Club Disney was a regional children's play center concept operated by Disney Regional Entertainment. The indoor centers were designed for families with children under 10 with gift shops, various play areas and snack bars. The clubs were expected to change over time and to reflect the current Disney movie.
Disney Regional Entertainment was formed in 1996 to develop local based entertainment concepts. Soon after the purchase of Capital Cities/ABC, Disney CEO Michael D. Eisner moved forward with his idea to having local entertainment based on Disney brands in metropolitan and suburban area. Several concepts were placed in the planning stage.
Club Disney was the first to be launched with birthday parties reservations being taken as of January 15, 1997 for its first location. On February 21, 1997, its first location opened to the public at the Westlake Promenade in Thousand Oaks, California with CEO Michael Eisner plus Goofy and Mickey Mouse present. A dozen protested outside over wages, 28 cents, paid to Haitian workers to make Pocahontas pajamas. 20 Ventura County sheriff's deputies were on hand as Disney expected tens of thousands to show up. While the lines were long to get in, the expected turn out did not materialize with 1,000 waiting at the 10 AM opening. Wunderman Cato Johnson’s San Francisco office handled the advertising for the first location, while Club Disney put out a request for bids for the launch of its second location in West Covina, California which was expected to opened in December 1997.
A complaint was filed in March 1997 over the coloring of the Thousand Oaks location. A report indicated that it met design guidelines but the checkerboard paint pattern on top of the club was not approved.
In August 1998, Disney Regional announced a expansion for Disney Club in late 1998 and 1999. By December 1998 a location in Chandler, Arizona near Phoenix was expected to open. While Denver area (Lone Tree, Colorado), Glendale, Arizona and additional locations were planned for 1999. The Glendale, Arizona Club opened in February 1999.
In October 1999, Disney announced that the full five location Club chain would be shut down with their last day of operation being November 1, 1999. The chain was not getting the net profit expected by Disney, which was done amidst a Disney conglomerate wide capital-spending review by Chairman Michael Eisner due to pressure to stop falling earnings and stock price. Some parents felt that they were overpaying for their admission. Toys for Tots received any unsold goods in the club shop, while computer going to schools (Thousand Oaks location computer went to Conejo Unified School District).
The locations were designed for repeat visit of 3 hours in length with a fixed entry fee and draw customers from a 30 mile radius. To expand visits beyond the weekend there were multiple weekday admission programs, school groups' educational field trips, themed birthday parties and multi-session workshops. The birthday parties included cake, entertainers and invitations. An example multi-session workshop was Poohrobics, a parent and child stretching and exercise program led by Winnie-the-Pooh for 10 weeks. Annual passes and prepaid tickets were also sold. There are about a dozen rooms for private events at a location.