Stroll, Sip, and Savor your way through Disney’s California Adventure
Friday, March 10, the walkways of Disney California Adventure were lined with marketplace kiosks celebrating California food, culture and cuisine as the 2017, 5-week long, Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival kicked off. With an expanded number of kiosks, entertainment, and activities for kids, this year’s event is already shaping up to be even more popular than last.
If you have any questions or need additional information about any of the offerings at the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival, there are at least two “Welcome Centers” – one on the west end of the Entrance Esplanade as you exit the trams and head toward the parks and one on the left of the main walkway in Disney California Adventure just after you pass the “Food and Wine” archway after leaving Buena Vista Street.
THE FOOD & BEVERAGES
This year’s Festival features 15 kiosks scattered along the main walkway of Disney California Adventure from the Hollywood Land to the Golden Zephyr attraction. With 11 food kiosks and 4 beverage kiosks, there’s certainly something for everyone to try. You can also make a trip to the Festival educational since each kiosk includes a placard near it’s menu with interesting facts and information at the food that is served there.
This year most of the food marketplace kiosks serve small plates that highlight an ingredient either grown, harvested, or made in California:
- Nuts About Cheese
- I Heart Artichokes
- Garlic Kissed
- Olive Us
- Bacon Twist
- Lemon Grove
- The Onion Lair
- Off the Cob
- Sweet & Sourdough
- LA Style (Disney’s website describes this one as “southland food truck flavors”)
Each food kiosk typically offers two appetizer or entree type dishes (all are small plate/tasting size) and one dessert dish. Some also offer one or two beverage selections (some with alcohol, some kid-friendly).
Four of the kiosks serve beer and wine selections, including beer and wine flights (I’m eager to try the Mimosa and Sangria flights!). One wine and one beer kiosk are located across from the Bugs Land entrance while the other wine and beer “kiosks” utilize the service areas from the former “Mad T Party” in the Hollywood Backlot.
- Uncork California
- California Craft Brews
- The Brewhouse
Paradise Garden Grill is also offering a limited time special menu inspired by the “Beer Garden” theme of the Paradise Garden area (now aptly titled “Festival Beer Garden”). There is also a beer bar that features selections from local Anaheim-area breweries, a small stage for musical performances, and the AP Corner (more on this in a bit).
I’ve now tried food from six different kiosks (and one of the desserts from Paradise Garden Grill) and overall, the food is very good and the portions seem bigger than last year for about the same cost. The prices are much more reasonable than those from the Festival of Holidays too – no food items are more than $7.75 and most of the desserts and non-alcoholic beverages are in the $4.25 to $4.75 range. I definitely recommend the Cherry Lemonade with Cherry Pearls from the Lemon Grove marketplace. My daughter and I have lots of fun drinking the pearls from the bottom and it’s very refreshing (and sweet!). While not bad, I could skip both food items at the Bacon Twist kiosk. The Wedge Salad is just another wedge salad and the Mac and Cheese wasn’t anything spectacular either (though was something I could share with my 5-year-old as long as I got the toppings on the side…just ask!).
There is an allergy menu available, so if you have any food allergies, be sure to ask!
If your goal is to make a visit to every marketplace kiosk during the Festival, stop by any merchandise vendor and pick up a complementary “passport” and get a stamp at each kiosks after purchasing your food items. My daughter is having a blast with this! There is a special stamp available from the Welcome Centers after you collect a stamp from all 15 kiosks.
While not part of the actual festival, don’t forget about two California staples where you can score a free snack – the Boudin Bakery Tour where you get a sample of the amazing sourdough bread and can watch the bakers making bread that is served throughout the Disneyland Resort and the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop that gives out samples of Ghirardelli chocolate upon entry. You can also order delicious ice cream treats and purchase more Ghirardelli chocolates. (If you miss these during the Festival, don’t worry since both are open year-round).
Three stages showcase the free entertainment for the Festival this year.
Paradise Park (the viewing area for World of Color)
- Phat Cat Swinger, a West Coast swing band
- Smith, a pop-country group
- Tomasina, a rock and roll performer with an “eclectic mix of music from the 80’s to now”
Performance are scheduled:
- Monday through Thursday – 1:15 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.
- Friday through Sunday – 1:15 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 7:15 p.m.
