“Disney” hotel although not Disney owned until 1988. Disneyland construction costs kept Disney from building a hotel. Disney approached a number of hotel chains in 1954, but all felt that the Disneyland venture was too risky. Instead, he negotiated a deal with his friend Jack Wrather to build and operate one. Wrather had the rights to use the Disneyland Hotel name on any hotel in California until 2054. Four years after Wrather died, The Walt Disney Co. bought the entire Wrather Corporation, which also gave them the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach and the rights to The Lone Ranger & Lassie TV Series.
Designed by the firm of Pereira & Luckman, the initial 100 room capacity hotel opened on October 5, 1955, approximately 3 months after Disneyland opened. At the official ribbon-cutting ceremony (held much later on August 25, 1956) for the $10,000,000 development were Bonita Granville Wrather, Alan Ladd, Mrs. Helen Alvarez, Jack Wrather Jr., Jack Wrather III, Mrs. Jack Wrather Sr., Yvonne DeCarlo, and William Bendix. A tour of the hotel and dinner in the private banquet room followed the dedication ceremonies.
At the time of opening, the hotel featured a heated Olympic-size swimming pool, a children's wading pool with a lighted and colored water fountain, a huge restaurant, convention center, shopping center, golf course, and shuffleboard courts. Each room had its own parking space as well as a private patio or balcony and a TV! The luxury rooms had wide-screen color TV!
Free shuttle tram service left the hotel every five minutes, whisking guests off to Disneyland. Eventually the hotel featured the Monorail Plaza, a shopping center built in June 1961 and demolished in the late 1990’s for Downtown Disney. The hotel consisted of three guest room towers: Marina, Sierra, and Bonita. Other buildings in the complex house restaurants, stores, offices, recreational facilities, and convention/banquet facilities.
The off-center placement of an exterior elevator shaft at the Sierra Tower created space constraints which required the neon sign atop the building to read “Hotel Disneyland.” During a 1966 expansion, the sign was corrected. The sign was later removed and replaced with a mural featuring shooting stars.
The Shipyard Inn and the Sailmaker's Den opened when the Marina debuted on Saturday, March 28, 1970. The Marina had a very limited opening in December of 1969, but it is more likely the restaurant opened in early 1970. The Shipyard Inn continued operations until being closed on January 3, 1999, when it was replaced by Hook's Pointe Restaurant and Wine Cellar on April 8, 1999.
You can view the slideshow below for more amazing images.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".
Visit our sister blog LADL for MORE Disney in the links below: