Now let's do something about the last hotel...
If you've been to the Disneyland Resort lately, you've seen all that construction...
Not just in the parks, but around the entire resort. And one of those projects that is about to end is the renovation/makeover of the Disneyland Hotel. After almost three years, the hotel is in the final stages of turning itself into an actual Disney Hotel. I know for some that might sound confusing, but those of us that remember, know that it wasn't even owned by the Mouse till 1989.
That's when Jack Wrather's company was bought by Disney, simply to own the hotel. All of their other properties (Queen Mary, The Lone Ranger, ect.), were sold off to try and justify the cost of getting the hotel finally into the Disney family.
And while many, myself included, had hoped that Disney would bulldoze it and put up a Hotel similar to the Disneyland Hotels in Paris, Tokyo or Hong Kong, the state of the economy didn't justify such a dramatic departure. But what has happened is reflective of what the other American Disney Resort has got.
Walt Disney World has the beautiful Contemporary Hotel. It was presented to the world on its opening day back in 1971, and the Imagineers have reflected back to that day in giving us what is essentially the West Coast version of it. While the Contemporary is a retro-version of early 70's design matched with the timeline of when WDW opened up, the Disneyland Hotel here in California is a retro-version of mid 50's design matched with the timeline of when Disneyland opened up. It is in a sentence, our Contemporary Hotel. And they've done a great job taking the bland towers designed by someone not associated with Disney, and turning into something that you could imagine had been all part of the master plan.
From the theming of the blue sky towers, the naming of each one after a land (A Tomorrowland Tower is still being talked about), the lush foliage and pools, to the newly themed restaurants. It's a great improvement. And while I'd still love to see a V(M)ictorian themed hotel (that parking lot looks awful big, doesn't it?), it's nice to see that two of the three Disney Hotels here are up to the name of the man behind it all.
Now if only plans for the Paradise Pier would just fall into place...
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Contemporary By Design...
Posted by Honor Hunter at 7:46 AM
Labels: Design, Disney Hotels, Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland Resort, Imagineering
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My same thoughts exactly in that the Disneyland Hotel now takes on the mantle of being the DLR's version of WDW's "Contemporary" resort hotel. Not a bad thing on the face of it but I do take issue with a lot of the design decisions that were made with regard to the redo.
The all glass skin does not harken back to the 1950s, but rather, the 1970s. So claiming it is an homage to the original 1950s hotel is BS. I have a big problem with trying to identify clean looking all glass all blue multi-story slabs by much more thematically exotic names such as "Adventureland" and Frontierland". Without seeing the names on the small signs out front, or the very minimal landscape and hardscape treatments near the entrances that are supposed to individualize each tower and express the theme, who would ever be able to look up at those sleek blue glass monoliths and think "Adventureland", or "Frontierland"? I challenge any casual visitor (who is not a Disney geek who already knows which is which) to take a quick glance from afar and tell each tower apart, and say which is Frontierland, which is Adventureland, and which is Fantasyland. Maybe if Adventureland Tower featured green glass, Frontierland Tower featured brown glass, etc., perhaps that would make better sense.
I also think the detailing that is supposed to make these towers a "Disney" experience is extremely weak. To walk into the lobbies is to experience finishes and decor that are not unlike any mid-to-upscale airport hotel or business hotel anywhere else in the world. Walk into the lobby of the Grand Californian and you find yourself in a place unlike any other. Walk into the Disneyland Hotel lobbies and aside from some custom carpeting and a few scattered paintings on the walls, and maybe a model or two displayed under glass, what is it about the space that cries out "Disney"?? Nothing. The walls are all boring, the ceilings are all boring, the outside port cocheres are all boring. Even the check-in desks are all boring. Sure, everything is finished in nice looking materials, and on the face of it, the lobbies do indeed look attractive, but so does the lobby of the Marriott here at home. Is it "Disney"? Not so much... If there's one word that can be used to describe the first thing that guests experience when they come to the Disneyland Hotel for the first time (the lobby), that word is "sterile".
There's more, but I've ranted enough. Overall, I'm disappointed with what has been done to the Disneyland Hotel, if for nothing else than this is what we all now have to live with for decades to come. Generic Blandness.
We can only hope that somehow the planets align and when Disney turns their attention to the Paradise Pier hotel, they first thing they do is bring it down with a wrecking ball and star from scratch with something low-rise and thematically more inspired than "contemporary".
While I am inclined to agree that the towers seem sterile and without theme, there are many positives to the 'new' Disneyland Hotel.
I dislike the Contemporary in WDW. There, I said it. It looks dated and boring. I much prefer the Disneyland Hotel. It too is boring in parts but looks new now at least.
Trader Sam's. The coolest new addition to the Disneyland Resort since World of Colour. Period.
Neither the Contemporary nor the Disneyland Hotel ever tried to transport you (overall) to another place and time like the other Disney resort hotels. But there is a kind of retro vibe at the Disneyland Hotel and there is something 'Disney' about being there. The Contemporary always feels like an ageing Vegas mall that has been stripped of decoration to me.
Yes, I would prefer truly immersive hotel experiences. The Miktorian hotels, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge etc..
Coming from the UK I have been to DLRP many many times. The worst Disney hotel (in my opinion) is the Hotel New York. Confused and naive in its poorly executed theme it cringes across a lake, confronted by two (cheaper!) hotels vastly better executed (Sequoia Lodge and Newport Bay Club).
Great post! Welcome back Honor!
The architect up top is right, the Disneyland Hotel is indefensibly bland and boring. Miserable, even. It should not be praised.
And Anonymous points out another terrible Disney hotel... New York in Paris. An awful piece of design by one of the worst living "star"chitects, Mike Graves.
I glad that Disney is at least putting some money into the hotel. Thanks for the update.
In a postcard from far away, the Disneyworld Contemporary Hotel is nice. And while there are some nice touches inside (Mary Blair tiles), the hotel itself is ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE, and always has been. It's cheaply constructed, sterile, and cold. Here's hoping Disney updates it soon to make it a hotel worth staying at.
Growing up in Orange County, The Disneyland Hotel was considered something of a landmark. I don't think that the locals would allow the hotel to be knocked down. If Disney tried it would probably get tagged with landmark status and even extensive remodeling wouldn't be allowed. As for a Victorian hotel; not needed. The Grand California's Craftsman style is much more representative of Southern California than Victorian would be. A Mission styled hotel where the Paradise Pier is or over on the Katella property would be nice though.
I'm indifferent to the "new" Disneyland Hotel, but it's not like what was there before the blue glass was not anything special.
Filled with that horrible wood, tacky chandeliers, and ugly carpeting it looked like one of those awful tacky banquet places from the 60s and 70s (here in Connecticut, in a bit self-deprecating humor, we would always call them "Italian-oriented," because we all had our wedding and Christening receptions at such places).
Never mind the interior decor never matched the exterior suburban office building facades. The iron gates and concrete of the "waterfalls" were particularly ugly, and the grounds today are a marked improvement.
I never heard that the Disneyland Hotel will be a landmark. No one has said it was. The only lamentation I've heard was for the demise of the waterfall, which needed to be demolished. If Disney wanted it gone, no one would have objected. They pretty much gutted the hotel for the makeover. They wouldn't have been able to do this if any preservationist pressed their luck. What saved the hotel was in fact Disney's unwillingness to do something more grand by ridding themselves of the old hotel. Instead, it was a boring makeover in the same footprint.
There are hotels planned for Gardenwalk. I hope Disney purchases it and gets the third gate going.
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