The Grand Californian Grand Opening
Page 15 of 15
Interview with Peter Dominick
Peter Dominick chats with reporters including LaughingPlace.com's Doobie Moseley.
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After the ceremony, I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Dominick, the architect of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. The transcript of that interview follows:
LaughingPlace.com: What other Disney projects have you worked on?
Peter Dominick: Well the Wilderness Lodge was the first project that we did. And we also designed the Settlement Junction which has not been built. We built the Wilderness Lodge Vacation Villas which have just opened and are very, very successful. We're hearing that there's selling at $4 million a month, I can hardly get the word out, it's astounding how popular they are. And this project, the Animal Kingdom Lodge which is going to open in another six weeks and is going to be truly remarkable and a couple of others that didn't get built.
LP: The Grand Californian is, at least superficially, similar to the Wilderness Lodge. Can you talk about the differences?
PD: The primary difference is that the Wilderness Lodge was conceived as a resort in the wilderness so it's a standalone building, so it didn't have to deal with all the urban complexities that this project had to. So from a basic planning point of view we had to, here, we had to take into account the resort district with the hotels, the fact that it's at the edge of a theme park, we had a monorail running through this, and all those forces shaped this building in a way that makes it - in some ways - more complex, perhaps more intimate, than the Lodge itself. It's also refined -you're absolutely correct, it's a building that looked at those kind of rustic traditions and then moved them into the more refined and elegant and crafted world.
LP: The guests of a hotel like this are going to be families and not necessarily the upscale adults that you might find at hotel of this caliber in another location. Do you do anything differently with that in mind?
PD: Actually, no.
LP: So you don't dumb it down?
PD: We don't dumb down at all. We actually went up, here. I'm a great believer that in some ways we don't give enough credit to our audiences and I want to touch every level of the audience. Yes, there is the fun side of it which is the dancing bears and some of the ceramic characters, some of the storytelling that takes place in the restaurants, but by and large what you're seeing is a truly crafted - the art of the craft and the craft of the art which I think people are responding to in a time when we've seen an awful lot of building that don't get fully detailed or are detailed in ways that are cold and they don't have the kind of textural quality to them that people appreciate.
We had that discussion a lot, as you can imagine, during the design process. "Well what are you doing? Where are the Hidden Mickeys"? And I really didn't pay that much attention to it. And it was a little unnerving because Arts and Crafts is not something you would imagine kids would - it's an idea or theme where you can say "that's pretty serious, what's the fun in that." But surprisingly, here's what happens. The kids come into this place and they go "wow. this is cool." And I've had a whole bunch of little kids come up to me and say "way cool, man". So that feels good. As an architect, that's what you want.
LP Are there any design elements that a layman like myself should be on the lookout for?
PD: A lot of fun details. The dancing bears at the check-in, if you haven't looked at those closely, that came out of a really interesting French tradition which we completely reinterpreted from a porcelain craft into a ceramic craft. And the woman who did it is a woman named Susan Dannenfelser, she's an artisan who's up in Oakland and I think she did a spectacular job. They're really fun, they're very unique. There're some secret places in this place that are really thrilling. If you can get a room right over the Monorail, that's a "Wow." Have that Monorail go right underneath you, that's fantastic. Or in the North Courtyard the detail in the garden has to do with winds. We actually call it the Court of the Winds because the Monorail goes through and it gets the trees spinning. You'll see a wonderful little symbol in the base of that of the wind blowing and you'll also see it in the light fixtures.
The dancing bears
LP: There are at least three Disney characters that made into the rooms. Was that giving in?
PD: No no, that's fun. That is fun and kids like that. Adults like it and there are fans who spend their lives looking for these things.
LP: I'm happy those fans are around.
PD: I am too.
- January 3 Grand
Pictures from inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
- January 11 Grand
More pictures from inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
- John Frost Grand
Californian Hotel Review
John discusses the decor and amenities of the hotel available to all Disneyland Resort visitors.
-- Posted February 13, 2001
-- Story and Pictures by Rebekah and Doobie Moseley
-- Video by Rebekah Moseley