Have you ever strolled through New Orleans Square and noticed a mysterious staircase?
These are the stairs leading to the most exclusive place in all of the Disneyland Resort: the Dream Suite.
The Dream Suite was initially slated to become the second private residence inside the park. Walt had a tiny apartment above the fire house on Main Street USA, but the space was barely big enough for his family, never mind entertaining guests. So when Disney announced plans to create a brand new land in the park, New Orleans Square, Walt had plenty of new real estate to create a bigger and better apartment.
This new space, nicknamed the “Royal Suite”, would occupy the upper level of the Pirates of the Caribbean building. Walt’s wife Lillian collaborated with legendary Hollywood set decorators Dorothea Redmond and Emile Kuri to design and decorate the suite. Walt intended to keep the Main Street Apartment, and would use the Royal Suite for special guests, VIPs, and private functions within the park.
Walt died in 1966, while the suite was still under construction. His brother Roy Disney ordered an end to the suite’s construction, not wanting to build his brother’s apartment without him. For many years, the space sat empty and unfinished. But in the late 1980s, the space finally opened to the public as an art gallery: The Disney Gallery.
The New Orleans Square version of the Disney Gallery ran for 20 years, before returning to Main Street USA. Disney announced that the freed space would finally become an apartment after all. The suite, renamed the Disneyland Dream Suite, would follow the original designs and plans as closely as possible, and a night in the suite would become a grand prize made available to randomly selected guests during promotional events.
Spending a night in the Dream Suite is item #1 on my Disneyland bucket list! If you’re as obsessed as I am, you’ll enjoy this video from the Disney Vacation Club. You can also visit the Dream Suite if you take the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour on Disneyland. For information about Disneyland tours, check out the official page here.
Update: I got to visit the Dream Suite as part of the Walk In Walt’s Footsteps Tour in April 2017. You can read about my experience and check out some photos here!