Disneyland Hotel Farewell Photo Tourby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Disneyland Hotel Farewell Photo Tour
All photos by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
Imagineers will soon break ground on a major refurbishment project in the Disneyland Hotel courtyard. The Lost Bar, Croc's Bits 'n' Bites snack bar, Euro Gifts collectibles shop, Game Arcade, Jungle Cruise radio-controlled booths, Hook's Pointe restaurant and the Wine Cellar are all already closed or scheduled to shut their doors for the last time this weekend. The koi fish were relocated to a new home earlier this year, and the beloved waterfalls will soon fall silent. Before the bulldozers move in, I wanted to take you on one last walk through the courtyard and bid a final farewell.
I have to start here, because this is the part of the courtyard I'll miss the most. Like countless thousands of couples over the years, my husband and I were married on the Disneyland Hotel grounds, and our most memorable wedding photo was taken on a tree-shaded walkway leading down to the waterfalls. Often overlooked by harried vacationers as they raced to and from Disneyland, the lush landscaping and flowing waters in this area created a peaceful - if not very quiet, given the thousands of gallons of water crashing all around - oasis in the middle of the hotel complex. The upper levels boasted koi ponds and a floating garden, with bubbling creeks leading down a hill to the pond. If you followed the slick stone paths between the falls, you would discover a small cave filled with spider webs and fake ferns, (and yes, the scent of the wild cats that roam the hotel grounds at night). Though some feel the waterfall area had become hopelessly outdated, it was that very sense of "yesterday" that made the place so charming to me. Sadly, renovation plans released by Disney show that this area will be filled in and be turned into a grassy lawn. I'm sure couples will stand on that very lawn for their own wedding photos, and I'm sorry that they won't have the amazing backdrop I enjoyed.
The arcade complex
The building that most recently housed a video game arcade and the Euro Gifts shop run by Arribas Bros. has been used for several purposes over the years, including at one time as a clearance center for discounted Disneyland merchandise. One little detail I loved about this building were the fountains, each one different, spitting water into a little pool that fed one of the small waterfalls. Plans show that this building will be demolished, and the space incorporated into the new pool and water play area.
Croc's Bit's 'n' Bites and the Lost Bar
These two locations offered hotel guests to grab a cold adult beverage or a quick counter-service lunch, but lost a sizeable chunk of their customer base when Downtown Disney, with it's wider array of food service options, opened in 2001. Still, the Lost Bar was a favorite hangout with business travelers, conventioneers and Annual Passholders (except when the weather made an open-air bar a little too cold for comfort). Plans released by Disney indicate that these two buildings will be demolished, though a new, fully-enclosed bar is part of the renovation plan.
Hook's Pointe and the Wine Cellar
I'm sure you've heard about the award-winning hotel restaurant at Disneyland? The one with the open kitchen and the well-stocked wine list? No, I don't mean Napa Rose, I mean Hook's Point and Wine Cellar. Hook's Pointe was best known for seafood, cooked over a wood-fired mesquite grill and prepared in a variety of ways, and for the basement-level Wine Cellar which offered a selection of wines by the glass in a comfortable, if dated, setting. Another casualty of Downtown Disney, sales dropped so much that Disney periodically closed the location for weeks at a time during the slow season. From the drawings released by Disney, it appears that the restaurant building will be remodeled, and will house a new "smart casual" restaurant.
The Jungle Cruise radio-controlled boats
Set in the corner between the Lost Bar and the Game Arcade, this coin-operated attraction let you navigate your own miniature Jungle Cruise boat. Special effects could be activated as the boats passed specific areas - sail through the cave and the gorilla would shake the suspended bridge; pass near the docks and one of the other boats would catch fire, only to be extinguished by a elephant spraying water. Not all the effects worked anymore, but the boats were still a popular pastime for hotel guests of all ages. The miniature building located at the dock is a scale replica of the Jungle Cruise attraction building, and was specially licensed for this purpose. I had hoped that the Jungle Cruise sets would be relocated somewhere else after the remodel, but he operator of the boats says that they are not allowed to reuse the Disney props in another installation.
The Fantasy Waters stage, Cove Pool and lawn
Before Fantasmic and World of Color came along, Disneyland offered another nighttime water-and-light show called Fantasy Waters. (Karl Buiter wrote about this "hidden gem" in 2004). The show closed years ago, and plants were encouraged to grow across the back wall in an effort to make this look more like a garden fountain and less like a vacated amphitheater. Nearby is the Cove pool area, featuring a swimming pool, a wading pool and a hot tub/spa, along with a sand "beach" and play area for kids. A large lawn area between the Cove and Neverland pool areas is used for outdoor events and receptions. The Cove pool will be replaced with a "beautifully manicured lawn area" at the same time the existing lawn area is excavated to make room for the new pool and water play area.