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  1. #16

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by DISNEYJUNKIE View Post
    What a wonderful present to get that phone call for you, and a great opp for us to get more first hand memories and pictures cant wait. Any luck with a proposed history section at the hotel or a window? Sounds like a wonderful idea.

    I will do whatever I can to have them add a history section bor both Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel. We all need a place to relive some past, wonderful memories of a trip to the Magic Kingdom.



    www.magicalhotel.com

  2. #17

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by nemopoppins View Post
    oldhotelguy, I look forward to the pictures here and on your site. I love your book!!!! Now that you have a new source, and because, although the Wrather time was the golden era, there is still quite a lot to tell about that magical hotel, might you be writing a sequel? Are you working on any other projects?
    I am about half way through another book on the Disneyland Hotel from the 1950's. I will include many of the pictutres I did not get until the first book was already out plus many other interesting stories and adventures from the World's Most Exciting Hotel in the 1950's. The Wrather family has provided me with lots more photographs and the ones from Helen Alvarez Smith will also be a plus. I have also added many more paper items since the first book and I want to let people have a look inside the vintage brochures. This is a fun project!


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  3. #18

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Jack Wrather was just like any of the other early sponsors, except he also could claim a certain right to the Disney name that the others couldn't. Do you think Walt liked giving up the Disney name? Wrather took advantage of Walt's desperation and later when Walt had money again and wanted to buy the hotel, Wrather refused to sell it. Wrather could do whatever he wanted to the place and it would still be known as "that Disney hotel" and Walt was locked out of it.

    Didn't Art Linkletter strike a similar deal on behalf of Kodak? I seem to remember reading so. It seemed like all of Walt's "friends" were willing to put their hands in his project for a price.

    It's a touchy situation: Walt couldn't be too hostile in his desire to take the hotel because Wrather could intentionally tank it, dramatically reduce staff to a skeleton crew, shut it down outright or do something else to make customers unhappy and it would reflect badly on the park or even the whole company. Walt could not build his own hotel and compete with the Disneyland Hotel because Wrather held exclusive rights to the Disney name on a hotel as part of the deal.

    Nobody can blame Walt for not wanting to mess with his business partners, especially one that controls something that partly represented his company, but it's only because later leaders were willing to play the kind of hardball to get the hotel back that the resort is in the shape it's in today.

    I'm not sure that holding Walt Disney hostage with his own reputation is deserving of a Main St window, but different strokes...
    Last edited by MickeyMania; 12-24-2006 at 02:28 PM.

  4. #19

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    Jack Wrather was just like any of the other early sponsors, except he also could claim a certain right to the Disney name that the others couldn't. Do you think Walt liked giving up the Disney name? Wrather took advantage of Walt's desperation and later when Walt had money again and wanted to buy the hotel, Wrather refused to sell it. Wrather could do whatever he wanted to the place and it would still be known as "that Disney hotel" and Walt was locked out of it.

    Didn't Art Linkletter strike a similar deal on behalf of Kodak? I seem to remember reading so. It seemed like all of Walt's "friends" were willing to put their hands in his project for a price.

    It's a touchy situation: Walt couldn't be too hostile in his desire to take the hotel because Wrather could intentionally tank it, dramatically reduce staff to a skeleton crew, shut it down outright or do something else to make customers unhappy and it would reflect badly on the park or even the whole company. Walt could not build his own hotel and compete with the Disneyland Hotel because Wrather held exclusive rights to the Disney name on a hotel as part of the deal.

    Nobody can blame Walt for not wanting to mess with his business partners, especially one that controls something that partly represented his company, but it's only because later leaders were willing to play the kind of hardball to get the hotel back that the resort is in the shape it's in today.

    I'm not sure that holding Walt Disney hostage with his own reputation is deserving of a Main St window, but different strokes...

    In the first place, Jack Wrather never took advantage of Walt Disney. Walt approached him not the other way. Jack told Walt no at first and it took some convincing before Jack accepted. It was walt who proposed the terms not Jack Wrather and Jack never asked for anything other than what Walt had proposed. I heard from the surviving Wrather children themselves that their father told them Walt had tears in his eyes when he pitched the idea of the Disneyland Hotel the first time to Jack Wrather. Keep another thing in mind, Walt had approached several others (including Baron Hilton) to build a hotel and all refused. This was a very risky and costly adventure on Jack's part and it took real courage for him to commit.

