Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Disneyland in Focus: The Red Wagon Inn/Plaza Inn

Yesterday, I had a request from Viewliner to show a detail shot of the Red Wagon Inn poster on the construction wall in one of my Fantasyland pics; so, I figured I’d go the extra mile and dedicate an entire post both the Red Wagon Inn and its successor the Plaza Inn. To the best of my knowledge, The Red Wagon Inn is one of only two Disneyland restaurants to receive its own poster, unless you care to count the Golden Horseshoe.

The Red Wagon Inn was the name of the restaurant at Central Plaza, originally sponsored by The Swifts Premium Meat Company in Kansas City (they also sponsored the Main Street Market House & Frontierland’s Chicken Plantation House). RWI also originally included an area with a VIP lounge, a wet bar, and bathroom for Walt’s special guests. This area became a hospitality center for Goodyear when they were a sponsor, then converted into offices, and finally destroyed in a 1999 rehab. My earliest image of the Red Wagon Inn shows the exterior during the 1955 Christmas Season. Are you digging Santa & his Reindeer up on the roof?

Designed by Walt Disney's wife, Lillian, the restaurant was decorated with turn-of-the-century furnishings and authentic mementos of the 1890s, including the stained glass ceiling, entrance hall, and foyer taken from the old St. James home in Los Angeles (1880). Lillian’s tastes were extremely consistent, if you compare the decor of Walt’s Apartment, Club 33, and even The Lilly Belle parlour car. The Tencenniel celebration & press conference were held here in 1965. The menu originally offered a varied selection of food, featuring steaks & chops and Swift’s quality meats. This March 1956 view shows the ornate front doors:

One of the last exterior shots I have before the name change is this one from 1963; I have included the closeup that shows the “Dinner is being served – special menu for children” sign.

By August, 1965 when this next photo was taken, the restaurant was changed to the Plaza Inn, and has remained that way ever since.

Check out all the crazy hipsters out front in this 1966 shot:

This 1960’s interior view shows the ornate victorian curtains and “PI” logo on the valance:

The restaurant looks much the same today and still serves up the tastiest Fried Chicken in the park!

The rooster weather vane still watches over the guests below:

The marble emblem that greets you as you enter the servery:

The window treatments still have the heavy victorian flavor of the original decor, with plenty of wooden gingerbread trim around for good measure:

The stained glass in the sun rooms is absolutely beautiful:

Although a little on the pricey side, the character breakfasts are a great way to get your kids to see their favorite Disney folk all at once:

I sure could go for a piece of Plaza’s delish Apple/Caramel mouth is already watering:

That’s the end of our visit to the Red Wagon/Plaza Inn. Time to head out the doors and view the rest of the park.

See more Disneyland Red Wagon/Plaza Inn photos at my website.


Thufer said...

thank you for a wonderful look at the corner of main street usa and tomorrowland. a most elegant place to sit, relax and people watch.
the PI is one of the cornerstones of the park to me as it is always right there at the end of that special ' start of the day' stroll down main street.
weather you have a full breakfast or simply stop by for a cup of coffee, it is a special treat with a most special view.

Unknown said...

Awesomely fantastic, Dave!!!

The Viewliner Limited said...

Great post Dave. Thank you very much for the close-up of the Red Wagon poster. Appreciated.

Major Pepperidge said...

Great history lesson and great (RARE) poster!

jedblau said...

That's about...oh, let's say...$18,000 worth of posters on that wall.