Reflections on the Steakhouse 55 Closure

Written by Lisa Baxter

Earlier this month, the Disneyland Resort shocked fans with the announcement of Steakhouse 55 permanently closing its doors. I have to admit, I may have shed a tear or two knowing I’d never step foot inside again to celebrate an anniversary or birthday or to partake in a practically perfect afternoon tea party. Sigh. Really, Disney? Why?

Walt always said Disneyland (Resort) would never be complete; evolution must continue as seen by the current wave of virtually reserving food and attraction times. Not to mention the coin press machines are going credit card only. (That’s another story.) But why shutter an institution beloved by so many locals and visitors alike?

Named for the year Disneyland debuted, Steakhouse 55 and the adjoining Lounge at Steakhouse 55 opened in 2006 at the Disneyland Hotel, replacing Granville Steakhouse. Decorated in muted, neutral colors with photos of Hollywood stars from the Golden Era peppering the walls, the simple, sophisticated design brought an air of elegance to the Resort. Plus, you didn’t need to visit a theme park to enjoy the fine dining experience.

The Lounge at Steakhouse 55 offered a comfy reprieve from the busyness of the theme parks. Guests could choose from a selection of cocktails, beverages and bites. (Photo Courtesy: Lisa Baxter)

I’m guessing my visits to Steakhouse 55 and Lounge at Steakhouse 55 total somewhere in the double-digit range, and every visit was memorable. From the “Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict” and “Brioche French Toast” at breakfast to the nighttime finesse of a seared New York strip served with the signature “Potato Stack au Gratin”, I fondly recall every succulent bite.

But let’s be real. That 24-layer chocolate cake was IT. Although the restaurant served its last piece of the famed cake in 2019, it still reigns as the pièce de résistance of the Disneyland Resort dessert world.

But it wasn’t just about the meal. Walking into the restaurant, a large black and white photo of a dapper Walt Disney welcomed you to a bygone era of elegance. Inside, snapshots of Hollywood’s elite—Sammy and Frank, Bogie and Bacall, Marilyn and Joe, added an element of nostalgic mystery to the dining room. You were transported to dine with the stars! Plus, it was always fun trying to guess who was who as younger versions of themselves. (Maps of the stars were available upon request.)

Photos of smartly dressed Walt Disney align the entry way leading into the main dining room. (Photo Courtesy: Lisa Baxter)

In 2016, Steakhouse 55 introduced a new dining experience—Afternoon Classic Tea. Guests immediately embraced the lovely luncheon which offered a myriad of teas, cold or hot, multi-tiered towers of finger sandwiches, scones, and petite desserts.

Photo Courtesy: The Disneyland Resort

The popularity grew, so new themes were incorporated for special events, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, and Disney anniversaries. Just before Disneyland Resort shut down in 2020, fans of Cinderella celebrated the movie’s 70th birthday at the “So This is Love—A Dreamy Wish Tea Party”, themed in blue and white, complete with a coach cake pop and white chocolate slipper filled with a creamy mousse. 

Photo Courtesy: The Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort last week also announced the closure of Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel’s PCH Grill. According to reports, the company is looking at outside sources to operate the vacated buffet favorite. However, nothing has been announced regarding Steakhouse 55 and Lounge at Steakhouse 55. Maybe another steakhouse? And what about the Afternoon Classic Tea?

With such a following, I can’t imagine Disneyland Resort not offering the event somewhere on property. In the meantime, I’ll say a fond farewell to Steakhouse 55 and look forward to what Disney unveils for the location’s future. More 24-layer chocolate cake perhaps? Count me in!

Editor’s Note: We encourage our club members to write about their Disney experiences and more. If you have a story to share, email it along with photos to: secretary@disneylandalumni.org.

July 12th, 2021