Monday, August 24, 2020

Disneyland Hotel at Night, September 1983

Today's photos are from Lou and Sue... you know them, you love them! Back in 1983, Lou walked around the Disneyland Hotel property and took a series of rare night photos. The prints had turned pretty red, and I did my best to restore them; the results aren't perfect, but they are still worth a look, I think you'll agree!

I don't have much useful information to add, since I am not familiar with the Hotel from any era, much less from the 1980s, so for the most part the pictures will have to speak for themselves. If any of you have fun facts, please chime in.

Here we are at the entrance to one of the towers - not sure which one - you can see a crowd of people to the right, perhaps waiting for their turn to check in. Is that little vehicle what passed for the Hotel tram back then, or is it just some sort of service vehicle? Maybe they would drive you and your luggage over to the appropriate tower.

Chow time!

There's a classic view, with the iconic neon sign on top. The "D" was auctioned off in Van Eaton Gallery's "That's From Disneyland!" auction back in 2018  (jump to item #116 if you are interested) for $75,000. I've heard that magician David Copperfield bought it.

Not surprisingly, Lou's eye was drawn to the marina, with it's very large "lake" providing lovely reflections.

"Atari Adventures"? Was this some sort of video game arcade? I wouldn't expect it to be open to the elements like this. Does anybody know what this was? 

Notice the little lighthouse in the lower left, perhaps this was where guests could steer miniature RC Jungle Cruise boats around.

There's the cutest li'l tugboat you'll ever see; was it strictly decorative, or could it be used to rescue folks who didn't have the strength to muscle their pedal boat back to shore? Everything sure looks pretty with the combination of warm and cool lighting.

Jutting out from the right looks like what might be a bandstand. Did they have live music (perhaps big bands) playing here on summer nights? 

There are a couple of shots of this pagoda-like structure. A restaurant? Bar? Nightclub? Notice the speakers, which probably blasted death metal at high volume day and night.

I could imagine spending a long, hectic day in the park, and then coming back to the hotel for a swim, a nap, and maybe a nice dinner and cocktail. How civilized!

Waterfalls? Or fountains? I can't quite tell! I know there used to be some waterfalls that guests could walk behind, they were removed a few years back, sadly. I love how they used multiple levels for visual interest.

A big THANK YOU to Lou and Sue!


Nanook said...

My intimate knowledge of the DL Hotel is only slightly better than yours, but... The 1st & 3rd images capture the Marina Tower. And as for those 'speakers' - "trumpet projectors" might be a more-appropriate name. Heaven help the ears that would suffer having to listen to any music resembling that of 'death metal' - at low, or high volumes. (At least there wouldn't be any low-end, to speak of-!)

And yes, that's the waterfall guests could walk behind. It was in front of the Bonita Tower.

Thanks to Lou & Sue and you too, Major.

Nanook said...


I forgot - that's the Atari Adventure - "the video game room for the whole family". It was partially-submerged, just below the dock. The center and dock, above, could be used for private parties. Major - I hear tell you had a catered, 18th birthday party there-?


The marina at this time was known as SEAPORTS OF THE PACIFIC and featured restaurants shops and entertainment from Japan, China, Mexico , Polynesia and the West Coast of the USA. Signs around the complex -designed by imagineer Jim Michaelson of the Disneyland Railroad and Jungle Cruise attraction poster fame , invited guests to “explore exotic Hong King”, “Meet the Australians”, “See Romantic San Francisco” etc......

Those fountains are part of the Wonderful World of Water - a assortment of waterfalls of many sizes with grottos and pathways for guests to explore ( sometimes slippery) some of the pathways went into small caves and passageways - one leading right behind the widest and tallest falls. The fountains at night changed colors and moods and originally included specialty recorded music by the MUZAK corporation who also provided the original show music for the Hotel’s Dancing Waters show.

Great and rare images of the period of time I became acquainted with The Disneyland Hotel.

TokyoMagic! said...

