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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Anaheim Vacationland: The Grand Hotel

Guests visiting Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Anaheim have always had a multitude of choices when it came to lodging. Of course, everyone wanted to stay at the grandest hotel around- the world famous DISNEYLAND Hotel, but a possible lack of available rooms and budgetary considerations often meant that guests had to look elsewhere for a place to stay. Just past Harbor Blvd, on Freedman (Now Disney) Way was the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel was the only high rise hotel east of DISNEYLAND and it offered added amenities that the smaller motels and inns surrounding the park did not. The hotel's single tower also looked awfully familiar to anyone who had ever been to the official hotel of the Magic Kingdom....

As it turned out, when the original owner went looking for a suitable design for his hotel, he found it just across the DISNEYLAND parking lot- at the DISNEYLAND Hotel. Legend has it that he saw the construction of the DISNEYLAND Hotel's Sierra Tower and thought it would be perfect for his hotel- without all the Disney theming and name, of course. The firm that designed the tower was reluctant to make a copy, however, fearing that they would anger Jack Wrather (operator of the DISNEYLAND Hotel) and Walt Disney. A compromise was quickly found, however- the floor plan would be flipped with the elevator tower placed on the end of the building. Anaheim would get its awfully familiar Grand Hotel. It is unknown whether Disney or Jack Wrather ever realized or cared about the DISNEYLAND Hotel's unofficial "fourth tower".

Today, the Grand Hotel is but a memory. It was imploded in 1998 by The Walt Disney Company as part of the resort expansion that brought us Disney California Adventure. Future plans call for a massive new parking structure to be built in its place to free up more land for future dreams.