When the Disneyland Hotel opened in 1955, just three months after Disneyland park opened to guests, the hotel launched a new trend in the tourism industry by welcoming families. In an era when hotels catered to businessmen, The Happiest Hotel on Earth was designed to accommodate and entertain children and it soon became Orange County’s first major hotel, starting a building boom that would help transform the county. Today, after 60 dazzling years, the Disneyland Hotel continues to welcome families, creating magical memories of their vacations at the Disneyland Resort.
“On its very first night of operation, the Disneyland Hotel had only seven completed guest rooms and an eighth used as a registration room,” said Jon Storbeck, vice president, Resort Hotels and Downtown Disney District. “Six decades later, the Disneyland Hotel has welcomed millions of guests and families. It now features 973 rooms and the footprint of the resort has grown to include two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, making the Disneyland Resort a premiere family vacation destination.”
The remarkable evolution of the Disneyland Hotel includes these developments:
- The hotel’s Embassy Ballroom opened in 1960 as Orange County’s first ballroom.
- In 1961, Walt Disney officially linked the hotel and theme park together with a $1.9 million dollar extension of the Disneyland Monorail.
- As Disneyland Park added attractions through the years, the hotel kept adding rooms. In 1962, the opening of the 11-story Tower Building (today’s Adventure Tower) added 150 rooms and became Orange County’s first high-rise.
- The 319-room Marina Tower (today’s Fantasy Tower) opened in 1970, and included a new registration lobby.
- Also in 1970, the 3.5-acre World of Water marina and the “Dancing Waters” show amphitheater opened.
- The hotel opened its $7.2 million Convention Center in 1972, becoming the county’s largest self-contained hotel and meeting property.
- At 13 stories, the 367-room Bonita Tower (today’s Frontier Tower) opened in 1978. It was Anaheim’s tallest building and also the nation’s first hotel structure with a solar heating system.
- In 1992, Goofy’s Kitchen opened as a restaurant where families could dine with their favorite Disney characters.
- In 2001, the 39-foot tall Mickey Mouse Sorcerer’s Hat was added as an entrance icon near the new monorail station at the Downtown Disney District.
- The latest renovation project, in 2012, included beautifully remodeled guest rooms, a new pool and water play area, renovation of an existing pool, the new Tangaroa Terrace restaurant and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tike Bar, and re-theming of the hotel’s three guest room towers – the Fantasy, Adventure and Frontier towers.
“Much of what made the Disneyland Hotel revolutionary for its time in the ‘50s is still part of the hotel’s spirit today,” said Pilar Hamil, general manager of the Disneyland Hotel. “We were the first major hotel in the U.S. that catered to parents with children—with thoughtfully designed accommodations, family-friendly recreation facilities and of course, a tram that left for Disneyland every five minutes. The hotel experience was designed as an extension of the guest experience at Disneyland park.”
Contemporary, carefree and perfectly appointed with modern decor, the iconic Disneyland Hotel now pays homage to the shared history of Disneyland park and hotel at every turn—from its midcentury design to original park attraction artwork. The luxurious guest rooms sleep up to four adults, with suites available for larger groups. Other amenities include an immersive pool area, themed dining experiences and quick access to both theme parks and the Downtown Disney District. Guests of the Disneyland Hotel, as well as guests at Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, may enjoy admission on select mornings to either Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park one full hour before the theme park opens to the general public.
This year, the Disneyland Hotel is sparkling with décor as part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration. In addition, the hotel is offering a “60 Years of Magic” Tour, a complimentary guided walking tour that explores the growth of the resort hotels and Downtown Disney District. Exclusive to the Diamond Celebration, this journey through the resort’s history provides a glimpse into the imagination behind its fun, immersive experiences.
The Disneyland Resort is celebrating its 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration, featuring three spectacular after-dark shows – the “Paint the Night” parade, the immersive “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show and the all-new “World of color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” water show. The exciting celebration, which also features sparkling décor, themed food and merchandise, will run through September 5, 2016.