“I want to live here.”
That’s pretty much the best compliment a hotel could possibility garner and one that my 9-year-old daughter bestowed upon the iconic Disneyland Hotel.
This month, the hotel, which holds the title of being the first hotel in the states to be designed as family-friendly, turns 60. Officially opening a few months after Disneyland itself debuted, the Disneyland Hotel was the first family friendly hotel in an age when the child guest wasn’t a consideration and often not allowed.
The hotel was actually owned by Jack Wrather and his family until 1988, when Disney, finally, acquired it. When they debuted, the hotel boasted family-friendly dining, pools, a putting green, and shuffleboard as well as a toy store and candy shop. They also hold the honor of being the first hotel ever to offer color TVs in every room.
When I was a kid and my family would drive down from San Francisco in our Ford station wagon to go to Disneyland, I would beg and plead to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. But instead of sleeping in close proximity to the happiest place on earth, we would get a random far less expensive (and far less glamorous) motel room a mile or two away. I have distinct memories of beige bedspreads and Magic Finger machines. I dreamed of someday staying at the hotel that was attached to my childhood obsession. I’d have to wait decades, and have a family of my own, before sleeping there. Was it worth the wait? Hells yeah.
My own daughter is lucky enough to have the experience early in her life, and it’s not one that she takes for granted. She knows it’s special. She knows it’s magical. She knows it’s Disney. What are her thoughts on the happiest hotel on earth?
“It’s so cool! I feel like we went back in time to like the ‘50s or something. Right when you walk in there’s a super big map of Disneyland with different rides that light up. I could look at that map for like forever!”
“You know what else is smart? You know when you have to go stand in line to check in? I don’t have to wait with you! They have a TV and chairs that are my size, and I can watch really old Disney cartoons while you get our room keys. I think every hotel should have that!”
“You know how much I love ‘It’s a Small World.’ I really like how they put artwork from the ride around the lobby and in the gift store. There’s old Disneyland art all over the place. It’s really neat that they do that. It’s like you’re still in the parks.”
The Frontier Tower
“We stayed at the Frontier Tower (Mom note: there is also an Adventureland Tower and a Fantasyland Tower). There’s a HUGE model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the lobby of our tower. It would be so cool to have one of those at home! But smaller, that one is really big.”
“You know what happens in the rooms? The headboards of the beds light up! You push a button and it plays a song and fireworks go off! It’s the coolest thing EVER. Plus, the carpet has hidden Mickeys in it and the lights in the bathroom are held up by Mickey’s hands. The beds are really comfy, too. I like that I get my own bed, my own really comfy big bed. The thing is, we aren’t in our room very much. We’re busy having fun in the parks.”
“The Disneyland Hotel has such a cool pool. They have a big water slide that looks like the monorail. There are long lines for it, but it goes quick. They have two big pools, so there’s plenty of room for everyone. My aunt got us a cabana when we were there, which was special. I didn’t spend much time in there, but it was a nice place to take a break.” (Mom note: the cabana on a hot day was AMAZING to have. Comfortable, calm, and cool.)
“I know kids aren’t supposed to like bars, but Trader Sam’s is like the coolest bar ever. When adults order certain drinks, crazy things happen like lights flash, ships sink, and volcanos erupt! Plus they have yummy drinks and foods for kids, too!” (Mom note: Children are allowed inside Trader Sam’s before 7 p.m.)