There were remote control boats in the Marina, but the Jungle Cruise themed boats weren't added until after the Marina area was removed and the hotel grounds were reworked in preparation for the "Disneyland Resort." That lighthouse is a part of the original remote control boats. For a period of time, when Disney was managing the Queen Mary in Long Beach, there was a replica of it sitting out in the Marina, as well.

As Nanook mentioned, the hotel arcade was mostly below the water level. You can see a gangplank on the far right of that pic. I believe that was the way that guests got over to the stairway, which led down to the entrance of the arcade.

These are great nighttime shots of the Hotel grounds! Thank you, Lou, Sue and the Major, too!

TokyoMagic! said...

I forgot to mention that the Seaports of the Pacific structures were still standing until early 2011. At that time, they were demolished, along with the sunken waterfall area in front of the Bonita Tower.

K. Martinez said...

Wow! These nighttime images are great. The Disneyland Hotel surely was a magical place back then. I feel lucky to have stayed there a few times before it was bought out by Disney.

Thanks to all the readers for the excellent and detailed information on the Hotel. Thanks to Lou and Sue for the wonderful nighttime photos.

Sue, I'm so amazed at all the wonderful photos your dad took. They have been a real treasure and source of joy for this longtime Disney fan. Thank you again!

Thanks to you too, Major. You did a great job restoring the images.

DrGoat said...

I'm definitely with K. I'm going to take a bit and really soak up the images. We were lucky too to have stayed there a few times and the feeling really comes through in these pics. Nightime was pretty magical back then around the hotel. It was like Disneyland during the day and the hotel at night. After that you're all ready to fall asleep in a bed whose headboard plays 'When You Wish Upon a Star', with twinkling lights.
Thanks so much Lou & Sue, and thank you Major.

DrGoat said...

PS Thanks for all the info. Never knew of the Atari Arcade. That sounds like a fun nighttime thing to do at the hotel. Looked up pics of it and it looks pretty neat.
Thanks everyone.

Kel said...

Wow! I really miss the way the hotel used to be. That arcade was awesome! It was under the water and had all the latest (at the time) games! There used to be pedal boats you could rent and cruise around the marina's waters.

There used to also be remote control boats you could control with a nice steering wheel. The cool part was you could drive those R/C boats into mini ports and caves/arches to set off lights or various movements (similar to a shooting gallery response when you hit a target).

The overall feel was relaxing and tropical. There were also beautiful water features you could walk through. Here's an amazing video showcasing this: (somebody had a great recorder way back when!)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, death metal is like jazz, you have to educate your ear to truly appreciate its beauties. Note to self: I need more trumpet projectors in my life.

Nanook, I wish I’d had a catered 18th birthday party there. Or anywhere.

Mike Cozart, it was like a mini-EPCOT! Why travel to any of those exotic locations when you could just go to Seaports Of The Pacific? Plus you don’t have to learn any foreign phrases (“Where is the bathroom?”). “Meet the Australians”, don’t mind if I do! Boy, I sure love the Wonderful World of Water idea. Winding paths through caves and passages, with waterfalls and fountains? It really WOULD be “wonderful”.

TokyoMagic!, well that explains why I can’t see any of the little Jungle Cruise boats. It’s too bad Disney isn’t still running the Queen Mary, maybe they would have put some money into keeping that landmark from rusting away. I like the idea of a sunken room, be it a restaurant, arcade, or donut shop.

TokyoMagic!, when I read about the removal of the waterfalls I was really disappointed!

K. Martinez, you WERE lucky to have stayed there. Lou really did take a lot of great photos (and from what Sue tells me, we have barely scratched the surface). My restoration efforts didn’t pay off very well on these, but the photos were too good to skip.

DrGoat, I wonder how late the bars and restaurants stayed open at the Disneyland Hotel? If somebody stayed at the park until midnight, would they have been able to have a nice margarita by the lake before going to bed? It sounds pretty nice, if so! Did the headboards really play music??

DrGoat, yeah, the Atari Arcade was a new one on me.

Kel, thank you for the link to the YouTube video, it really looks beautiful with all of those streams and waterfalls and grottoes. Such a shame that they tore it all out! I always appreciate it when designers play with different levels - it gives the guests the feeling of exploring rather than just walking through a flat feature. I’m sure the hotel is still very nice, but they’ve lost some of the “cool” factor.

