Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Disneyland Hotel Convention Brochure 1956

Today I am presenting a fairly rare Disneyland Hotel item from 1956; according to Don Ballard of the "The Original Disneyland Hotel" blog, this was the "first convention brochure". I was lucky to find this at a paper show about five years ago, it is about as new-mint as can be - always a plus.

The hotel originally opened in October of 1955, about two months after Disneyland's debut. Wikipedia sez: The hotel originally consisted of just over 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 a night with shopping, dining and recreational facilities added in early 1956. Additionally, it had a doctor and dentist on site as well as a barber and beauty shop. 

On August 25, 1956, the hotel celebrated its "official" grand opening with many Hollywood stars and celebrities attending the festivities. It was quickly expanded in 1956 with three North Garden guest room structures, one more North Garden structure in 1958 and lastly, two more North garden structures in 1960. The hotel now boasted over 300 guest rooms and suites. It was one of the first hotels in the region to offer accommodations for four persons per room.

Say, what's inside that durn brochure? Everything you need to know, that's what!

The banquet rooms were available for all of your usual convention needs, including weddings, cocktail parties, and clothing-optional Tupperware extravaganzas. These days I don't think they'd have 8-foot ceilings, but it sure makes things cozy. Be sure to get the arrangement that includes the bar if you want a successful event!

Some of these rooms seem so small by today's standards, but I guess groups didn't always need a cavernous space. I'm going to rent that "Board of Directors" room, and sit at the raised table. I'll bring my own gavel, thank you very much. People will have to address me as "Professor".

Note that this was still "Wrather-Alvarez Hotels"; Helen Alvarez's involvement in the hotel is fascinating to me; she was the first female television CEO, and was a millionaire by the age of 29. At some point (I believe in '56) her business relationship with Jack Wrather soured, and she sold her shares to him.

"Fun for the family..."! Yes, while you are in meetings all day, the rest of the family can relax by the Olympic swimming pool, peruse the "16 smart shops in the Hotel Arcade", play shuffleboard, practice your putting on a "championship course", or take a convenient tram (no Monorail service yet) to the front gates of DISNEYLAND. 

I hope you have enjoyed this Disneyland Hotel brochure!


Nanook said...

Professor - (ahem...)
Tell me more about the "Around-the-World" Cocktail Lounge-!

It would appear in the Conference Room pictured (with the 'wall art', mounted at rakish angles), there's an RCA Color Television set in the corner. Possibly a 21-CT-55 model. And there's nothing I like better when I'm shopping than patronizing "smart shops" - and with 16 at my disposal - even better-!

Thanks (Major) for sharing this wonderful brochure, featuring a time and place offering truly luxurious accommodations - all without gouging its guests, either-!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, this brochure is a treasure! I'll have to take more time to look at it later - but I just thought I'd comment with my initial observations:

Unless I'm reading the sentence wrong, Mr. Wikipedia is fibbing again. Per my dad's receipts, the Disneyland Hotel rooms were $9.00 a night, in 1956 - not $15.00; and the prices skyrocketed to $10.00 a night, in 1958.

Nanook, I don't know about you, but that 'rakish angled wall art' would drive me crazy. My impulse would be to try to straighten those frames. Everything else about the hotel is so 'cool' - except that [awful] wall art. I don't recall that ever being 'in style' . . . and it obviously didn't 'catch on.' Major, you have an artistic eye - I'm just curious as to what your opinion is on this subject.

The brochure states:
Disneyland Hotel Anaheim, California . . . in the heart of America's favorite playland.
Truer words were never spoken!!


TokyoMagic! said...

Wow! What a neat item! Thanks for sharing it with us, Major!

I wonder if part of the recreational activities for guests, included All-You-Can-Pick oranges?

I love all the mid-century modern furniture in the hotel rooms and the conference rooms. However, I agree with Sue about the wonky wall art. I've never seen decor quite like that before. I would think that some of the convention goers might have to hold onto their seats, just to keep from falling onto the floor.

Stu29573 said...

I wish I cold have stayed in the hotel. When we went when I was a kid, we stayed at my great uncle's house (he worked for Boeing). Now he did have a pool and lemon trees that we made lemonade with (the first time I learned that tree ripened lemons are much sweeter than store bought), but it was no Disney Hotel...

DrGoat said...

