==== ====A complete hotel search engine website, 247CheapestHotels.com, which searches over 230,000hotel properties. This same site also searches for airline and car rental prices.www.247CheapestHotels.com==== ====During the spring of 1954, Walt Disney approached the Texas oil wildcatter and television pioneerJack Wrather concerning the possibility of building accommodations for the many guests that Walthoped would flock to his innovative "theme park," then under construction in Anaheim, California.Since the "imagineering" and building of Disneyland was taking nearly every penny that he had,Walt approached Jack, hoping that his long-time friend would be willing to take such a huge risk.Wrather was the producer of Lassie, The Lone Ranger, and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, popular1950s television programs.Originally, Walt had approached Hilton executives and other well-known hotel chains, hoping toconvince them to finance the construction of a first-class hotel next to Disneyland. However, thegeneral consensus was that such a venture was too risky. No one was certain that what wasquickly becoming known as "Disneys folly" would be successful.In 1954, Anaheim was a little-known community, largely consisting of orange groves. The entirecity had only seven small motels and hotels, accommodating only a total of 87 guests. Wratheradmitted at the time that he was somewhat skeptical about building in such a small community (ofapproximately 30,000), next to an experimental and yet unfinished theme park. His doubts werefurther increased by the fact that the risky venture had already been turned down by more thanone major hotel chain.Wrather spent several days with Walt Disney, looking into the areas potential for expansion.Legend has it that Walt had tears in his eyes while describing his dream of Disneyland to Wrather.With a sense of adventure, Wrather became convinced that the idea just might be a success. Also,with Walt showing such emotion for and dedication to his project, how could Wrather haveresisted?One of the first discussions between the two friends was where the hotel should be located.Wrather first talked of locating it near the entrance to Disneyland. Walt said, "Jack, our guestsarent going to be thinking about a hotel when they begin their visit to Disneyland. Theyll startlooking for a room when they leave the park. The best place to build your Hotel is near theDisneyland exit." Wrather agreed with Walts logic and leased 60 acres of Disney-owned land onWest Street directly across from the Disneyland exit. There he built what was to become known asthe "Official Hotel of the Magic Kingdom."On March 18, 1955, Jack Wrather, Bonita Granville Wrather (his wife), and Anaheim MayorCharles Pearson, using a three-handled shovel, officiated at the groundbreaking for theDisneyland Hotel.
The Disneyland Hotel opened on October 5, 1955, nearly three months after Disneylands livetelevised grand opening on July 17, 1955. The first guests registered at a hotel having only 104guest rooms located in five two-story complexes, built at the southeast corner of the leasedproperty. These were the South Garden rooms, later to be known as the Oriental Gardens. Mr.and Mrs. Robert Arnone of Inglewood, California were to be the first guests at the newly openedhotel.The Disneyland Hotel was the first major resort to be built in Southern California since the early1940s. However, the number of available rooms quickly proved to be insufficient for theunexpected demand, and 96 more units of the same type were added the following year on thepropertys northeast section. Built by Hodges and Vergrift Construction Company, this newaddition was called the North Garden rooms, later renamed the Garden Villas.During the first year, room rates ranged from $9 for a standard room to $22 for deluxe quarters.Rooms were advertised as accommodating four people. For an additional adult, there was a $3charge.At the same time that construction had begun on the additional garden rooms at the northeasterncorner of the property, construction was under way on the Administration Building, which wouldhouse a lobby, restaurants, shops, and meeting rooms. The Gourmet Restaurant was opened in aconverted ranch house on the property, redesigned by C. Tony Pereira. This converted ranchhouse had been the original Disneyland administration building.The original hotel design, by the architectural firm of Pereira and Luckman, called for 300 moteland hotel rooms, suites and garden apartments. Also included were plans for three swimmingpools, tennis courts, a golf course, cocktail lounges, and four restaurants. The original blueprintsdesignated a total of 10 buildings in the South Garden or Oriental Garden section. However, onlyfive buildings were actually built.The opening of the Administration Building (which would later become the Travelport), and the"official" grand opening for the hotel was on August 25, 1956. It was a star-studded