My Visit to the Disneyland Dream Suite
Last week, I received a very early text from a friend who kindly invited me to go with him to visit the Disneyland Dream Suite. It was a 6-AM message that was worth the wake up call. How could I pass up an opportunity to visit such an elusive location. The last time I was in that space was sometime around 2007 when it was still The Disney Gallery. I used to go up there to see all the featured exhibits and artwork. So I was terribly excited to be going up there again and this time to see it as Walt Disney wanted it to be - a private, luxurious apartment in New Orleans Square.
Our very lovely Tour Guide, Michelle, led us to a special elevator. She proceeded to lead us to the door that she unlocked with her key. Then just like that, we were in the hallway that would lead us to the Disneyland Dream Suite. As we stood in the hallway, I immediately became aware that we were surrounded by the original Disneyland Suite concept art by Dorothea Redmond. Disney hired Redmond, a Hollywood set designer (Gone With the Wind), to design the apartment space. Michelle began our tour to tell us more about each of the drawings. She pointed out some details and where we would see them come alive in the different rooms that we would see.
Michelle gave us some history about the location. I knew that the space was designed to be a larger suite for Walt Disney and his family when they visited. By the 1960s, Disney was in need of a bigger space to entertain VIPs. As New Orleans Square was taking shape, Disney decided that the space above Pirates of the Caribbean would be a great place to build a bigger and fancier apartment. It would be referred to as The Royal Suite. Sadly, Disney died several months after New Orleans Square officially opened. The Suite was almost complete when Disney died. It remained non-accessible to the public until 1987.
When The Disney Gallery debuted in this location in 1987, the concept art created by Redmond hung on the walls for Guests to enjoy. Cast Members would refer to the drawings to show Guests what the original intention of the location was. Guests could walk freely walk through the rooms and patio area. You could walk out onto the balcony and get a great view of The Rivers of America and its surrounding lands. You could appreciate why Disney had created this location for a grand apartment.
The Disney Gallery closed in 2007 and moved to a new location on Main St. USA. The site was renovated with much TLC to its original purpose, as a luxury suite. Renamed the Disneyland Dream Suite, it would only be available to random Guests. Under the guidance of Imagineer and Disneyland Art Director, Kim Irvine, the concept art of Redmond and Disney's vision of a Royal Suite came to life in 2008. No details were left out and the details are amazing.
NOTE: I did not take a lot of photos. Our Tour Guide kindly stated that many photos of the Disneyland Dream Suite could be found on the internet. I found this blog that has very detailed photos and videos of what it is like to spend the night in such a fabulous suite. There are several posts that you will enjoy.
I was able to just enjoy and listen to Michelle's wealth of knowledge about the location. She pointed out many small details throughout the suite. There are two beautiful bedrooms (Frontierland and Adventureland) each with its own full bathroom. She let us experience some of the surprises that very special guests of the Dream Suite experience during their stay. We sat in the Parlor for a little while as Michelle told is more stories and showed us some Disney magic within this room.
Here is the art concept for the Parlor.
Here is my photo of what the Parlor looks like today. Even the furniture was carefully produced to capture the essence of the design.
The fireplace has a beautifully detailed grate. The fire that burns has magic in it. If you stare at it long enough, you can see what really looks like tiny fireworks that intermittently pop out of the flames.
I have thank our delightful Tour Guide, Michelle, for sharing her time and knowledge of the Disneyland Dream Suite. A heartfelt thanks, to my Disney friend, for his invite and thoughtfulness for including me on a very special tour.
Filled with pixie dust,