Major, what a gem!
Agree with everyone, that art has to go. It hurts. Can't imagine that stayed up for long.
Lou and Sue. What great memories and the receipts too! Saving receipts must have been a thing back then. When Mom passed, we found receipts for just about everything back then. They started about 1945, when my Dad got home from the war. I guess it was not a priority before that. It was like history of our family.
We never got to stay at THE HOTEL. Evidently it was out of the budget. We did stay a few times at the Peter Pan Lodge, which was just about as expensive. Go figure.
Nice acquisition Major. Must have been a treat to pick that up.
Thanks you!

Stefano said...

Thanks Major, a great look back at the second happiest place for kids. I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel twice in the 70s, once in one of the Garden Rooms (each patio of which had its own orange tree, as brochures proudly exclaimed), and in the Marina Tower facing the bay and with a super view of the Dancing Waters show.

The only other hotel stayed at was the fantastically freakish Inn of Tomorrow, which was like booking a room in Adventure Thru Inner Space. Most of the kitschy but marvelous character of the '60s-'70s Disneyland surrounds seems to have been buffed away.

K. Martinez said...

I love ephemera and postcards from the original Disneyland Hotel. I never found the Disneyland Hotel to be over-the-top outrageous with its prices back in the day. I seem to remember at the time that it was reasonable for the type of hotel it was. But then of course I'd book my stays there through the Walt Disney Travel Company which was probably a better deal. I seem to remember the admission and ticket books would come with the package for the duration of the stay. Also, back then the early morning entry (Magic Mornings) were available to the hotel guests. I definitely thought it was worth it at the time.

The one thing with SoCal locals is that most of you don't stay at the lodging around the park because you don't need to. That is one aspect where the Disneyland experience is different for us out-of-towners. I've stayed at many of the landmark motels/hotels through the years when visiting Disneyland like Disneyland Hotel, Howard Johnsons, the Stovall futuristic motels and others.

Anyway, great pics. Thanks, Major.


zach said...

As fun as it sounds burping my Tupperware naked, I would be on the tram to DL, for sure.

I love the integration of the existing orange trees. And I think Goofy had some say in the wall art.

We didn't stay at the DL hotel until the tower went up. Also through the Disney Travel Co with special ticket books and early morning entry. I may still have some of those tickets...

I have Don Ballard's first book about the hotel. It's a fun read and very interesting.

Thanks, Major,


"Lou and Sue" said...

Regarding your 1st sentence above, how much do you want to bet that the Major responds that you could do both (at the same time)

Anonymous said...

Since a large part of my non-GDB career (the one that earns my living) is spent in both designing and occupying the modern counterparts of these rooms, I am finding the descriptions of the conference room amenities very interesting.

"Acoustical Ceiling and Air Conditioning"
"Electrical Outlets Every 12 Feet"
"Built-In Audio System"
"Microphone and Phono Jacks"

Not only because this was state-of-the-art at the time, but also a view into the grim circumstances of older venues. Imagine a conference without these amenities.

Even though the "acoustical ceilings" appear to be the perlite "cottage cheese" plaster, the bane of re-decorators everywhere. The hotel must pre-date the suspended tiles that dominate this application today.

How sparse these interiors are in comparison to today's lush settings, especially the flat, hard (and very low) ceilings. No coffered 16 foot high plaster ceilings, no fake wood beams, no indirect lighting, no chandeliers, no wood wainscot, and the "furniture"...

The Board of Directors Room is just a perfect image of the era.

And the "transportation porn" of Disneyland extends into the hotel descriptions; "parking for 1000 cars"!!! "Helicopter Service", Metropolitan Coach Lines and Santa Fe Streamliners!

Also notice the praise for the enhanced productivity, "increased attendance" and "assured success" that would result from booking the Disneyland Hotel. My professional organizations use the same logic today for booking at the Anaheim Convention Center. And it works, I will skip events in Houston or St. Louis, but never the ones in Anaheim.

Add in the lovely graphics and typography, especially the little floating starbursts, and it's a wonderful thing to study this morning.

Thank you, Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, do you really think they had a color television set in 1956? I wouldn’t think any programs were being broadcast in color at that point. Maybe not until 10 years later or so (“Batman! In Color!”). If it IS a color TV, it must have seemed like the height of technology. Imagine how much one cost in those days. And what is up with that crooket wall art, anyway??

Lou and Sue, hey, you’re right! I am not sure where the Wikipedia people came up with the $15 price. In fact I even stood next to Don Ballard (the Disneyland Hotel expert) as he told people that in the early years a room was $10 - in his case I’m sure he was just rounding it off. The people always gasped in disbelief. It sounds like you have the same OCD that I have, and would HAVE to straighten those pictures out. “Listen, this will just take a minute!” (as they are dragging me in a straight jacket out to a paddy wagon).

