Disneyland Hotel is the original hotel at Disneyland Resort, and although it’s not the flagship hotel at Disneyland Resort (that distinction belongs to the Grand Californian Hotel), like the Grand, it has a AAA four-diamond rating. It’s essentially a modern, luxury hotel with Disney design touches, but without any escapist themed design. Instead, Disneyland Hotel is themed to “Disneyland,” with its three towers representing Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland.
It may not be the flagship hotel, but it’s our favorite Disney hotel in the United States. I consider Disneyland Hotel to be a lot like “Remember… Dreams Come True!,” the perfect self-referential tribute that excels because of how its treatment of the legacy of Disneyland, but is pretty impressive in its own right. This is truly no easy task, and it’s so easy to go for cheap plays on emotion (liberal use of Walt Disney’s likeness, for instance) rather than creating a quality product that successfully merges great elements of the past with a quality contemporary product, but Disney nailed it when they re-designed the Disneyland Hotel. As it stands, the hotel is a great mix of modern design and retro details.
Now, in fairness, this is not something I would want to see out of every Disney hotel. I am a sucker for themed design, and I love how other Disney resort-hotels manage to transport guests to different times and places through the execution of the hotel. Disneyland Hotel is not themed, it’s decorated. If every Disney hotel were simply a luxury hotel with tributes to the past, it would get old quickly. However, this is the only one, and it executes perfectly on the concept.
Admittedly, I’m a big fan of the history of Disneyland. I’ve been fascinated by Disneyland Hotel since reading Donald Ballard‘s Disneyland Hotel: the Early Years and his follow-up Disneyland Hotel: 1954-1959 (warning: these books are for serious geeks, not casual fans). These books gave me a great appreciation for the hotel even before we ever stayed there, and Mr. Ballard’s presentation on Disneyland Hotel at this year’s D23 Expo was actually a highlight of the weekend for me! Although much has changed at Disneyland Hotel since its early days, it still just feels like a special place thanks to its roots dating back to the Wrathers family and the opening years of Disneyland.
However, it’s not just the hotel’s many nods to Disney history (I wonder how frequently they have to replace the awesome paper-goods in the room because guests take them?) that earn it high marks from us. The hotel is also flat out nice. (more…)