by F. Andrew Taylor
The 1.8 million sq. ft. ACC opened in 1967 across the street from Disneyland on Katella Avenue. It was designed by Adrian Wilson & Associates and built by the Del Webb Corporation, known for building various Sun City communities around the southwest. It has undergone six major expansions in 1974, 1982, 1990, 1993, 1999–2000, 2016-2017 and is the largest exhibit facility on the West Coast. The ACC is within a 20-minute drive to the Pacific Ocean and a 42-mile stretch of Orange County coastline and enjoys an average temperature of 67 degrees with nearly 300 days of sunshine, and just 13 inches of rain annually (no snow).
The convention center is part of the “Anaheim Resort.” When Disneyland was undergoing major expansion and renovation in the 1990s, the 1,078-acre portion of the City of Anaheim was specially designated for recreation and tourist/convention-related activities and supporting uses. The landscaping, pedestrian avenues, traffic thoroughfares, signage and infrastructure were renovated to create a more attractive look. The area is surrounded by the lush gardens of the new resort environment.
The “ACC Campus” includes the Hilton Anaheim (1,576 rooms and 150,000 sq.ft. of function space); the Anaheim Marriott (1,030 rooms & 100,000 sq.ft. of function space); the Sheraton Park Hotel (486 guest rooms and 30,000 sq.ft. of function space) and, opening in 2020, the Westin Anaheim (613 rooms and 42,000 sq.ft. of function space). The four hotels ring the convention center making nearly everything within walking distance (less than half a mile).
The ACC was a filming location for Star Trek: Picard and will make an appearance in the show as a part of Starfleet Headquarters. It has also hosted and been the continuing home for several pop culture conventions, including Anime Expo three times, the 2012 VEX Robotics World Championship, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration fan gathering in 2015, MineCon, a Minecraft convention in 2016. Since 2012 It has been the continuing home to Wondercon, one of the country’s largest comic and pop culture conventions. The D23 Expo, a biannual exposition for Disney fans began at the Anaheim CC in 2009 and continues there. BlizzCon, a convention created by video game developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment for its fans has taken place there since 2005.
The ACC’s largest annual event, the Winter NAMM Show, is a music-equipment convention tradeshow that is not open to the general public and has been at the ACC every year since 1977 with the exception of a three-year break while it was under major renovations. Other notable conventions held there include the FBLA-PBL (Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda) National Leadership Conference, the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference, the Medical Design and Manufacturing Show and the California State Future Farmers of America leadership conference. The Arena hosted wrestling during the 1984 Summer Olympics and is the planned venue for indoor Volleyball for the 2028 Olympics.
This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 60. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/exhibitcitynews_janfeb_2020