A September 2005 trip
to Anaheim by vampirefan
Quote: I had a chance to attend my former travel agencies national meeting with my co-workers Tammy, Sandy, and Margaret. It turned out to be lots of work with a whole lot of fun thrown in.
Hotel | "The Marriot"
We went with the Anaheim Marriott since it sits directly
across from the Hilton, which is where our convention was
being held. The hotel is sleek and sophisticated with the
staff looking very trendy in all black and the lobby being
very modern and inviting. There are quite a few lounging
chairs and stylish glass tables and exotic flower displays.
There are two parts of the hotel; the main building and the
newer added Oasis Tower. Tammy and Margaret stayed in the
main building while Sandy and I were in the Oasis Tower. The
main building offers stunning views from its balconies while
the rooms in the Oasis tower offer larger rooms. Tammy and
Margaret did not even have walking room between their beds
while Sandy and I had plenty of room to move about.
The room was very warm offering a down filled comforter and
duvet and extra pillows. We had a chair and side table, a
desk, and TV armoire with a large TV and fridge. The bathroom
was adequate sized with the shower having an adjustable
nozzle head. The hot water tends to get warm very fast.
It is stocked with shampoos, conditioners, soap, and lotion.
Hairdryers are provided as well as an iron and ironing board.
Most of the rooms offer Internet access and have cable.
Downstairs you will find a Starbucks, Pizza Hut, gift shop,
concierge desk, a pool (indoor and out), health club, sauna,
and hot tubs and 2 on site restaurants. Café Del Sole is open
for all three meals and offers local cuisine. JW’s
Steakhouse is only open for dinner and offers steaks, chops,
and seafood. They also have the Degrees Wine and Patio Bar.
They do have parking, but it is $7 a day and valet is $22.
They have plenty of room should you want to hold a convention
or social event here. They have 31 meeting rooms, over 54,000
square feet of meeting space, and the Marquis Ballroom has
25,000 square feet of space and can hold 2000 people. There were
several conventions going on while we were here including the
California Republican Party. Until I discovered what it was,
I kept wondering why all these people had badges with Run
Arnold Run on them!
This is an upscale and luxury hotel. They have 3 diamonds from
AAA. Oh and best off all…they are pet friendly. You are 2
minutes from the Convention Center, 2 blocks from Disney, 45-
minutes from LAX, 15 minutes from Angles stadium, and near
several golf courses. There is a cute trolley that will run
you back and forth from the hotel and Disney for $3 a day.
There is also a bus that sits in front of the Hilton to take
you out to SeaWorld.
This hotel is upscale without being too stuffy. The hotel
staff and friendly and helpful. For more information visit
them at www.mariott.com.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 1, 2005
700 W CONVENTION WAY
Anaheim, California 92802
For dinner, we decided to go with Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. Ralph’s offers some great New Orleans dishes along with some great jazz for your entertaining pleasure.
You feel like you’re in New Orleans when you first walk into the restaurant. There is a huge fountain when you first walk in and the upstairs looks like the balconies of the famed French Quarter houses. Inside you will find bands serving up the jazz hot, just like you would find in New Orleans. We were lucky enough to eat on the patio and it is just simply beautiful with the wrought iron that typifies New Orleans gracious homes. Also stop in at the bathrooms! Just go and you will see why I mentioned it!
All four of us enjoyed a terrific meal. Sandy went with the crab cakes, Tammy went with Roasted Rosemary Chicken, and Margret had Tournedos de Beef. I didn’t sample anyone else’s, but everyone said their meal was terrific.
Now I heard how wonderful their gumbo was and decided I had to go with that. I had the Ya-Ya Gumbo. This heavenly soup of dark roux has both chicken and andouille sausage along with Cajun spices and rice. Now that was some good gumbo. I also had the Tri-Colored Spring Salad. This delightful salad consisted of radicchio, frisee, and watercress with mango and homemade croutons. It also comes with avocado if you like it. It is topped with their homemade raspberry pecan dressing. Yummy! I was quite happy with my meal.
For dessert, we had double chocolate bread pudding, banana fosters flambe' and beignets. The pudding was nice and fluffy and tasted nothing like bread pudding. It tasted more like a mousse, which is great since I am not a fan of bread pudding. My beignets wqere to die for. If you have never experienced this little peace of heaven, then what the heck is the matter with you? These deep fried pillows of dough are covered with powdered sugar and just melt in your mouth. Oh, and there is no way to avoid powdered sugar on you. But people will know where you have been and understand why you are walking around with white stuff smeared on your shirt.
Our group also ordered Bananas Foster, which is an experience all on its own. Our wonderful waitress, Alexis, brought out her little grill. After finally getting a flame she put butter and brown sugar in the pan and added some bananas. Then she added rum and banana liquor and for some dazzle it is on fire before your very eyes! Quite stunning and everyone walking by stopped and applauded.
The food here is wonderful and our waitress, Alexis, was a doll. For more information visit them at www.rbjazzkitchen.com. Hours are typically 11-2 am , but always double check. You can make priority reservations at (704) 781-DINE. I would highly suggest them.
Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
1580 South Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, California 92802
Attraction | "The Anaheim Hilton"
Our meeting was held at the Hilton Anaheim. The Hilton is the perfect place to hold a convention. It is located next to the Anaheim convention center and only minutes away from Disney.
The lobby is huge and very inviting and has almost an open air feel to it. Throughout the lobby you will find big comfortable, leather chairs for a quick impromptu meeting or just relaxing with a good book. They have a beautiful water fountain with 3 huge stone statues. Just off of the lobby you will find a gift shop and there is also a clothing store near the lobby.
They have several restaurants on the premises. There is a Starbucks to get your morning started right. They also have Pavia (upscale Italian) for dinner, Café Oasis (café food) is open all day, The Sushi Bar (Japanese) is open for dinner, and the Gazebo (burgers sandwiches, salads) is open for lunch. The Gazebo is open from mid-spring to fall and is located poolside. While here we had several appetizers at the Café Oasis and the food was wonderful. The order of nachos was more than all 4 of us could eat.
This is the perfect place for your meeting, convention, or reunion. They have rooms that can serve as classrooms as well as space for meeting and trade shows. They have 2 ballrooms that are almost 30,000 square feet each! They do offer on site catering. The food though, to be honest, is hit and miss. The food at our first dinner wasn’t exactly wonderful. I only found a few things tolerable. But there desserts were to die for. They do keep plenty of coolers stocked with sodas and water to keep your staff happy.
Since we didn’t stay in their rooms I cannot attest to them personally. But I did meet several people who said their rooms were wonderful. They do have a pool, hot tubs, sauna, and spa. They offer a full service business center. They offer concierge service, foreign exchange service, luggage hold and storage, laundry service, car rental desk, and children’s activities. They are also pet friendly. Parking is $11 p/d and valet parking is $17 p/d.
From here you are only 45 minutes from downtown LAX, less than a 10-minute walk from Disney, and there are several golf courses located within minutes of the hotel. The concierge can help you arrange tee times. There is a trolley that stops outside the Hilton that runs back and forth in-between the hotel and Disney. It is $3 per day. For more info. Just go to www.hilton.com.
Anaheim Hilton and Towers
777 Convention Way
Downtown Disney is your one stop shopping and entertainment mecca located within the Disneyland area. Here you can take in all things Disney after a harried day of running around the park.
There are dining options here for everyone in your group. You can grab a quick snack, dine with some of the Disney characters, or enjoy fine dining at several restaurants. There are several theme restaurants on the premises. Snack stops include Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Jamba Juice, and Wetzel’s Pretzels. You can catch a character meal at PCH Grill. For a casual meal you can try Granville’s Steak House, or Hook’s Point. For a more upscale environment head over to Napa Rose, Catal Restaurant, or Ralph Brennans. Theme restaurants include ESPN Zone, the Rainforest Café, and House of the Blues. For reservation, call 714/781-DINE.
There is no shortage of places to shop here. There is something for everyone in your party or on your gift list. Anne Geddes Flagship store is now here, create a new friend at Build-A-Bear, add to your Department 56 collection, Sephora offers some of the best cosmetics around, and little girls love Club Libby Lu. Something Silver has some amazing silver jewelry and their storefront is beautiful. Even if you’re not on a leggo hunt, make sure to stop in the Leggoland Store. I am always amazed what they come up with in this place. This one hosts Darth Vader and R2D2 from Star Wars, a bigger than life giraffe, the Empire State Building, and King Kong. Even if you don’t stop by the House of the Blues or the Rainforest Café for dinner, make sure you stop by for some great souvenirs. And no trip is complete without a stop in at the Disney Store. This place is huge. You will find everything imaginable here from Disney.
There are several places to keep you entertained until the wee hours of the morning. Catch the latest releases at the AMC Theater. Catch your favorite team at the ESPN Zone or have fun with the numerous video and interactive games. The Lost Bar, Tortilla Jo’s, and Ralph Brennan’s all have live music. The House of the Blues host acts from the current hottest acts out there to all time favorites. Check out www.hob.com to see who is playing when you’re in town.
There is not an admission charge to get into Downtown Disney. Hours run from 8am to 2am and vary by season. Most stores open from about 9 am until about 9 pm depending on the season. Of course restaurants and clubs keep later hours. They do have free parking. There is a Disney trolley that runs to most of the nearby hotels and is $3 per day and you can ride as often as you like. For more information just head over to www.downtowndisney/anaheim.com.
1565 S. Disneyland Drive
A while back, when my former manager, Tammy, asked me what I was
doing mid-September. Racking my brain and realizing I didn’t
have any plans, I just answered, "nothing special". Then I
was informed I would be going to the national meeting. Well,
okay, I guess, sounded good to me. And when Disney got thrown
into the picture, it started sounded very good to me. Yes, it
meant time away from my hunny bunny, but I was going to
Disney. It was a just a few days, and he had to play that
weekend anyway, so oh, what the heck.
So I ordered my little Anaheim visitors guides and had dreams
of spending some time at the "Happiest Place on Earth" now
celebrating its 50th anniversary. Well, as luck would have it,
we enrolled for the conference and soon had our conference
schedule. Once I got that schedule in my hands, my world came
crashing down. Turns out I would have classes from 7am until somewhere after 7pm! Gulp!
