Disneyland Hotel

The Disneyland Hotel is a AAA Four Diamond resort hotel located at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, owned by the Walt Disney Company and operated through its Parks and Resorts division. Opened in October 1955 as a motor inn owned and operated by Jack Wrather under an agreement with Walt Disney, the hotel was the first to officially bear the Disney name. Under Wrather's ownership, the hotel underwent several expansions and renovations over the years before being acquired by Disney in 1988. The hotel was downsized to its present capacity in 1999 as part of the Disneyland Resort expansion.


History

Concept and construction

At the time of its construction in the early 1950s, Disneyland was in a remote area outside Anaheim, California. Walt Disney wanted to build a hotel for Disneyland visitors to stay overnight, since Disneyland was quite a drive from the established population centers of Southern California at the time. However, Disney's financial resources were significantly depleted by the construction of the park, so he negotiated a deal with Jack Wrather and his business partner Maria Helen Alvarez under which Wrather-Alvarez Productions would own and operate a hotel called the Disneyland Hotel across the street from Disneyland. Wrather was a Texas oil millionaire turned film producer who already owned hotels in Las Vegas and Palm Springs, and co-owned television stations in Tulsa and San Diego with Alvarez.


The Wrather years 1955–1984

The original Disneyland Hotel was designed by the firm of Pereira & Luckman and opened on October 5, 1955, nearly 3 months after Disneyland. Various strikes caused the opening to be postponed from the August date advertised in pre-opening promotional materials, and the hotel only had limited capacity when it initially opened. The hotel originally consisted of just over 100 rooms in 5 two-story guest room complexes (later known as the South Garden Rooms and even later as the Oriental Gardens) with shopping, dining and recreational facilities added in early 1956.


Additionally, it had a doctor and dentist on site as well as a barber and beauty shop. On August 25, 1956, the hotel celebrated its "official" grand opening with many Hollywood stars and celebrities attending the festivities. It was quickly expanded in 1956 with three North Garden guest room structures, one more North Garden structure in 1958 and lastly, two more North garden structures in 1960. The hotel now boasted over 300 guest rooms and suites. It was one of the first hotels in the region to offer accommodations for four persons per room.


Guests traveled between the hotel and Disneyland Park via a tram between the hotel and the park main entrance. When the Wrather-Alvarez partnership ended acrimoniously in 1958, Wrather bought Alvarez' share of Wrather-Alvarez Hotels, making him sole owner of the Disneyland Hotel. Over the years, the hotel was expanded to include three guest room towers: Sierra (1962; expanded 1966), Marina (1970), and Bonita (1978).


The Disneyland Monorail was extended from its original 1959 configuration and a station opened at the hotel in 1961 (pictured). Recreational areas, attractions, and a convention center (1972) were also added over the years. The hotel also featured a Richfield service station for several years as part of Richfield's sponsorship of several Disneyland attractions, including the Autopia.


Disney takes over

When Michael Eisner became chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Productions in 1984, he wanted to get out of Disney's agreement with the Wrather Corporation and bring the Disneyland Hotel under the Walt Disney Company's umbrella. Wrather refused to sell, just as he had refused Walt Disney many years before. Wrather died two months after Eisner took over at Disney, and five years later, in 1989, Disney bought the entire Wrather company. At the time Wrather's company also owned the RMS Queen Mary and Hughes H-4 Hercules (the "Spruce Goose") in Long Beach, as well as the rights to The Lone Ranger and the Lassie TV series. Though Disney kept the hotel, it has since sold the other assets that came with the purchase.


Resort expansion 1999–2001

In 1999, a significant portion of the hotel was demolished to make way for Downtown Disney and parking areas for the newly expanding Disneyland Resort. Most buildings east of the Sierra Tower and north of the Marina Tower were demolished, including the original hotel buildings from 1955. The only buildings remaining in these areas are the convention center and parking garage. Recreational facilities were built in the quad between the three towers, previously site of the Water Wonderland, to replace those that were previously located east of the Sierra Tower.


Streets previously used to access the hotel by car were regraded and/or outright eliminated, and a new street was built to access the hotel. Tram service from the hotel was also discontinued, leaving the Monorail as the only vehicular mode of transportation from park to hotel. The loss of hotel rooms was offset with the opening of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel in 2001, but many of the restaurants and amenities that existed prior to 1999 were never replaced.


The hotel today

Today none of the original hotel buildings from 1955 remain standing. Very little of the hotel other than parking areas and service facilities sit outside of the perimeter created by the three remaining guest room towers. Original signs and other artifacts from several of the stores and restaurants demolished with the Plaza are on display in the hotel's employee cafeteria.


ESPN Zone, Rainforest Café, and AMC Theatres—all Downtown Disney venues—now occupy much of the former hotel space east of the Sierra Tower. Mickey Mouse theming is employed in many interior furnishings and details. In 2007 the Marina, Sierra, and Bonita Towers were renamed Magic, Dreams, and Wonder, respectively. Other buildings in the sprawling hotel complex house restaurants, stores, offices, recreational facilities and convention and banquet facilities. The complex also features gazebo and garden areas that are used for Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons.


A new Downtown Disney Monorail Station was built on the same site as the old Disneyland Hotel station, and still takes guests to Tomorrowland inside Disneyland Park along the same beamway that existed prior to the 1999–2001 expansion.


The Disneyland Hotel started a major renovation in 2009, beginning with the Dreams tower. Renovation of the hotel included new windows, wallpaper, carpeting, and decor. The Dreams Tower, completed in 2010, will become the Adventure Tower. The Wonder Tower will become the Frontier Tower after its completion in 2011, and the Magic Tower will become the Fantasy Tower in 2012.


The Never Land Pool area will be undergoing a transformation that will be completed in 2012. This transformation will include: 6 new cabanas, two new water slides that will have the iconic original park signage at the top, and at the top of each slide will be a replica Monorail train. A new four foot pool will be built between the Never Land Pool and water play area. Two new dining locations will be taking over Hook's Pointe, Croc's Bites and Bits, the Wine Cellar, and the Lost Bar. A "smart casual" dining experience will feature Tahitian architecture from the 1950s and 1960s. Also, a new bar will be based upon the Jungle Cruise theme of adventure. The new water play area, pool and dining locations will be completed by summer 2011, and the Never Land Pool will complete its transformation in the summer of 2012.


On May 25th 2011, the two new dining locations at the Disneyland Hotel opened. Tangaroa Terrace is the new location that serves casual dining in a new innovative way. There are touch screens to place an order & select your side. Tangaroa terrace is a casual dining experience with Tahitian architecture based on Adventureland, most specifically the Jungle Cruise and The Enchanted Tiki Room. The new bar, Trader Sam's, is based on the Jungle Cruise's head salesman, Trader Sam. These two new locations are rather small inside, but there is plenty of outdoor seating, including seating by a giant fireplace by the pool entrance. There new pool area is also now open as of May 25th, when the Neverland Pool closed for renovations. There is a new pool located between the monorail inspired slides and the closed Neverland Pool, which is called the 'D'-Ticket Pool inspired by the D-ticket admission.

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