Saturday, January 5, 2008

Polynesian Motel - Anaheim, CA

A favorite activity of mine during my family's twice-yearly visits to Disneyland are the times when I hit the road in the afternoons to explore the Southern California cityscape. Armed with postcard clues, I seek to identify the remains of old motels and other businesses, with the goal of documenting their latter days and seeking some connection to the excitement and optimism often portrayed on the paper advertisements of the Kodachrome Age.

One such place hides in plain sight along Brookhurst Street in Anaheim. The Polynesian Motel has enjoyed a 50 year run, providing comfortable lodging for the budget-conscious traveler.

Here's our first shot of the Polynesian, taken when it was newly minted. Note the jaunty sign, which once broadcast the siren song of the South Seas to the adventurous. The rest of the motel appears to be rather scant with the Tiki accoutrements, but I guess we can give them a pass based on the strength of the sign itself.


One should take note of the phone booth at the base of the sign. These are getting very hard to find these days, as cell phones have become as common as these glass boxes once were.

I'd love to slip back in time to around 1960, and be standing in this booth around 9:00 PM on some warm summer evening, with the neon lighting of the sign filling the booth with color and movement. Perhaps I'd call a cab to take me down the road to Linbrook Bowl* where I could roll a few frames and mix with the locals in the Kopa Room*.

Now here's the Polynesian in December, 2007. The grounds are well maintained and the paint is fresh, but the excitment and lure of the place has suffered with the removal of it's neon beacon.


Another card from the late 60's focused on the pool scene (sorry for the poor quality).


The pool area as it is today:


One more thing: if you decide to step out for a smoke, make sure you grab a matchbook when you pass by the office.


Unfortunately, it looks like they skimped a bit on these, as the cover depicts a generic roadside motel, not the exotic Polynesian...


* This locally-treasured alley and lounge still exist, and will be the focus of a not-to-distant future post.

7 comments:

Namowal said...

Too bad the neon went down. I know Disney managed to take out a lot of nearby signage (anyone remember Al's Liquor? The satellite? The Musketeer?)
I'm glad to see the rest of the motel, especially the pool area, is in good shape.

walterworld said...

Thanks Namowal---

I kick myself for not properly documenting the scene and signs around Disneyland in the early nineties when I started visiting as a grown-up with my family...

Thanks for the visit and the comment.

Take care and I hope you have continued success with your animation efforts!

jedblau said...

Great blog. I added you to my links. More posts, please!

Chris Merritt said...

Great post! I love seeing those before and after shots - it makes it very clear as to how things have been turned more generic...

outsidetheberm said...

Very nice - and appreciated. Looking forward to more.

walterworld said...

Thank you very much for the kind comments jedblau, chris and otb!

Your enthsuiasm is directly responsisble for my getting off my rear and posting today.

And I'll certainly try to post more freqently in the future...Thanks for remaining patient in the meantime.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

That was my parent motel We lived there all through my high school and college years. That is me in the pool. It's great to see this pictures and to bring back memories.