The announcement that the Disneyland Resort would be building a new luxury hotel on 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.