Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Disneyland Hotel from Lou and Sue

Here are four fun scans from Lou Perry and his daughter Sue B., who have been gracious enough to share lots of their personal family photos!

This first one is neat, a scan of the confirmation for Lou's upcoming stay at the Disneyland Hotel. May 7, 1956! Disneyland wasn't even a year old yet. Notice that the hotel was still "Wrather-Alvarez Hotels, Inc". While I am unclear on the details, I am under the impression that Helen Alvarez was essentially forced out of her part ownership of the Disneyland Hotel. If anybody knows more, please chime in.

Even with the prices adjusted for inflation, it is hard to not be blown away at the thought of a mere $10 (or less!) for a night at the Hotel. And like the park itself, the hotel was still a little rough around the edges, but I wish I could have seen it as it was then.

Now we've leapt ahead to February, 1978, for two shots of the Disneyland Hotel as seen from the parking lot. How about that stormy sky! Notice that the Bonita Tower (to the left) is under construction. 

And here's a second photo. It's nice that the parking lot had a section for you if you arrived in your camper/RV. Both of these views are very unusual, and that makes them extra fun to share.

Extra! Extra! Here's a late addition; Sue sent me two photos of her father, Lou - the man who took all of these pictures! Both of these are from 2001.

This first one shows Lou at the foot of the famous "Music Box Steps", near Sunset Boulevard (in Silverlake), where Laurel and Hardy struggled to deliver a piano up an extremely long flight of stairs in 1932. Lou is a fan of Hollywood history and was thrilled to see this place in person.

Here's a four minute excerpt from "The Music Box" from YouTube (ignore the mouse cursor!), if you're interested - you can easily find the whole film there too.

Next we have Lou, somewhere in the Hollywood hills, possibly near the Griffith Observatory. Notice the Hollywood Sign in the smoggy distance. It's nice to meet you, Lou!

A big "THANK YOU" to Lou and Sue!


Nanook said...


Boy, those were the days-! $10.00 for a night's lodgings. Even in today's dollars, that's only about $94.00 - quite the bargain for those accommodations. I am curious why there appears to be a 'date' of 6/13/15 listed in the header of the statement. That would be some typo; especially back when that sort of error would be considered a major typographical sin.

And as for that stormy sky: "Auntie Em, Auntie Em... it's a twister-!!"

Welcome aboard, Lou-! (And thanks). To you, too, Sue and The Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it took me a second, but the “6/13/15” meant that Lou’s reservation was for June 13th thru the 15th.

TokyoMagic! said...

Awwww, it's great to see the face of the man behind the photos!

I love that sky in the parking lot pics, and I used to love going to Disneyland on those kind of days. We used to have more days just like that, back then. Although, this past Winter was kind of reminiscent of what So. Cal. winters used to be like.

I'm assuming that the old waterfalls which used to be at the north entrance of the Bonita Tower, were also under construction, as well as the "Seaports of the Pacific" shops. I believe all of those opened at the same time.

That hotel bill from 1956 is amazing, and so is the price. Nanook, thanks for adjusting it for us, to today's equivalent. That just shows us that Disney's prices are blown way out of proportion, in comparison to almost everything else.

Thank you again, to Lou, Sue and the Major, too!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I didn't know that you ever stayed up this late!

Nanook said...


I knew there was a proper explanation for what seemed like a strange typo. Thanks.

Chuck said...

Cool stuff, Lou & Sue. Thanks for sharing!

Major, I don't think that last photo is from Griffith Observatory - the angle is all wrong. This was taken farther to the west, perhaps around Lake Hollywood.

stu29573 said...

I would have loved to stay at the Hotel Disneyland back then! ...or anytime through the 60s, really....or now, even (but not as much).
It's great "meeting" Lou! He seems like one of those guys that folks just take to. I know we have here! Thanks so much for the pics, L&S!

Andrew said...

I like the stormy skys - Welcome to the Disneyland Hotel. We've been dying to meet you. Mawahahha!

I had no idea those steps were real. Thanks to Lou and Sue for taking and sharing these fun pics!

