The Disneyland Hotel is a resort hotel located at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division. The hotel was the first to officially bear the Disney name when it opened on October 5, 1955, as a motor inn owned and operated by Jack Wrather under an agreement with Walt Disney. The hotel experienced various additions and upgrades during Wrather’s ownership before being purchased by Disney in 1988. As part of the Disneyland Resort expansion in 1999, the hotel was lowered to its current capacity.
Ownership of Wrather Corporation: 1955-1988
In August 1963, the Disneyland Monorail train arrived at the Disneyland Hotel station.
Pereira & Luckman built the original Disneyland Hotel, which opened on October 5, 1955, over three months after Disneyland. The launch was delayed from the August date mentioned in pre-opening promotional materials due to several strikes, and the hotel only had limited capacity when it first opened. The hotel included approximately 100 rooms in 5 two-story guest room complexes (later known as the South Garden Rooms and even later as the Oriental Gardens) that rented for $15 per night ($152 in 2021 currency); shopping, eating, and recreational amenities were added in early 1956. It also housed a doctor and a dentist, as well as a hairdresser and a beauty salon.
Wrather Corporation purchase by Disney
When Michael Eisner took over as chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Productions in 1984, he intended to break Disney’s contract with the Walther Corporation and bring the Disneyland Hotel under the Walt Disney Company’s jurisdiction. Wrather refused to sell, just as he had previously rejected Walt Disney. Wrather died two months after Eisner took control at Disney, and Disney purchased the entire Wrather corporation in 1988, when Wrather’s widow Bonita Granville died. Wrather’s company also owned the rights to the TV programs The Lone Ranger and Lassie at the time, as well as managed and operated the RMS Queen Mary and Spruce Goose combination tourist attraction in Long Beach. Despite keeping the hotel, Disney has now sold the other assets that came with the purchase.
Resort growth (1999–2001)
Vacationland was shuttered and dismantled in early 1997. The hotel was then razed in 1999 in order to make room for Downtown Disney and parking areas for the newly expanded Disneyland Resort. The majority of the structures east of the Sierra Tower and north of the Marina Tower, including the original hotel buildings from 1955, were removed. The convention center and parking garage are the only structures that exist in these locations. Recreational facilities were constructed in the quad between the three towers, formerly the location of the Water Wonderland, to replace those previously located east of the Sierra Tower.
Streets previously used to access the hotel by car were regraded or removed entirely, and a new roadway was developed to provide access to the hotel. Tram service from the hotel was likewise halted, leaving the Monorail as the only form of automobile mobility between the park and the hotel. The introduction of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel in 2001 compensated for the loss of hotel rooms, but many of the eateries and facilities that existed before to 1999 were never replaced.
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