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.
Convention Center Snapshot: Anaheim Convention Center & Arena
Location: 800 W Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92802
Opened: July 1967
Square Footage: At 1.8 million sq.ft. spanning 53 acres, it joined the ranks of the “1-million-sq.ft. club” list in 2017. It offers 1 million+ sq.ft. of exhibit space; 352,000 sq.ft. of meeting space; 176,000 sq.ft. of pre-function lobby space; 200,000 sq.ft. of outdoor venue space (the Arena Plaza, Palm Court & Grand Plaza); 238,000 sq.ft. (three ballrooms), 99 meeting rooms and 7,500 theater-style stadium seats in the Arena.
Parking: There’s seven parking lots/garages ringing the ACC and it does have agreements with overflow lots close by if needed and available. Price varies per show – usually beginning at $18-20.
Hotels: 111 hotels (22,183 rooms) within two miles of the ACC, including 41 properties (8,749 rooms) within a ½-mile walking distance. 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).
Airport Info: Accessible from four major airports—John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA) is 13 miles away; Long Beach Airport (LGB) is 18 miles away; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is 34 miles away; and LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) is 35 miles away.
Transportation: The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) provides rail, bus, taxi and other services for daily commuters and visitors. The Disneyland Resort Express bus provides service from the John Wayne Airport to Disneyland or Anaheim Resort hotels.
Wi-Fi: The ACC features a newly upgraded wired and wireless network with an industry-best 10 GB connection from Smart City Networks. Free WiFi accessibility is available throughout the ACC. PSAV, the ACC’s on-site, preferred production partner, supports the A/V rigging and meeting needs during events.
Fun Fact #1: 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).
Fun Fact #2: It hosts the NAMM Show, VidCon, BlizzCon, Anime Expo, D2sw3 expo, WonderCon, to name a few and it was the site for the 1984 Summer Olympics wrestling competition and will host indoor volleyball during the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Fun Fact #3: The ACC was a filming location for Star Trek: Picard and will make an appearance in the show as a part of Starfleet Headquarters.
While the area around the ACC is flavored heavily by its proximity to Disneyland there are several fine dining options within walking distance. Both Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Morton’s the Steakhouse are on Harbor Boulevard, just east of the CC and McCormick & Schmick’s Grille is just a little farther east. Tastes from around the world are available nearby, including Agio Ristorante, Mi Casa Mexicana, Tanor Fresh Mediteranian Grill, and Roy’s Restaurant a High-end chain serving notable chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian fusion fare. Downtown Disney has several choices including Catal Restaurant and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.
Like the dining, much of the area is dominated by big chain hotels including the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, the Anaheim Marriott, the Anaheim Hilton and the Doubletree Suites by Hilton. There are also a number of smaller places marketed towards families with children, such as the Candy Cane Inn, the Alpine Inn and the Kings Inn. Be forewarned that the more family friendly the place the more likely they are to be filled with the joyful chaos of excited children, which might not be conducive to business travel.
Did we mention Disneyland? The area is also home to the other Anaheim amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm. Angel Stadium and Anaheim Ice are nearby for the sports minded. For those looking to get out and stretch their legs, Yorba Regional Park has biking, fishing, and a picnic area. Oak Canyon Nature Center offers hiking and an interpretive center. For those seeking education and enlightenment, the MUZEO in downtown Anaheim is a museum of local culture, history and art.
This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 10 & 60. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/exhibitcitynews_janfeb_2020