Libation Exploration: The Disneyland Hotel in the 1960's

After a brief layover in Tulsa, you finally arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport. A quick helicopter flight down to Anaheim, and you’re there: the Disneyland Hotel. Your room in the new Sierra Tower isn’t ready yet and you don’t feel like heading into the Park just yet, so you belly up to the Monorail Lounge and order a cocktail. Life is good in 1962 ...

If you are hankering for a trip to Disneyland but can’t get there for some reason, this blog is for you. There are more than a few places to drink at the Disneyland Resort that have been lost to the pages of history. Read on, libation explorers, and find out what you probably missed!

The Disneyland-Alweg Monorail opened an extended line with a new station outside the Disneyland Hotel in 1961. Just over a year later, the Disneyland Hotel opened its new Tower and unveiled some other improvements. Many forget that the hotel was originally more of a motor lodge with two-level buildings spread throughout the grounds. Much of the original hotel is now parking lots and Downtown Disney pace. In an area now occupied by the shell of Rainforest Café was a building filled with restaurants and shops including a new lounge on the second floor. Just outside the new monorail station, the Monorail Lounge provided guests with a great view of Walt’s transportation of the future.

Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel (But you are. Just read that intro again.), you are welcome to stop by. The Monorail Lounge is decorated with pictures of trains and features a large bar in the center that resembles a trolley. Maybe Grandma and Grandpa can watch the kids for a bit. Hop a quick ride from the Tomorrowland station. Pop inside the bar for a quick nip or two and it’s back to the park to close out the evening. Who can blame you? It’s the sixties, so you’re probably wearing to a theme park what will someday be akin to formal wear.

If you’re in the mood for an even more impressive view, ride the Looking Glass Elevator to the top of the hotel’s new tower. The elevator is a marvel for the time, mounted outside the hotel with glass the whole way up affording you an astounding view. At eleven stories, the tower still doesn’t top the Matterhorn, but it is the tallest building in the area. Starting at 4pm, you can have a few cocktails before the evening’s dining and entertainment begins. Soak in those views and the contemporary décor while you wait. Stick around long enough and you can enjoy the Disneyland fireworks.

Now it’s time for the pinnacle of luxury. In 1962, your room in the new Disneyland Hotel Tower runs $35 a night. That’s for a deluxe room, by the way, complete with two twin beds. Since the Looking Glass Elevator was designed for exclusive access to the Top of the Park, you’ll have to ride it all the way down to the lobby before taking a regular elevator to your floor. Head back up and round out the evening with a few cocktails delivered to your room. 

You have a few choices of cocktails: extra dry martini, manhattan, whiskey sour, daiquiri, or margarita. Get a single serving or step it up to a full pitcher so everybody can have a good time. Full bottles of spirits are available from multiple makers. You can even pick up the Disneyland Hotel House Brand of scotch, bourbon, gin, vodka, and rum. Mixers are available if you’re planning on bring the bartender for the evening.  A few domestic and imported beers seem to be available as well as a decent selection of wines.

The Disneyland Hotel was the closest and most accessible place for the Disneyland park goer to find alcohol in the early years. The hotel’s owner, Jack Wrather, was smart to create multiple restaurants and bars to allow guests a respite from theme park food. The hotel still hosts similar features, but there are far more choices within a close distance of the parks. 

I have yet to find any menus from these lounges, but there is an interesting ad for the Monorail Bar from 1970 that boasts you can “Catch a cocktail – everything from a sidecar to a caboose.” Not too sure what a caboose is, but the sidecar is such a classic cocktail that it is unlikely to be much different. Here’s how to make your own:

Fresh squeezed juice from ¼ lemon

1 oz triple sec

1 oz brandy

Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon. Sip, and imagine a time when you still might have seen Walt wandering about the park. On second thought, maybe leave him to his work. The ’64 World’s Fair is coming soon.

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