There was talk that Rancho Santa Margarita-based John’s Incredible Pizza Co. would take the Movieland site, but the chain ended up at Buena Park Downtown.
Minnesota retailer Best Buy Co. also considered a store there.
A Hampton Inn in place of the motels would fall in line with the city’s hopes.
The next challenge will be to promote Buena Park as a unique destination.
“We realize that Disney is a huge draw,” Hui said. “What we want to do is have an alternative location for visitors. I don’t think we’re trying to compete with Disney at this point. We just want to bring more visitors.”
Past attempts to market Buena Park as an alternative to Anaheim might have gotten lost in cooperative marketing efforts, according to Copping of the visitors bureau.
Local cities long have banded together to promote “The OC” brand through the Orange County Tourism Council and other efforts.
“A lot of our marketing products have piggybacked with Anaheim, so it hasn’t helped us grow as a city,” Copping said.
Cooperative campaigns with other cities have cut expenses, but they haven’t done much to highlight Buena Park on its own, according to Copping.
“Local residents probably understand more about the assets of Buena Park, but when you’re speaking with someone from San Francisco or Arizona, they’re not familiar with the area or destination,” she said. “A world class destination such as Medieval Times gets lumped in with the Anaheim area, and what it does is deter people from staying here in our hotels.”
The visitors bureau will set out to change that with a new ad campaign set to start next month.
Billboards along the Santa Ana (I-5) and Riverside (91) Freeways will tout the area. A California Welcome Center on Beach Boulevard, a travel planning website and logo for the visitors bureau will debut a month later.
The welcome center is set to work with the California Travel & Tourism Commission and sell discounted tickets to Knott’s, Medieval Times and Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, as well as to Disneyland Resort and other attractions.
Staffers will hand out brochures, help visitors with last-minute hotel reservations, and sell California-branded merchandise.
“It was time for a refresher,” Copping said. “The potential for Buena Park in the next several years is going to be huge and we wanted a good jumping off point.”