Stefano said...

Thank you Major, Sue and Lou, more pix to bring back all kinds of memories. The winter of 77-78 is right up there on the list of Southern California's wettest, and like TM! I loved to visit Disneyland and Knott's on rainy days (especially rainy school days).

Chuck, I agree about the last photo: that's the Hollywood Cross above the left of Lou's head, always visible from the Hollywood Bowl, and Lou may be near the Yamashiro restaurant or the Magic Castle.

JC Shannon said...

It's great to meet Lou, I too am a Hollywood history buff and a lover of Disneyland. As for the hotel prices, I remember when Motel 6 was six dollars a night, hence the name. Thanks to Lou and Sue for sharing these great photos, and to Major for sharing and staying up late. "Well Stanley, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into."

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, if I had lived close enough to the park to just bop on over, it would have been fun to go on a day like that - I’ll bet the place was practically empty. Thanks for the info about the waterfalls (RIP) and the “Seaports of the Pacific” shops, which I actually remember from the one time I walked the grounds of the Hotel. I don’t even mind if the Disneyland Hotel’s accommodations are more expensive, but they make it as expensive as they possibly can. Your stay at the Hotel is gonna hurt! I know, “supply and demand”, blah blah blah, but it still seems crummy.

TokyoMagic!, I am usually up that late, but I don’t often look at the blog until later in the morning. Since I compose posts many weeks in advance, I was curious as to what was going to publish today!

Nanook, it is kind of an odd way to indicate that information, for sure.

Chuck, I knew it was actually a ways from the Observatory (the Hollywood sign is too far away, for one thing), but I figured, “Close enough! Nobody will care”. You’d think I would have learned by now! ;-)

stu29573, the people I know who stayed at the Hotel back in the 60’s and 70’s seem to have found the experience to be an essential part of the Disneyland experience. I never stayed there either…

Penna. Andrew, ha ha, I guess it does have kind of a “Halloween” vibe. There are several crazy hillside sets of stairs in L.A… I can’t help thinking of the ones that flank Angels Flight, up a 300 foot hill.

Stefano, gosh, I’ll bet it would have been neat to visit Knott’s on a rainy day! I never thought about it before. How in the world did you remember that the Winter of ’77 - ’78 was one of the wettest?

Jonathan, ha ha, a few years ago I stayed in a Motel 6 that was around $100 a night. There were cigarette burns in the sheets and the shower was filthy. I put a towel between me and the pillow just to be on the safe side. Also, even though our door was “locked”, another guest opened it with his key at 2 AM, startling us, and embarrassing him. Five stars! I guess it was sort of like a scene out of a Laurel and Hardy film…

JG said...

The Man, the Legend, the Mystery! Thanks for sharing the pics of Lou, Sue. What a cool place to seek out for a picture.

Searching out those kinds of locations is my idea of a good trip.

I remember watching that L&H movie on a church social evening. We watched it twice through, laughing so hard. Brilliant comedy, and nothing crude or "edgy", just plain old slapstick.

The bill for the Hotel is pretty amazing. We used to stay at the Magic Lamp and I remember distinctly when Dad upgraded our family trips to stay at the Jolly Roger on the corner of Katella and Harbor. Much fancier motel, now torn down to make a much larger Residence Inn. I think he had paid off one or more of the farms and we had more money for vacations.

I would be ashamed to publish our recent bill from the Disneyland Hotel, including the bar tab. Let's just say it was a lot more than $94.00/night for the rooms.

I also remember the winter of 1977-78. It was the end of a long drought in the SJ Valley. We were worried about our farm and house wells going dry. When the rains came that winter, and kept coming, it was an answer to prayer and no mistake. A very wet season, which proves the adage of the "Reversion to the Mean".

Thanks L&S for sharing and the Major for hosting!


"Lou and Sue" said...

Don't lose faith in our Major, as I'm the one who led him astray about the Griffith park location/area. Stefano, you may be right about us (Lou) being at the Yamashiro restaurant in that last picture, as I remember stopping by there, too, that same day we drove all around the area. I guess I lump all of southern California into one big happy place!

