I recently spent two days at the Anaheim Convention Center. While it was not exactly a holiday, I took pictures anyways, because that is what I do. I can’t stop myself.
My choice was between the Anabella Hotel, which looked kind of Marriot-ish and the kitschy Swiss Chalet motel that relatives have been staying in for 40 years. The final decision came down to wifi and white bedspreads. I LOVE white coverlets on the bed. I hate those horrible scratchy orange and brown flowered motel bedspreads. They always make me think of exposes on 20/20 where they use a flourescent blue light to show all the icky spots on the bedspread.
So I spent the day at the convention center, and for lack of time I had to eat lunch at the convention center. The secret spot to eat is at the taco cart. It has real taco truck soft tacos.
Before dinner, I checked in at The Annabella. I was shocked to be given the tiniest room I have seen outside of Europe.
There was also a group of partiers hollering and drinking in the parking lot wearing glow-in-the-dark bobble antennae. My instincts tell me to avoid drunk people wearing anything that glows in the dark. I called the front desk and a young chatty bellhop showed up to move me to a bigger room. The room was gorgeous.
But guess where it was located? Yep, directly under the bobblehead party. The bellhop walked in, the ceiling went “CRASH, THUMP, BANG” and he just turned around and walked out without even asking if I wanted to move. As we walked, the bellhop told me about his other job raising falcons and other exotic birds. I asked him if he had been to the beach in Malibu where all the pelicans are. He said, “Pelicans aren’t birds. They are food for my birds.” Woah.
He also pointed out his bitchin motorcycle. I almost wanted to set up a bro date for him and my nephew but that was too weird. I asked if he could ride the same speed as the falcons and like ride around with a falcon flying overhead. I said, “You must get a lot of chicks with a bike and giant birds.”
He said, “Oh man, I have a four foot-tall white owl. I take that thing to Starbucks, tie it to my chair and i come home with a pocket full of numbers.”
So room number three was inbetween size in a quiet area, but it had that damn orange and brown flowered bedspread. I tried to get housekeeping to bring me a white coverlet but no go. I felt like three was my magic number and I just couldn’t move rooms again.
I called a taxi and tried to find somewhere interesting to eat. The driver was Nigerian, so I asked if there was good Nigerian food nearby. He started driving, then he tries to make a deal that it would be 20 dollars each way. 40 dollars was my whole budget for dinner. No way. I had to argue with him to turn around and just take me to Disneywalk.
He was giving me hell, saying, “You made me drive all this way, and this is right where we were.”
To calm him, I teased, “Maybe I just wanted to spend more time with you.”
He stared at me in the rear-view mirror, considering something, and said, “Maybe.” Luckily we hit Disney City just then and I hopped out of the cab.
Downtown Disney is all chains, like Citiwalk and every other place like it. I was in time to see the trippy Christmas decorations.
The one good place in Downtown Disney is Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.
According to the website for his cookbook,
Ralph Brennan entered the family business in the early 1980’s…One of eight third generation cousins actively involved in the restaurant industry today, Ralph Brennan and his cousins run twelve New Orleans-style restaurants, nine of which are located in New Orleans.
Ralph Brennan is the owner and operator of Red Fish Grill and BACCO in the New Orleans French Quarter, Ralph’s on the Park in Mid-City New Orleans, and the Jazz Kitchen located in the Downtown Disney® District at the DISNEYLAND® Resort. Ralph is a co-owner of Mr. B’s Bistro, Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s of Houston.
In 2001, Ralph Brennan opened the Jazz Kitchen, a New Orleans-themed food and entertainment venue which debuted in January 2001 as part of the 1.4 billion dollar DISNEYLAND® Resort development which added a new theme park, a new hotel and a new retail, dining and entertainment district to the Southern California Resort. Conceptualized as a savvy representation of New Orleans’ dual legacies – food and music – the 15,000 square foot, French Quarter-inspired venue includes a jazz club, casual fining dining restaurant and Jazz Kitchen Express to-go facility.
OK, so I have never heard of anyone playing jazz there, and I have never heard jazz emanating from the place, but OK. I have looked at the menu at the main restaurant, and it is just too weird. Weird enough that the first time I went there I cancelled my reservation. For example:
Blackened Chicken Spring Rolls
Caramelized onions, fire-roasted corn, napa cabbage, pepper jack cheese, crispy wonton wrapper. Creole honey-mustard, avocado mousse – $9
Filet Mignon Muffuletta
Thin filet mignon, rosemary ciabatta bread, hothouse tomatoes, olive salad, provolone cheese – $10
To avoid the weirdness, I stick to the Jazz Kitchen Express. A few of the selections could use improvement. On at least one occasion the gumbo had a very burnt roux. But they do have a few selections that are fantastic if you order correctly.
Jazz Kitchen Express has one of the best red beans and rice in Los Angeles. And they have genuine shrimp po boys. It is worth the supermall vibe. They also make their beignets by scratch to order.
Besides the Jazz Kitchen Express, the best thing about Downtown Disney is that you can watch the amazing Disneyland fireworks.