    In the second place, Jack Wrather was not just like any other sponsor. He was Walt's neighbor and friend. How many other sponsors invested 10 million dollars like Jack Wrather did in building the Disneyland Hotel? None!

    Next, why would Jack Wrather want to "tank" the Hotel, or operate it inefficiently? What purpose would that have served? He loved the Disneyland Hotel and wanted it to be successful. It was after all, one of his business ventures and he created numerous improvements over the years to the facility to make it even better. What would the logic be in making the place unsuccessful? It was only after Jack became sick (with cancer) that the Hotel started to not be up to high standards. And it was only after Jack Wrather passed away that Disney played hardball with the Wrathers to acquire the Hotel.

    You couldn't be any more dead wrong in any of your assumptions.

  5. #20

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Do you think Walt wanted things to turn out that way? "Hey Jack, my buddy, come here and let's invest in this new idea of mine, it'll be great! I'll even give you the exclusive rights to run the only Disney hotel in the world." Do you think that was some sort of proud moment? Heck no, it was a moment of weakness because Walt unfortunately didn't plan out where people were going to stay over for the night. This was NOT because he wanted to give those privileges away.

    C'mon. Walt Disney was, and I say this as a compliment, a control freak. This is the guy we love because he exercised such control over what his guests saw and heard. This is the guy who bought enough land in central Florida to hold Manhattan island TWICE just because he didn't like having next-door neighbors outside the gate. When somebody does that, I say "Wow! That guy sure really loves to have control."

    Walt's deal with Jack was not some moment of greatness but merely a moment of necessity, and Jack was the first guy who would offer him ANYTHING, in this case the original motel. As time went on and Walt wanted to buy back what he had given up out of desperation, Wrather refused because he was now sitting on a gold mine. Walt could not build a hotel of his own design (do you think that never crossed his mind?) and market it as an alternative because of the exclusivity clause, and he wouldn't want to risk making Wrather unhappy because he held a critical piece of Disneyland.

    The control freak had lost control. There was no way to address the situation except to simply keep business relations good with the man who had his hands tied and next time to better plan out his accommodations (i.e. Contemporary/Poly and the two extinct planned MK hotels.)

  6. #21

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    Do you think Walt wanted things to turn out that way? "Hey Jack, my buddy, come here and let's invest in this new idea of mine, it'll be great! I'll even give you the exclusive rights to run the only Disney hotel in the world." Do you think that was some sort of proud moment? Heck no, it was a moment of weakness because Walt unfortunately didn't plan out where people were going to stay over for the night. This was NOT because he wanted to give those privileges away.

    C'mon. Walt Disney was, and I say this as a compliment, a control freak. This is the guy we love because he exercised such control over what his guests saw and heard. This is the guy who bought enough land in central Florida to hold Manhattan island TWICE just because he didn't like having next-door neighbors outside the gate. When somebody does that, I say "Wow! That guy sure really loves to have control."

    Walt's deal with Jack was not some moment of greatness but merely a moment of necessity, and Jack was the first guy who would offer him ANYTHING, in this case the original motel. As time went on and Walt wanted to buy back what he had given up out of desperation, Wrather refused because he was now sitting on a gold mine. Walt could not build a hotel of his own design (do you think that never crossed his mind?) and market it as an alternative because of the exclusivity clause, and he wouldn't want to risk making Wrather unhappy because he held a critical piece of Disneyland.

    The control freak had lost control. There was no way to address the situation except to simply keep business relations good with the man who had his hands tied and next time to better plan out his accommodations (i.e. Contemporary/Poly and the two extinct planned MK hotels.)

    I think you are missing a very important point. Jack Wrather never offered Walt Disney anything. I'll say it again because obviously, you did not understand the first time...Walt approached Jack not the other way around. Walt made the offer and Jack accepted. Jack Wrather did not go to Walt Disney and say "hey, I want to build a hotel on your property." Jack didn't even know about the idea until Walt approached him.

