Anaheim is a City of Surprises

Everyone knows that Anaheim is home to Walt Disney’s first theme park.  But did you know that it began as a home to German farmers and vintners?  Anaheim is a city of surprises – and has been since 1857!

7 Surprising Facts About Anaheim

1. Anaheim (roughly translated) means “home by the Santa Ana River” in German.

Santa Ana was settled by 50 German families in 1857.  These early pioneers grew white grapes for wine before an 1870s plague wiped out their crops and they planted groves of citrus trees in their place.



2. Disneyland was a dud (at first!)

Walt Disney’s dream of a place for families to have fun together took shape in just one year.  It was exactly 365 days from the day construction began to the day the park opened on July 17, 1955.


However, the public opening was a disaster.  It was so hot that women’s heels sunk into the freshly poured asphalt.  Many of the 20 rides and attractions broke down, and refreshment stands ran out of refreshments.  There was even a gas leak!

Fortunately, Walt got to work fixing his park and by the time the year ended, more than 4 million guests were enchanted by the Magic Kingdom.


3. Carl’s Jr opened its first full-service restaurant in Anaheim.

In 1941, Carl Karcher served hot dogs from a cart in LA.  By 1945, he and his wife, Margaret, opened their first full-service restaurant in Anaheim.  It quickly became a fan favorite and by 1956, was called Carl’s Jr.

Anaheim Carl's Jr

There are now more than 1,100 Carl’s Jr restaurants worldwide.  Grab a napkin and dig in!


4. He lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Ok.  So Spongebob Squarepants may not live in Anaheim, but his creator, Stephen Hillenburg, did.  Hillenburg brought Bikini Bottom to life in 1999 when the wildly popular cartoon premiered on Nickelodeon.

Hillenburg, a self-proclaimed “ocean freak,” grew up and went to school here.  He spent his summers swimming, surfing, and diving in the West Coast waters.  He went on to study marine biology and began teaching children about marine life through comics and illustrations.

Several years and one master’s degree in experimental animation later, pitched his idea for Bob the Sponge to the network, and a star (fish??) was born.


5. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim set 6 world records!

The Angels DID set 6 world records- just not for baseball.  The team holds the Guinness world records for the largest gathering of people wearing

  • Cowboy hats
  • Wrestling masks
  • Sombreros
  • Snuggies
  • Wigs
  • Santa hats

Anaheim Angels stadium


6. Rudolph Boysen, who lived in Anaheim, created the boysenberry by grafting together raspberries, blackberries, and loganberries. 

Walter Knott was the first person to commercially cultivate the boysenberry (named after their creator Charles Rudolph Boysen).  He sold the berries at his farm stand in 1932. People kept returning to the stand for the tasty berries.

Anaheim boysenberry

Eventually, this little bite of juicy deliciousness put Knott on the map.  Knott continued peddling his berries, along with other foods.  In 1934 he opened a Tea Room that couldn’t keep pace with the demand for his delicious farm fare.

To satisfy the crowds of waiting diners, he added a loudspeaker that played music and built a waterfall.  The building continued until he eventually transformed the farm into a theme park!



7. An abandoned, 1919 Sunkist citrus packing house is now one of the hottest spots in Anaheim.

The Sunkist Packing House was once used to wash, grade, and pack citrus before it was shipped across the country.  Now it’s 42,000 square feet of gourmet foods and trendy fun!

Anaheim Packing House
Photo credit to Visit Anaheim


The two-story Mission Revival-style structure sat vacant for decades.  An entrepreneur with a keen eye gobble it up and restored it – opening it as a magnificent culinary center and public market that pays homage to its heritage.



Anaheim is a City of Surprises

Anaheim is a city brimming with surprises!  To find out more about this daring and delightful destination, watch the latest episode of Destination Dispatch.

Michael Young, Tourism Manager at Visit Anaheim, joins the DD team to share even more surprising things to do in a city that’s already home to the “happiest place on earth.”

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