Friday, June 24, 2011

Remember the book I mentioned on Monday about the Disneyland Hotel? I never thought that I would fall in love with a book on a subject like this. And yet, having had a chance to have a look yesterday at some of its content, I have fallen in love with it and I have a strong feeling that it will be featured on my top-5 Disney history books of the year.

It contains so many never-seen-before photos of Walt and Roy that this in itself would convert me. But it also has a tremendous amount of information about the early days of the park and its surroundings, which really helps. More than anything, what generates my enthusiasm is that Don Ballard has clearly gathered everything there is to know on the subject... and I really mean everything.

Here is what Don had to say about this new book and about the amazing new documents he found:

[I was recently allowed access to a storage vault owned by the Wrather family, original owners of the Disneyland Hotel. What was contained within the vault absolutely blew me away. I scanned over 600 photographs detailing many historical happenings through the years at the Disneyland Hotel. There were 1955 groundbreaking photos which I know have not been seen in over 55 years. Pictures showing Roy Disney and Anaheim officials at this event along with an amazing group shot of all in attendance. I also scanned more than 20 new pictures of Walt Disney at the Disneyland Hotel. There were over 120 new pictures from the Hotel's "official" opening day in August of 1956. These not only show the many celebrities and guests but also the Disneyland Band in attendance, the dinner banquet and many new pictures of original partner Helen Alvarez. Many color shots (very rare) from the 50's. From a historical perspective, this was a very significant find and I cannot possibly do justice to the contents in an email.

And if this weren't enough, I also have cans of film (which I have since converted to DVD) on the Disneyland Hotel. One film is over 2,000 feet making this over an hour in length and has an interview with Walt Disney in it I have never seen before. There is one that gives a guided tour of the Hotel into rooms, restaurants, shops, the lobby, the kitchen and the grounds from 1957. Another film details the features and amenities of the Hotel (in beautiful color around 1970) which was displayed on channel 6 in your guest room at the Hotel. This film has Bonita Granville as your host showing you the features of the Hotel. Another of a TV ad being filmed for the Hotel from 1957/58 in living color. A film titled "A Special Place" features the groundbreaking of the first Tower Building as well as many internal shots of shops, restaurants and meeting facilities. One with footage from the Hotel's opening day in August of 1956 with Walt Disney in it. More details on the films below.

There are even pictures with the Beatles....yes John, Paul, George and Ringo and the Wrathers.

I have converted all cans of film to DVD. Contents are as follows:

1957 B&W City of Hope Telerama-fundraising TV show (KTLA) for COH. Shot on the grounds of the Disneyland Hotel featuring an interview with Walt Disney by Bonita Granville, the Disneyland Band, Fess Parker, the Mouseketeers with several skits and roll call also various celebrity guests and dignitaries attending the event. Over 1 hour in length.

1957 Success Story B&W sponsored by Richfield which features a walk-through of the Disneyland Hotel including ultra rare interior shops, kitchen area, conference rooms, original lobby, an original guest room, Presidential Suite with an interview featuring the Wrather family, restaurants and lounges. Also strays over to Disneyland during a dream sequence. Approx. 30 minutes.

1960 Sweet Success Partial B&W and color featuring the many world's of Jack Wrather. Has some very rare Disneyland Hotel footage as well as many other areas of the Jack Wrather organization. Partially filmed at the Disneyland Hotel. Footage of the Wrather's sailing on the Queen Elizabeth ocean liner. Approx. 30 minutes.

1958 color footage from a television ad shot at the Disneyland Hotel featuring a Marilyn Monroe look-alike beautiful blond. Opens with the model driving into the Hotel in a wonderful 1958 Dodge convertible followed by registration, shopping, dining, sunning in a shimmering gold bathing suit, the grounds, the pool and the Hotel signage. This includes outtakes from the photo shoot. Rare interior shops footage, orange trees, interior lobby, first Hotel manager and the owner of Gourmet Restaurants. No sound although I do have the sound reel and could get it. Approx. 37 minutes.

1970ish Channel 6 footage which was the in-room channel at the Disneyland Hotel listing the many features and restaurants at the Disneyland Hotel. Hosted by Bonita Granville. Features long-gone restaurants and interior footage, the Marina, Hula dancers, the brand new lobby for 1970, Dancing Waters and many other attractions. Approx. 15 minutes.

1961-62-A Special Place-wonderful color footage with sound, see more for description above.

Wrather home movies featuring Disneyland '59 shot in June less than one week after Disneyland opened the Matterhorn, Monorail and Submarine Voyage.....the mini-golf course at the Disneyland Hotel in 1962 probably six months after the facility opened. Other guests enjoying the amenities at the Disneyland Hotel from 1956. The Disneyland Hotel Tram, special VIP guest entrance, attraction footage, parking lot filled with vintage automobiles, concession stands plus much more.

The above is in addition to the hundreds of photographs probably not seen in 50 years or more, some maybe never by the public.]


Bob said...

Any chance we'll get to see this footage on DVD?

Magical Hotel said...

Working on it!

Unknown said...

My brother & I are the children in the Success Story tv show on the opening of the hotel & my dad was the writer/producer (Eric Strutt). I have been trying to get a copy of that show forever as it (and one on the opening of Tomorrowland) are the only videos of us as children. Is there any way I can get a copy from you?

Didier Ghez said...

Please email me at