The Lunar New Year Festival at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim is now in full swing, and there is so much to do, see, and eat! The festival ushers in a joyous tribute to Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures. Last Friday, the event officially kicked off, and I attended the opening weekend. I have the full inside scoop and wanted to share my experience, so you know what you have to look forward to if you plan on attending. The festival is running now through February 13.
There is so much to do for both kids and adults, and it’s one of my personal favorite festivals of the year! The colors are all vibrant and beautiful; the music makes you feel like you are celebrating the Lunar New Year somewhere in Asia; the food looks, smells, and tastes delicious, and the performances are culturally beautiful and entertaining.
Of course, the Marketplace Kiosks are one of the biggest highlights of the Lunar New Year Festival. This year, there are 4 Kiosks and five dining locations participating in the festival.
Lunar New Year Marketplace Kiosks
- Longevity Noodle Co.
- Lucky 8 Lantern
- Prosperity Bao & Buns
- Red Dragon Spice Traders
Sip and Savor offerings at participating dining locations are tasting-size portions only, not full entrées.
- Cappuccino Cart
- Festival Cart
- Lucky Fortune Cookery
- Paradise Garden Grill
- Paradise Gardens Food and Beverage Cart
One essential thing to note about dining at the festival is that the lines are incredibly long. They may be better during the weekdays, but it is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half long during the weekend. There are two lines for each booth: one to order the food and another to pick up the food.
Insider tip: If you want to order from multiple booths, you can order everything in advance at one booth, then you only have to stand in the pick-up lines for the other booths you are getting food from. You can only order from other booths and not the participating quick-service locations.
I hope that Disney finds an efficient way to get the lines going faster because there is so much to do at the festival, and guests want to enjoy everything and not just stand in food lines all day! I was only able to hit two Marketplace Kiosks during the entire day because the lines were so long, and there were so many performances and activities to enjoy.
My two favorite items that I tried were the Garlic Noodles from Longevity Noodle Co. and the Char Siu BBQ Pork Bao from Prosperity Bao & Buns. The pork in the bao was so tender, and the entire thing was so flavorful, and I loved the pickled onions and jalapeno that gave it a bit of extra crunch (you can pick those items out if you don’t care for them). The noodles were very garlicky and had lots of parmesan. They also give you very good portion sizes for them being “tasting” sizes.
I also tried the Dancing Firecracker from Red Dragon Spice Traders. I thought it would be delicious because it sounded very fruity. The drink has pineapple juice, guava purée, spicy honey syrup, hibiscus syrup, and lime juice. I was not a big fan of this one as the spicy honey didn’t seem to mesh well with the fruity flavors. It was a good try, but I think there may be other better drinks available at the different kiosks.
Sip and Savor Pass
The Sip and Savor pass is back for the Lunar New Year Festival. It’s $40 if you are a Magic Key holder and $43 if you are not. The pass gives you six tastings from any booths and most quick-service dining spots participating in the festival. The pass is worth it if you want to try many things, and if there are only a couple of things you want to try, you can purchase the items individually without the pass.
Performances and Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession
One of the festival’s highlights is Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession. Throughout the day, the procession fills the street with exciting music, exquisite costumes, and traditional dances by Asian performing troupes. Because this is the year of the tiger, Tigger joins the procession, while Mulan and Mushu arrive on a gorgeous and colorful float featuring traditional drummers. A magnificent Chinese dragon goes along the route as umbrella and fan dancers perform delicate dances. It’s one thing you definitely won’t want to miss at the Lunar New year Festival!
You can find other performances at the Paradise Garden Bandstand. Sit back and relax amongst gorgeous Chinese lanterns and enjoy an enchanting lineup of musical acts from the Melody of China.
These professional musicians hail from some of China’s most prestigious conservatories based in San Francisco. Their renowned fusion of Chinese folk, classical and contemporary instrumentals provides quality entertainment by bridging the gap between ancient customs and American youth. They will captivate you with pitch-perfect music played on a traditional Chinese yangqin (dulcimer), pipa (lute), and erhu (fiddle).
One of my other favorite parts about the Lunar Year Festival is the fantastic characters. Not only do you get to see fun characters in Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, but you can also do socially distanced meet and greets with characters dressed in their holiday finest! At the Paradise Gardens Gazebo, you can ring in the Year of the Tiger with Tigger and friends; Mulan and Mushu also make an appearance along with Mickey and Minnie and the Three Little Pigs!
You are welcome to take selfies or have your photo taken with the characters under the gorgeous pavilion adorned with bamboo, peach blossoms, golden flowers, and banners bearing hope-filled holiday wishes.
Raya from “Raya and the Last Dragon” has also made her grand debut at California Adventure for the Lunar New Year Festival. You can find her at Redwood Creek Challenge, but beware, the line to see her gets long! Unfortunately, I could not do a meet and greet with her because her line was an hour and a half long. You can do a normal walkthrough of Redwood Creek and sneak a peek at Raya’s area. Disney did a phenomenal job setting up her platform and filled the trees and her whole area up with gorgeous colored Chinese lanterns that fill the Redwoods with gleaming, vibrant light after dusk.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the Lucky Wishes Wall. Next to the Paradise Gardens Gazebo, Guests of all ages are invited to add their special message of hope, health, and happiness for the upcoming year. It’s such a neat and special area that is set up with red Chinese lanterns and a chain wall to hang wishes on. There is a table with a special wishing tree. You can grab a Mickey-shaped piece of paper, write your special New Year hope/wish, and then grab a string to tie it to the wall.
There is also an area where kids can sit and color in their own Chinese dragon, and you can also stop by a table where there are calligraphy artists. Trust me when I say you won’t want to miss out on any festival activities!
Magic Key Holder Exclusives
As a Magic Key holder, not only do you get discounted Sip and Savor passes, you also can stop by the Silly Symphony Swings area and pick up a unique pin that was designed just for you in honor of the Lunar New Year! The pin features Raja from “Aladdin” with a special little key printed on it.
You also have the opportunity to take a picture with a Lunar New Year photo set with the gorgeous sparkling waters in the background. Around the photo set are seating areas with Chinese lanterns making for a very relaxed and festive atmosphere!
All in all, the Lunar New Year Festival at Disney’s California Adventure is so much. It’s a way to appreciate the different Asian cultures through music, art, and food, and there is just so much to do! As I said before, the lines for the festival food are very, very long but the food and drinks are absolutely fantastic. Don’t miss out on visiting the Lunar New Year Festival running now through February 13!