Monday, January 06, 2020

Plaza Inn & Plaza Gardens, 1998

I have more photos from the vast "Mr. X Archives", stored in a climate-controlled vault in Cheyenne Mountain. 

X took some nice pictures of some Plaza features... the Plaza Inn restaurant and the Carnation Plaza Gardens. He loves that Main Street! And looking at this photo, you can see why. Surprisingly elegant for an amusement park - even the outside dining area is lovely, with the wrought iron fence bordered by bright flowers. I can't quite make out what the weather vane is (Disneyland has lots of weather vanes); I could look it up, but I know that one of you knows.

Was this structure based on a historical building, like a number of other Main Street structures? Notice that at this time the restaurant was sponsored by Columbian Coffee. Some strollers are being parked right at the entrance, which seems a little awkward. Why not just to the left or right of it?

Next is a shot of the Carnation Plaza Gardens, with the sign lit up even though it probably wouldn't be full dark for a few hours. Still, it looks great. There are people dining there too; the tent of above the dance floor and stage is to the left; I'm not sure how many classic big bands still performed there by 1998 (though other swing/dance bands played regularly).

Here's an unusual oblique view of the pretty gardens and the small arched bridge (which I believe has been ironed flat in the intervening years), and the northern edge of the Plaza Gardens. It's so strange to see Big Thunder's "hoodoos" sticking up - I have so few photos with that attraction.


Nanook said...


That "footbridge" has always been a lovely touch, evoking a more personal way to enter/egress from that area. Definitely out-of-place with the current-day torrential crowds normally plying the pathway.

Thanks to Mr. X.

TokyoMagic! said...

And just how did they expect everyone to get their "SUV strollers" up and over that arched bridge? Yes, are right about them flattening it out. They did it when the Plaza Gardens was converted into the Princess Fantasy Faire of Fools "meet 'n greet."

Today, most of that planter around the patio of the Plaza Inn, contains tall hedge plants, which prevent passersby from seeing in and diners from seeing out. Maybe soon, Disney will make dining on that patio an "exclusive" experience and charge extra for it.

I did enjoy seeing these photos from the nineties! Thank you, Major and Mr. X, too!


When the Plaza Inn was the Red Wagon Inn is sported a red wagon and horse weathervane. At some point after that it was a gold leafed rooster. A friend of mine said it was also once a gold leafed pineapple ( the symbol of hospitality) I like how open and uncluttered the terrace areas are in these pictures - today it’s claustrophobic with a Disney Vacation club “flower cart” and hordes of stroller parking and those high arches and birthday celebration signs.

I don’t believe the exterior is based on a specific structure but the interior was designed to look like Delmonico's Restaurant in New York during the 1890’s. Disney bought the interior furnishings and woodwork from a massive Los Angeles mansion being torn down fir freeway construction around the time Disneyland construction began. The furnishings were used around the restaurant- mainly dining room highboys and other built in fixtures. Some of the paneling was used as the restroom entry privacy screens and busboys service vestibules. When the Plaza Inn was expanded in 1965 for the park’s 10th, many of antique pieces were removed. During the big remodel in 1998, most of anything reused in 1955 from the demolished mansion was removed- including the original restrooms with the privacy screens.

Andrew said...

Looking at vintage pictures, it seems like there's always a different pattern of bulbs burnt out on the Plaza Gardens sign.

In case anyone cares, my uncle has gifted our family with the opportunity to go to Disneyland this summer! Since I've never been before, I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep from now until we go.

K. Martinez said...

The Plaza has always been the most beautiful part of the park to me. With its turn of the century town park feel and elegant dining spots it was one of my favorite places to relax and dine. Back then, the Plaza Inn and Carnation Plaza Gardens were regular places I went to for lunch and dinner. Lovely images of a bygone era in more ways than one. Thanks Mr. X and Major.

Andrew, WOW! That's cool! I hope you have a great time.

JC Shannon said...

I feel calm and serene after viewing today's scans. Very beautiful, i love Carnation Plaza. Andrew, we will expect a full sit rep when you get back. Thanks to Mr X and Major.

DrGoat said...

Main Street and the Carnation Plaza became my favorite spots in the Park when about turned 50, back at the turn of the century. The Willoughby effect settled in. I was so sorry to see the gardens go.
Andrew, I'm sure everyone here cares. I mean, that's what this is all about. First exciting! Here's hoping the crowd is thin when you visit.
Thanks Major and Mr X.

zach said...

Andrew, since you're probably awake, here's my wish for the best trip ever. There is nothing like that first trip, even today's park.

We never dined in the 'nice' places as a kid. Just couldn't afford it, I guess. Burgers and hot dogs and corn dogs (oh my).

I have always appreciated how well Disney does landscaping. I was watching a video yesterday about the White Pass and Yukon RR out of Skagway and thought wow, the water falls and rock work look like how Disney might design them. Disney has a knack for mimicking nature.

Thanks Mr X and Major. Let's hope nothing happens to the Cheyenne bunker.


Chuck said...

I knew about Fantasy Faire, but I didn't know they'd blown the bridge or messed with the gardens around the Plaza Inn. Glad we have these photos to reinforce our memories while we grump about how they ruin everything.

