This past Sunday, I spent an hour or two wandering around
the Disneyland Hotel.
Photo by Jim Hill
Which was something of a challenge. Given all of the construction
that's going on at that Resort right now.
"So what's going on behind all of those construction fences?,"
you ask. Well, to be honest, there wasn't any construction going on this past
But - looking down into that walled-off central courtyard area
from the 11th floor of the Disneyland Hotel's Magic Tower - it's obvious
that they're getting ready to remove this Resort's old "Dancing Waters" show ...
... not to mention ripping out Horseshoe Falls (i.e. the
man-made waterfalls that used to cascade down in front of the entrance of the Dreams
And as for the Disneyland Hotel's Cove Pool, a bulldozer &
backhoe have already cleared away the sandy beach, wading pool and hot tub /
spa that used to be located in this part of the Resort.
"Okay. So all of the stuff that used to be located in the
southwest corner of the Disneyland Hotel's central courtyard is now being
removed. So what's going to replace the Cove Pool area?," you query. Well, the
Cove Pool area is being turned into a beautiful manicured lawn. Whereas the
large lawn area that this Resort used to use for all of its outdoor events
& receptions is now being turned into a Disneyland-themed pool and
Does it seem somewhat bizarre to you that this Resort is
replacing a lawn with a pool and a pool with a lawn? Not to John Mauro. As WDI's Development
Manager for this multi-year renovation of the Disneyland Hotel, Mauro is using
this redo as a way to finally address problems that have plagued this Resort for
"You have to understand that the Disneyland Hotel was built
in bits and pieces over the past 50 years. Which is why - while this Resort has
some great individual elements - it doesn't have great flow-thru. The Disneyland Hotel doesn't tell one cohesive
story," Mauro explained. "That's why Imagineering is abandoning the piecemeal approach that we typically
took when dealing with the Disneyland Hotel and are now facing all of these
issues head on."
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One of the biggest challenges that the Imagineers are
dealing with on this redo are the Disneyland Hotel's long-standing line-of-sight
issues. To explain: Thanks to the way that the Never Land Pool is currently situated
(i.e. blocking the view of most Guests as they exit this Resort's registration
area), many people get disoriented after they exit the lobby of the Magic Tower
and then have real difficulty when it comes to finding their hotel room.
Well, this is one of the main reasons that WDI is doing that
pool / lawn, lawn / pool swap. So that they can then radically improve the
sightlines across the Disneyland Hotel's central courtyard. Not to mention - by
adding a footbridge across the Resort's new pool - the Imagineers will make it
that much easier for Guests to quickly cross this expanse and then get to their
And then - to make sure that there'll no longer be any
confusion about which tower is the Dreams, the Magic or the Wonder - the Disneyland
Hotel's trio of towers is being renamed. What's more, each of these towers
(when this Resort's renovation is completed in 2012, that is) will feature
oversized marquees which will be loaded with classic Disneyland artwork. So
that Guests from 100 yards away will now be able to tell the Adventure tower
with the Fantasy or Frontier tower.
Speaking of Disneyland ... Given that this Resort is located
right next door to the Happiest Place on Earth (More importantly, that
Disneyland visitors have been staying at this hotel for over 5 decades now) ...
Well, the Imagineers are now looking to tap directly into those 55 years of
"We're definitely looking to update the overall look of this
Resort, give it much more of a modern feel," John said. "But at the same time,
this property is a very important part of our portfolio. The Disneyland Hotel
started it all. With is why we're now looking to capitalize on people's
nostalgia for this Resort and that theme park."
Which explains that replica of the iconic Disneyland sign
which will towers over the entrance to this hotel's two waterslides. Which -
appropriately enough - are themed around the Monorail.
Mind you, for every piece that celebrates Disneyland's past,
there'll be something new. Like those six cabanas that are being built
poolside. Which will provide Guests who are willing to pay a premium with a
flat screen TV, a refrigerator, safe, phone, and ceiling fan.
There'll even be elements of this redo that will celebrate
Disneyland's past while -- at the same time - give modern-day visitors the
sorts of dining experiences that they crave. Take - for example - that "smart,
casual" dining area that's being built in the Hotel's central courtyard area.
Which is using Disneyland's old Tahitian Terrace restaurant as the inspiration
for its look and menu items.
"We'll be doing all this plus updating the Resort's amenities. Giving people
places where they can plug in their cell phones & computers. Not to mention
adding fun touches like light-up headboards that use fiber optics to recreate
Disneyland's nightly fireworks," Mauro continued. "Our ultimate goal here is to
turn this Resort into a place that's far easier to get around but not so easy
And the good news is ... Given that the Disneyland Hotel
renovation actually got underway in August of 2009, this project are more than
a third of the way done at this point. John anticipates that - if everything
stays on schedule - the first Guests will then be able to slide down that Monorail-themed
waterslide sometime in the late Spring / early Summer of 2012.
"We're doing things in phases, redoing one tower at a time
so that all of this construction doesn't then have too huge of an impact on the
overall Guest experience for people staying at the Disneyland Hotel. But we're
not doing things piecemeal," Mauro concluded. "This time, we're doing it all
and we're doing it right."
Hey did anyone something about the planned faux monorail trains? In other words: two more monorail trains that don't work.
No one has mentioned it, but now that you have, their supposed intent of "theming" the courtyard to early Disneyland seems to be faulty in that they are pulling out actual early Disneyland elements (falls) and other highly themed elements (Neverland Pool, Hook's Point) just to put in a generic water play structure (similar to the one at Howard Johnson's) with a monorail facade (Six Flags kind of theming) and Disneyland sign.
As for their not working, good call.
I am saddened by some of the changes that are being made (the loss of the Horseshoe Falls, the Koi fish ponds, the quiet landscaping that allowed you to stroll in a parklike area in the middle of the hubub that is the Disneyland Hotel), but I understand that while I may enjoy the quiet stroll, others may see it as frustrating. I hope that Disney will try to keep or add some quiet landscaping and areas into the new Disneyland Hotel courtyard they are creating , to help balance the glitz and glamour that they are putting in.
It's a shame. I sure won't be staying there anytime soon and I've stayed with my kids at the Disneyland Hotel for years. Yes the pirate theme pool replacing the marina was a mistake but this is worse. Gone are the dancing waters, gone are the WONDERFUL waterfalls they used to have, gone is the lovely sandy beach and small pool... for what?? GRASS??? My kids don't want to sit on grass but they loved the sandy beach. They should have redone the pool but left the waterfalls, dancing waters and the cove pool. Guess my hotel $$ will be going to someone besides Disney from now on. Not that they still won't make a bundle on the park itself but... what a shame. End of an era. Just another cheesy hotel now.
Please, the people complaining about the changes act like the hotel was something special, when it was pretty much a dump. I think its a huge improvement.