Ever-Evolving Anaheim

L TO R: Pepe Avila, Vice President Tourism and Partnership, Visit Anaheim; Arthur Vong, Sales Coordinator, Regional Sales and Marketing, Universal Studios Hollywood; George Garcia, Account Executive, Sales, SeaWorld; Jay Judal, director, Outside Sales, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; Tisha Rogers, Strategic Account Manager, USA West Coast, Legoland; Luanne Miracle, Knott's Berry Farm; Jason Stremble, Business Development Manager, Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Company Canada; Jennifer Rivard, Wholesale Sales Manager, Walt Disney Company Canada.

One of the most popular cities for tourism in the United States just keeps evolving.

Visit Anaheim is staging a series of roadshows across Canada, beginning in Toronto on 14NOV, where Open Jaw was in attendance, and also visiting the trade and travel media in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Eighteen representatives of area hotels and attractions were on hand, including officials from Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Legoland, SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

Pepe Avila, Vice President Tourism and Partnership, Visit Anaheim.

“We love Canada, and Canada loves us,” said Pepe Avila, Vice President Tourism and Partnership, Visit Anaheim.

Kathy Nishimura, Manager Tourism Development for Visit Anaheim, said there are a lot of great attractions that would-be tourists don’t know about. The Anaheim Packing House is a 1920’s era citrus packing building transformed into a community food hall in the Center City downtown district. There’s also a wine-tasting spot and a comic-book-themed craft beer place called Unsung Brewery.

Nishimura added that there are three new four-diamond hotels in the city, all with rooftop bars that are great for a cocktail or watching the fireworks at Disneyland. Those properties are The Westin Anaheim Resort, The JW Marriott Anaheim Resort and The Viv Hotel, Anaheim a Tribute Portfolio brand from Marriott.

OCV!be is a new, $4 billion development spread over 100 acres around the Honda Center, home to the NHL Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The development is slated for 2024 and includes more than 35 restaurants, 20 acres of open space and more than three miles of public trails and bridges. There also are two new hotels and space for concerts, homes and offices.

In terms of lift, WestJet flies to John Wayne International Airport (SNA) from both YVR and YYC while Air Canada flies from YVR. Anaheim is about 21 km from SNA.

Madeleine Brydon, Product Manager, WestJet Vacations, a major sponsor of the event, said her company is the leader when it comes to selling Disneyland and Anaheim’s hotels.

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“There’s a high demand despite the U.S. dollar,” she said. “The big game changer was when the borders really opened on 01OCT.”

Madeleine Brydon, Product Manager, WestJet Vacations and Dave Cecco, Director of Product, WestJet Vacations.

WestJet Vacations has brought in an instant savings program that provides $300 off a package of four or more nights at nine select Anaheim hotels. The package must be booked by 31DEC, 2022 for travel up to 30JUN, 2023. Packages are limited, Brydon advised.

Jennifer Rivard, Wholesale Sales Manager at the Walt Disney Company Canada, shared that there’s a new Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the creation of Disney studios by Walt and Roy Disney. Details have yet to be released, but Rivard said there will be events at Disney properties around the world.

Chris Nuccio of the Anaheim Transportation Network said Anaheim operates a series of 30, 40 and 60-foot electric buses that will take visitors to the theme parks and other attractions. It’s $6 for an adult to ride all day and $2.50 for kids.

Arthur Vong, Sales Coordinator, Reginal Sales and Marketing, Universal Studios Hollywood, told Open Jaw that a new attraction is The Secret Life of Pets. Universal also is home to Transformers, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic World.

Luanne Miracle, Manager of Travel Industry and Special Markets Sales at Knott's Berry Farm, said their full-service hotel is undergoing major renovations and that the waterpark was recently revamped.

George Garcia, Account Executive, Sales, SeaWorld, said the park next year will welcome a new “straddle coaster” called Arctic Adventure, which features seats that look like a snowmobile. Garcia said SeaWorld recently surpassed more than 40,000 animal rescues.

Jay Judal, Director, Outside Sales, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, explained that the children’s zoo section has been overhauled and renamed Wildlife Explorers Basecamp, with new water features, an insect house and more immersive exhibits.

Jim Byers

Jim Byers is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto. He was formerly travel editor at the Toronto Star and now writes for a variety of publications in Canada and around the world. He's also a regular guest on CBC, CTV News, Global News and other television and radio networks.

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