    The first real negotiations to buy the Disneyland Hotel from the Wrather Corporation occured about six and one half years after Walt Disney passed away. It was in 1973 when a deal fell through for Disney to buy back the hotel. So your point about Walt wanting to buy it back have no basis whatsoever.

    The reason why Walt was able to buy so much land in Florida was because he had a lot more cash than when he was building Disneyland and he had a proven success in this type of venture in Disneyland. Walt learned a lot of lessons from his Disneyland experience and did not want to make the same mistakes twice. It's not so much a matter of control but more of a matter of wanting a quality product. Walt saw what had become of the surrounding area of Disneyland (glitter gulch) and did not want that for Florida. Even if he was a control freak (and I prefer to use the term perfectionist) didn't he have a right to do so? After all, his name was on the place and people had come to know when something had the word Disney on it, it was going to be a quality product.

    I disagree that Walt did not plan out where people were going to stay. He made several attempts to secure a developer for a quality hotel establishment and was very concerned about the places appearance. He just did not have the money to do it himself. He was in debt up to his eyeballs after spending what he did on Disneyland.

    As far as the Hotel being a gold mine, I have copies of the Wrather Corporation reports and while the Hotel did usually turn a profit, it was hardly a gold mine. The main reason why was because of the constant updates, improvements, amenities and overall quality of the place. Like Walt Disney, Jack Wrather wanted his guest to have a quality experience and usually spared no expense.

  7. #22

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    I'd like to think that Walt Disney and Jack Wrather were not above (or below) working together to provide a quality product. A successful business must run on cooperation and this arrangement seems to have worked just fine. The hotel and the park were both magical. I think it might have been a thorn in Walt's side if the hotel wasn't such a credit to the Disney name, but that wasn't the case. I just love that hotel, especially its old self. It was the cheap motels all around that Walt didn't like, wasn't it?

  8. #23

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by MickeyMania View Post
    Didn't Art Linkletter strike a similar deal on behalf of Kodak? I seem to remember reading so. It seemed like all of Walt's "friends" were willing to put their hands in his project for a price.
    Walt asked Art Linkletter to help him by emceeing the opening day TV show, but Walt told him that he couldn't afford to pay him. Linkletter said that he didn't mind, but if Walt was okay with it, could he (Linkletter) have the Kodak franchise in Disneyland for one year as payment in kind for services rendered. Walt happily obliged since he was broke.

    Your post impies that every friend of Walt's was not a friend at all, but money-hungry sharks looking to profit off of Walt. But you would be wrong in that assumption. Walt was good friends with Art Linkletter (as well as Jack Wrather). He and Lillian entertained the Linkletters socially. He brought Art Linkletter to the Disneyland sight before a spade of dirt was ever turned.

    Trying to paint all of Walts friends as money-grubbers is incorrect and disrespectful to those folks who helped Walt get Disneyland off the ground when he asked for their help. There are many books on this subject that will confirm these accounts. I have read many of them and not a one of them ever implies that Walt was taken advatage of by anyone when it came to Disneyland.

    He (and Roy) learned their fiscal lessons the hard way in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's.
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  9. #24

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by oldhotelguy View Post
    As far as the Hotel being a gold mine, I have copies of the Wrather Corporation reports and while the Hotel did usually turn a profit, it was hardly a gold mine. The main reason why was because of the constant updates, improvements, amenities and overall quality of the place.
    Interesting to know, thanks for sharing.

  10. #25

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by nemopoppins View Post
    I'd like to think that Walt Disney and Jack Wrather were not above (or below) working together to provide a quality product. A successful business must run on cooperation and this arrangement seems to have worked just fine. The hotel and the park were both magical. I think it might have been a thorn in Walt's side if the hotel wasn't such a credit to the Disney name, but that wasn't the case. I just love that hotel, especially its old self. It was the cheap motels all around that Walt didn't like, wasn't it?
    You are exactly right. The cheap hotels on Harbor and Katella are what irritated Walt the most. It did give folks on a budget a place to stay though. Jack Wrather almost always ran it by Disney when he made a change or improvement to the Disneyland Hotel. He often said he had a name to live up to and cared a great deal about the Hotel. His son Chris told me it was his dad's favorite business venture and one that put a smile on his face. Jack Wrather, like Walt Disney was also a perfectionist. He demanded quality at the Disneyland Hotel and spent a lot on the upkeep and maintenance of the Disneyland Hotel.