My dad and I are glad you're enjoying the pictures (they were sitting in boxes for years, unloved). Major, I finally located all of my dad's slides and started looking at them, last night (and, thankfully, they are in good shape and color). Will try to get them to you in the near future so that you can share them with everyone here, along with the photographs.


"Lou and Sue" said...

If you think this hotel bill is interesting, just wait . . . I'll ask my dad if he doesn't mind me sharing his notes that he kept of every penny he and my mom paid while on their earlier Disneyland trips - listing ALL the costs and where EVERY penny was spent. :)


Nanook said...

@ Sue-

That sort of "bookkeeping" was hardly an oddity for many folks - especially if one had lived through [or was influenced by] the depression. (The real one from the 1920's-30's.) That sort of thing is extremely fascinating from a number of standpoints; not only in terms of what things cost, but also what the things were. It has become a dying art (real budgeting) that's well-worth preserving.

JG said...

@Sue, if he doesn't mind sharing, that would be fascinating to read.

I remember the first time I ever saw a hundred dollar bill, I was about 9, and my Dad was putting in his wallet to take on a Disneyland trip. He showed it to me on purpose and commented that it should cover the weekend, motel, tickets, meals and all.


Nanook said...

Major & Sue-

Based on the style/coloring of the railing in the last shot, I'd be willing to bet that image WAS taken at Yamashiro Restaurant.

Nanook said...

@ JG-

I don't remember if it was the first time I laid eyes on a $100 bill, but this would'a been when I was around nine or 10 myself, and my dad and I had gone to a very small corner grocery store (in Los Angeles) - back when such things still existed. We had bought some chips and maybe ice-? Anyway, the shopkeeper was proudly showing us the $100 bill he had received earlier that day; and while packing the grocery bag, failed to notice he put the $100 bill right inside the bag along with the chips, etc. (Yeah - we gave it back to him). Don't remember his reaction, tho'. It was clearly a different time back then - probably 1960 or 1961.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, my friend Mr. X is such a huge Laurel and Hardy fan, even now he’ll talk about them all the time. I think I prefer Chaplin, or Keaton, or even Harold Lloyd, but I do like to watch a classic L&H movie. What are your memories of the Magic Lamp and Jolly Roger? Did you think they were nice? Of course today there’s a lot of love (and nostalgia) for all of those old motels. Ha ha, I wouldn’t be surprised if a night at the Disneyland Hotel is closer to $500 a night, depending on whether you are in a room facing the park or not. I feel like our rainy year last year was similar to the ’77-’78 rains - so welcome, and so much, it felt like a miracle.

Lou and Sue, like I said to Chuck, I figured your description was close enough! GDB readers love a mystery, however. They’re like the Scooby Gang! I am excited at the prospect of seeing some of Lou’s older slides, I’ll bet they are exceptional. As you can see, the readers are enjoying his work.

Lou and Sue II, my mother is the same way. Unfortunately that attention to detail did not get passed on to me!

Nanook, I agree, my dad made good money once he got out of the Navy, and he still lived like it was the depression. He could buy a bigger, better TV, or a snazzier car, but he “didn’t NEED it”, so he’d settle for something more modest. It’s probably a healthier way to live.

JG, ha, yes, I remember when $100 seemed like so much. At one point when I was a kid I had managed to save up over $200 from mowing lawns and $5 bills for my birthday, etc. I felt rich - but my mom told me not to talk about it because it was rude.

Nanook, it definitely feels like Lou was closer to Hollywood Blvd. than Griffith Park.

Nanook, good grief… you hear about people forgetting about money in pockets when they take a coat to the Goodwill, or whatever, but you’d think the shop owner would have remembered the $100 bill that he was literally just showing off!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Nanook, you must be right about the "depression era" folks keeping track of every penny. My dad told me lots of stories about his childhood. He was a young lad in the 1930's. His father worked for the railroad (as a bookkeeper) and, with his job, came a couple benefits. First, the employee's family could travel by rail for free and, secondly, when food (such as large bags of dried beans) "arrived damaged" after being transported on the trains - the workers got to take home the damaged goods for free. My father remembers eating A LOT of beans.


