Sunday, November 28, 2010

Update on Garden Rooms....Dateline September 10, 1958

I just started reading over some of the documents from a pile of roughly 1000 documents I scanned from the Wrather archives. The date of the letter is September 10, 1958 and it is addressed to a bank which helped Jack Wrather many times through the years with the financing of the Disneyland Hotel. The letter states, "we have just started a building with 36 additional units, making a total for the Hotel of 236." This building , the ninth of eleven Garden type structures would actually have 34 rooms making the total 234 rooms at the Disneyland Hotel. I know the building was operational by July 4th, 1959 from an overhead picture I have but I have no information on when it actually first opened. It all depends on how long it took to build this single structure. I do know that the litigation between Wrather and Alvarez is what prevented building further additions to the Hotel between 1956 and 1958. On August 8, 1958 the litigation's ended and Jack Wrather bought out Helen Alvarez from all of their joint holdings which included a 50% share in  the Disneyland Hotel. Based on this September date, expansion began almost immediately after the court cases were settled.

Another mystery solved....sort of.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Two Story Buildings Room Count-Finally!

The Disneyland Hotel continued to grow in size and room numbers well into the late 70's. One thing I have never been able to get is an accurate count of room capacity per building for the original two-story guest accommodation structures. These structures were built between1955 and 1960 and totalled eleven buildings. I had room totals for multiple buildings but never actual counts for individual buildings....until now. I was able to purchase a Hotel telephone directory from the 1960's (some time between 1962 - 1965) which not only listed total rooms per building but it actually gives the room number and telephone extension of each room as well as all Hotel shops, services and offices.

 This first picture is from 1956 and I have inserted the room count on each building. I just love finding fascinating facts and information from the Hotel's history. At least, fascinating to me.

This overhead shot was taken some time in 1956, my guess would be June or July. The three North Garden structures were not quite finished as there is still construction going on as evident in this photo. The pool looks finished however it does not look like anybody is swimming. The pool opened late June/early July 1956.

This second shot was taken in 1960. The ninth structure (34 rooms) in the right foreground, was added some time in 1958 or 1959, I could never find the actual date. The last two Garden Structures that were added to the property are on the far right of the picture and contained 36 rooms each bringing the total to 306 total rooms by 1960. The Hotel would soon begin building up instead of out when the first tower was added in 1962.

Again, I have inserted room totals on the new buildings added in 1958/59 and 1960.

For vintage Disneyland Hotel images, please visit:

Our website for the definitive book on the history of the Disneyland Hotel is

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1966 New Plaza Building & Coldwell Banker

I found several references to Coldwell Banker who evidently was handling the lease arrangements for the new Plaza Building which would open in 1966 at the Disneyland Hotel.

Some information on the Plaza Building (and Coldwell Banker) from our book

Just to the west of the lobby and shopping arcade, the new shopping Plaza Building opened on the Hotel's grounds in November of 1966. It was a three-story structure with offices on the upper level and shops and boutiques occupying the first two floors. Built of concrete and glass, it contained an elevator that served all three floors and individual air conditioning to each shop and office in the complex was provided. The architects were again Weber and Nicholson of Los Angeles, who also had designed the Sierra Tower. Once again, the contractor was C. L. Peck of Los Angeles. The leasing of shop space in the Plaza Building was handled by John Holmquist of Coldwell, Banker & Company of Newport Beach (at the time operating only in Arizona, California, and Nevada...years before it became a national presence).

This new structure was actually a sunken building, patrons having to descend a short flight of stairs to enter the shops on the first-floor level. A sunken garden landscaped that lower level, and red tile walkways led guests from shop to shop. It was described as having glass walls and graceful grillwork, gleaming in a lush garden setting. It was further described as resembling a necklace on green velvet, containing the beautiful and unusual in a score of smart, avant-garde specialty shops. Here one could buy aromatic tobaccos from Turkey, candles from Mexico, leathers from London, toys from the United States, Germany and Japan, and here one could select from fashions inspired in Paris, Rome, and on Carnaby Street. The Plaza also featured a beauty shop, a travel agency, and a dental facility. The sounds of tinkling fountains and of Muzak added to the calm atmosphere of the new shopping area.

