Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Plaza Restaurants, October 1967

Disneyland's "plaza", smack dab in the middle of the park, is the perfect place to put a restaurant or two. Think how many times you pass through the hub on typical visit! No matter where you are, you're never that far from a place like the Plaza Inn, for instance.

This restaurant started out as the Red Wagon Inn; but Walt Disney clearly wanted something even nicer!

I could yammer away, but why don't we let Mr. Disney talk for himself (via the 1965 "Tencenniel" episode of "The Wonderful World of Color"). I think it's fascinating that he is so excited about his new restaurant that he devoted several minutes to it on his TV show. (What ever happened to that aviary he mentions?).

On the opposite side of the Plaza, near the entrance to Adventureland, you'd find the Plaza Pavilion. It appears to be closed on this particular day, and yet there is a large crowd of folks over to the right for some reason. The only explanation is that somebody was giving away free chunks of liverwurst.


TokyoMagic! said...

Could that be the line for the Tiki Room spilling over in front of the Plaza Pavilion?

Thufer said...

>> (What ever happened to that aviary he mentions?). <<

Oh good; I thought I had missed a room over all these years. The way Walt describes it made me think right away of the Tiki Room.

Matterhorn1959 said...

I agree with Tokyo Magic, I think that is the line to get into the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Major Pepperidge said...

TM! and Matterhorn, you both seem pretty sure that my liverwurst theory is incorrect. So I will bow to the experts!

Thufer, you're right, it does sound like the Tiki Room, although by 1965, the Tiki Room already existed. Walt loved talking birds though; there's something about a stuffed vulture that was going to "talk" in Club 33, I could almost swear.

JG said...

I remember hearing or reading something about the restaurants being part of the plan for the fireworks etc. Have a meal and enjoy the show.

Have also heard complaints now about Mary Poppins theming in this area, but to me, it's perfect. These buildings are Edwardian/Victorian in general style, and the Pearlie Band has been a fixture on and off Main Street for years.

I like these restaurants and can't wait to try the remodeled pavilion..

Thank you so much, Major.


Brian Fies said...

Ah, a conversation I can contribute to! My family and I went to the Park last month and had lunch at the Plaza Pavilion. It's small inside, with no seating. You order and get your food in one of two lines and then head outside to the left or right to eat. We thought the food was very good: sandwiches, salads and bakery goods. It definitely moved near the top of our favorite lunch spots. The Poppins theming is subtle: penguins in stained glass, music playing inside. Not out of place or intrusive at all, I thought.

When we visit the Park, we always try to have a fried chicken dinner at the Plaza Inn one night. And my kids always have to listen to me tell how it means a lot to me because we couldn't afford to eat there when I was a kid but I always yearned to because the solarium looked so neat. It still does.

Nancy said...

the very first thing we ever did at Disneyland was have lunch at the Plaza Inn.....it was so nice! I so cant wait to get there again. it has been 7 years now...TOO LONG! only 3 trips and I am 55...i am way behind!!

Nanook said...

There are quite a number of sources that confirm Walt's idea of having the vulture "talk" to diners in the Trophy Room of Club 33, so one presumes the stories to be true.

No matter, long since disconnected (or are they-??), the "screens" on the front of the Electro-Voice 635 microphones originally used to discretely 'listen-in' to guests' conversations are clearly visible in the center cluster of the chandeliers hanging over the tables there. Shhhhhh-!

Nanook said...

I just have to add another comment, after viewing the Plaza Inn video with Walt and "Johnny" Hench. And that is not only Walt's very laid-back and approachable demeanor as he joyously and lovingly describes all the features in the restaurant, but the now, very refreshing and straight forward deivery to what is essentially a commercial for Disneyland and the Plaza Inn. In today's market of more than over-the-top self-promotions for everything, where simply being the ne plus ultra in your category is hardly enough, this promo stands out as a beacon of fresh air and joy, barely seeming like a 'plug'.

Thank you, Walt.

Caspian said...

Is that Kevin Kidney's favorite tree painting barely visible through the closed doors of the Plaza Pavilion?


Major Pepperidge said...

JG, you are welcome!

Brian, was the Plaza Inn really that much more expensive years ago? Thank you for your review of the new eatery.

Nancy, well, you've been to Disneyland 3 more times than I've been to WDW!

Nanook, I can't agree more. I have a friend who thinks that Walt seems "creepy" in that video, as if he is ogling Julie Riehm. I don't get that vibe AT ALL, and I've seen that show many times.

Caspian, I tried zooming in a lightening that area, but I couldn't make out any hint of the mural... but I wish I COULD!

Brian Fies said...

> Brian, was the Plaza Inn really that much more expensive years ago?

Probably not. My parents and grandparents were just a lot cheaper than I turned out to be ;-).

Connie Moreno said...

Hmmm...I could have sworn I left a comment yesterday. Good post, great pics. Sure makes me want to go to Disneyland.

JG said...

@Brian Fies. I remember my parents considered the Plaza Inn to be expensive.

I have a great memory of eating there with them as a kid in the late '60's. I was stunned at the posh interior, very different from the coffee shops we usually went to. There was a strolling violinist making the rounds inside. My Dad called him over to the table and tipped him to play "My Little Alice Blue Gown" for my Mom. The violin player stood right at our table and played for Mom, she was so red and embarrassed by the whole dining room looking at her. But it was just because Dad loved her and he had style...

Thanks for reminding me of that day...


Tinker Bell said...

^ Love that story! That certainly is some style! :)

Great as always, Major!

Robert said...

Thanks for posting this. I was a cast member at Plaza Inn in the early 80s. It was nice to see Walt's enthusiasm for the place where I washed dishes while going to college. Regarding the aviary, they never put in Audioanimatronic birds, but because the doors were so big and open all the time, we were constantly chasing sparrows out of the Solaria.

The strolling violinist was long gone by the time I got there. However, the Plaza Inn was among the first Disneyland restaurants to experiment with character meals. Working the morning shift, I'd have to bus dishes around Winnie the Pooh and friends.

In my time, the Plaza Inn was a mid-priced dining option. Pricier than the counter service outlets, but less expensive than Blue Bayou or the nicer restaurants at the Hotel. Many nights, the menu featured a "Large Erotic Salad," but that's another story.