6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

When Anaheim's Flying-Saucer Arena Touched Down Near Disneyland

Anaheim Convention Center
Support Provided By

Had one of Tomorrowland's flying saucers gone missing? When the Anaheim Convention Center's arena opened in the summer of 1967, it looked as if a spacecraft from another world had touched down directly opposite Katella Avenue from Disneyland.

Had one of Tomorrowland's flying saucers gone missing?

Designed by Los Angeles-based architects Adrian Wilson and Associates, the Space Age, Googie-style arena cut a striking figure. Two 200-ton steel arches held up its concrete shell dome. When viewed from the proper angle, the arches seemed to spell out the letter "A." Inside, project architect Craig Bullock boasted, the circular arrangement of the auditorium around an elliptical floor plan provided more intimate views from the 9,100 olive green, tan, and orange plastic seats.

In its early years, the multipurpose arena hosted circuses, a Richard Nixon political rally, boxing matches, and numerous musical performances. Days after the convention center's formal dedication on July 12, 1967, The Doors played to a capacity crowd under the arena's concrete shell. Months later, the Anaheim Amigos of the newly formed American Basketball Association moved in for their debut season, which turned out to also be their last, as average crowds of 500 forced the team to relocate the next year to Los Angeles.

The arena remains an Orange County landmark and a conspicuous relic of the Southland's onetime fondness for Googie architecture.

Though the futuristic arena was what first caught the eye, the new convention center – built at a cost of $8.5 million and financed by a four-percent room occupancy tax – boasted several other features that long made it one of the West Coast's premier event spaces. Proximity to the Magic Kingdom was one. It also offered a massive, 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall, ample parking, and the largest door of any public facility in California. At 40 feet wide and 25 feet tall, the portal could accommodate boats and other super-sized objects that would be left outside at other convention venues.

In the decades since its 1967 opening, several major expansions have transformed the surrounding convention center, and in 1993 the much larger Anaheim Arena (today, the Honda Center) opened down Katella Avenue. But despite these changes, the arena remains an Orange County landmark and a conspicuous relic of the Southland's onetime fondness for Googie-style architecture.

An aerial view of the Anaheim Convention Center under construction in 1966. $1.3 million worth of Bethlehem Steel went into the complex. Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
An aerial view of the Anaheim Convention Center under construction in 1966. $1.3 million  worth of Bethlehem Steel went into the complex.  Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
The arena around the time of its completion in 1967. Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
The arena around the time of its completion in 1967.  Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
The Doors and Jefferson Airplane were among the first musical acts to play inside the arena. Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
The Doors and Jefferson Airplane were among the first musical acts to play inside the arena.  Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
The Anaheim Convention Center arena in 1975. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection - Los Angeles Public Library.
The Anaheim Convention Center arena in 1975.  Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection - Los Angeles Public Library.
Before the construction of Disney's California Adventure, the arena was a conspicuous sight from the Disneyland parking lot. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.
Before the construction of Disney's California Adventure, the arena was a conspicuous  sight from the Disneyland parking lot. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.
An early color photo of the arena. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.
An early color photo of the arena. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.
The Anaheim Convention Center arena in 1973. Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.
The Anaheim Convention Center arena in 1973. Courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library's Anaheim History Room.

Support Provided By
Read More
Exterior of Venice West, a beat generation coffee house | Austin Anton from the Lawrence Lipton papers, USC Libraries

Lawrence Lipton and Venice, California’s Claim to Beat Fame

Lawrence Lipton's book “The Holy Barbarians” was a celebration and canonization of the “Venice West” scene. It also became the biggest hit of his career, around which he revolved on for much of his life.
Broadside for Teatro Principal, Los Angeles, printed by Imprenta Jalisco, Boyle Heights, 1929 January 10. | University of Southern California Libraries, Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum Collection, 1830-1930

Broadsides Reveal L.A.’s Once-Booming Hispanic Vaudeville Scene

There was a time that Los Angeles powered a lively Hispanic vaudeville scene, and its legacy still lives on in many performers today.
Pacifico Dance Company gives audiences a glimpse into the dance of Yucatan. Dancers wearing large flowers on their hair and dresses. | Courtesy of Pacifico Dance Company

Pacifico Dance Company: Sharing the Love of Traditional Mexican Dance Around the World

Traditional Mexican dances (aka baile folklórico) are the forte of the Pacifico Dance Company, and they’ve helped train hundreds, performing in venues around the country and the world.