I can't believe we're already talking about the next Star Wars Celebration! I'm still riding the high from Celebration Chicago, but with tickets and hotels already available for Celebration Anaheim, many of us Star Wars fans are already planning our next trip to the greatest convention in the galaxy.

I attended Star Wars Celebration Anaheim back in 2015, which was my very first visit to the area. I later moved to Anaheim and lived 10 minutes from the convention center for a year. Planning trips and vacations to southern California can quickly become a little overwhelming when you factor in the cost of flights, hotels, meals, and activities. I wanted to share my insight about the area and convention center to prepare you for the best Celebration ever!

Since attending Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in 2015, I've attended three other conventions there including WonderCon and D23 Expo. I'm very familiar with the convention center itself and the surrounding area since I spent most of my free time there when I lived in Anaheim. Let's go over flights, hotels/accommodations, and my favorite part- the food in the area!

Flights

If you're flying into southern California for this event, you're in luck with airport options! There are many airports within the area, including LAX in Los Angeles. I think LAX is really great for people who travel frequently because it's a huge hub for many airlines and offers a wide varieties of flight options. However, most people don't realize how long it can actually take you to get from LAX to Anaheim after your flight has landed. Traffic in Los Angeles is no joke! No matter the time of day, there will always be traffic jammed around the city. I highly recommend looking into the John Wayne airport in Orange County (SNA) or Long Beach airport (LGB) when planning your flights. Trips to and from SNA or LGB might be a tad more expensive than flying into LAX, but consider this- an Uber/Lyft from either of those smaller airports to the Anaheim Convention Center will only cost you around $20 and take about 20-30 minutes, depending on the time of day. Going from LAX to the Anaheim Convention Center could cost you much more and end up eating at least an hour (or more) of your time. When you really crunch the numbers of your flight plus a rideshare or shuttle, you'd really end up spending about the same amount of money.

The John Wayne and Long Beach airports are also very clean, small, and easy to navigate. The security lines are rarely super long and there are several great restaurants in each airport to grab food before your flight. If you don't travel often or don't like to fly, traveling through these airports will be much less overwhelming than having to go through LAX. If LAX is your only option based on the availability of flight times, just keep in mind that you will need to leave the Anaheim area at least 2-3 hours before your flight time. Also keep an eye on TSA lines online!

Hotels/Accommodations

This is the best part about visiting the Anaheim area! Thanks to Disneyland being nearby, there are SO many options for hotels and accommodations nearby. The two closest hotels to the Anaheim Convention Center are the Hilton Anaheim and the Anaheim Marriott. You could leave your hotel and literally be inside the convention center within a minute. If those hotels are already booked up or fall outside of your budget when planning your trip, fear not! There are literally dozens and dozens of other hotels within walking distance. The best way to get a good deal on a hotel for Star Wars Celebration is to book your room directly through the Star Wars Celebration website. Airbnb is also a great way to save money on accommodations and also have amenities like a kitchen, larger bathroom, more privacy, etc.

Two things that I wanted to note here, both the Hilton and Marriott have great amenities that you can use even if you're not staying there. For example, the Hilton has a full size Starbucks in the lobby, which is great if you need to grab some caffeine on your way to the convention! There's The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on the other side of the Hilton if you prefer that over Starbucks or if the line is too long. The Hilton also has a small food court inside the hotel with food stops like Baja Fresh (they have $3 tacos!) and Sbarro. The Marriott has a FedEx Office Print & Ship in the hotel, which is wonderful if you buy items at the convention that you need to ship home or need to pick up a poster tube for artwork that you bought! I'd recommend visiting the FedEx office before the very last day of the convention to avoid long lines to ship your goods.

There is also a CVS and a Walgreens right around the corner from the convention center in case you need to grab snacks, water, or anything that you forgot to pack like toothpaste or a hair brush. My mom and I always swing by a CVS to buy snacks that we can take into the convention.


Anaheim Convention Center decked out for WonderCon 2018

Food

As mentioned above, the Hilton has a small food court inside the hotel. The convention center also has your standard overpriced pizza, burgers, and sandwiches, but the best part about conventions in Anaheim are the food trucks! Yes, you heard that right- food trucks. The convention center has a paved area in front (between the Hilton and Marriott) where they bring in about 10-20 different food trucks each day. These will also be a little pricey, but if you budget accordingly for lunch, you can get some really great food and eat outside to enjoy the sunshine. If food trucks aren't your thing, there are tons and tons of restaurants within walking distance as well. Less than two minutes away is a really cute diner restaurant called Coco's where they serve pretty much anything you can imagine from burgers to salads, waffles and even pies! This is a really great place to eat if you have kids because the menu has options for everyone. There are several Denny's nearby too if you want quick food on a tight budget. I recently ate at the Denny's closest to the convention center and was pleasantly surprised with the great service and cleanliness.

If you stay on Harbor Blvd and walk 2-3 blocks down the street, there is an area with a Target, Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse, and Joe's Crabshack. You could walk there or take a quick Uber. It's not very far at all. Across the street from the convention center is also the Anaheim Garden Walk. They have tons of dining and shopping options there as well. Don't forget Downtown Disney is a 10-15 minute walk away too! This is a great place to visit at night to grab some food and shop.

One thing to keep in mind always is that Anaheim is a tourist area, which means you'll most likely always wait for a table at dinner. Sometimes you'll get lucky and sit down for your meal immediately, but don't be surprised if it takes a few minutes to be seated.

Convention Center

I don't think there's too much to be said about the convention center itself other than I find it to be very easy to navigate and there are tons of quiet spots outside of the building if you need to take a break and get some fresh air. If you're facing the convention center and turn directly to your right, there is a shaded walkway with tons of palm trees and concrete benches. Oftentimes photographers will set up their strobes and equipment there to take photos of cosplayers. It's typically a little more quiet in this area, which would be good for podcasters/vloggers who may need to record audio in an area that isn't buzzing with noise. It's also a great place to sit and drink some coffee before the center opens. The convention center itself has a couple different coffee stands in the lobby where you can grab coffee, tea, and light snacks.

Tons of sunshine, shade, and great lighting near the Anaheim Convention Center
I'll have more tips leading up to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, but I hope this starts your planning process off on the right foot! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below or ask me on Twitter @thedorkydiva. Is Anaheim going to be your first Star Wars Celebration experience? Click here for all my tips as a first time Celebration attendee!