Andrew, that is really exciting! I hope you have a fantastic time, and I look forward to your upcoming trip report.

dzacher, wait - the White Pass & Yukon wasn't designed by Disney??!!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if they would get rid of those darn water features, they wouldn’t need any bridges at all, am I right??

TokyoMagic!, they can push the SUV strollers over the arched bridges with their motorized scooters. That’s what I do, and if anyone is in my way, that’s THEIR problem. I guess it makes sense that they altered the bridge during the Plaza Gardens redo. I guess it’s nice that they have those hedges at the Plaza Inn now, but I sort of liked being able to watch the crowds go by while I ate.

Mike Cozart, I definitely remember the red wagon weathervane; interesting that it has been a pineapple (!) and a rooster. Now they should make it a dollar sign. I really hate seeing people selling the Disney Vacation Club packages out in the park - for me that kind of thing really spoils the “show”, but they clearly stopped caring about that sort of thing a long time ago. Now that you mention it, I think I remember reading about how Disney got the furnishings and woodwork from an old L.A. mansion - that thing must have been huge. Delmonico’s, eh? I’ve heard of it! I wonder if any Disney execs took the furnishings that were removed from the Plaza Inn? After all, their own mansions can’t be looking all bare and deserted. Thanks as always for all the great info!

Andrew, WOW, what a nice uncle! So exciting. My niece just went last week, and did the whole Galaxy’s Edge thing and the whole deal. It was busy, but she had fun, so hopefully you’ll have a wonderful time too. And reading ahead, I see that Jonathan is requesting a full trip report, which I also want to see!

K. Martinez, I have mentioned how, as a callow youth, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of Main Street and the Plaza, but over the years I grew to love those places. I never ate at the Plaza Gardens, but did eat at the Plaza Inn, and remember the food being pretty decent.

Jonathan, calm and serene is a nice way to be. I’m glad you enjoyed these!

DrGoat, ha ha, “the Willoughby effect”, I love it. It’s funny, I never hear anything about “Fantasy Faire” now that it has been around for a few years, while I at least used to read regular reports on the bands and swing dancing back during the Carnation Plaza Gardens days.

dzacher, I think that Andrew will do great, he already seems to know the park so well - pretty amazing since he’s on the other side of the country. And like you, it was always burgers and fries for us when I was a kid. I didn’t eat at any of the nicer places until later, and even then I haven’t been to most of them. I’d love to take that train in Alaska, from Skagway (which I have been to!), sounds very cool. I remember one train ride that we took from Fairbanks to Denali, and we would pass over rivers full of red sockeye salmon.

Chuck, they used 2000 tons of TNT to remove that bridge! It was like “The Bridge Over the River Kwai”. Maybe Disney designed that railroad, but didn’t want people to know it because the company is so publicity-shy?

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thank you, Mr. X! As always, your pictures are beautiful!

Mike C., you ARE a walking Disney encyclopedia! I love the background info you shared today.

Andrew, you are going to have the best time ever! - especially with all the background knowledge you have about Disneyland. I ditto what DrGoat said - that we all care about your trip! We want to see LOTS of pictures and hear all about your experiences, as soon as you get back. (You'll end up with enough material for years of Bayern Kurve Blog.)

Major - hahaha! - about pushing the SUV stroller with the motorized scooter. :o)

Thanks, Major and Mr. X!


Steve the fisherman said...

I loved the Carnation Plaza Gardens. My parents and I would sit and they had a food window and an ice cream window. We would order strawberry sundaes and they were huge and so good. I remember the sunny days and warmth and sitting enjoying and laughing and talking about what we would do next. Thank you for posting this it made me smile.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love Mr. X and the Cheyenne bunker.

Thanks Major for engineering this post, and to Mike C for the deep background information.

I'm going to blame federal accessibility regulations for the change to the bridge, strollers could be part of the equation too.

This was a good Main Street. The red and white color scheme seems appropriate.

We usually had dinner at the French Market, but once or twice we visited the Plaza Inn. Maybe the FM was closed or something. I remember thinking how fancy the Plaza Inn was in comparison to the other DL restaurants. One visit in particular, there was a strolling violinist. Dad tipped him to come and play at our table, the song "My Little Alice Blue Gown". Mom cried, she was happy and embarrassed all at once. That was a good memory.

I had dinner here on a recent solo trip, but it wasn't the same.

Andrew!! Enjoy your trip to Disneyland. We expect to hear all about it, so take good notes and lots of pictures.


Andrew said...

Wow. THANK YOU so much for all the well-wishes, everyone!! I'm truly honored by your support. The shock is still wearing off, as up until yesterday I wasn't expecting to visit CA until at least 2021 (and was planning to use a big chunk of my own money for it). I will definitely make the best of the trip, especially by taking lots of pictures and writing notes. Thanks again!

Even better, I'll be visiting WDW and Universal in early April with school, so I'll be at both coasts just months apart.

Melissa said...

What do they need so many weathervanes for in Southern California? ;)

Congrats on the upcoming trip, Andrew! Every East Coaster/WDW regular should get at least one chance to see the original!

You may joke, Major, but I have actually seen people pushing strollers from ECVs in the parks. Whether or not that's safer than people taking their kids on the ECV with them is anybody's guess. As a person with disabilities myself, I know it's way too easy to judge from the outside, but I've seen kids fall off and I think if I was a parent and had to choose between being safe or not going I'd probably lean more towards the latter.