TokyoMagic!, you could pick oranges, but you weren’t allowed to eat them. But you could throw them at passing cars, and isn’t that better in a way? So funny that the crooked wall art is driving people crazy 60+ years later.

DrGoat, I hope they replaced that art with tasteful Thomas Kinkade paintings, or some nice clown paintings. You know, the classics. I’ll bet that the hotel, as cheap as it seems to us today, was probably expensive as far as my Navy dad was concerned. Any memories of the Peter Pan Lodge? Did you like it?

Stefano, I’ve always thought it must be a disappointment to stay at the Disneyland Hotel, and then wind up with a room that faces an ugly view like the parking lot (although these days I guess you could see DCA in that direction). It seems kind of mean that they charge extra for a “park view”, but I guess that’s business. So cool that you stayed at the Inn of Tomorrow! They had some very fun motels back in those days.

K. Martinez, my appreciation for the Disneyland Hotel and its ephemera has come much later than my park-related stuff. It is fascinating in its own way though, the way it constantly changed and evolved. Also amazing that Disney eventually paid over $150 million dollars for the Wrather Corporation! I’ll bet it was a shrewd move, financially, just think of how much they must make every year with the prices they charge. It’s cool that you got to enjoy time at the Hotel before things got out of control, it sounds like a lovely way to go.

dzacher, I know, even now it seems hard to believe that I would be able to “relax” at the hotel knowing that Disneyland was just over there. You’ve probably noticed that I love to point out when any of the original orange trees can still be seen in the park (there were some in Tomorrowland for a while, and some could be seen in the Jungle Cruise). Too bad they didn’t save at least a few, they could have grafted branches on to a hardy root stock and sold “Disneyland Orange Trees” - I’ll bet people would have purchased them!

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, oops, sorry to disappoint! I should have thought of it though.

JG, ha ha, those “cottage cheese” ceilings are really the worst, I know multiple people (including my mom and dad) who paid to have that junk scraped off. Supposedly it contained asbestos, though I don’t know if that was just a ploy to charge a lot more money. Perlite isn’t anything to be concerned about. Those low ceilings are almost funny, it would feel like you were in an old classroom. I’ll bet a conference room would have 12 foot ceilings (or higher?) these days. It’s hard for us to believe that in those early years, Disneyland’s success was still in doubt; we’ve seen plenty of photos of a nearly-empty park, and there are stories of how you could fire a cannon up Main Street in the off season and not hit a human. Walt seemed confident, though, he knew he had a good thing.

Stu29573 said...

Hey! I got skipped again! I'm NOT taking it personally...I'm NOT taking it personally...

"Lou and Sue" said...

Stu, are you new to this blog? Welcome!


K. Martinez said...

@Stu29573 - It happens to me too where I've been skipped multiple times. Heck, I've even made insightful comments on a post that were later in the day given credit to someone else as saying them. It happens.

Anonymous said...

Ha, Major. I think you are correct about some old ceilings having asbestos.

Asbestos used to be added to everything, even if it wasn't necessary. It was a "miracle" ingredient.

Strange but true, there are still ceiling texture compounds available that replicate that cottage cheese look. These are often used in hotel room construction when the ceilings are concrete, to dress up the rough texture.


Nanook said...

RCA had a color television set back in 1954. And NBC was offering [very limited] COLOR shows back then to accommodate the need for a "compatible color" TV set. And don't quote me on this, but I believe in one of the brochures for the Disneyland Hotel back in the late 50's, it brags about how the rooms have COLOR TV sets.

@ JG-
Yes... Asbestos was known [in 1939, at least] as The Miracle Mineral-! That explains a lot as to why it was incorporated into so many construction goods. Unfortunately, it had a rather nasty side effect, if breathed into one's lungs...)

Major Pepperidge said...

Stu29573, Sorry about that, I often get distracted while responding to comments (texts, phone calls, etc) - you might be surprised how long it can take to respond to 10 or 12 comments - so I guess I just lose my place. It’s not personal I promise! Staying in a relative’s house just makes sense, but it wouldn’t be as fun as staying in the Hotel of course. My grandma had an small orange orchard and some lemon trees, I got so spoiled by being able to pick fresh citrus by the bagful. Fresh lemons for lemonade were the best (and limes for limeade!). Orange that you buy at the store are often flavorless, and I don’t know what they make bottled orange juice out of, but it is probably some sort of insect extract.