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  11. #26

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Of all the involved and first-hand people who worked with Walt that I've talked with over the years about Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel...I've never once heard any story about Walt showing the slightest interest in the hotel side of the business other than as being complimentary outside support for his Park (or tacky eyesore outside his Park).

    And I certainly never heard anyone say they knew or even thought that Walt regretted his licensing the Disneyland Hotel to Jack Wrather. At any time.

    Even during the Walt years of development of the Project Florida/Disney World property...Walt wanted outside companies to finance, build, and manage the new "themed" hotels near the Magic Kingdom. He only wanted control in that he could do exactly what he had done with Wrather in California...have a quality control and financial licensing arrangement for the hotels. All the while having the "other guy" pick-up the tab for construction. The Florida hotels would be managed by various hotel firms (prospective biggies like Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, whoever might be interested). Provisions for early buy-outs were planned in case Disney ever changed their minds (which they eventually did...but "after Walt").

    A good example of how this actually progressed (long after Walt though) was with the Contemporary Resort Hotel. Land was owned by Disney, but the hotel was designed primarily by Welton Beckett & Associates, and was co-owned by U.S. Steel Corporation, and was originally planned to be managed by an outside hotel management company (somewhat similar to what now exists with the Swan and Dolphin being managed by Westin and Sheraton respectively). But before the hotel was finished and opened...Disney decided they wanted to give a try at hotel management, and so they recruited many hotel management from many hotel companies across the country, and even "borrowed" a few of Wrather's people with his blessing...to put together a Disney staff for the Contemporary (and the other hotels on-property). Disney did very soon after opening exercise their "buy-out" option and paid off U.S. Steel Corporation for total ownership.

    But that was all long after Walt. Walt wanted "control" of the hotels around his Park in Anaheim and at his planned Florida property...but that didn't necessarily mean he wanted to own and operate them. He seemed perfectly content to let someone else that he trusted do that. And didn't seem to regret anything at all about his business relationship with Wrather and the Disneyland Hotel. In fact...all evidence to the contrary! He seemed mighty pleased he didn't have to focus on that part of the tourist trade...which allowed him to focus all his energies and finances on the thing that mattered most to him...Disneyland Park.

    IMHO and understanding...he regretted all the tawdry motels that sprung up around Disneyland that he didn't have anything to do with and didn't get a penny out of. But he never regretted anything about the Disneyland Hotel and the business relationship he had with Jack Wrather. Walt was even known to compliment Wrather to other people, saying things like "Jack is to the hotel industry what I am to the amusement park industry."

    And Walt truly loved Jack's Disneyland Hotel. He loved going over there and taking his guests over there all the time. And he showed-off the place as if it were his own! Which was the ultimate compliment to what his friend Jack Wrather had created!

    Last edited by Opus1guy; 12-28-2006 at 07:11 PM.

  12. #27

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by Opus1guy View Post
    Of all the involved and first-hand people who worked with Walt that I've talked with over the years about Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel...
    Great post!
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  13. #28

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    No offense to MickeyMania, but I'm rather more inclined to believe the guy that wrote the book on the Disneyland Hotel, and can back up his assertions with facts, first-hand accounts and documentary evidence, than someone spouting mere speculation concerning Walt Disney's relationship with Jack Wrather or his opinion of the Disneyland Hotel.

  14. #29

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve DeGaetano View Post
    No offense to MickeyMania, but I'm rather more inclined to believe the guy that wrote the book on the Disneyland Hotel, and can back up his assertions with facts, first-hand accounts and documentary evidence, than someone spouting mere speculation concerning Walt Disney's relationship with Jack Wrather or his opinion of the Disneyland Hotel.
    Right on Steve! I'm curious to know where Mickeymania's sources come from...

  15. #30

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    Re: Disneyland Hotel original owner

    My buddies dad started with the DL hotel as a bell hop in August of 55 and retired last year. He wasn't quite able to hit 50 because of medical conditions but he was the second longest standing employee in the company. He has some interesting stories about the hotel.
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