Come for the sparkly new convention center expansion, stay for the beer! While that’s maybe not the most but-toned-down marketing slogan, it indeed rings true
these days in Anaheim, Calif., an Orange County
destination that just opened the new ACC North
convention facility literally across the street from
Disneyland, and which is also joining the ranks of the
top microbrew cities in the nation with its assortment
of local breweries and brewpubs.
Meetings Today seized the opportunity to experience all of the above and more during a Sept. 25-27
press trip to celebrate the ACC North opening—and
the 50th anniversary of the Anaheim Convention
Center—as well as drink in the other meeting facility
and off-site options on tap in the city.
Anaheim officially opened the ACC North facility
Sept. 26, the seventh expansion of its convention center, which adds 200,000 square feet to its standing
as the largest convention facility on the West Coast, at
1.8 million square feet.
The expansion brings the Anaheim Convention
Center’s total amount of exhibit space to over 1 million
square feet, officially making it a member of the
“1 million-square-foot club,” as emphasized at the
opening ceremony by Jay Burress, president and CEO
of Visit Anaheim.
“Bigger is better, and biggest is definitely
best,” added Charles Ahlers, past president
of the Anaheim Orange County Visitor
& Convention Bureau (now known
as Visit Anaheim), joined by fellow
civic leaders, past and present.
Highlights of the new facility
include a 10,000-square-foot
terrace off of its upper level
that is across the street from
Disneyland, and provides an
events venue off the main ball-
room that provides a free view
of the nightly fireworks display at
the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
ACC North has the capacity to host 22,000 people,
with a 12,000-square-foot kitchen, 1,350 parking
spots and a 6,000-person banquet capacity, with
100,000 square feet on the 100 level and an additional 100,000 square feet of space on the 200 level.
Hoist a Pint
By proclamation—or at least via an extreme amount
of enthusiasm—from Mayor Tom Tait, Anaheim is bellying up to the bar to challenge top West Coast beer
destinations such as Portland, Ore., and San Diego as
a destination drawing fans of small-batch brew.
Unsung Brewing is located across the street from
the historic Anaheim Packing House, a former Sunkist
operation under a central atrium that offers two levels
of foodie heaven, including a number of venues that
are good fits for off-sites, such as a cozy “secret”
speakeasy and event specialist Cooks Chapel.
Unsung brews a full lineup of traditional and
specialty beers, and even published a comic book to
accompany its super hero theme. Groups can take
part in beer and cheese pairings and can also enjoy a
blind-wine-tasting teambuilding competition next door
at its MAKE Building neighbor, Pali Wine Co.
Towne Park Brewery and Taproom, the maiden
voyage of local hospitality industry scion Brett Lawrence, is located in an industrial setting and boasts a
20,000-square-foot, 30-barrel brew house with
a full taproom and a barrel room and
outside space for private meetings.
While not a microbrewery,
plenty of beers, cocktails and
its signature down-home
by a healthy serving of
live rock ’n’ roll—House
of Blues Anaheim
offers funky, art-filled
expanses that are sure
to please any off-site
attendee, with its ornate,
crowning grace on the top floor of the facility. Its 2,200-ca-
pacity main hall offers an intimate concert setting.
The Hotel Scene
Our group stayed in two properties, both adjacent to
the convention center in the Anaheim Resort district
and designed to work in tandem for larger events that
utilize both properties—there’s even a promenade
between them that can be used for special events.
The 1,030-room Anaheim Marriott boasts all of its
meeting space located on one level, including 100,000
square feet of event space, 44 separate meeting rooms
and five ballrooms. The property’s nFuse bar and
restaurant offered a stylish outdoor space overlooking
the pool for the opening night event, which showed off
its craft-cocktail and farm-fresh cuisine capabilities.
The 1,574-room Hilton Anaheim showed off one of its
star players, Executive Chef Frederic Castan, a 30-year
culinary veteran who has worked at some of the finest
restaurants in America. Castan assembled his team to
execute an amazing back-of-the-house breakfast in a
demonstration room designed by HGTV’s John Gidding,
followed by a briefing by Anaheim hospitality leaders in
its more-formal conference room setting.
The big news on the hotel scene is the new
600-room Westin Anaheim Resort, which just broke
ground next to the convention center and is set to
open in 2019. The first new-build Westin in Southern
California in 20 years, the four-diamond property will
fill the needed luxury niche in the destination.
The last night dinner was held at Disney Resort, utilizing Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa’s Napa Rose
restaurant, serving upscale California fare and fittingly
offering an extensive wine list, with a private room perfect
for small groups. Disneyland Resort news includes a massive renovation at the Grand Californian, with an entirely
redesigned floor of guest rooms and an expansion of the
outdoor lawn space at Disneyland Resort Hotel. m
By Tyler Davidson
NEW MEETINGS OPTIONS ARE BREWING IN SUNNY SOCAL
ACC NORTH RIBBON CUTTING
HILTON ANAHEIM EXECUTIVE CHEF FREDERIC CASTAN
ON the SCENE