Last visit: May 21, 2023
This is actually the 4th oldest ballpark in the big leagues, and while it’s been renovated and spruced up a few times since its opening, it still retains a bit of its mid-century feel. It’s not a retro park, but a park built from a different era, with some of the pratfalls associated with that.
In a way, it’s a fitting park for Orange County, as it feels like a very suburban place. Think of it as The Cheesecake Factory of stadiums: you’ll have a good enough time there, everything will be pleasant, but nothing will be particularly memorable or outstanding.
Exterior aesthetics 5/10; Interior & Concourse Aesthetics 6/10; Sightlines 3/5; Seating 3/5; Traffic flow 4/5; Scoreboard 8/10; Amenities & entertainment 3/5; Bars & Restaurants 3/5; Celebrating history 3/5; Grand entrance 5/5; Sense of place 12/25; WOW Factor 3/10. Total 58 points divided by 2 for 29.
In some ways, this feels like what you would get as the generic stadium in a non-licensed video game. You have a smallish lower bowl, a small club level, a single row of suites, and a large upper deck. Seats are classic kelly green and offer standard comfort. There are no discerning features to tell you you’re in Southern California other than perhaps the glorious sunshine in which you’re likely basking.
- The main entrance has some pizzazz. Two oversized Angels hats and some oversized baseball bats greet you on the way in.
- The latest scoreboards are large and bright, which is critical since the right field board faces into the sun (the old board was notoriously tricky to read at twilight)
- The iconic Big A still sits proudly in the parking lot and is visible from some seats
- Displays behind home plate on the lower level showcase previous Angels greats; a poor man’s Angels Hall of Fame
- There’s a vibrancy of color with reds and the greens popping against the SoCal sun
- They did a good job making this place feel like a ballpark after its stint as a multi-sport facility
- From inside the lower level and upper level concession areas, you cannot see the field until you walk through the tunnels to get to your seats. Meaning you’re wandering by a bunch of food courts instead of watching baseball. Only the 200 level concessions have a view of the field.
- The Disney-esque faux rock and water structure in centerfield feels a little cartoonish: more like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad than something representing the area
- There are some obstructed view seats: fans sitting in Section 135/235 in right field can’t see left or center field. Overhangs can be an issue in some sections as well.
- It lacks any truly “wow” feature: despite the effort by the Angels to spruce the place up, the park still feels like the bland mid-century structure that it ultimately is
It’s a workmanlike facility in a market that I suspect has a higher bar. And is one of the reasons why they’re talking about a new stadium and/or major renovations.
Some may find this rating low. But I find the food selection in the park, with few exceptions, to be just OK, not fantastic. It’s more like a typical food court than a ballpark.
You can get Jersey Mike’s subs, Wetzel’s pretzels, and Oggi pizza. There seems to be a chicken tenders stand every few sections. Helmet nachos are popular. The açai bowl was a neat SoCal touch. There’s a fish and chips stand (though I can’t vouch). And I think it’s an OC law that every kid at an Angels game gets an ice cream. The food in the hard-to-find but open-to-the-public Brewery X lounge is pretty good. But overall, it’s all fairly standard fare.
My personal fave: Chronic Tacos Carne Asada burrito. Good eats from a local fave. Go early to beat the lines.
The Southern California beer scene rocks. In fairness, San Diego has been doing great things for a while, but LA has caught on, though most of the good stuff here tends to be more San Diego than LA. You may have to wade past a few Modelo stands, but you can find stuff from Brewery X, Stone, Karl Strauss, and Coronado Brewing. Former independent Golden Road also pours freely.
There are a lot of interesting things happening in Anaheim and Orange County. Other than Brewery X, many of those breweries aren’t really represented. The Angels’ solid lineup could get even better if they just source from within 5 miles of the stadium.
This really is a suburban park designed for you to drive in and drive out. The stadium is surrounded by its parking lot, creating a buffer to the outside world.
That said, it’s not barren: there are four taprooms within walking distance of the stadium, most offering event parking. Add in a few fast food options and a couple of decent eateries, and you can linger in the area for a bit.
While the Fan Cost Index says it costs significantly less than league average to go to an Angels game, I peg it to be slightly different. It’s cheaper than the Dodgers ($20 parking vs $30), and a good beer won’t run $20 (though with tip, it’s getting close). If you don’t mind higher or outfield seats, your ticket is priced very fairly, but the premium for the good seats is substantial. So if you’re like me and want a good seat and a few good beers, it’s actually slightly above average. As such, I gave it an average score.
Given that the Angels draw well, I find getting in and out of the park by car to be relatively easy. Compared to their “cross town” rivals, it’s a virtual breeze. The place is designed to handle the traffic well.
