A Long Time Coming: Disneyland’s Forgotten Hotel Expansion Plans

The announcement that the Disneyland Resort would be building a new luxury hotelon property has been described as a surprising development. But, for those who have been following the creation of the Resort, it is not entirely unexpected. Some 25 years ago, when the “Disney Decade” kicked off with exciting announcements about resort expansion, hotels were an integral part of the plans.

The location of what will be Disney’s new luxury hotel is highlighted here on the cover of the 1991 brochure for the Disneyland Resort - Photo Credit: Disney

The location of what will be Disney’s new luxury hotel is highlighted here on the cover of the 1991 brochure for the Disneyland Resort - Photo Credit: Disney

A map of the proposed Resort shows four hotels filling the western edge of the property. The northernmost hotel is highlighted in blue - Photo Credit: Disney

A map of the proposed Resort shows four hotels filling the western edge of the property. The northernmost hotel is highlighted in blue - Photo Credit: Disney

A “Resort Hotel District” was proposed for the entire west side of the property. Four hotels were included: an almost completely rebuilt Disneyland Hotel, and three new hotels themed to famous California landmarks. Although they were not identified in the diagram, there was a water-color rendering of the northernmost hotel on the back of the brochure. Identified as the Magic Kingdom Hotel, the palm-shaded structure with red tile roof was intended to represent California missions, specifically Santa Barbara.

The Magic Kingdom Hotel was described as “reflecting the historical Spanish grandeur of the Santa Barbara Mission - Photo Credit: Disney

The Magic Kingdom Hotel was described as “reflecting the historical Spanish grandeur of the Santa Barbara Mission - Photo Credit: Disney

By 1993, the Walt Disney Company had pulled back on the lavish proposals for the Disneyland Resort. The second theme park, Westcot Center, was replaced with the more modestly-scaled Disney’s California Adventure. The Hotel District was also curtailed, with the refurbished Disneyland Hotel and recently acquired Disneyland Pacific Hotel joined by the Magic Kingdom Hotel, now in a more compact location. Across Disneyland Drive and adjacent to DCA was a spacious luxury hotel: the Grand Californian.

The first California Adventure map shows the Magic Kingdom Hotel location, identified by the number eight, and highlighted in blue.

By 1996 the plans were further refined and the Magic Kingdom Hotel was eliminated entirely. It should be noted, however, that the location was marked with no development, but rather a simple surface parking lot occupying a choice corner location inside the Resort.

The last map released to the public before ground was broken for construction still depicted differences with what was finally built.

The cover of the July 26, 1996 Disneyland Line showed a highly stylized depiction of the Resort. The location for the luxury hotel that has just been announced is highlighted in blue.

Whatever the reason — and there are many that could be cited — it has taken 25 years for this vision to be realized. Aside from an additional wing to the Grand Californian, this is the first hotel construction since 2001. No theme has been announced for the new luxury hotel, and only a few images have been presented. But, looking back over the genesis of this project, there is certainly a lot of inspiration from which to draw.

A view of the Disneyland Resort as constructed shows the area where the new hotel will be built, highlighted in blue. A new parking structure is proposed to the west.

Source: Laughing Place

Banner Photo Credit: Disney