Festival Beer Garden at Paradise Gardens
- Faultlines (Indy Folk/Pop)
- m-pact (Acappella Pop-Jazz)
- Mariachi Divas (Female Mariachi)
- Quattrosound (Classical/Jazz Fusion)
- Streetlight Cadence (Alternative Folk-Pop)
Performances are scheduled:
- Monday through Thursday – 2:25 p.m., 3:25 p.m., 3:50 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
- Friday through Sunday – 2:25 p.m., 3:25 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 8:45 p.m.
The Backlot Stage in Hollywood Land hosts “Lifestyle Seminars,” presentations on a variety of lifestyle tops and live art demonstrations. Some of the topics during the first weekend included “Learn to Make Festival Favorites” (each demonstration was a different item from one of the festival marketplace kiosks), “Terrific Tomatoes,” “Backyard Orchards,” “The Disney Food Blog,” “Growing a Salsa Garden,” and “Backyard Veggies.” These free seminars are held only Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. You’ll want to check the Entertainment Guide or info stands in the park for the schedule on the day you visit to find out what seminars are being offered that day.
FOR THE KIDS
Special entertainment options are targeted just to kids at this year’s Festival.
“Jr. Chef” is a “baking” experience show where kids to get to work with special Chef Assistants, Chef Lilly, and special guest, Chef Goofy to mix up a batch of “Magical Oatmeal Raisin Cookie” dough. This show is held on the west end of Paradise Park near the Golden Zephyr attraction at 12:40, 2:40 and 5:40 p.m. daily. As of now, they allow kids between the ages of 4 and 11 to participate (sometimes they’ll allow an older 3-year-old if there’s space and with an older sibling as parents are not allowed in the show area, so they must be able to follow directions on their own). There is space for up to 36 participants and the usually cut the line 5-10 minutes before show time even if all the space are not full. The line usually starts forming about 30-45 minutes before each show begins. The show is approximately 15 minutes long and each participant gets a special Jr. Chef hat and an individually wrapped pre-made cookie. For those concerns about allergies, I have included a photo of the back of the cookie that lists the ingredients.
My 5-year-old daughter has participated in the show twice now (two separate days) and absolutely loves it!
There is a special craft area where kids of all ages can decorate their own chef hat. The hat includes a set of 8 stickers featuring the same foods at the market place kiosks and lots of room to color! Be warned this activity can take 30-45 minutes for your preschooler, especially if they insist on coloring all on their own. There are Chef Assistants available in the area to interact with and help you and/or your children, if necessary. This craft area is open the same hours as the Festival kiosks.
Chef Chip and Chef Dale also make an appearance with the “Jammin’ Chefs” near the entrance to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. This performance features a group of chefs who use everyday kitchen items to drum up a special beat and gives an opportunity to 8 kids who get to be part of the show (they’re very strict on the number of kids who participate and randomly pick from the audience that has gathered). Performances are daily at 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., and 5:15 p.m.
FOR THE ANNUAL PASS HOLDERS
Disney is always thinking of their Annual Passholders when it comes to special events, and the Festival is no exception!
The AP Corner returns from Festival of Holidays – located between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. It includes a special AP photo opp (no special characters), with a special Magic Shot featuring everyone’s favorite French rat chef, a 5-button series showcasing Mickey and his friends (Mickey was week 1, Goofy was week 2), and a special brochure titled “AP Adventures.” They did plan to sell AP merchandise here, but were having trouble with the system working the day we visited.
Available only to APs is the Sip & Savor Pass. This year’s pass is $45 and includes 8 tabs that are each redeemable for one food or non-alcoholic beverage item at select Festival Marketplaces (as long as you are averaging more than $5.75 per item, this is a good deal). Every time you redeem a tab, you get a small AP button to display on your Sip & Savor lanyard. There are a total of 11 kiosks to use the tabs, so you can collect all 11 buttons throughout the Festival. The great thing about the pass is that once it is purchased by an AP, you can share the tabs with anyone, even if they are not a pass holder. You can purchase as many Sip & Savor Passes as you want during the Festival (while supplies last). AP and photo ID is required when purchasing the Sip & Savor Pass, but not when redeeming at the Marketplace kiosks.
As always, they also have special AP merchandise available, notably a limited edition pin and both men’s and women’s shirts. AP merchandise is available at Festival Gifts at Stage 17, Studio Store (the shop outside Stage 17 in the Hollywood Backlot), and Seaside Souvenirs. AP discounts apply to all AP and regular Festival merchandise.
- Women’s AP Tee – $36.99
- Mens AP Tee – $27.99
- AP Pin (Limited Edition) – $14.99
As with all AP merchandise and goodies, they are available only while supplies last (there were still a small basket of Week 1 buttons available when we went to pick up our Week 2 buttons, so they’re not going as quick as the AP Days Electrical Parade buttons did).
