Blizzcon is a big event, two sprawling days, one badge pickup day, and so you’ll be in town for a bit, and hanging around for a while. You’ll wonder, at times, as your survival instincts kick in, “where can I get some food?”
I’m here today to answer that!
Inside the Con
The first and most obvious answer, yes, food is available inside. There are multiple snack bars, booths, and vending machines. The snack bars are almost all catered by Aramark, famous for using sub-par ingredients in prison food! Jokes aside, it’s an easy, fast option, and it’s not bad, but you’ll pay through the nose for the privilege of not leaving the con. Expect to spend about $8 on an average entree, $4 for a side, and $3 for a drink. Highlights that I would encourage are the Flav-R-Swirl soft serve ice cream vendors and the Kala Food Truck booth that sets up at the back of Hall D, perfect for nachos during those big panels.
Immediate Con Vicinity
You have two main options right near the convention center, requiring only a minimal trip outside. There is a food court in the Hilton Anaheim on the main floor, with an entrance directly to that facing the convention center. There’s a Sbarro, a burger place, and a few other options. Separate from the food court, but in the hotel, is a Starbucks. This is always busy during con. If you want Starbucks coffee, or food – protip: go to the Marriott on the other side of the plaza. There’s one there too, and there’s usually a much shorter wait.
The other big option right at the con is in the plaza itself, where, during the early afternoon hours until late, a massive line of food trucks takes to the con. There is a huge variety – hot dogs, burgers, tacos/burritos/nachos and the like, pizza, dessert, and beer! These are absolutely worth checking out, I’ve gotten to eat food made by a Chopped champion out here. If I’m staying near the con, food trucks all day every day! Couple of quick notes – cards are easily accepted out here, thanks to cell phone card processing, and lines here can get out of hand – about 30 minutes from line to food during rush hours. You can mitigate this somewhat by going further out from the convention center into the end of the plaza trucks, but my advice – don’t. Find what you want and camp it. You can generally sit down on the benches out here, or the concrete side walls, or the steps in front of the fountain, or you can sneakily run into the Hilton and eat there. If you’re in and out fast enough, most of the employees won’t bother you. I’d suggest the fountain steps – lots of cosplayers roll through here and so you can check out some awesome costumes just by sitting and eating, and have the benefit of full daylight. It does get pretty toasty, though, as no shade hits the fountain area until late day, so be warned!
(on the map, 1 is the con, 2 is the Hilton Foodcourt, 3 is the plaza, and 4 is the Harbor/Katella intersection we’ll talk about below!)
My favorite stop over for a light breakfast is usually the CVS, located on the corner of Harbor and Katella. They’ve got a cold case with pre-made sandwiches, yogurt, breakfast items like hard-boiled eggs, and then they have lots of drinks and convenient snack baggies. There is also a Walgreens across the street from here, which is mostly good for drinks and dry snacks/candy. Stock up here before heading over in the morning – they are both on the side of the convention center that you enter the plaza from, so they are an easy stop.
At this same intersection is also a 7-11. I’d hit up CVS or Walgreens first, but they’ll do in a pinch. Prices here are slightly marked up for Disney and convention-goers, so expect to pay slightly more than your average 7-11 for that Slurpee.
Lastly, the final corner of this intersection has a small strip mall, with 3 restaurants I can vouch for – California Pizza (not California Pizza Kitchen, it’s a different thing), Star Burger, and Subway. Subway, is, well, Subway. It’s a quality-controlled chain, so you know what you’ll get here. If you have ever had a Subway, it’s gonna be the same here. Star Burger is a small burger shop/Korean place. I had a Bulkogi burger here in 2016 that was incredible (pictured above). Well worth a stop. California Pizza is a small independent pizza place that sells pizza by the slice and reasonably priced full pies. They are awesome and worth a trip as well!
There are a number of chain places around the immediate vicinity as well. To the west, there is a Dennys and a Coco’s. Coco’s is similar to Dennys, but also specializes in pies. You can buy slices or full pies, and they are great. Food is okay, breakfast specialities are their best offering. My group has a tradition that Coco’s is always gone to, so, well, I’ll be eating there again this year at least once! Across from Coco’s is Tiffy’s, which is a smaller local diner, breakfast is a specialty but they do other meals better than Coco’s, and they have ice cream by the scoop here too. There is then, getting closer to the convention center from the west side, the Tangerine Grill at the Anabella. This may be closed down by the time Blizzcon 2017 is here, as the hotel is undergoing an ownership change and a major renovation, so yeah. The old WoW Insider party used to be here, as were the first several WoWHead parties.