grand openingcelebration that resembled a Hollywood movie premiere. Celebrities in attendance included WaltDisney, Art Linkletter, William Bendix, Alan Ladd, Sue Caroll, Yvonne DeCarlo, and Jeanne Crain.Also in attendance were as many as three hundred enthusiasts, observing the ribbon-cutting andtaking a grand tour of the facilities.By 1956, there were 204 guest rooms and suites at the Disneyland Hotel. As an added attraction,each garden patio had its own orange tree, a reminder of what the original property had been onlya few short years earlier. This had been a part of the original plans when the grounds were beingcleared to build the hotel. An additional amenity at this time was the Coral Club which included ahuge 45-foot by 75-foot completely tiled and heated swimming pool, wading pools for children ofall ages, fountains, sandlots, and a cabana area. The pools were surrounded by lounge furniturefor guests relaxation and so that they might acquire a Southern California tan. One-day laundryand dry cleaning services were available, and a physician and nurse were on call. An 18-holeputting greens and shuffleboard courts were also early inclusions at the Disneyland Hotel.Guests were able to register for a hotel room from their car or they could go into the lobby for amore traditional method of registration. There were parking spaces for 1000 cars, and parking was
free. Also, limo and bus service was provided. Richfield Oil (also the Disneyland sponsor ofAutopia) offered full automotive care. Even in the 1950s, every room was equipped with atelevision set and air conditioning.During these early years, the attendance at Disneyland was beyond the most optimisticexpectations. Even Walt had to be amazed by the overwhelming success of his dream. As aresult, the City Council of Anaheim began reviewing plans for other motels and restaurants.Disneyland had proven all the skeptics to be wrong, and Disneyland was destined to bring majorchanges to what once had been a sleepy, orange grove community.From the beginning, the Disneyland Hotel was one of the outstanding showplaces of OrangeCounty. Celebrities such as Jack Benny, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Billy Graham, and CaryGrant were often spotted at the hotel. These and other celebrities enjoyed bringing their familiesfor a stay at the hotel and for a trip to Walts park. Also attracted were business people, coming forluncheons, meetings, and conventions. The Disneyland Hotel quickly had become the place to seeand the place to be seen.Room rates in 1957 were advertised from $10 to $19. SuitesÊwent for between $22 and $25.The hotels brochures boasted of an assortment of shops, air conditioned rooms, television inevery room, pools of all sizes, restaurant and cocktail facilities. Also touted was tram service toDisneyland every five minutes, transportation via a Disneyland station wagon, playgrounds,childcare facilities, barber and beauty shops. Doctor, nurse and even dental facilities wereavailable on the grounds. The brochures further emphasized a private sundeck or patio for everyroom. Best of all, the Disneyland Hotel was billed as the only hotel right at the Magic Kingdom ofDisneyland. Also in the late 1950s, the concept of "seasonal" and "non-seasonal" rates firstappeared. Typically, it would cost a dollar or two more for a room during the holidays and summermonths (late May through mid September).By 1959, over 25 hotels and motels had crowded around Disneyland to take advantage of theParks spectacular drawing power. By 1960, Anaheim had established itself as Orange Countyslargest city, with a population in excess of 100,000. People were traveling from all areas of theworld to visit the "Happiest Place on Earth." Indeed, Anaheim had magically grown from a quiet,small agricultural community into a mecca of tourism, and the boom had only begun. As Walt hadpromised on opening day, the park continued adding attractions (the Monorail, the SubmarineVoyage, and the Matterhorn all opening in 1959); and the hotel continued to grow, having morethan 300 rooms by 1960. A 13,000-square foot convention center was also added at that time.Rates for rooms in 1960 ranged from $10 to $26 a night during the off-season and from $16 to $29in season, the holidays and the summer months.At a press conference held in 1960, Jack Wrather and Walt Disney announced plans for theextension of the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail System to link the park to the hotel. Walt had longenvisioned a rapid transit system for major U.S. cities, and this addition to the Monorail wouldprovide a working model. Dick Nunis, who worked his way up from a summer job in 1955 tobecome the president of Disneyland in 1980, stated that Walt saw the Monorail as more than justan attraction; Walt saw it as aÊworkable transportation system. He wanted to demonstrateits potential as urban rapid transit, and so he envisioned the monorails extension to the hotel.
