Postcard circa 1979
Lake Buena Vista, Florida -- 1805 Hotel Plaza Blvd

Described in HJ Corporate lore as "the most ambitious complex for housing, feeding, and entertaining tourists in company history," the thirteen-story 216 room Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge sited in Walt Disney's then new Lake Buena Vista "town" of motor inns opened in the fall of 1972.

Upon Lake Buena Vista's completion, and by the end of 1972, Howard Johnson's hospitality had the capacity to serve six million guests in its Restaurants and over half a million in its Motor Lodges per year -- just in the Orlando area!

Howard Johnson's employee orientation guide ca 1980s

Motor Lodge #500
The Lake Buena Vista site was a culmination of planning that began in 1965 when Howard B. Johnson began to think about the impact of Walt Disney World on the Orlando area. While the land was owned by the Walt Disney Company, Howard Johnson's secured a lease to build and operate the deluxe complex.

Initial plans called for an unusual design which featured "four rectangular wings which enclose(d) a landscaped courtyard." In addition to a traditional HoJo's Restaurant, an Elizabethan Room similar to Deerfield Beach's was slated to open at Lake Buena Vista.

So successful was the Lake Buena Vista location that a 108 guest room addition was constructed in 1978.

Brochures circa 1970s, 1980s, & 2000s

Creating the Image
In 1974, the Howard Johnson Company introduced a new system to streamline the 40 to 45 different menus that were used in the 900 or so Restaurants. In order to solve logistical problems, the new system used three mylar-coated and die cut menu covers that accepted inserts. Photographs and illustrations were used to reinforce a family theme and establish a mood for lunch, dinner, or late evening.

The Lake Buena Vista Restaurant featured the colorful menu covers seen to the right.

Institutions/Volume Feeding: Sept 1974, page 95

Photograph January 2001

Satellite & aerial views: © Microsoft Corporation

Jewel in the Crown No More
After the dissolution of the Howard Johnson Company in 1985, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company took direct control of the location and continued to operate it under the HJ banner with its Restaurant remaining a Howard Johnson's into the early 1990s.

What had been Howard Johnson's proudest property saw conversion into a Courtyard by Marriott facility during the middle 1990s. Then during the early 2000s, the property was closed, and converted again. Having become a Holiday Inn, the former Motor Lodge was damaged by hurricanes in 2004 and can be seen below while it was closed.