Unfortunately, there’s really no other way. A train stop is just outside the parking lot, but service is infrequent. Visitors staying close by may be able to use their hotel shuttle. But odds are, you’re forced to come by car.
Day games may require a good sunscreen, but usually you have picture-perfect baseball weather regardless if you’re going early, mid or late season. After all, there have only been 17 rainouts in franchise history.
I struggled with this score. On one hand, you usually have large crowds who cheer loudly for the home team. You’ll often run into a lot of “baseball” people given the area is a hotbed for the sport. So you could end up having a great baseball conversation amidst a noisy park.
It also has had one of the best pre-game introductions in baseball. Now please note that I am neither an Angels fan nor Angels hater. I have three teams for whom I cheer (Tigers, Cubs, Blue Jays), three teams for whom I root against (Twins, Cardinals, Yankees), some teams I like a little, some I dislike a little, and a handful where I’m utterly indifferent. The Angels are among those “indifferent”. But I get goosebumps every time I see their pregame video. Scored appropriately to Train’s 2003 song “Calling All Angels”, it showcases a brief history of the team in a quick-cut montage with some live audio cut-ins. The piece makes me nostalgic for a team I never followed, and vested in a team for whom I don’t care. It’s amazing. They’ve been doing this now for several years, so I can see them swapping it out soon, but that’d be a mistake. I have no idea if I’m in the minority here, but in my opinion, it’s worth being in your seat 10-15 minutes before the first pitch to see.
They also seem to have more high-quality giveaways than other teams (or else I just coincidently end up at their best promo nights). Considering I’ve only been to the park maybe 12-15 times in my life, I still have (and use) a few Angels tote bags, a beach bag, a cooler bag, a sombrero and a large straw hat, not to mention a bobblehead and some ball caps.
But it’s sanitized, suburban baseball. The Angels’ desire to promote a family-friendly atmosphere can be taken a little overboard with ushers a little quick on the draw in removing fans showing any signs of unruliness (and no, I’ve never been a victim of said zealotry). You could easily spend extra time in a concession line as a health-conscious fan tries to special-order a gluten-free or vegetarian item. Perhaps related, there are a lot of “Karens” in the stands which can get interesting after their third wine spritzer. There also seem to be a disproportionate number of kids at the games, which is cool until the thundersticks come out, or their melted ice cream ends up on your scorecard. And the fans’ passion for their Angels doesn’t necessarily translate into passion for the game of baseball as whole; I’ve overheard way too many fans here get really excited about The Rally Monkey, but unappreciative when a man shoots the ball to the right side to get the runner over from second with nobody out.
So it’s a hit and miss vibe. I’ve had one of my best baseball experiences ever at this park sitting beside a college coach, but I’ve had a few nights that left me cold even with a good-sized crowd and 75-degree weather.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Three fun Orange County restaurants:
- Pizzeria Mozza (Newport Beach. Celebrated, bustling spot still going strong.)
- Anaheim Packing House (Anaheim. A “district” offering a nice mix of quick eats, restaurants, brewers and bars including an Unami Burger, Tacos El Gringo, the Anaheim outpost of renown brewer Monkish, the superhero-themed Unsung Brewery, and Villains Brewery.)
- Sauced BBQ and Spirits (Orange. Outpost of a small California barbecue chain, a 20-minute walk from the Stadium with a few Axe Throwing lanes to boot.)
Three places to imbibe before the game:
- Noble Ale Works (Delicious beers, good people and free parking)
- Golden Road Brewing (Expansive brewpub with games and a good range of beer styles, an easy walk to the stadium)
- Karl Strauss Brewing or JT Schmid’s (Strauss’ Anaheim outpost is just south of the park and offers good vittles with their beer lineup. Schmid’s is a brew pub next to the Honda Center, and has a nice outdoor patio and decent pub grub).
One bar in the area worth hitting:
Trader Sam’s Tiki Lounge (Jungle Cruise-themed bar in the Disneyland hotel. Touristy? Yup. Fun? I enjoyed it.)
Three craft breweries in the area worthy of your time (other than the three I listed as good pre-game options):
- The Bruery: specializing in sour and barrel-aged brews. One of the best in the country at what they do.
- Green Cheek Beer Co: Some of the best Hazy IPAs I’ve had.
- Brewery X: Huge space from a former Pizza Port brewer with 20+ types of beer on tap and food trucks. Fun time.
Three fun tourist attractions in the area:
- Disneyland (It’s right there)
- Knott’s Berry Farm (classic SoCal amusement park)
- Laguna Beach or Huntington Beach (The former if you want a stunning beach with nearby galleries, the latter if you’re a surfer)
Angel Stadium will offer a nice baseball experience. And if was the only park you knew, it would be perfectly acceptable. But if you’re doing a long stadium roadtrip and recount it later, you may forget that you were here. There’s nothing that most other parks don’t do better in some way.