Photo by Nomeus, 2009 - Flurbex.com

Colony Plaza Hotel

wdw668935SMALL
Photo:Ramada Inn Tower during the “first look” at Walt Disney World.

The Colony Plaza Hotel was originally built as a Ramada Inn in 1968. The hotel contained a a lounge, swimming pool, tennis courts, and meeting rooms. It was also the first hotel in Orange County to receive a license to serve liquor with meals on Sundays.

The site also served as a temporary headquarters for Disney officials who hosted a press conference in 1969. As someone put it, a “giant circus tent” was set up outside the hotel and invited guests were able to preview the upcoming opening of Walt Disney World Resort. Roy Disney, along with Disney legends Card Walker, John Hench, Charlie Ridgway, and Donn Tatum signed autographs and spoke announced October 1, 1971 as the opening date. Roy told guests at the event:

“You should know that the dedication of our staff to Walt’s goals is tremendous. And I know Walt would like what his creative team is doing because these are the ideas and plans he began. Everything you will see here today is something Walt worked on and began in some way. And today, the Walt Disney organization is dedicated to carrying out these wonderful plans in Walt Disney World.”

wdw778935SMALL
Photo: Guests were able to view scale models, artwork and animatronic figures at the event.

As hotels started being developed to directly support Disney, the hotel declined, changing hands numerous times before it finally converting into the Colony Plaza condominium complex and a portion of that being converted into a time share in the 1990s. In 2001, the city condemned the building after malfunctioning sprinklers flooded the first four floors. Apparently, it was marketed overseas which had let it fall into disrepair.

The city attempted to demolish the structure multiple times over the years that followed but ran into legal issues related to a longtime lien on the property, as well as the building’s fractured ownership which according to the mayor, had over 500 owners. On May 9, 2009, with hundreds of spectators to witness the event, the city demolished the building.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2009
Website: FLURBEX

Photographer: Tantrum_Dan
Year Taken: 2007
Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tantrum_dan/

9 thoughts on “Colony Plaza Hotel”

  1. I remember this hotel from when I was a little kid taking my mom to work in Ocoee every night. I didn’t know it had such a rich history! I also was a bit sad to not see “Ocoee” in the blog, yet looking at the pics provided I was like… “Wait… is that… that skyline is so familiar… that CAN’T be the one in Ocoee…” until I saw the video :)

  2. i worked at the colony for several years 1995-2001..miss it so much. i met so many people there..alot i still know.it would be nice to hear from some of the people that worked there.

  3. I had my graduation party here in 1978 when I graduated from West Orange. I have photos of my father (who usually took the pictures and wasn’t in them), my glamorous Mother, my Aunt and Uncle. They’re all gone, the hotel is gone. Sad.

    In the 1970s, it was very nice. It had a great restaurant, pool, tennis (yes, tennis in Ocoee ! ) and the staff was friendly.

    What killed it? Oddly, being on the south side of Highway 50 and not too close to the turnpike worked against it. The La Quinta across the street is almost as old and it’s still going strong!!!!

Don't be a stranger, share your thoughts with us!