The parks monorail was closed for construction on April 10, 1961. Disneyland also had to closedAutopia to facilitate the installation of new pylons through its grounds. The original 8/10th-of-a-miletrack would be extended by 12,300 feet, making it nearly a two-and-a-half mile round-trip journeybetween the park to the hotel. The cost of the extension was $1.9 million ($500,000 more than theoriginal cost of the Monorail when it was installed at Disneyland less than two years earlier). Theconstruction required more than 118,000 hours of labor, 10,760 tons of sand, 66,700 bags ofcement and 702 tons of steel. New style Mark II trains were introduced for the extended Monorailincluding a new gold colored train. The Monorail, with its extension to the Disneyland Hotel,reopened on June 1, 1961.Other major expansions were planned for the hotel in the early 1960s. They included a new golfcomplex featuring an 18-hole, par-three course, a 50-tee driving range, and a miniature golfcourse with the individual holes named after Disneyland attractions. One of the course favoriteswas hole #5, which featured a mini replica of the Matterhorn Mountain. Also added at this time wasa helicopter landing pad, linking Los Angeles International Airport with Disneyland and theDisneyland Hotel. The new facility provided an efficient transportation link for both business peopleand tourists. Soon, LAA Airways was operating an average of 12 flights per day to and from theairport in its 28-passenger, turbo-jet copter liners.In 1961, the Wrather Corporation went public, offering 350,000 shares of common stock. Presidentand Chairman of the Board Jack Wrather and the Wrather Corporation had grown to include fourmajor divisions: Television and motion pictures, the Disneyland Hotel, the Muzak Corporation (theoften satirized elevator music), and Stephens Marine, Inc. The company also was involved inmanagement services for various other marine based businesses.The Anaheim skyline was also about to undergo a major change in 1961 when the concept of"building up" replaced the concept of "building out." At the Disneyland Hotel, an 11-story, high-risetower was built. This added 150 new guest rooms to the hotel complex. At that time, it was thecountys tallest building and the nations tallest building constructed utilizing the post-tension, lift-slab method. Another exciting innovation was an external, glass elevator, one of only a handfulconstructed at the time in this country. Its designer, architect Kurt Weber, recalled that the glasselevator offered a dramatic view of the growing community of Anaheim. It also took guests to theTop of the Park Lounge, which featured breathtaking views of Disneyland. The Lounge offeredalcoholic beverages and nightly entertainment in a decidedly blues motif. Constructed for the lessadventurous was the Monorail Lounge which was located next to the Monorail station on thesecond floor level. Ground had been broken for the new tower building in October of 1961. Theproject was completed less than a year later in September of 1962. At that time, two additionalGarden structures were also added to the hotel.In 1962, rates ranged from $17 for a room with a twin bed to $53 for two deluxe and mediumadjoining rooms during vacation and holiday seasons, $10 to $47 during off-season. There werenew rates for the tower building. A twin-bedded room was priced from $24 vacation rate up to $35for a room with two double beds. Off-season, tower rooms were priced from $20 to $26.Orange County celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1964. At a press conference held at theDisneyland Hotel, the announcement was made that Major League Baseball was coming toAnaheim. The Angels would continue to play in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium until their newAnaheim stadium was constructed in approximately two years. During their first year in Anaheim,
the Angels would lead the American League in attendance, attracting over one million fans.By 1964, during vacation and holiday season, room rates were $17 for a single room, $53 for anadjoining deluxe room with a medium room, and $30 for a deluxe room alone. Winter rates wereadvertised from $10 for a single small room to $49 for an adjoining deluxe with medium room. TheTower rooms were priced from $24 to $35 during peak-season and $20 to $28 during off- season.Peak-season now was being defined as from June 1 to September 15, December 11 to January 3,and April 9 to April 24.Both the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland celebrating their "Tencennials," 10-years of successfuloperations, in 1965. The hotel announced plans for the Tower Annex, an expansion to the existingtower, which would now give the hotel 616 guest rooms. An additional six conference rooms(bringing the total to 28) would be added to the complex. These conference rooms would bedesigned to hold from 15 people to two thousand people.A new shopping plaza building was also constructed on the hotel grounds. It was described ashaving glass walls