If you went to Disneyland between 1957 and 1967, you might have visited the Monsanto House of the Future. (I’m going to assume almost nobody reading this is old enough to remember going to Disneyland between 1957 and 1967.) The walkthrough attraction exhibited the kind of home modern science would eventually build for us all, with a heavy emphasis on the versatility and utility of that entirely safe miracle substance known as plastic. It was like a mid-century science filmstrip come to life, filled with exciting and unusual tools and appliances, and all set inside a “futuristic” home as emblematic of the Space Age craze of the ‘50s and ‘60s as The Jetsons. If you haven’t watched the Defunctland episode about the Monsanto House of the Future, go do that now so you can have an idea of what we’re talking about here. It existed, it was cool, then it went away forever, destined to live on solely as a very small part of the boundless nostalgia machine that is The Walt Disney Company.
The House of the Future was consigned to the past over a decade before I was born, so I never got to experience it myself. As soon as I first learned about it, though, I wished I could’ve seen it. It makes sense that Disneyland would stop devoting precious real estate to something that was as outdated and impractical as this house was by 1967, but it would’ve been awesome to view it today as a kind of time capsule—a historical record of what America (and its chemical corporations) thought its future could look like at the height of its post-war optimism.
That’s never going to happen, but this might be the next best thing. Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground has opened the “House of the Retro Future” Suite, a new suite that aims to capture the style and spirit of the Monsanto House of the Future. It definitely looks the part, with mid-century furniture and design accents, and an in-room record player to listen to Space Age Bachelor Pad classics the way they were meant to be heard. And since Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel is right across the street from Disneyland, you’ll be able to see the Monorail rocketing by outside your windows. The House of the Retro Future will make you feel like you’re staying in that long-gone Disney attraction back in the early ‘60s, only with the modern conveniences you expect from a hotel in 2022.
The hotel’s commitment to bringing back the past extends beyond this one suite, though. Every room features similar touches from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and the Garden Pool has also undergone a mid-century makeover. As a legitimate mid-century building constructed in 1965 (it first welcomed guests exactly one day before Disneyland’s 10th anniversary), the Howard Johnson Anaheim is embracing its history and the one-of-a-kind style that made California the architectural and design standard for America in the ‘60s. And it’s all less than a 10 minute walk from Disneyland, the inspiration for the House of the Retro Future Suite, and the main reason hotels like the Howard Johnson flocked to Anaheim in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
I am absolutely a sucker for this kind of thing (yeah, Mad Men was pretty good), and there’s no better place to put a stylish, retro cool hotel like this than across the street from Disneyland. Disney itself added a bit of mid-century flair to its Disneyland Hotel about a decade ago, but nothing as thorough or evocative as what Howard Johnson seems to have done. For more information on Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground, head to their website.