Regardless of what we die hard fans think about the expansion of the Disneyland Resort as it appeared in 2001, one thing is certain: The suits at the Walt Disney Company were smart enough to understand that fans in California are a very loyal bunch. In fact, it was very clear from my last visit, that trips to Disneyland are woven into the fabric of the life of Southern Californians. Birthdays, holidays, and special events are celebrated there. A ride on Space Mountain has become a local rite of passage and a visit to the park when it is decorated for Christmas is a must.
Back in 2001 then, many fans viewed California Adventure as certainly a misadventure and the beautiful Downtown Disney shopping area a success. Yet the serious transformation of the Anaheim property from park to resort truly began in earnest when Disney created the gorgeous Grand Californian Resort, following the purchase of the Emerald Hotel. Turning it eventually into the Paradise Pier Hotel, Disney worked hard to make changes and enhancements to the Emerald property. While not as stunning as most of the sites found at Walt Disney World, it is a far cry from the All Star Sports!
The Paradise Pier Hotel is not the most attractive spot on the property, but it has enough Disney- if just proximity to the parks- to pass. It has untapped potential, too. Imagineering art of the hotel is not commonly available. As you can see above, what is available is nice but really only serviceable. Inside the hotel, however, are many pieces of concept art relating to California Adventure 1.0. (Better check them out soon before they are removed, but you can also see some of them here. It's part one in a multipart series looking at the transformation of the park up to today.)
Rumors continue to persist that Anaheim will one day see another resort hotel, something more akin to Walt Disney World's beautiful Grand Floridian. Who knows when or where it will go- maybe next to that long imagined third theme park now being used as a parking lot?
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)