and graceful grillwork, gleaming in a lush garden setting. It was furtherdescribed as resembling a necklace on green velvet,Êcontaining the beautiful and unusual ina score of smart, avant-garde specialty shops. Here one could buy aromatic tobaccos fromTurkey, candles from Mexico, leathers from London, toys from the U.S., Germany and Japan, andhere one could select from fashions inspired in Paris, Rome and Carnaby Street. The Plaza alsofeatured a beauty shop, a travel agency, and a dental facility. Both the Tower Annex and the PlazaShopping Center cost $5.5 million as part of the Hotel Expansion Program. At Disneyland, "its asmall world" was added after its successful run at the New York Worlds Fair.Rates in 1966 for what was billed as wintertime ranged from $15 for a queen-sized bed up to $30for a deluxe room. During vacation times, the rates were $20 and $35 for the same rooms. TheTower now had a North and South designation, with the South side being the more expensive.The North side rates were priced from $20 for a queen-sized bed up to $28 for two double beds.The South side went for $22 to $30 for the same bed types.By 1966, Orange County had become the tourist hub of America, producing tourist income greaterthan any other U.S. county. Anaheim now had 125 hotels and motels and a population of over150,000. Sadly on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney, one of the most influential men in Anaheimshistory, passed away. Walt had been a lifelong smoker and had developed lung cancer. It wasreported that Jack and Bonita Wrather were devastated upon hearing news of Walts passing. Halfof the two pioneers of tourism in Southern California was now gone. These two had plotted acourse in the 1950s for the future of tourism and conventions in Orange County, thereby foreverchanging Anaheims destiny. Jack Wrather would also succumb to cancer in 1984.Shortly after Walts death, the Walt Disney Company began numerous attempts to purchasecontrol of the hotel. Finally in 1988, 33 years after the original groundbreaking, the DisneylandHotel would become a portion of the empire that Walt had founded.In just a little over 11 years, the Disneyland Hotel had grown from 104 guest rooms and asmattering of amenities into a major tourist facility with 616 guest rooms, ample dining andshopping facilities, a full golf complex, and a full range of convention and meeting facilities. Thehotel also helped introduce a futuristic mode of rapid transit in the form of the Monorail, and the
hotel was instrumental in changing the previous agricultural economy of Anaheim into the majortourist destination that it is today. What appeared to be a questionable area for development in theearly fifties turned into one of the most dynamic areas in the country. A large portion of this changeand growth had been stimulated by a man with a mouse and a Texas oil wildcatter.Sources:Kaleidoscope: The In-Room Magazine of Disneyland Hotel and Inn at the Park: Spring 1980,summer 1980, and fall 1980.Disneyland Holiday Magazine: various issues from 1957 and 1958.Disneyland Vacationland Magazine: various issues from 1958 to 1966.Disneyland Line: Vol. 22, No. 40, October 5, 1990.The Disneyland Hotel Employees Handbook, 1989.Disneyland Hotel advertising brochures: 1955, 1957, 1960, 1962, and 1966.Disneyland Guidebooks: 1955 to 1965.Disneyland Hotel Postcards: 1955 to 1964.The Handbook of Texas Online: The Jack Wrather obituary.Dreams to Reality by Bret Colson and Geoff Black. A brief history of modern day Anaheim, 1997.Disneylander: The magazine for Disneyland employees, various issues from 1959 to 1961.Check In Magazine: Various editions from 1965 to 1967.All sources came from my personal collection of Disneyland Hotel items with the exception of theJack Wrather obituary and the book Dreams to Reality. The wonderful Kaleidoscope magazinesand several articles from Holiday and Vacationland magazines came from other collectors. Allphotos also came from my personal collection except where noted. I requested access to theDisney Archives for research purposed but was denied access.Donald W. Ballard lives in Northern California with his wife and children. He first becameinterested in the DisneylandÂ® Hotel in the late 1970Â’s. He never considered a trip toDisneylandÂ® complete without a stay at the DisneylandÂ® Hotel. The Hotel was an adventureand experience in itself to him aside from the joys of DisneylandÂ®.By 1998, he decided to start documenting the DisneylandÂ® HotelÂ’s history. He began compilingmany vintage paper items, photographs, magazines and souvenirs from the HotelÂ’s rich history.What first started as a short article for a Southern California travel magazine eventually became
this book.http://www.magicalhotel.comArticle Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Don_Ballard==== ====A complete hotel search engine website, 247CheapestHotels.com, which searches over 230,000hotel properties. This same site also searches for airline and car rental prices.www.247CheapestHotels.com==== ====