No one blends brilliant photography and detailed Disneyland Resort information better than Andy Castro. Andy is a Southern California native and has been photographing the Disney parks for years. He also provides insider information on enhancements, refurbishments, remodels and merchandise at the Disney parks. Andy’s weekly blog, Dateline Disneyland, is regarded as one the most visually impressive and informative blogs covering the Disneyland Resort. We are proud to count Andy as a close friend of the Anaheim HoJo!

Andy wrote a recent blog feature series about the Howard Johnson. Here is the fourth part in the series on the long history of HoJo and Disneyland which began in 1965:

 Celebrating 50 Years of “Retro Family Fun” at HoJo Anaheim

One thing that can make or break a successful stay at a hotel, is the guests’ experience with the staff. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the front-line staff: the front desk, the housekeepers, the groundskeepers, or the roving managers. Every front-line staff member has contact with a guest at some point. It is how those staff members interact with guests that counts. Well, this interaction at the HoJo is legendary. Let’s take some time to meet and get to know some of these staffers that make HoJo an historic star among the Disneyland area hotels.

Today we introduce you to four of HoJo’s longtime staffers with their own vacation tips and stories to tell from behind the HoJo front desk!

Meet Paula!


Meet Paula, a Front Office Manager at Howard Johnson for 26 years!

What’s the best part of working at the iconic Howard Johnson?

Besides working alongside the friendliest and best group of people any hotel could ever have, it is so wonderful to hear firsthand from all of our guests that our customer service far exceeds their expectations. We have so many repeat hotel guests, and our customer service is the number one reason why people keep coming back. Our first-time guests are thoroughly impressed as well and so happy that they chose our hotel. Our hotel strives to make people feel welcome, special, and genuinely cared for. Howard Johnson is the second happiest place on earth!

Give us an insider tip for a Disneyland first-timer

Take the time to carefully plan your trip and get as much information you can before your trip begins, so you can best utilize your time while staying in the Anaheim Resort. There is so much information publicized now with websites, Disney blogs, and social media, you should have no trouble getting most of the information you need at your fingertips. But when in doubt, give us a call directly at the hotel or send us an email — there is always someone here who is friendly, knowledgeable, and patient to answer all your questions!

Tell us about a time you made some extra “magic” for a guest

Because I have worked here for so many years, there have been many instances where I have provided some extra “magic”. I should have written all of them down! The one that comes to mind is when one of our guests returned from a local mall. Once she returned to her room and was unpacking what she purchased that evening, she realized that one of the department stores failed to take off the sensor tag when she purchased it. Unfortunately, the mall had already closed for the evening. She was departing the next evening on a flight back home to Australia and she already had an LA/Hollywood tour booked for her last day here. I did not want her to have to cancel her tour just to go back to the mall and get the sensor removed. So I told her I would go to the mall and take care of it for her while she was on her tour. At that moment when I assured her that I would take care of it she started to cry! She said she simply couldn’t believe I would actually do that for her. She was very grateful and appreciative for me handling a problem of hers even though it was completely unrelated to our hotel.

Meet Rafael!


Meet Rafael, a Front Office Supervisor at Howard Johnson for 12 years!

What’s the best part of working at the iconic Howard Johnson?

The best part of working here at the HoJo is being a part of a great team and interacting with our amazing guests. The staff here cares about our guests like family. When guests have questions or problems or need personalized recommendations, we are able to assist and give them peace of mind.

Give us an insider tip for a Disneyland first-timer

I always remind first timers not to be afraid to ask questions, especially with our front desk staff. We can help guide them to have a better experience at the theme parks and offer tips on how to relax while they are here; like a local!

Tell us about a time you made some extra “magic” for a guest.

I remember a time when a family arrived after a delayed flight and their luggage, money, and credit cards had all been flown to a different country. I told them not to worry and took them to Target so they could have some fresh clothes for a couple days. We were also able to cover their first day to Disneyland and their meals until they were better situated. They could not thank the staff enough and said they felt like part of the family at the HoJo. That is how we make lasting friendships, and customers for life.

