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Disneyland Hotel

Then & Now

Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Happy 60th Anniversary to the Disneyland Hotel! It opened October 5, 1955. Although the first brochure indicated 104 guest rooms, only seven rooms were ready for guest occupancy the first night. An eighth room served as the registration lobby because the real one wasn’t ready. The Hotel now has 973 guest rooms in three towers.

Part 1 of this series compared Disneyland Hotel photos from several decades ago with similar new photos.

Today, in Part 2, “then” is 2007 and “now” is 2015. When I took the photos in 2007, I had no idea the Disneyland Hotel would look so different after just a few years.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, October 9, 2015.


Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Sierra Tower (left) and Bonita Tower (right) (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Adventure Tower (left) and Frontier Tower (right) (2015)

In 2007, the three towers of the Disneyland Hotel still had the same names as when Disney acquired the Hotel in 1988—Sierra Tower (built 1962, expanded 1966), Marina Tower (built 1970), and Bonita Tower (built 1978). But by the end of 2007, they would be Dreams Tower, Magic Tower, and Wonder Tower, respectively.

On June 16, 2009, the Disneyland Resort announced a major update to the Disneyland Hotel:

Beginning in August 2009, Southern California’s landmark Disneyland Hotel will start a significant renovation project that will include major improvements to its guest rooms and considerable changes to the exterior of the hotel. The hotel will remain open during the renovation, which will be conducted in phases, and is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

The press release went on to describe how and why the Hotel would get a new skin of blue glass:

Disneyland Resort’s original hotel, built in 1955, also will experience a noteworthy change to its exterior. All of the three towers will feature an updated look, with large windows that will give the outside a sleek, radiant blue tint. The windows will replace the current sliding doors and faux balcony railings and are specially designed to be energy efficient and to extensively filter outside noise.

“The new design for the hotel’s exterior will enhance the existing towers and complement the resort as a whole. The windows will feature a sky blue reflective glass that channels the feel of our bright California sky,” said Mike Montague, director of resort development for Walt Disney Imagineering.

As the renovations were completed, the towers became the Adventure Tower, Fantasy Tower, and Frontier Tower—in 2010, 2012, and 2011, respectively.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Bonita Tower behind Never Land Pool (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Frontier Tower behind E-Ticket Pool, D-Ticket Pool, and Monorail Pool (2015)

The changes were not limited to the towers and their interiors. The ground level saw new pools, new walkways, even-more-lush tropical landscaping, new restaurants, and new event lawns.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Bonita Tower, Pavilion, and Never Land Pool (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Frontier Tower, Sleeping Beauty Pavilion, and E-Ticket Pool (2015)

in 1983, Wrather Corporation had expanded the Disneyland Hotel’s convention facilities, punctuating the new addition with the octagonal Pavilion jutting into the Marina. The architectural oddball matched neither the modern architecture of the rest of the hotel nor the themed Seaports of the Pacific at the Marina.

In the 2007 photo, the Marina is gone, replaced by the Never Land Pool. But the Pavilion is still there, looking much as it did in 1983.

The Pavilion is now called the Sleeping Beauty Pavilion. Here’s how the Disneyland Hotel Meetings website describes the 3,645-square-foot octagonal space:

The Sleeping Beauty Pavilion is a stunning, round space with large windows that allow your attendees to be bathed in California’s famed sunshine, or come evening, its spectacular starlight. The Sleeping Beauty Pavilion is a versatile room and can be configured for a wide range of uses.

The half-timber exterior and new roof the Sleeping Beauty Pavilion defy easy architectural categorization. But, somehow, it works.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Hook’s Pointe and The Lost Bar (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (2015)

The building that had housed Hook’s Pointe and The Lost Bar received a Mid-Century tiki-style makeover. The surprise hit from the renovation was Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Sierra Tower from Downtown Disney (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Adventure Tower from Downtown Disney (2015)

Roof signs were not allowed within the 1,100-acre Anaheim Resort District after the end of 2005, so the giant “Disneyland Hotel” letters at the top of the Sierra Tower disappeared in December of that year. The 2007 photo shows the shooting stars that replaced the sign.

After the tower received its blue glass skin, the shooting stars disappeared.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Looking Glass Elevator on Sierra Tower (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Wide, blue exterior of Adventure Tower (2015)

The Looking Glass elevator on the exterior of the original tower was its key architectural accent. Riding to the top was one of the many attractions of the Hotel.

Removal of the elevator began in 2009.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

North end of Sierra Tower (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

North end of Adventure Tower (2015)

Apparently, signs high on the sides of high-rise buildings are not considered roof signs.

The faux balcony railings served a useful purpose. With a room’s glass sliding doors open, the entire room became a balcony of sorts. On a perfect Anaheim day when the temperature was in the low 70s, that worked well. But on other days, it meant excessive heating or cooling. The Hotel’s energy bills have undoubtedly decreased dramatically. That’s good conservation and good business. But guest rooms are now sealed boxes.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Disney’s Fantasia Shop at the Marina Tower (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Disney’s Fantasia Shop at the Fantasy Tower (2015)

The exterior of Disney’s Fantasia Shop, the main gift shop of the Disneyland Hotel, survived the massive changes with just a new paint scheme.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Disneyland Hotel lobby at the Marina Tower (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Disneyland Hotel lobby at the Magic Tower (2015)

The lobby in the 2007 photo looks like a generic big city hotel lobby of the early 20th century. It’s surprising that the Disneyland Hotel lobby ever looked like this.

The same space in the 2015 photo is brighter and much more appropriate for a hotel that celebrates Disneyland Park. It’s now modern in a way that simultaneously evokes the Mid-Century origins of Disneyland and clean styles of 21st century hotels.

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Marina Tower elevators at lobby level (2007)

Disneyland Hotel - Then and Now, Part 2: 2007 and 2015

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Fantasy Tower elevators at lobby level (2015)

Yes, the two photos above are the same space. What an improvement!

Throughout its 60 years, the Disneyland Hotel has gained and lost many features. The improvements of 2009 though 2012 arguably make the hotel the best it’s been this century.

The Disneyland Hotel is a youthful, good-looking 60-year-old.

 

Thank you to Don Ballard for suggesting Part 1 of this series, which inspired this follow-up.

Two books by Don Ballard

Don Ballard is the author of two books about the history of the Disneyland Hotel:

  • Disneyland Hotel: The Early Years 1954-1988 (hardcover)
  • Disneyland Hotel 1954-1959: The Little Motel in the Middle of the Orange Grove (paperback)

To see rare historical photos of the Disenyland Hotel and to learn more about these books (including how to buy), visit www.MagicalHotel.com.

 

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Updated October 9, 2015.