Then, to the east of the convention center, closer to the places mentioned earlier, there is a Pizza Hut Express inside the Residence Inn hotel. There is also a plaza with tables just outside of this Pizza Hut where you can sit, chill, and huff pizza fumes. Would recommend.
Further down Harbor from the CVS/Walgreens is an IHOP. They’re great, but heavily marked up and consistently packed. If you want to be in line at the con quickly, get here early if it is your plan. There is a Morton’s Steakhouse if you are the Monopoly man, a Red Robin (yummmm), and that about sums up the walkable distance of the convention center.
Other Cool Places
Medieval Times – go do this if you have never been. It’s great fun, and there are almost always Groupons or the like to get you in for cheaper. The meal is good to great, and the show is fantastic. I got a hoarse voice BEFORE Blizzcon shouting for our knight, and thanks to my Alliance shirt, he called out to our group with “For the Alliance!” Swoon. Without a coupon, the King’s Royalty package runs about $75, but you can get that down to as low as $35-$45 with coupons available online. The package includes a banner for cheering, a group photo, and closer seating.
Ramen – if you like these noodles in their non-poverty-eats state, there are a few places you can go, but you’ll want a car. I can personally vouch for Butaton Ramen (which was okayish), and Kopan Ramen has been recommended to me as well.
Dave and Busters – over at the Garden Grove Mall, a bit to the southeast of the con, is the adult-ish version of Chuck-E-Cheese. Prepare to pay too much for dinner and drinks, and then too much more on gaming. Plus side, though – they have a 4 player linked Mario Kart cabinet that was fun (or at least they did in 2015, don’t know now!). I wouldn’t recommend it, but it is there, so if you’ve never been, it might be worth a look at the very least.
Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles – a good Southern eats place, they do their namesake and more. This is just a little further down Harbor past the Red Robin, so you could walk here if you’re feeling up to it. I’ve never been myself, but I am looking to change that this year – it gets rave reviews.
Anaheim Gardenwalk – further east on Katella, this mall features a large number of popular eateries – The Cheesecake Factory, McCormick and Schmicks, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, California Pizza Kitchen (the chain one this time!), Fire and Ice, and some shops on top of all of that. I’ve personally never gone here, since most of the places are chains, but Fire and Ice gets good recommends from the Facebook groups for Blizzcon I’m in, and the others are predictable, reliable meals.
A side note on drinking establishments! In Part 2, I talked a bit about the Hilton bar, but I want to take a moment to bring to light the best part of the Con – Blizzard Beer.
Yes, I know – what is that? That’s a thing? Huh?
For the last handful of years, Blizzard has partnered with local brewery Bottle Logic to produce special, Blizzard-branded beers that are available on-tap or in bottles at Blizzcon. Bottle Logic sets up in the plaza with the food trucks, and in the past have offered Thunderbrew (I still have my empty bottle of this), a series of Diablo beers, and some Blizzard 25th anniversary specials. The flavors are excellent, if you like beer, and the bottles are very collectible. Sometimes, they’ll have little neat gimmes thrown in too, like in 2016 where beer purchases got a little plastic mug with the Diablo 20/Blizzard 25 logos emblazoned on them. Get these if you like them, or even if not – buy a bottle and have a friend drink it just to keep the bottle at the end!
Outside of that, close drinking is probably what I’d recommend. There are good selections at the Hilton, and they also often serve the Bottle Logic Blizzard specials. Fire and Ice, mentioned above, has a great bar. You can stock up on bigger, cheaper assortments of beers via CVS, Walgreens, or 7-11 – they all come stocked and ready for Blizzcon. There is an ESPN Zone over at Downtown Disney which gets some con-goers, especially Thursday night for football. You can also drink at Dave and Busters, if you want a pricy drink. I keep it close to the con, get some Bottle Logic, and then have a few of my own courtesy of CVS. (a note – technically, you are not supposed to bring ANY drinks into the Hilton lobby area. I’ve typically bypassed this by bringing a few in my backpack, which I crack open in the overlook and then drink as I wander. This only 100% works if you’re sly and get something they stock at the Hilton – Blue Moon is my go-to. This can get you in trouble, so I’m not recommending it – just saying ;))
Also, a word of caution – don’t be a sloppy drunk. I’ve seen or heard floor vomit and sloppy guild-leader hookups enough for my taste 🙂
Next time, we’ll talk about getting around – airports, hotel locations, and transit options!