Meet Greg!


Meet Greg, a Front Office Supervisor at Howard Johnson for 10 years!

What’s the best part of working at the iconic Howard Johnson?

My favorite part of working at the Howard Johnson has to be our amazing staff. Everyday that I work at the front desk, it is as if I get to hang out with three good friends for eight hours. Everyone is so nice, good natured, and funny that it makes it easy to have a great day at work. That positive attitude is infectious, and our guests feel it too.

Give us an insider tip for a Disneyland first-timer

My best tip for first timers is to go EARLY, and this is coming from a night person! The lines are the shortest at the beginning of the day, so hit the big attractions like Star Tours, Indiana Jones and California Screamin’ at opening. Plus, HoJo sells multi-day Park Hopper tickets so you can avoid another line if you buy your tickets at the front desk before you head into the parks! If the day ever gets too long, just get your hand stamped for re-entry and take the quick 8-minute walk back to the hotel for a quick nap or a splash at our Castaway Cove water playground.

Tell us about a time you made some extra “magic” for a guest

While some of our guests were out shopping at a nearby mall, a member of their party suffered a heart attack. I found this out when one member of the family stopped by the front desk – visibly upset – and said she wanted a cab so she could visit her brother at UCI Medical Center. I immediately organized a town-car to take her there and bring her back to the hotel. While we were waiting for the car, she mentioned how she was worried about catching their return flight which was fast approaching. I was able to contact Qantas and get them a credit on their account for a future flight. I then obtained the request forms needed for her brother to be able to fly home. I filled out these medical forms for her then faxed them to the doctor’s office. Once everything was signed by the doctor I contacted Qantas again and was able to change their flight. Thankfully, they were able to change their itinerary without a change fee! I also arranged for special transportation for them back to the airport. The family was so grateful they sent us a little care package of Aussie snacks, a family photo, and an update of the patient’s status. I am glad to report that he is doing well! I look so forward to having them return and enjoy a full Disneyland holiday WITHOUT any health issues.

Meet Rick!


Meet Rick, a Front Office Supervisor at Howard Johnson for 6 years!

What’s the best part of working at the iconic Howard Johnson? 

The HoJo has an awesome reputation when it comes to family hotels near Disneyland. It is always great to be a part of the “winning team”! For example, the HoJo at Disneyland is a household name across Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But the best part of working here is when you see the faces of both the kids and parents light up when they call HoJo home. We see family groups of up to four generations stay with us and we could not be happier.

Give us an insider tip for a Disneyland first-timer

Leave all your stress and problems behind — it’s time to be a kid again.

Tell us about a time you made some extra “magic” for a guest

Nowadays, a family vacation can be very costly. We see a lot of hard working families that save up for years for their visit. Unfortunately a lot of them are not seasoned travelers. I recently had a family of four staying with us for a week and they were just so excited to be at the HoJo and to be so close to Disneyland. Their hotel booking was made directly with us and I noticed they were paying the full commercial rate for their room. While talking to them during the check-in process I found out that they have been planning this vacation for over four years and had no set plans and no pre-paid tickets. I knew very quickly that this family was about to realize the cold truth of just how much it costs for a Disneyland getaway. To help them out, I was able to locate a better rate that was available for their reservation, and eventually saved them 20% on their rooms. These savings not only paid for one of their Disney tickets but also allowed them to book an extra tour for the whole family. The parents were very appreciative and the family stopped by the front desk every day to share what they did and how much fun they had. The smile and the twinkle in the kids’ eyes was priceless, and THAT is where the magic is!

Enjoy more of Andy Castro’s Disneyland updates and articles here

Are you visiting Disneyland and want the perfect family hotel that’s closer to the theme parks than TWO of Disney’s own hotels? Look no further than the TripAdvisor fan favorite, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Playground! SIX time award winner in the category “Top 25 Hotels for Families in the United States“, and Travel + Leisure Magazine’s “Most Comfortable Hotel Beds in the U.S.”!



Posted Under: Guest Blog