Howard Johnson’s Latest Suite is a Revival of Long Lost Disneyland Attraction

Beginning in 1957 you could step into the plastic possibilities of the Monsanto House of the Future in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. Ten years later, in 1967, the House of the Future met its end, and disappeared from Tomorrowland. But just across the street from Disneyland at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground you can get a feel for what it was like as they have just unveiled their House of the Retro Future suite!

Some of you may remember a couple years ago when this hotel started a renovation process to embrace their mid-century modern origins and I attended the opening party of their first renovated rooms. Well, after years of hard work, the entire hotel is living its best retro life, and the crown jewel is the newly finished House of the Retro Future Suite, and I was lucky enough to be invited back and get a sneak peek for the ribbon cutting celebration!

Sign for the Howard Johnson hotel.

Exterior view of the HoJo check in lobby.

The check-in counter, which features a floor of fish and turtles.

Myself, wearing a dress featuring a colorful psychedelic print with small Mickey heads on it, standing in front of the pool, with the Howard Johnson hotel behind.

A statue of a yellow rubber duck.

Charles Phoenix, Shag, and the hotel's manager cut the ribbon for the suite. A large white and blue banner hangs from the room's balcony and reads "Grand Opening Howard Johnson House of the Retro Future"

One of my favorite people of all time, author, showman, Ambassador of Americana himself, Charles Phoenix was there to give us the lowdown on the history of the House of the Future. Many of Disneyland’s earliest attractions where sponsored, and some still are today. Monsanto first sponsored the Hall of Chemistry, but in 1957, just two years after opening, they decided to create another attraction, and built the House of the Future. As per a 1958 brochure, the house was “a practical demonstration of the almost limitless potential of plastics in structural applications” and “affords an exciting peek into tomorrow, and may well be the forerunner of the home which will be standard ten years from now.” Various elements included room based climate control, and even scents for the rooms, as well as push-button dialing, a “viewing screen to see the person who is calling” and an almost flat screen wall mounted television.

After Phoenix’s amazing presentation and seeing where HoJo pulled their inspiration from, then we were ushered in to see “yesterday’s tomorrow today.” The suite features amazing elements from Modernica, iconic pieces from Herman Miller, stunning pieces by Modular Arts, and Restoration Hardware. Guests enter a dining area that gives way to a near perfect recreation of the living room from the House of the Future, complete with records and record player, and a custom piece by famed retro artist Shag. The living room also features a balcony that overlooks the lush Garden Pool. Ready to crash?

Charles Phoenix, wearing a silver suite with purple Hawaiian floral print shirt, gives a presentation on the original House of the Future, on the screen is an image of the climate control panel, which features dials, including one for scent, and buttons that emulate the shape of the house.

Room plaque, which is turquoise and orange, the number 2414 is next to text reading "House of the Retro Future"

Turquoise, orange, and white balloons flank the door to the suite.

A white wall divider with a turquoise cushion and an orange suitcase on top.

The white dining room table sits in the middle with hourglass shape chandelier hanging above, and on the wall a blue peacock illustration.

A vinage Howard Johnson maid uniform, of turquoise and white houndstooth, and a patch displaying the HoJo logo.

A flat screen TV hangs on the wall above a curved sofa, to the left of the sofa is a built in record player.

Overall view of the living space, which features sofas on each side of the wall, and a spring poll lamp. The sliding glass door gives way to a balcony.

Myself, wearing a dress featuring a colorful psychedelic print with small Mickey heads on it, standing in front of the couch, in the background a picture done by Shag features the House of the Future.

A miniature of the House of the Future as it was at Disneyland sits under a dome.

A swooping desk chairs sits into a nook desk.

Overall view of the record player.

A colorful, abstract print curved couch sits against a wall, above a painting done by Shag shows a modern illustration of the interior of the House of the Future.

An orange vintage style key fob featuring the HoJo logo, and text reading "Howard Johnson's 1954-2014 Celebrating 60 years"

A buffet sits against a wall, above it hangs a picture of a blue peacock.

View of the pool from the suite.

Overall view of the bedroom portion of the suite.

An orange phone sits on a nightstand between two beds.

Myself, wearing a dress featuring a colorful psychedelic print with small Mickey heads on it, sitting in an orange chair next to one of the beds.

Opening July 16, 1965, exactly one day before Disneyland’s tenth anniversary, the Anaheim Howard Johnson was designed by architect William L. Pereria, who also designed the Disneyland Hotel, San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid, and collaborated with Paul Williams and Welton Becket for the iconic and ultra futuristic LAX Theme Building. Unlike so many other mid-century motels and hotels that sprung up along Harbor in the wake of Disneyland that were constantly focused on “keeping up with the times” the Anaheim HoJo fully embraces their heritage, and continues the fantasy of the past even outside of Disneyland’s gates, making it the perfect place to stay for your next Disneyland visit. I stayed at this HoJo years ago with my dad, and I loved it and recommended it to friends long before their revamp, but now I recommend it even more! Plus it’s just an eight minute walk from Disneyland!

While you may not be able to step into the House of the Future any longer, (Pixie Hollow is where it once stood, but tucked behind some bushes and under camouflage material is some of the foundation of the home. Look carefully enough and you can find it!) you can get the next best thing and book your stay at the Howard Johnson Anaheim, located at 1380 S. Harbor Boulevard, via their website.

In love with the amazing House of the Future artwork by Shag? If you stay in the room, you get a print! Not able to stay in the room? The gift shop also offers it, as well as ultra cute ceramic versions of their paper cups and t-shirts for purchase. I snagged one of these cups when I came a couple years ago, and use it as my desktop pencil holder.

Inside the gift shop, ceramic turquoise and orange cups and the Shag prints are for sale.

All images except the one of me seated in the chair are by Patrick or myself. The un-watermarked photo of myself seated in the chair is by, and courtesy of, Nicole Long. I was invited by Howard Johnson Anaheim to cover this event and suite on my social media.

Leave a Comment!

One comment on “Howard Johnson’s Latest Suite is a Revival of Long Lost Disneyland Attraction”