JG said...

Major, I have fond memories of the Magic Lamp. We stayed there frequently when I was younger, and then my high school honor society group stayed there for their trips, so I stayed maybe 10 times or so.

It was the basic motel, the sink counter was outside the bathroom, which had a '60's shower with obscure glass door and oatmeal tile. Shag carpet, a color TV screwed to the dresser, loud curtains that matched the loud bedspread. No closet, just a shelf and pole with captive coat hangers. No coffee pot or amenities other than a mini bar of soap and some towels. The ceiling was the "cottage cheese" texture with sparkly flakes embedded.

I usually got a short swim in the heated pool before heading back the day after. It was great.

The Jolly Roger was much fancier. The rooms were bigger and all the finishes were nicer, tile counters, not plastic etc. I think the sink counter was inside the bathroom and there were doors on the closet. The pool was bigger and had a slide.

The big draw here was the coffee shop on-site, which was done in that peculiar late 60's Spanish Baroque style with amber colored acrylic plastic dividers that looked like bottle glass and heavy "candle" chandeliers. Lots of orange. There was a big model ship in a case in the middle of the room like a divider. I think this place opened up on the heels of NOS and Pirates of the Caribbean, everything had a pirate or maritime theme, tastefully done in a moderately heavy-handed way, but no Disney tie-ins. The restaurant had a cocktail lounge too, but we never visited that part.

Major, you are spot-on with the Disneyland Hotel pricing, the Grand Californian is even higher. Using Nanook's analysis, Disney's prices have gone up 5x the rate of inflation.

Stories of frugality ring true here also. I know the folks were better off as I got older, but they never bought fancy cars (well, ok one. I wish I still had the 67 T-Bird) or did anything lavish to the house. Careful all their lives, and grateful for what they had.

@Nanook, great story. A lesson not to get carried away.

Thanks everyone, an enjoyable thread.


Chuck said...

Stefano & Nanook, I concur - definitely from Yamashiro (the railing clinches it).

Sue, don't worry about misidentifying the location. The Major is right - we love a good mystery (you might have gotten away with it if it hadn't of been for those meddling kids!). It's just one part of the fun of hanging around with the gang in the Virtual Market House.

Chuck said...

JG, your description of the Jolly Roger's "peculiar late 60's Spanish Baroque style" brings back so many memories of other places from that long-lost era. Thanks.

You sure you don't want to tackle that "Lost Motels of Cheap, Las-Vegas-Strip Development Anaheim" website all by yourself? ;-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, my dad worked on a farm when he was a boy (the farm belonged to an uncle), so there was always enough food to eat, even in the depression. I don’t think either of his parents graduated high school, because they had to start earning money at a young age. Such a different time!

JG, those memories of the Magic Lamp and Jolly Roger sound great, even if neither one was “The Ritz”. I was always perfectly happy to stay in a motel when I was a kid, as long as it had a kidney-shaped pool with a slide, and an ice machine. Your description of the coffee shop is very vivid! Once my dad retired, he would (on rare occasions) buy himself something nice, but that was rare.

Chuck, I’ve never been to Yamashiro, even though I have some matchbooks from there. It’s an L.A. icon.

Chuck, ha ha, looks like we both enjoyed JG’s description of that coffee shop. Ah, if only I go back and dine there…

JG said...

Good Morning GDB.

Here is a link to an image of the old Jolly Roger.

There are some better ones on-line but I can't link to them through my office firewall, so I will post the searches.

Just do a google image search for Jolly Roger Anaheim.

The hotel tore down one of the old wings and added a three-story wing with bigger, more luxurious rooms sometime in the '80's era when I couldn't visit, so there are some "modern" photos in that search. I never saw these rooms.

When we visited with our kids much later, we were always in other hotels with a travel package, and when I was ready to visit on my own after conventions, it was gone.

I recently found my Dad's souvenir matchbook cover from this place.