The Plaza Building was not only a place of leisurely shopping for necessities (forgotten in the haste of packing back home) or for finding those unusual gifts and souvenirs. From the first days of its operation, the Plaza was also a place of entertainment and of the unexpected. A shopper might discover a Mariachi band playing outside Flavia (a specialized gift store that featured the paintings of wide-eyed children by the renowned Southern California artist whose name was to be found above the entrance to her shop). Turning a corner, one might be greeted by Native Americans performing age-old ceremonial dances in front of Treasure Trails (a shop filled with authentic Indian dolls, crafts, and works of art). At another time at that same shop, one might be delighted by a young Navajo girl's demonstration of her skills of rug weaving. Only a few steps away one's dreams of the Pacific Islands could be realized at Waltah Clark's Hawaiian Shop. A former Hawaiian beach boy, Clark had established himself as an importer of fashions and accessories from his former home. The Yelland Galleries also held surprises for Plaza visitors. With the addition of the Plaza Building and with the pre-existing Arcade, the Hotel now had forty-thousand square feet of shopping area, occupied by nearly two dozen specialty stores. The Disneyland Hotel could now boast of having "the most complete hotel service and shopping center in the nation."

Both the Tower Annex and the Plaza Shopping Center were a part of the $5.5-million Hotel Expansion Program. By itself, the Plaza Building had cost $1.25-million.
This one is from my buddy Dave over at Daveland. If you have not checked out his blog or his website, do yourself a favor and do so:

If you look carefully under the sign, you can see an advertisement from Coldwell Banker soliciting leases for the new Plaza Building.

Here is a Plaza Building construction shot also listing Coldwell Banker as well as the architects, contractors and builders.

This was an actual ad in the Hotel's Check-In magazine from October, 1966.
If you look in the background of this one, you can see Plaza Building construction going on. This photo was shot during the mermaid tryouts in 1966 where the lucky winners would swim around the submarine lagoon inside Disneyland.

For vintage Disneyland Hotel images, please visit:

Our website for the definitive book on the history of the Disneyland Hotel is

Monday, November 22, 2010

What's in a Picture?

Sometimes, you can find some pretty interesting things within a picture. Take for example these pictures I am posting tonight. It's what is in the background (or the foreground) that is pretty neat!

Can you spot anything before looking below?

Why it's a highly collectable Magicland Disneyland Hotel bag. I actually have one of these in my Hotel collection and it has wonderful graphics. Note: you can also see the Gourmet Restaurant offices on the door in the upper right.

What else can we find?

Why it's the sign listing the tennants of the Plaza Building at the Disneyland Hotel. Interesting that Muzak had offices here but I guess it stands to reason. The Wrather Corporation purchased Muzak in 1957.

How about another picture to scan!
Why it's the same couple as above but in a different store in the Plaza. This time, they are actually in Magicland......must be where he got the bag! Can you spot anything interesting in this photograph?

Why those are Gilbert Company Erector sets! Remember those? Wrather had also bought the A.C. Gilbert Company in the early 60's. What's that below the Erector Sets?

Why it's Tonka Toys. I had Tonka Trucks when I was younger and they were sure fun.

This photo shoot of the couple at the Disneyland Hotel was from the March-April 1967 edition of Check-In magazine which was given to Disneyland Hotel guests upon you guessed it, check-in..

For vintage Disneyland Hotel images, please visit:

Our website for the definitive book on the history of the Disneyland Hotel is

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12, 1984 - 26 years ago today

Considered one of the leading entrepreneurs of his time, Jack Wrather died in Los Angeles, California on November 12, 1984 at the age of sixty-six after a thirty-three month battle with cancer. On that day, the first telephone call received by Bonita was from the White House. With the Reagans, Bonita had a tearful conversation over the loss of her husband and their close friend.

Jack Wrather had been a member of the Methodist Church converting to Catholicism after meeting Bonita. His two marriages had presented him with four children. He was survived by his wife of thirty-seven years, Bonita Granville Wrather.

This last is my favorite picture of Jack & Bonita.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 15, 1956 Gourmet Menu

Check out these prices! This is from 54 years ago almost to the day.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

1962 Hotel Features

Here are some features of the Disneyland Hotel from 1962.

And perhaps the most unique amenity at the Hotel was its very own radio station.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

November 14, 1979 Overhead

At last, an overhead shot of the Disneyland/Disneyland Hotel area which details all of the Hotel features and offsite amenities. The first picture below is the overhead alone.

Next photograph is the same shot with some circles added to it.

The circles are color coded with details below:
Red Circle-Tennisland
Blue Circle-Vacationland
Green Circle-Golf Driving Range
Light Brown Circle- Mini-Golf Facility
Yellow Circle-Heliport

By 1979, the Heliport, Driving Range and Mini-Golf facilities were no longer operating. If you look closely, the Richfield/Arco Service Station and the iconic Disneyland Hotel sign have also been removed. I do not know exact years these last two items were removed but can probably get an idea by researching some other pictures I have. Last interesting note is, the 6th Garden Structure was still in place but would have less than a year of life remaining. It was removed to make way for the Rose Garden and Gazebo; a famous area for weddings and parties.

If you see any other interesting details, just let me know.

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