ANAHEIM, Calif. — For $1,957, visitors to Howard Johnson's in Anaheim can take a nostalgic trip to Disneyland's past.

In 1957, Tomorrowland seemed like a glimpse into the future.

What You Need To Know

  • Howard Johnson's in Anaheim has converted a two-room suite into a modern version of the Monsanto House of the Future, which displayed in Tomorrowland at Disneyland

  • More than 20 million visitors walked through the Monsanto House of the Future from 1957 to 1967 

  • The Howard Johnson suite is far different from the cross-shaped original House of the Future 

  • A two-night stay inside the House of the Retro Future is $1,957

There was the TWA Rocket to the Moon — more than a decade before humans set foot on the moon's surface, the Clock of the World, and the House of the Future.

Visitors in 1957 walked through this all-plastic model home to see what a futuristic home could look like — in 1986.

Designed by MIT and sponsored by Monsanto, a chemical company, the Monsanto House of the Future featured a mid-century design, big screen television, microwave and climate control center to control the indoor temperature, purify the air and even produce a scent.

While the designers at the time got some things right — the microwave, the big screen TV, and an indoor temperature control system — they got a few wrong. The bathroom in the plastic home was the size of an airplane or cruise ship bathroom. 

Disneyland historian Charles Phoenix talks about the Monsanto House of the Future during a presentation at Howard Johnson. (Spectrum News/Joseph Pimentel)

Charles Phoenix, a Disneyland pop-culture historian, said the stand-alone plastic home exhibit in Tomorrowland was a technological revolution during its time. 

More than 20 million visitors checked out the model home from 1957 to 1967 before Disney tore it down for a new attraction in the late 1960s. He said the foundation, painted green, can still be seen in Pixie Hollow. 

"All these years later, there has never been a house that looked more mid-century modern, more futuristic and as timeless and classic as this one is. It still looks futuristic," said Phoenix during a presentation. "That, at the end of the day, is its greatest achievement, that all these years later, we have never seen a house look like this, entirely made of plastic."

The original cross-shaped layout of the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland. (Spectrum News/Joseph Pimentel)

While the original House of the Future is gone, Howard Johnson set to replicate and modernize parts of it, at least the interior.

Howard Johnson's, across the street from Disneyland, took that idea and transformed a regular two-room suite on the hotel's fourth floor into the House of the Retro Future.

"It's a homage to elements of the original Monstano House of the Future as well as honor our midcentury modern design heritage," said Jonathan Whitehead, general manager at Howard Johnson's in Anaheim, during a Spectrum News tour of the suite. 

The interior of the House of the Retro Future inside Howard Johnson Anaheim (Courtesy Andy Castro)

With the help of designer Caroline McLean, Whitehead recreated several parts of the House of the Future exhibit. 

Inside, the dining room features a George Nelson Lazy Susan dining table, a reproduced credenza, and even commissioned Disney artists to repaint the blue peacock artwork prominently seen on the original House of the Future wall.

A flat-screen television hangs on the living room wall, a modern version of the curved cathode ray tube television in the original design. 

Mid-century modern furniture similar to those in the original home is decorated throughout, along with custom artwork by mid-century artist Shag. There's also a vintage record player, where guests can listen to their favorite jazz artist. 

The bedroom of the House of the Retro Future inside Howard Johnson Anaheim. (Andy Castro)

The Howard Johnson bedroom and bathroom are where things become different. The two-room suite is also far different from the six-room, cross-shaped layout.

The bathroom inside the original House of the Future almost looks about the size of an airplane bathroom. The Howard Johnson suite bathroom is larger, updated and will soon feature a computerized mirror.

Whitehead said they had to modernize some design elements because fully recreating the original House of the Future wouldn't meet today's consumer expectations.

Whitehead did not disclose the cost of the renovation.

"We've done renovations to our other buildings," said Whitehead, adding that they previously transformed another room into a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed suite, with artwork and concept art from the original Disneyland attraction.

The House of the Retro Future suite will be available for guest reservations starting Aug. 12. Guests must book at least two nights on Tuesday and Wednesday or Friday and Saturday nights. The cost of the stay is $1,957 — the year the Monsanto House of the Future made its debut at Disneyland.

"This is more than just a hotel suite," said Whitehead. "It's an experience."


CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Disney Imagineering was part of the design team for the original House of the Future exhibit. The error has been corrected. (July 29, 2022)