So you’re going to Blizzcon!
The most important thing, before all of that, though, is how to get there. You can’t physically attend without being there!
Firstly, for many people – flying. Now is probably a pretty good time to book a flight, and you have a dizzying array of options.
Anaheim, and the greater LA area in general are served by no fewer than 4 (!?) airports. 9/10 of you reading this are probably going to end up at LAX, the Warlords of Draenor of airports, and if so, that’s alright. LAX is the furthest out from the convention area, but it’s also served by the greatest number of flights, and has transit options galore to get to Anaheim. Your hotel may offer a shuttle – this is your best option if so. If not, there is Super Shuttle, or other similar van services. These can take a while, but are likely to be cheaper than most other alternatives. Super Shuttle has a discount offered through GET Travel, the official housing bureau. You can also take Uber or Lyft out of here, but it picks up on the departures level, so be sure to head up that way when you arrive. The apps will tell you that when you get there and try to grab a ride, and signage at the airport should help with that (in theory…).
The closest airports to the convention are Long Beach (code LGB) or John Wayne (code SNA). These are more spendy and have fewer flights available, but also place you much closer to the con. If you can get a fare to one of these that is about $40-60 more than an LAX fare, I’d probably take it – the cost and traffic savings after arrival are worth it. Lastly, there is also the Ontario airport to the north – even fewer flights and farther out, only exceeded in distance out from Anaheim by LAX.
There are public transit options, but using them out of LAX is a hot mess to get to Anaheim, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Now, what to do when you arrive? If you come in for a short trip, you’ll probably still have a smidge of downtime. After all, day zero on Thursday only offers badge pickup and a store without full inventory to avoid spoiling the opening announcements. So what is there to check out?
First, the obvious – Anaheim is known worldwide for the presence of Disneyland and California Adventure. These are worth a look if you are a Disney fan, and can easily pass a day, but passes are spendy – budget accordingly.
If you like rides that get your blood pumping, you could check out Universal Studios Hollywood or Knott’s Berry Farm. These are further out, but offer better rides than Disneyland or California Adventure. They are also moderately spendy, so prepare your wallet.
If you like staying closer to the con without forking over the Disney cash, there are some great options for things to do without breaking the bank. You can roam over to Downtown Disney, which has some cool shops to check out. I’d recommend their Lego store, where massive Lego creations just beg for photos. There’s also the Anaheim Gardenwalk, mentioned in Part 3 due to their food options, but there are some shops to check out too! There are a few other shopping center options in the close area to check out.
Additionally, for those looking for a day trip, the city’s own Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has some recommendations linked here.
Let’s talk about where to stay. You have a number of options, all relatively reasonable thanks to the presence of Disney theme parks! There are 8 hotels just in the immediate, under-a-block range of the convention center alone!
Firstly, your best bet is to book via the official housing bureau. They offer negotiated rates that are typically cheaper than what you can get elsewhere. You can also check your normal favorite hotel booking site, or your favorite hotel property brand – odds are pretty damn good they’ve got an option with easy access to Blizzcon.
I can personally speak to a few options. The first couple of trips I stayed in the Super 8 Disneyland. This is a good cheap option, with decent rooms, but be prepared to walk around 30 minutes to get to the convention center. I wouldn’t really recommend it. I stayed at the Hilton Anaheim once, and while it was nice, I would argue its rates aren’t really justified. Yes, you are as close to the con as you can get, and the party is always an elevator away, but it also runs pricier than the alternatives and has non-locking sliding bathroom doors, which, if you’re sharing a room with friends, is…no. The Sheraton Park at the Anaheim Resort is probably my favorite. Easy access to the Hilton and convention center, easy walk to Walgreens and CVS, nice rooms, and a quiet lobby – you can stay here, drop stuff off from con, and go right back into the thick of it. The last place I can speak to is on the other side of the con – Best Western Stovall’s Inn. I stayed here last year and actually quite liked it, but it is more of a budget chain, and it will take about a 10 minute walk to get to the convention center, so dropping off swag and heading back to things is harder. It also made committing to parties much harder for me last year, since I had to really commit before leaving!
Realistically, here’s my deal – it’s a convention, and so you’re not really getting the hotel for its amenities or luxuriousness. It’s the place you’re going to drop shit off at, a bed you’ll sleep in for a couple of hours each day, a shower and toilet you’ll spend 45 minutes tops in cleaning yourself and expelling waste, and maybe you’ll watch about 30 minutes of TV when it’s background noise for your morning rituals. These hotels are all family tested by the packs of tourists that roll through each and every week for Disney trips. There’s not really a bad hotel in the bunch. When I decide where my group stays each year, it’s usually a matter of how much we want to spend and how close we want to be – these are really the key factors. Your opinion of hotel stays may vary, but that’s how I look at it for a con at least 🙂
Now, for parking – there are a myriad number of lots with reasonable access. The convention center itself has a garage, your hotel likely has one as well, and Disney hosts multiple surface lots that are also usable for the convention. A handy map from the city is linked here.
To round out this piece, let’s talk local customs.
-Sidewalks are tall – use the ramps if you don’t want to feel weirdness in your knees.
-Cars drive fast and decisively – sometimes poorly. Be alert and drive defensively, but signal, commit, and act on your toes if you’re driving yourself around.
-Con attendees will take over for the duration of Blizzcon. If you ever get lost, watch for them – you’ll know 😉
-Cell service in the area is surprisingly robust and resilient – outside the convention center, at least. I’d recommend downloading maps for offline use just in case, however, especially since this year will likely be a new attendance record for Blizzcon, and there are also Disneyland visitors at all times.
-Tip your service people well – they’re pretty constantly busy but a big convention puts a strain on them, and they can be immensely helpful in return for your respect and compassion!
In my final guide, we’ll talk about my big list of dos and don’ts for Blizzcon!