As a kid, I visited Disneyland at least once a year and spent several birthdays at the park. During one visit with my friend Bucky, we ate the fanciest nachos from the Carnation stand right outside of the then-Sierra Tower (now the Fantasy Tower) and even had some kids throw ice at us from above. (The windows opened back then and all that separated you from falling were railings.) We ate our nachos on fancy cocktail tables that were used for the waiting area of The Shipyard Inn — a place I unfortunately wouldn’t get to visit.
From that point on, I tried to finish my day at Disneyland by eating dinner at the hotel as it gave me a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the park. One visit we ended up eating at the Plaza Building which sat where I believe the current abandoned ESPN Zone building stands. I had a really bad hamburger for a huge pricetag. Must have been a fluke because I read many online memories of the place and they swore the food was excellent. Regardless, it was a great experience going on the Mark III monorails while riding in “the bubble” at the front near the operator to and from Disneyland. Nachos ended up being my regular “dinner” at the Carnation stand while eating in the fancy docks overlooking the marina.
As I got older, many of my teen friends no longer liked Disneyland and preferred Knott’s and Magic Mountain. Even though I had about a 5 year hiatus from Disneyland, that didn’t stop me from finding a way to visit the Disneyland Hotel. I ended up visiting several times, and with each visit, we were escorted out by security. We weren’t “bad” kids, but I can imagine the reason Disneyland did that. They likely didn’t want it to be a teen hangout like the malls were during that time. And yes — I still ate at the Carnation Stand and had nachos. I also managed to get in a few video games at “Atari Adventure” that was in the marina.
When I became a college student, it became a place to take dates. The first date I went on at the hotel was at “Villa Verde”, which sits where the current Goofy’s Kitchen location is. When I found the love of my life (my wife), we ended up becoming Premium Annual Passholders while she worked as a temp in the “TDA” yellow building (now green building). We ended up eating at many of the restaurants: Via Verde, Stromboli’s (which was basically Via Verde with a new name in the same location), Monorail Cafe, Neon Cactus, and yes — the Carnation Stand.
The biggest change to the area was the construction of California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney. That ended up changing many things at the hotel to clear way for the expansion. Luckily, we were able to say goodbye to the old Monorail Cafe and Travelport area. The location of the monorail stop remains unchanged and it’s hard to imagine this was once on the other side of then-“West Street” as it was part of the hotel property then.
Speaking of the old “Neon Cactus” which sat somewhere around the former Rainforest Cafe building / currently Galactic Startraders — it was always a hoot walking by and seeing tourists dance to old wedding song favorites like “Brick House” and “Party Train”. We really didn’t drink much back then but were able to have a few beers here and there. It was a good place for dads to get caught up on sports while their family is at the park. The place didn’t really appeal to locals as the drinks and food were things you can get for cheaper (and better) around Anaheim.
As the place started closing down our old familiar spots, we finally were able to visit Shipyard Inn. Well, not really….we only got to eat at the replacement restaurant, “Hook’s Pointe” which continued the new pool area Peter Pan Theme.
I hope you enjoy the video which Kathy and I created. It compares today’s Trader Sam’s / Tangeroa Terrace area with the old Shipyard Inn and Wine Cellar.