Baseball fans, Disneyland tourists to converge in Anaheim

For Anaheim, the boys of summer should produce big profits in July.

The usual crowds of summer tourists visiting Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park will swell this weekend to include thousands of baseball fans attending Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Angel Stadium and a fan festival at the nearby Anaheim Convention Center.

The annual game, part of a five-day celebration that began Friday, returned to Anaheim for the first time in 21 years. It’s expected to draw 100,000 to 250,000 visitors — and an estimated $85 million in spending throughout Southern California, according to city officials and Major League Baseball.

In addition to the fans, more than 2,000 members of the media will be credentialed, including at least 300 from international media outlets.


Some restaurants and hotels are adding extra staff and extending business hours.

Major League Baseball officials have booked about 75% of the 1,030 rooms at the Anaheim Marriott for players, managers and staff. The Hilton Anaheim Hotel, the city’s largest hotel with 1,572 rooms, should be completely booked this weekend, hosting many of the league’s retired baseball greats, said hotel general manager Harold Rapoza.

“We’re anticipating some huge crowds,” he said. “Our staff will be working around the clock for the next five or six days.”

Fans are expected to fill other hotels around Anaheim to an occupancy rate of about 70%, said Bill Snyder, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Hotel & Lodging Assn. Throughout 2009, the occupancy rate at Anaheim hotels has averaged about 64%.


“It should have a very, very nice impact,” he said.

At JT Schmid’s Restaurant and Brewery, about half a mile from Angel Stadium, general manager Ryan Eady plans to triple his staff and extend operation hours, opening 90 minutes earlier, Saturday through Tuesday, and staying open at night until the crowds thin.

“It’s a brewery, and that goes with baseball,” he said. “We have pretzels and beer and pizza. Baseball is right up our alley.”

Anaheim, home to the largest convention center on the West Coast, is accustomed to hosting gatherings of as many as 90,000 visitors. But the city’s biggest conventions are typically scheduled for the fall or winter, not during the height of the summer vacation season.

So, for five days, the baseball universe will share space with the house of mouse. And tourism experts say the benefits will bolster the bottom line for hotels and restaurants in the region.

“This will fill hotel rooms in Orange County and spill into Long Beach and Los Angeles,” said Bruce Baltin, a lodging expert and senior vice president at PKF Consulting in Los Angeles.

Disney officials won’t disclose daily attendance numbers, but theme park insiders estimate that Disneyland draws about 40,000 visitors a day, with California Adventure Park attracting about 17,000 guests daily.

Still, Anaheim officials predict no problems with the surge of visitors.


“In Anaheim, it’s not uncommon for simultaneous events to occur,” said city spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz.

At a news conference Wednesday, Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said state, county and federal law enforcement agencies had formed a joint task force to ensure that events run smoothly. The crowds will be patrolled by Anaheim police in uniform and in plain clothes, he added.

When Major League Baseball last brought its midsummer classic to Anaheim in 1989, it booked what was then known as Anaheim Stadium for a home-run derby contest one night and an all-star game the next night.

But this year, the festivities will include a third night at the stadium for a celebrity softball game, plus a baseball FanFest that will fill more than 450,000 square feet of the convention center with exhibits, baseball clinics, seminars, autograph sessions and memorabilia sales.

Angel Stadium, which holds about 45,000 people, is expected to sell out all three nights.