Disneyland is revealing the secrets of Walt Disney’s "Dream Suite," the fancy hotel apartment they’re building above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the middle of Disneyland. With a Jungle Room bedroom, Fantasyland bathroom, and buttons on the walls to push when you’re "ready to go to bed, and something special will happen," the park’s new prize promises to be kinkier than even we’d imagined.
The suite, which Walt Disney envisioned as a place for entertaining, is still under construction in New Orleans Square but Disney this morning launched a sweepstakes that would give one lucky winner the chance to spend the night in the secluded suite– which sounds like a lot of fun to us if you were given access to the rides and shows, underground tunnels and Club 33 (the members-only restaurant and only place in the park that serves alcohol). But from what we can gather,you’d be stuck in your Fantasy bathtub around the corner from Tarzan’s Treehouse with no one out there but a valet or two and the park’s maintenance people and security.
"Dorothea Redmond was an illustrator who had done some major pictures like ‘Gone with the Wind.’ She was asked by Walt to do most of the interior designs for the shops and restaurants in New Orleans Square at Disneyland. She had a really beautiful watercolor style — kind of impressionistic, but all the detail was there. So he asked her to illustrate each room of his suite," she explains…
Kim was well-prepared for the project: "I’ve been looking at the sketches for years now, because the place where the suite is being built is where the Disney Gallery used to be for years. A lot of the Disney fans knew that at one time that was going to be Walt’s apartment, so we posted copies of the paintings up there so they could see what it would have looked like. The Imagineers got so far with the construction up there — they put in the fireplace mantel and some of the decorative crown moldings, and the parquet floor that she has very clearly illustrated in her paintings — and then they stopped. So it was very interesting to look at the paintings and say ‘Oh, I can see that!’ and imagine what it would have looked like if they had been able to finish it.So our idea was to finish the suite, and get it as close as we could to the illustrations — so that we’re actually making Walt’s dream come true, too!"
Although she’d been looking at Dorothea’s watercolors for years, it was only when Kim began work on making the suite a reality that she realized there was a hidden theme to the renderings. "We noticed that each room has a little bit of a different style to it, although they blend together beautifully. And the styles actually mimic the Lands at Disneyland. I had never recognized it before after all those years of seeing the renderings, but once I really studied them I saw this pattern. We decided to take that storyline and go with it. It’s very subtle — it doesn’t hit you in the face that each room has a Land theme — but it is there."decorated in French blue and mauve, and featuring a room divider with New Orleans scenes. The informal sitting room captures the spirit of Frontierland, with masculine colors and a Franklin stove. The little study is very Main Street — Victorian with red-and-white striped wallpaper that recalls the good old days. On the other side of the suite, the main bedroom backs right up to Adventureland — you can actually hear the animals from the Jungle Cruise when you’re in that room. It has that exotic Victorian look that was popular in that era — cane seating, leafy fabric, greens, and blues. Although the bathroom was not included in the original paintings, Kim and her team decided to extend the "land" theme there — with spectacular results.
"One of the things I think the Guests will say is their favorite is the master bathtub," Kim smiles. "The master bathroom was never rendered by Dorothea — we did it as our kind of nod to Fantasyland. There’s a big sunken tub, surrounded by arches filled with glass mosaic showing Aurora standing by a pool of water. Within the stained glass tiles are fiber-optic stars. When you go in and push the button the lighting in the room goes way down and the stars come on, music begins to play, and it’s a very elegant bathing experience!"
The luxurious surroundings aren’t all indoors. The suite also incorporates a courtyard patio invisible to Park Guests, and a redesigned balcony looking over Pirates of the Caribbean — a spot that becomes the best seat in the house for the nightly performance of the spectacular Fantasmic!
The suite is meticulously detailed to match the vision Walt and Dorothea expressed — but there are some very contemporary touches tucked inside. "It’s ADA-accessible. It has hookups for computers. It has great systems for audio and video." Dorothea reassures us that "it’s incorporated very well into the surroundings — there’s no elegant room with a bigscreen TV in the middle of it!"
Guests will also have the services of a personal round-the-clock concierge, ensconced in a separate suite across the hall.Lastly, there are what the Imagineers are calling "special moments" to surprise and delight Guests. "I think that being in Disneyland, people expect something magical to happen to them — a step further than being in a beautiful, elegant hotel room, but also that there were some special moments," explains Kim. "So we included these in all three main rooms, and we’re calling them ‘a kiss goodnight.’ There’s a button on the wall of each room that they push when they’re ready to go to bed, and something special will happen."
Disney.com’s Dreams Come True sweepstakes runs through February. Five lucky entrants will each win trips to the Disney Parks. The grand prize winner gets a stay in the completed Dream Suite. The link to the sweepstakes is here.