, the public is still losing a beautiful piece of Disney magic. Here are some photos of me in the Court of Angels that show some of my favorite memories in this now lost courtyard. My favorite memory of all of them is with my friend Jen. We met in the 7th grade and are still friends to this day. Every year since my 13th birthday we have always taken a picture in the Court of Angels (normally durning Christmas). My saddest memory is the one I just recently took because I knew that it would be the last time I got to stand on the staircase. Do you have any memories in the Court of Angels? If so, I would love to hear about it so please share and leave a comment below!

Comments

Marilyn on November 16, 2014:

It will be miss its pretty cool place to walk through you felt like you were in another town or city it's was pretty cool.

Lyndsay Gamber (author) from California on December 22, 2013:

HI Rochelle Frank!

It is very lovely there! That is so cool that he worked as a portrait artist! I always wanted to get drawn at Disneyland but I always felt that I would rather go on rides than sit and be drawn! Thanks so much for sharing!

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on December 21, 2013:

Yes, I've been there. (We lived in Anaheim for about 30 years.) a very lovely spot.

Our younger son worked as a street portrait artist in New Orleans Square, several years ago. He liked it, except for the constant "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirates life for me...." playing in the background.

Lyndsay Gamber (author) from California on October 11, 2013:

Hi Miss Mellie!

That must have been an awesome experience dining in Club 33! I hope one day I get to do that! I am very sad that they closed it off too! I loved visiting the Court of Angels and sitting by the fountain! Thank you so much for commenting!

M.S. Ross on October 11, 2013:

Saw this transition coming, and had held hope that another approach would be used to accommodate the growing Club 33. I've dined in the Club but once; it was certainly a memorable experience. However, I--and thousands upon thousands of others--have had many more memorable experiences in the Court, precisely because it was accessible. My heart breaks at the loss of this charming alcove, along with the recent loss of the Carnation Plaza Gardens.

Thank you, Lyndsay, for writing about the Court des Anges and letting readers who've never been there sneak a peek at this special little hideaway within Disneyland, which will forever more be permanently hidden away from most Guests.

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