If Anaheim isn’t already on your bucket list – although we’re certain it is thanks to an ever-popular attraction starring everyone’s favourite talking mouse –, it soon will be.

Anaheim, the US destination famous for being home to the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’, is undergoing a bit of an evolution that’ll place it top of everyone’s bucketlists.

New hotels, new attractions, new breweries AND better connections from Los Angeles will see the Orange County city go from being incredible to even more amazing.

Come to the end of 2020 and Anaheim, if it isn’t already, will be one of the biggest USA destinations for tourists, especially those from Australia.

Don’t quite believe us? Read on for some of the exciting changes that’ll leave you pumped to visit Anaheim:


1. 100 years of theme parks


Fun fact: Anaheim isn’t just the theme park capital of California today, it’s the birthplace of theme parks state-wide.

Seriously, Knott’s Berry Farm was California’s first theme park, although it wasn’t originally meant to be so. It was a 20-acre farm in 1920, where boysenberry was founded. Its owners (the Knott Family) opened a chicken restaurant in 1934, which attracted hour-long lines every night and needed entertainment for its queuing visitors.

Fast-forward 99 years later, and the farm is now a vintage-inspired yet completely modern theme park that’ll transport you to the slower wild, wild, west before delivering heart-racing thrills, a Mexican fiesta and quality time with the Peanuts (yeah, the comic strip family featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and more). Oh, and the original restaurant is still there.

It’s as random and epic as it sounds.

Next year, this completely unique family-fun spot will celebrate its centenary and rumours are, it’s going to be huge!

Although details have yet to be released, there were talks last year of an expansion to the park’s popular ghost town, which would be in addition to the recently opened Calico River Rapids (a raft ride full of twists and turns) and HangTime, a 150-feet gravity-defying vertical drop (the steepest in California).


2. Travel to a galaxy far, far away & meet Iron Man

Speaking of theme parks, you may have heard of a recent expansion to Disneyland Resort in California that allows guests to almost literally (but not quite) step into another galaxy.

The happiest place on earth launched the first phase of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge earlier this month, and it’s only the beginning of a range of exciting changes.

In addition to exploring an outpost in the corner of the universe with Chewie (if you don’t know who Chewie is, why are you even reading this section?), Disneyland visitors will soon be able to fight alongside the world’s greatest heroes, The Avengers.

In the words of Iron Man, “give me smooch… I might not make it back” once the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) section opens up.

Yes, a whole land dedicated to Marvel heroes.

Details are scarce but in true Disney-style, the land is likely to be entirely immersive, feature meet and greets with favourite characters and a couple of breathtaking rides.


3. New connections to Hollywood


Question: How far is Anaheim from Los Angeles?

Answer: It’s getting closer every day!

Travel options for tourists wanting to add Anaheim to their California itineraries continue to grow and more recently, Starline Tours introduced a theme park hopper that connects Hollywood to Disneyland.

The wi-fi-connected and completely air-conditioned Express Hopper runs twice daily between the two destinations and costs only US$25 return, which half the cost of an Uber one-way.

Click here for more information.


4. A 4-Diamond hotel with views of the Disney fireworks + a fountain


Complete ease and relaxation – that’s the goal for The Westin Anaheim Resort, which is receiving early descriptions as a centrally-located luxury hotel with a focus on wellness that’ll ensure guests leave a better version of themselves.

And that’s no lie.

When it opens in 2020, The Westin Anaheim Resort will have a cascading waterfall in the driveway that promises to kick-start the de-stressing process from the moment travellers arrive.

As guests enter the property, they’ll be greeted by a lobby bar and a restaurant with American focused foods infused with flavors from around the world.

The 618 rooms will be spacious and feature three-setting lighting, lots of plugs to ensure guests can recharge devices around the room and a marble-top table instead of a desk that’ll double up as a workplace or a dining spot.

Proximity will be a highlight of The Westin Anaheim Resort because it’ll be a 10-minute walk to the Disneyland Resort entrance. It’ll also have perfect views of the nightly Disney fireworks!


5. Another 4-Diamond hotel & the first of its kind in the OC


Four-Diamond properties are coming in hot for the Orange County.

Within one year (in 2020), the region will receive TWO high-end hotels and BOTH will be located in Anaheim.

Joining the Westin Anaheim Resort (see above) will be the JW Marriott Anaheim Resort, a $150 million development that’ll be the ONLY JW Marriott in all of Orange County.

If that didn’t make the property special enough, right on top of the 12-story building will be a rooftop garden where guests can socialise, relax with a drink, or watch the nightly Disney fireworks show.

The 466-guest room hotel will have a Yoga & Zen Room in addition to an expansive fitness centre. Plus there’ll be a swimming pool.

Other highlights of the property include a 26,000-square-feet indoor and outdoor event space.


6. Get your grog on, 7 new breweries are coming


Brewery X will be one of the seven new spots to open in Anaheim over the next year-or-so.

In order to solidify its title as the ‘city with the most breweries in the OC‘, Anaheim is opening another seven spots.

Yes, SEVEN and they’re all coming over the next year-or-so.

Currently, Anaheim has 18 breweries up and running, making the city a top spot for those who love to experiment with their alcohol. When 2020 comes to a close, there’ll be 25.

Among the seven new spots will be Brewery X, an independently owned and run spot that promises an “unparalleled experience” that contributes to the “greater wellbeing of the community”.

Others to keep an eye out for including the Electrica Brewery, Modern Times’ Leisuretown, Knowlwood, Bro Beer Co., and The Dudos’ Brewing Co.


FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ANAHEIM from the Australian Travel Trade at IPW 2019


Have you travelled to Anaheim recently? Tell us about your experience in the city below.