Omnispace said...

Photos like these remind me of how much I missed on our visits by never hopping over to the Hotel. It looks like there was quite a lot to see and do - so much activity going on in the evening. I like the photos with the lit-up hotel rooms floating over the water like paper lamps, their occupants silhouetted in the windows. Thanks L&S!

Hmmm... those water garden descriptions sound familiar - like the Moana attraction proposed for Epcot.

JG said...

Thanks Lou and Sue. I don't think I ever saw the hotel at night in this era. These are all new to me, except I think the first one is taken at the lobby entrance, which looks similar to this today.

I can confirm from our one stay here that the grounds are very special at night, even without the waterfalls. Everything is very lush and overgrown, with subtle night lighting, and it is very quiet, in spite of being so close to the traffic.

Major, Dr. Goat is right, the headboards are ornately carved with a scene of SBC and Tinker Belle. There's a control that triggers an LED light effect of her wand and fireworks, with a little soundtrack. It's fun the first two or three times, but wears on you after a bit. I can see how kids would be amazed. I think this feature is relatively new due to the tech used.

I think my favorite part of DLH is that it is (or seems) less popular with toddler families, and so is much quieter (at least it was for us) than the Grand Californian, where some little one always seems to be pitching a fit in the public rooms or walking into the bar soaking wet from the pool.

In fact, that is something that the DLH is lacking, there are no grand public spaces like the GC lobby or other typical hotel. Each tower has a low-key elevator lobby at the ground level with some seating, and the main lobby for check-in is similar, but the only real connecting public space is the exterior pool and gardens. Even the restaurants and bars are fairly tiny, which is sometimes a problem. It really feels small in spite of the size of the complex. If it were not for the $300/night premium over and above a regular hotel rate one pays to be near Disneyland, this would be a fairly unremarkable corporate hotel.

Major, I am not sure that the bars stay open past midnight, but on my last solo trip I left the Park about 0900PM because it was cold and rainy. I took the monorail out, and had a nice cocktail (or two) in the Grand Californian bar. It's pretty quiet then and was a great place to rest up by the fire before my long walk back to the convention center hotel.

Thanks everyone.


DrGoat said...

Major & JG, I think it was our trip in '95 where we encountered the headboard. As JG said, it was really cool at first and then it did wear thin.
I think Trader Sam's stayed open late, but not sure of the time. I was up in the room usually by 11.


The submerged Atari Arcade structure was originally built as a sales office for the “boat shows” in the marina. At one time all the sailboats and cabin cruisers etc on display were changed to reflect new models - they added to the marina feel but could also be purchased or information on them obtained. The agents were based in the “new” Dana Point harbor marina completed in 1968.

zach said...

Thanks for these scans. I have loved the hotel in all it's iterations, day or night.

Long story but in a few sentences. We were just hanging around the grounds while visiting the resort after they took away the falls, etc. We were by the Old Faithful type geyser and water feature added as an homage to the former falls. We were taking a selfie when a well dressed CM offered to take the picture for us. She asked us about our visit, how you doing, staying at the resort?, etc. Just a nice conversation. We said no but we would be back some day. As she left she handed us her card and said to ask for the Friends and Family rate and mention her name. Of course we said thanks not knowing who she was.

After she was gone I looked at her card. She was General Manager of the DL hotel! I can't remember her name, darn it!

So, a year later when we were checking in they were as nice as can be, as usual. So I mentioned how nice we were treated last time when we weren't even guests. Some how her name was dropped and when we got to the room it was a suite! Sweet!

Thanks Lou and Sue and Major, too. Fun memories,


Nanook said...

@ zach-

It's nice to know that sort of thing is still "allowed" on a Disney property. They are so-often needlessly strait-laced and corporate with little leeway for real customer service.

Chuck said...

Zach, that's an awesome story.

My wife and I stayed there on our two-year anniversary (I had a surprise package all set up the year before when a pesky deployment got in the way). When I checked in mid-afternoon while my wife was off shopping in the Park, blissfully unaware of my plans, the receptionist asked if we were staying for a special occasion. I mentioned it was our anniversary.