Since my classes started at 7am, that would mean I would have
to be up at about 6:15 to get ready. Let me just say this: I
am not familiar with 6:15am. I have heard of this, but it is
not a concept I have exactly grabbed on to. Despite my IgoUgo
moniker of vampirefan, I do not practice this lifestyle. I
just happened upon the movie The Lost Boys in the '80s and
just loooved that movie, especially Billy Wirth (black-haired vampire), and since then, hunks like Tom Cruise, Gerry
Butler, Thomas Ian Griffith, etc., show up as hunky vampires
in movies. So what is not to like? But the thing I do share
with vampires is my dislike of the morning. So I don’t do
6:15am as a general rule. Now, here was my little world coming
to a crawl, and I hardly saw time to pee in that schedule, and
to really ruin my day, I didn’t see Disney anywhere on that
agenda. I could feel my mouse-shaped heart breaking!
What was once seen as a wonderful, fun and happy time, was
now looking as evil as Jason Isaacs in The Patriot! As it
got closer to the conference day, I began to dread it more and
more. Having already packed the night before my flight, I was
expecting to be in bed by 10pm. I am familiar with 10pm,
just not as a bedtime. But I had to be at the airport by
about 6:30am, and the drive was about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
This meant I had to be up at 4:30am--a time I am also
familiar with, but often as bedtime! Unfortunately, this was
a Wednesday night, and I have a hard time missing magician
Criss Angel (even thought I was taping it), so I ended up
going to bed at 12am. A few hours later, I dragged my sleepy butt
up and got going toward the airport.
After a brief stop in Chicago (which left with me with a huge
blister from sprinting from one plane to another), we touched
down in sunny Anaheim. I found the view of the mountains nothing less than stunning. We hopped on our bus that would take us to our hotel about 20 minutes away. It was
a pleasant drive, and the view of the mountains was just as
stunning from the ground. As we pulled in and turned onto
Disney Way, my fellow employees made sure to tell me that that
was as close to Disney as I would get. Here I was, a 10-minute
walk from Disney, and I would never get to see it. Again, my
mouse-shaped heart wept a bit.
We checked into our room at the Marriott, located across from
the convention center. I was sharing a room with my ex-boss,
Sandy. Then we quickly joined the convention across at the
Hilton. The Hilton was beautiful, and we quickly grabbed some
appetizers at their grill downstairs. Afterwards, we spent the
remainder of our day in workshops and listening to our guest
speaker. Our evening ended
with a so-so meal atop the hotel. The menu was varied and so was
the result of the food. They had one section of Chinese food
with a mock Golden Gate Bridge, one with Italian food set up
to look vineyards in Italy, and so forth. After trying
several disappointing items, I fixed a roast beef sandwich
and was finally satisfied. And the dessert offerings were to-die-for--nothing bad here. Finally, we called it a night,
since 6:15am would come all too soon.
The next day went pretty much the same, with workshops and a
vendor fair. Here, lunch was provided, and it was a huge improvement
over the previous night choices. I had Caesar salad, pasta
salad, and yummy gumbo. Once again, the dessert was
spectacular. At our vendor fair, I managed to win a pair of
tickets from America West. Yeah for me! So now I have to
decide where to go. At this point, LAX is looking very good,
so we can go diving. Again, we had a great speaker.
After our day, we decided to skip out early and have dinner
all on our own. I had been suggesting Downtown Disney so I
could at least be near Disney. Plus, they have tons of choices
for dining and shopping. But my suggestions were ignored.
Unbeknownst to me, my co-workers had been planning to go to
Downtown Disney. So I am forever grateful to Sandy, Tammy, and
Margaret for allowing this Disney fan a few hours in this
happy place. We ate at Ralph Brennen’s New Orleans
restaurants, which had food to-die-for. Afterwards, we did some
shopping at the Rainforest Café, Legoland, House of
Blues, and the Disney store. I left with a lot less money but
a quite HUGE smile on my face and my mouse heart
Our last day was more of the same of workshops and a speaker.
That evening ended with our gala formal dinner. The room was
set up to look like something out of the movie The Aviator.
It was silver and white and carried a 1940s art-deco
Hollywood theme. After our tasty meal we were in for a big
treat, when we had three HUGE celebrities in the house. We were
thoroughly entertained by Elvis, Cher, and Celine Dion! These
impersonators were unbelievable and put on a wonderful show.
Elvis had women, young and old, still screaming as if the
king were still with us. Boy, I sure do have a lot of Elvis
sightings in my journals! After meeting Cher and Elvis, we
retired for the evening.
The next morning, I was ready for my flight back home. Our
flight into Denver was incredible. We flew over the Grand
Canyon, offering the people on the left side of the plane (of
course, I was on the right) an unparalleled view. We had the
pleasure to sit with a State Representative from Wyoming who
was a delight. The view of the mountains was incredible as
we flew into the airport. Next, we were finally off to
Charlotte and back home after a busy weekend.
Charlotte, North Carolina