After checking into the Doubletree Suites, I headed over to the convention center for the SIGGRAPH Fast Forward event. All conferences should have one of these at the beginning. Basically, they allow each presenter in the entire show 30 seconds to quickly present the overview of what they’re going to talk about in their full formal paper later in the week. You get a quick overview of all the technical papers in a little over an hour!
This was the first event I had attended at the Anaheim Convention Center. Right across the street and just south of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, it is a great location for a conference, especially if you are able to get the family to tag along. I have attended a number of events at the various convention centers in Orlando around the Disney World parks, which are great as well, but so far apart (At Disney World you really MUST have a car if you are not right on the property where you can use the Disney busses). Here in Anaheim however, you can pretty much walk anywhere you need to. If you are unable to walk even these shorter distances, the city of Anaheim provides shuttles between most of the area hotels and attractions for $5 a day.
You do have to remember that this is still the Los Angeles Valley, so you’re not going to find miles of pristine natural green forests like in central Florida, though there are still rows of neatly planted palms and tropical gardens everywhere. It is at least closer to the San Diego look than downtown LA.
One of the primary measures of a convention location for me (aside from finding all the Starbucks locations!), is availability of decent food during the day. As with most other convention centers I have visited, the Anaheim Convention Center has not fully solved the problem of feeding 20,000+ people lunch each day in a couple hour period, though they are far from the worst.
One thing that helped quite a bit was that they had a number of reasonably high-end mobile food trucks parked out front over the lunch period each day to supplement the fixed offerings from the Hilton and Marriott, as well as the conference center vending stands spread throughout the building. While they don’t have dedicated cafeterias like you find at locations like the LA Convention Center, at least they do have sandwich and drink options scattered through the various interior walking areas on each level.
Some of the “better” food options are located in the Hilton, across from Hall A and to the left as you look out toward the entrance and fountains. I say that hesitantly, as that’s also where you will find the longest lines and largest crowds at peak times. If you manage to go in between the peak breakfast and lunch times, or later in the afternoon, you might have better luck.
Throughout the conference center building itself there are a number of smaller vendors set up, mostly offering soft drinks, coffee, and cold sandwiches. They were busy most of the day, but their lines were usually not too long as lines go, but I managed to avoid waiting by finding my food elsewhere.
Of course, the most important part of any convention center (OK, well one of the top for me anyway…) is the location and number of Starbucks locations nearby. Unfortunately, there are no Starbucks inside the Convention Center itself, but there are two close by. One is in the back of the Hilton lobby, however, due to how large and full the Hilton is, that location almost always had a line 100 people or more long, so I never went there. The other is in the Marriott across the main plaza, which is a little harder to find, but worth it once you do, as the line was always much shorter to nonexistent every time I was there.
To get there from the Marriott main entrance, just turn right and go all the way down the corridor, then it will be on your right. To find it from the main convention center building, walk to the right of the large fountains, follow the walkway toward the Marriott, but instead go into the first set of doors.
Walk halfway down the nearly empty corridor and make a left at the main cross corridor. Then follow this walkway until you reach the back door of the Starbucks food court.
Do you have a “secret” food or drink spot at a major resort or convention center?