K. Martinez, really? I’ve skipped you a bunch of times? Wow, I guess I need to be a lot more careful.

JG, I remember the guys who removed the acoustic stuff from the ceiling wore “moon suits” and it cost a lot of dough to dispose of the toxic material. They sprayed it with something to make it wet and easy to scrape off, I figure that it wouldn’t become so airborne, but what do I know. I think a lot of times acoustic ceilings were used to hide shoddy workmanship.

Nanook, I am stunned that there was ANY color TV available in the mid-1950’s. Gosh, I wonder how it looked? We’ll never know I suppose. I have a lot of early Disneyland Hotel brochures (though I am missing some rare ones), I should take a look and see if any of them brag about having color TV’s.

DrGoat said...

Major, we loved the Peter Pan, but as you pointed out, who could relax when Disneyland was so close by.
We used to stay in another motel down the street from the PP, but I can't for the life of me remember the name. The Buccaneer, or something pirate related, or I could be completely off base with that name.
I searched a little but found no resource for motels in that area back then. Any suggestions?
Thanks Major.

Stefano said...

DrGroat, was it the Jolly Roger Inn? Those Anaheim motels whet kids' appetites for the park because they were so much an extension of it: Peter Pan and genies and outer space and tropical hideaways and plaster icicles and giant candy canes and so on. A motel just off the Garden Grove freeway at Harbor had a sleepy little tyke as a mascot; he looked just like Michael from "Peter Pan"

DrGoat said...

Stefano, that was it! Thank you for prodding my aging memory circuits.
My hat is off to you. Great going.

K. Martinez said...

Major, yes you have skipped me from time to time but I completely understand why it happens. Especially when you're quite busy which I suspect is most of time.

I'll add that I know it takes a lot of effort to respond to every comment. I've done it myself when responding to comments on articles that I've done for you.

No worries, Major. I just didn't want Stu29573 to feel singled out.

Major Pepperidge said...

DrGoat, my guess is that when I was a kid I would have been satisfied with a little kidney-shaped swimming pool with a slide. And my parents would probably have appreciated a little “down time”, especially if it helped their four kids burn off some excess energy! I was going to suggest the “Jolly Roger Inn”, but see that Stefano beat me to it.

Stefano, the Jolly Roger is one of those classic Disneyland-adjacent motels that must have made a fortune catering to Disney guests. My understanding is that it was one of the better motels, at least for a while. Seems like at some point many of them started getting a bit worn out. As much as it would be fun to stay “on property”, those motels had a lot of their own distinctive charm.

Dr. Goat, huzzah!

K. Martinez, I realize that mistakes happen, but I am still pretty shocked that I skipped your comments, and more than a few times from the sound of it. I have sometimes scrolled down the comments more quickly than I intended and realized that I missed some people. Of course I love getting lots of comments, but if it’s one of those 20 or 25 comment days, I can easily spend an hour or so responding, since I really do try to leave a thoughtful reply. I’ve gone back to the early posts, and I feel guilty that I didn’t respond to people much back then.

Nanook said...


Although I knew folks who were "early adopters" with color televisions, and I can't say as I remember just how the color looked, but there is more than anecdotal evidence saying the color phosphors used back then [although not exactly 'super-bright'] nonetheless produced "stunning colors"; but within the limitations of early television technology, with color 'purity' and 'convergence' issues offering their own distractions to an otherwise better image. (And we haven't even addressed the issues of analog television reception, and its attendant 'ghosting' and 'signal strength problems', challenging the tuner technology of the day).

Stu29573 said...

No worries! I was "mock offended," which means I really don't like mockingbirds. I only wish my (now neglected) blogs had had as many comments! But yeah, it was tough to keep up with even the few!

Anonymous said...

@Stefano and Dr. Goat.

We stayed often at the Jolly Roger, right on the corner of Harbor and Katella. It was a step up from the older motels. At some point in my childhood, money was a little easier, and Dad moved up from the Magic Lamp to the fancier motel.

I remember the rooms were a little bigger, but similar finishes and amenities. A much nicer pool(s?), and two restaurants on-site with elaborate maritime and piratical decor. They also had a van that would drop you right at the ticket booths.

The JR added some three-story guest room wings in the 80's to compete with the bigger hotels at the Convention center, but I was sad to see that it was recently demolished and replaced with a 5 or 6 story Marriott Residence Inn.

I just found a matchbook cover from the JR the other day in an old box of postcards and memorabilia. No post cards from the motel though.