Disneyland has long attracted groups of all sizes, and a new, exclusive experience will have lucky guests believing in fairy tales again. Called 21 Royal, the epicurean journey for up to 12 guests takes place in a 2,200-square foot two-bedroom apartment that overlooks New Orleans Square in Disneyland Park. It was originally planned as a private residence inside the park for Walt and Lillian Disney, but Walt died before it could be realized. Now, based on watercolor renderings by Dorothea Redmond, a Disney set designer and later Disney Imagineer, the project has been completed. 

The Empire-style décor is filled with surprises that shouldn’t be spoiled. Suffice it to say, magic happens at the flip of a switch. The evening begins with a cocktail hour where guests explore the residence while Matt Ellingson, who has the dual roles of sommelier and project manager, provides history and lore. Then guests are seated in the dining room for a seven-course tasting menu, or “epicurean theater,” presented by Executive Chef Andrew Sutton and Chef de Cuisine Justin Monson. Storytelling is woven into each course and the evening, with its warm elegance, is meant to evoke the experience, says Ellingson, “of a small dinner party hosted by Walt and Lillian.”

Chefs Andrew Sutton and Justin Monson, along with the 21 Royal culinary team and Sommelier Matt Ellingson, create a menu that’s inspired by the group who is dining. The team is eager to create dishes and wine pairings that summon up treasured moments and memories. As the culinary adventure draws to a well-orchestrated close, everyone gathers on the balcony that overlooks the Rivers of America for after-dinner drinks, coffee and desserts. On nights when fireworks or the Fantasmic! show take place, the lucky guests of 21 Royal will have the best view in the park. The $15,000 cost includes park admission, so the experience can be one that stretches from Disneyland’s opening to after its close. 

Green salad, chicken, two veggies and a starch—that might have been a reasonable meal to serve group attendees in the last century, but it won’t cut it in 2020. Today, guests expect that a growing range of dietary needs will be accommodated, whether they’re eating keto, vegan, paleo, gluten free or some combination of all four. And, in a time when tech employees enjoy gourmet in-house commissaries on the job, it takes some serious culinary pyrotechnics to impress them.

 

Lots of folks claim to be adventurous eaters, but are the epicureans in your group ready for … toasted grasshoppers? If they are, send them to Cultura Comidas y Bebida, a year-old Carmel restaurant specializing in light, inventive and almost-too-pretty-to-eat traditional Mexican dishes tweaked to appeal to a California palate. Chapulines, a common bar snack in Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca, from where they’re imported, are salty/spicy/crunchy and taste a lot better than they sound.

 

Perhaps your attendees have hopped on those electric bikes and e-scooters that are scattered all over metropolitan areas throughout California. That’s old news, no question. Yet it’s a sure bet they’ve never been on a Vintage Electric Cruz Bike, because only 250 of them ever have been made. Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop in Carmel has a fleet of these smile generators, as well as a fleet of knowledgeable guides to lead scenic group tours.