While browsing my feeds today (thanks Feedly!) I came across this wonderful photograph. Gorillas Don’t Blog wasn’t taken aback by it (“I wish there was more hotel and less blue sky”) but I sure was. The innocent simplicity of the nine-year-old Disneyland Hotel as it stood 45 years ago, surrounded by nothing but the odd southern California palm tree, is in very stark contrast to it’s present state.
If anyone has a photograph of the hotel from this very position today I’d love to see it.
The Disneyland Hotel was third party operated when it was built in October 1955, four months after the Disneyland park opened. Texan Millionaire Jack Wrather, probably most famous for being the producer of the TV show Lassie, financed and
owned leased the property as Disney had run out of cash building the amusement park itself. It wasn’t until 1988 that The Walt Disney Company purchased it and the original tower pictured here was demolished in 1999 as part of the “Disneyland Resort” expansion which included the construction of California Adventure on what was Disneyland’s parking lot.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Gorillas Don’t Blog site for more superb vintage Disneyland pictures.
Update: Just had an email from Don Ballard, who has recently written a book on the Disneyland Hotel to tell me that the the Sierra Tower, the tower pictured here, wasn’t demolished. In fact it’s the only original building left standing.
“All of the original Hotel from 1955 – 1960 was demolished in 1999 to make way for Downtown Disney. This included all of the old two story Garden Villa Structures (my favorites), shopping areas, original restaurants, including the Monorail Cafe (my favorite), Travelport, Monorail Station, original Embassy and Magnolia Ballrooms and the Olympic Pool. To me, the Hotel lost most, if not all of its charm in 1999.”