She wished me what sounded like a very sincere congratulations, and suddenly we had a Marina view room high in the Sierra Tower. Later, after I surprised my wife with dinner at the Hotel and magically produced a room key, we found a complimentary bottle of champagne and two pieces of cheesecake in our room. It's touches like that that really make a stay special.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Matthew - I just NOW saw your "late" response to my questions on GDB for August 21. THANK YOU for responding with more JC stories - I can't get enough of 'em. And PLEASE DO share ALL of those JC photos you mentioned - we would love to see you in action!

Major - I tried to leave a message on that August 21 post...but you "close/lock" the older posts, right?? I tried unsuccessfully several times to post, but then figured that was probably the case.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, THANK YOU for all your work done on these pictures!

I didn't stay at the Disneyland Hotel after 1974, so I missed this hotel era, sadly. Thanks to Nanook, Mike, TM!, Ken, DrGoat, Kel, JG, Zach and Chuck, for all your wonderful stories and descriptions - now I know what I was missing. Btw, my dad took pictures of lots of those other things you mentioned, during the daytime, in this hotel area. I don't think I've scanned those, yet, for the Major - but will do so, in the future.

Omnispace, I absolutely LOVE your description:
I like the photos with the lit-up hotel rooms floating over the water like paper lamps, their occupants silhouetted in the windows.
Now, I'm seeing that 4th picture in a whole new way and I love it, thank you!

Isn't that tiki bar located somewhere around here, now? Meet me there in 30 minutes. I'll save seats.


Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I have no idea if the grounds at the hotel would be as special since the recent “upgrades”; the only thing I’ve seen that looked kind of fun was the water slides that looked like the Monorails. Thanks for the description of the headboards; I sure would like the option to turn the musical feature off! “…walking into the bar soaking wet from the pool”, ha ha (and also, yuck). Do they sit on a bar stool, dripping with water? I agree, there is something to be said for grand public spaces. That’s one of the reasons the Contemporary Hotel in Florida is so stunning - the huge atrium. I’m somehow not surprised that the bars don’t stay open until 2:00 (the usual hour for “last call” it seems); it IS Disney after all.

DrGoat, I assume that the musical headboard plays a brief song and then goes quiet! Imagine if the thing blatted all night, yikes.

Mike Cozart, I think I’ve actually seen photos of boat shows at the Marina, maybe on Don Ballard’s blog - not really sure where. I’m sure that was a paid sponsorship deal with the Hotel.

zach, thanks for the great stories and fun memories of your stays at the Disneyland Hotel! So nice that the General Manager stopped to chat with you; I’m sure that this was part of her duties - to go around and talk to guests, and if they were “worthy”, she would wave her magic wand and you’d get a discount. What a nice surprise for you and your wife to get that suite, too!

Nanook, hear hear!

Chuck, Thanks for another great feel-good story. The lesson is to always tell the receptionist that it is your anniversary! ;-) Cheesecake and champagne, very nice.

Lou and Sue, I just sent you an email about the comments, but I will tell anybody who is still reading that after three days, I set it so that comments are subject to my approval. This is to help mitigate the spam comments, which can at times be awful and inappropriate - and numerous. You can still leave a comment, it will just take a while for me to see the email notification and approve it!

Lou and Sue, I wasn’t entirely happy with my work on these photos, but the views are so rare and unusual that I had to share them! I think 1974 would have still been a good time to visit the Disneyland Hotel, from what understand anyway. Someday this whole blog is going to be “All Lou and Sue, all the time”!

JG said...

@Zach and Chuck, what terrific stories! Thanks for sharing those.

Major, yes the headboard animation and music lasts only a few seconds. But you can push the button as often as you like.

And yes, the wet people did sit on the furniture. We had to root around to find a couch that wasn't slightly wet. I don't know why the bar staff would not encourage pool users to sit outside, except that they can't tell anyone anything now, apparently.

A recent upgrade project for the GC was to add a pool bar, which is a pretty common hotel amenity. I haven't been back since that was finished, but it would be welcome.