What Disney event doesn’t come with its own special merchandise? You can find shirts, pins, wine glasses, shot glasses, and more with this year’s logo design prominently displayed. Some of their regular kitchen and cooking/baking items are also displayed and available for purchase. Merchandise can be purchased at the Festival Showplace, Studio Store, Festival Carts, and Seaside Souvenirs. AP discounts can be used for Disney merchandise. A few items of note:
- Festival Women’s Tee – $32.99
- Festival Men’s Tee – $26.99
- Festival Pin – $14.99
- Festival Wine Glass – $14.99
- Festival Glass Cup – $14.99
- Festival Shot Glass – $6.99
- Festival Key Chain – $12.99
- Festival Goblet – $24.99
Also this year are several Festival Carts that feature non-Disney vendors who are available to interact with guests and even offer samples, in some cases.
- Leonardo E. Roberto’s Gourmet Blends (flavored balsamic vinegar)
- Temecula Olive Oil Company
- Rinse Bath & Body Co. (handmade products from Monroe, Georgia)
- Saucy Lips (handcrafted gourmet sauce)
FOR AN EXTRA COST
There are several opportunities for all you foodies with some extra cash to partake in several specially ticketed events during the Festival.
On Saturdays, “In the Kitchen With…” demonstrations are held from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. in Stage 17 in Hollywood Land with tickets available for $99 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Check the Disneyland website for availability. The remaining demonstrations are:
- March 25: Graham Elliot, “Master Chef,” Cooking Like a Master Chef
- April 1: Guy Fieri, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” “Guy’s Grocery Games”
- April 8: Cat Cora, Cat Cora’s Kitchen
- April 25: Jet Tila, “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen
“Sweet Sundays” occur on select Sundays during the Festival from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Stage 17 in Hollywood Land with tickets for $79 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Check the Disneyland website for availability. The remaining demonstrations are:
- April 2: Emily Ellyn, “Food Network Star”
- April 16: Keegan Gerhard, “Food Network Challenge,” D Bar Denver, Denver CO
“Brewmaster Beer Dinners” will be held on select Thursdays on Sonoma Terrace at the Golden Vine Winery (next to Wine Country Trattoria) from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. with tickets for $150 per person plus tax and gratuity. Check the Disneyland website for availability. The dinners are scheduled for:
- March 23: Celebrating Anaheim Breweries with Backstreet Brewery, Bottle Logic, and Noble Ale Works scheduled to attend
- April 6: Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Matt Johnson
The “Winemaker Dinner” featuring the Disney Family of Wines will be held on Thursday, April 13 from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the Golden Vine Winery with tickets at $150 per person plus tax and gratuity. Check the Disneyland website for availability. Winemakers schedule to attend include:
- Fess Parker Winery, Tim Snider
- Gogi Wines, Jami Way
- Lasseter Family Winery, Julia Lantosca
- Silverado Vineyards, Jonathan Emmerich
There are also seminars and demonstrations available for those on a tighter budget (all price exclude an additional sales tax):
- Culinary Demonstrations held at the Festival Showplace (Stage 17 in Hollywood Land) for $10 per person Monday through Thursday and $15 per person Friday through Sunday. Demonstrations are at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays, and 12:00*, 2:00, and 6:00* p.m. Friday through Sunday (*some demonstration times will not be offered on select dates to accommodate other events)
- Wine Education & Tasting Seminars held at the Sonoma Terrace at Golden Vine Winery (next to Wine Country Trattoria) for $15 per person Monday through Thursday and $20 per person Friday through Sunday. Seminars are scheduled for 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:30, 2:30, 4:30, and 6:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. You must be 21 or older to attend a seminar; valid photo ID is required.
- Beer & Spirits Education & Tasting Seminars held at the Festival Showplace (Stage 17 in Hollywood Land) for $15 per person Monday through Thursday and $20 per person Friday through Sunday. Seminars are scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. You must be 21 or older to attend a seminar; valid photo ID is required.
The Festival is open every day through Sunday, April 16, 2017, with Marketplaces opening at 10:30 a.m. and closing one hour before park closing time. All events are subject to change or cancellation. As always, be sure to check the Entertainment Guide or Disneyland website for the most accurate and up to date information before your visit.
I hope you enjoy your culinary trip exploring all amazing food, wine, and beer California has to offer at the 2017 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival!