• Sharon To

Celebrating Lunar New Year at Disney's California Adventure 2022

The Lunar New Year festivities are finally here! Lunar New Year is one of my all-time favorite holidays because it’s one of the biggest holidays my family has always celebrated since I was a kid. And how amazing is it that Disneyland Resort cares enough to make this its own holiday season??


Sadly I won’t be spending much time in the area during this season (because I’ll be home with family), but I was able to stick around long enough to check out the festivities on its first and second day! And what a busy couple days it was.


But let’s dive in!


Meet & Greets

I honestly cannot believe, and am SO excited, that Raya made her debut at DCA! (Find her at the Redwood Creek Trail area) I really hope she becomes a regular, but we’ll just have to wait and see I guess. Raya’s meet and greet starts at 3PM, and I would recommend getting in line either well before 3PM or well after. I attempted to get in line around 3:15PM and the wait was at least 1 hour 30 minutes. When I walked by Redwood Creek Trail towards the end of my day around 5 or 6pm, there was pretty much no line. I should have just gone in, but I had more errands to run so I was sadly in a rush. :(

As with previous years, Mulan and Mushu make their appearances at the gazebo area near Paradise Garden Grill as well as the Three Little Pigs. And of course, Mickey and Minnie in such adorable Lunar New Year outfits! Tigger makes an appearance as well since it's Year of the Tiger!


DCA Lunar New Year Meet & Greet Location
DCA Lunar New Year Meet & Greet Location

I’m so sad that I couldn’t do any of these meet & greets. The lines were simply too long and I did not have enough time. So much to do, so little time!


Activities

Another fun part of the holiday festivities are the different activities they offer located right near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure! There are cast members handing out cute paper fans that are colored on one side and black and white on the other so that you could color in your own. They also have calligraphy artists there who can write you your very own keepsake!


As with previous years, they have a Lucky Wishes Wall near Paradise Garden Grill where you can write your wishes for the new year on a Mickey shaped paper and hang it along with all the other wishes.


Lucky Wishes Wall Disney California Adventure
Lucky Wishes Wall - Come share your heart's desires!

Magic Keyholder Area

Magic Key Area entrance located under Silly Symphony Swings
Magic Key Area entrance

For all you lovely Keyholders out there, there are of course fun and cute freebies and activities for us! Located under the Silly Symphony Swings, there's a small terrace area where Magic Keyholder can pick up their complimentary button and get a photo with a special Magic Keyholder photo op!



At opening weekend, the line was pretty long, snaking past Jumpin' Jellyfish towards the main walkway, but the line moved pretty quickly!


Many people just wanted their button, so after they picked that up they left, but if you continue down the walkway you'll see the photo setup! There's no cast member taking photos so you'll need to take your own or ask a friendly fellow Keyholder to take one for you!


I also liked that this area had some empty standing tables after the photo op where you could rest and eat some of your foods away from the crowds!


Merchandise

With no end of new merchandise in sight, the Lunar New Year introduced a new Lunar New Year spirit jersey and two new tees, along with a tumbler, some plushies, keychains, you name it! I did end up buying a mystery pin box with these really cute Lunar New Year themed Mickey and Friends pins...but I just realized it has the Year of the Ox on the box! So I’m guessing anything that doesn’t specifically have a tiger on it is overhaul from the previous year?


Lunar new Year merchandise Disney California Adventure
Some Lunar New Year merch!


Holiday Foods

DCA Lunar New Year Entry Arch
DCA Lunar New Year Entry Arch

My favorite part of any season at the resort. I am always on the lookout for that foodie guide to hit the internet so I can start making my lists, and I am totally the person who makes their itinerary around meal and snack times.


Of course there were lots of foods to try, and I wasn’t able to make my way through all of them in less than two days, but I did make a decent dent! Here were all the foods I was able to try!


Spicy Three-Cup Chicken ($8.00)

Spicy Three-Cup Chicken
Spicy Three-Cup Chicken

Location: Red Dragon Spice Traders Booth

Probably my favorite savory item. The chicken was moist and tender and the sauce was so good. It’s pretty spicy, but I’m someone who doesn’t handle spice super well. The rice, though, was terrible. Very dry and some pieces seemed almost uncooked. The sauce for sure helps, but we’re gonna need much more sauce to make up for such terrible rice.


Beef Bulgogi Short Rib Over Rice ($8.25)

Beef Bulgolgi Short Rib Over Rice
Beef Bulgolgi Short Rib Over Rice

Location: Lucky 8 Lantern Booth

Also a very yummy and well-flavored dish! I liked the marinade and the flavor of the short ribs. It was a bit chewy, so not quite as tender as the chicken, but not a bad option! The rice in this dish is similar to the three-cup chicken, as in very dry. At least it’s consistent?

Spicy Pork Dan Dan Noodles ($7.50)

Location: Lucky 8 Lantern Booth

*Note: contains peanuts*

(Also so sad I forgot to get a picture of these)

I’m a sucker for noodles and love dan dan noodles, so I really wanted to try this one. It had some pretty heavy chili oil flavors, but the chili oil isn’t as tasty as some others that I’ve had so I wasn’t super impressed, and I felt like the noodles were just a tad bit too greasy. I guess that’s one issue of eating foods you eat at least semi-regularly and know pretty well. It might be difficult for these to measure up, especially for the price point. These weren't too bad though, but more in the sense that I’m glad I tried it to try it, but wouldn’t get it again.


Gochujang Wings ($8.00)

Location: Paradise Gardens Festival Cart

(Forgot to get a picture of these too!)

Let’s just say anything slathered in gochujang is good in my book. I really enjoyed the sauce of these wings. They were super generous with it so the wings were well coated, which I really appreciated. The wings themselves were just a tad dry, but admittedly I didn’t try them fresh, since I grabbed them on the way out of the park (I didn’t even get a picture!). I think they’d probably taste better if I had them fresh, so I’d be open to trying these again.


Korean BBQ Nachos ($23.00)

Korean BBQ Nachos at Lamplight Lounge (Upstairs)

Location: Lamplight Lounge UPSTAIRS

Magic Keyholder Discount available


Another thing that I’m a sucker for: nachos. You’d think that because I love nachos I’d be extra picky, but I’m actually super easy to please when it comes to nachos. One of my biggest issues when it comes to nachos though, is when they’re super stingy with toppings. Lamplight Lounge’s chips are still one of my favorites. The sauce was a gochujang crema that was very tasty, and it was covered in corn and cucumbers. But the pork belly was almost nonexistent. I could literally count on like one hand how many pieces there were which was pretty disappointing.

My partner and I are all about calculating value, so when we saw this we were not pleased, especially because the price point is the exact same as the lobster nachos, which I would think would be more expensive to make.

I also consider uniqueness when I think about value. So even though nachos for $23.00 is pretty egregious (for the portion) I’m still willing to get the lobster nachos because the cheese sauce and the dish itself tastes pretty unique; I definitely have not found another place that makes lobster nachos like Lamplight. But when it comes to Korean BBQ nachos, there are so many Korean fusion restaurants that make something similar if not better, and are much more generous with their toppings, that actually cost less. So even though these nachos did taste good, I wouldn’t get these here. Again, herein lies the issue of this type of food being your kind of food: you just can’t help but be critical.

Also if it’s not already clear, I’m very passionate about nachos.


Another very important thing to keep in mind if you’re looking to give these a try: the Korean BBQ nachos are only available in the UPSTAIRS DINING. If you’ve got a Lamplight Lounge reservation downstairs, you won’t be able to order these. I made a Lamplight Lounge downstairs reservation for dinner on the first night of Lunar New Year festivities and was so excited for the nachos only to find out I would not be having them that night. Very sad. Also very confusing. We had to come back the next day and get into the Walk-Up List for Boardwalk Dining to get these. They should really make that distinction more clear. But here’s your heads up!



Oolong Donuts ($9.00)

Oolong Donuts with Oolong Creme Anglaise & Orange Soy Pudding
Oolong Donuts with Oolong Creme Anglaise & Orange Soy Pudding

Location: Lamplight Lounge DOWNSTAIRS

Magic Keyholder Discount available


This might have been my favorite dessert/sweet item! Unlike the the Korean BBQ nachos, the Oolong Donuts are only offered in the DOWNSTAIRS DINING area, which you’ll likely need a reservation for, since they typically don’t take walk-ups (especially during busy times).


The donuts come with 5 small delicious rings of dough coated in an oolong sugar dusting. It also comes with two dipping sauces: an oolong creme anglaise and an orange soy pudding. The creme anglaise is very thing and has a light oolong flavor but tasted a little more milky to me than oolong-y. The orange soy pudding is very orange-y. The orange flavor is super strong, so if you like citrus you might like it, but it can definitely be overpowering. The texture of the soy pudding is nice and creamy, though, which I really liked. I ended up dipping the donuts in both the dipping sauces so they could kind of balance each other out, which was pretty good! Though I still liked the oolong creme anglaise better.


The donuts themselves are so light and fluffy but very full! I liked the oolong dusting so much, I made sure to get all the leftover bits at the bottom of the donut box because I couldn’t let it go to waste!


Matcha Raspberry Parfait ($6.99)

Matcha Raspberry Parfait
Matcha Raspberry Parfait

Location: Paradise Garden Grill

Magic Keyholder Discount available


Ooh, if I could just get a cup of matcha mousse that would be perfect. The parfait is made with a top layer of matcha mousse, a thin layer of white cake, and a bottom layer of raspberry jelly. Then it's topped with some little rice krispies and a chocolate coin! The matcha mousse is so creamy but still has a strong matcha flavor which I was pleasantly surprised about! Plus the cake and krispies add a nice difference in texture. The raspberry jelly, though, is very strong and a bit overpowering, and very tart. I think it’s an interesting combination of fruity and creamy/milky that, while I don’t hate, I also don’t particularly love. Even better yet, if this was a matcha red bean parfait I would probably need to buy like 10 of these.


Tiger Milk Tea with Boba ($5.49)

Location: Paradise Garden Grill

Magic Keyholder Discount available


Have you ever been to one of those really no frills Vietnamese banh mi places that offer $2 milk teas? If you have, that’s what the tiger milk tea here tastes like. I’m not knocking it, sometimes it tastes alright and fits your cravings. And hey, boba in a Disneyland park? I still can’t believe it! I was honestly expecting much worse, and was expecting the boba to be super hard or something. But the boba was actually pretty good! Not as good as most boba shops’, not quite as QQ and just a bit firm on the very inside, but pretty solid. Would I get this again? Probably not, since it costs about the same as boba from a place I would like much more, but I’m glad I tried it and am also so glad to see boba at Disneyland!.

Also the drink comes with a paper boba straw. I was surprised it was firm enough to break through the plastic seal, but I’m not a fan of the paper boba straws since I take forever to enjoy my boba, so I’d bring my own straw.


Peach Soju Yuja-Ade ($14.00)

Peach Soju Yuja-Ade
Peach Soju Yuja-Ade

Location: Lucky 8 Lantern Booth


I’m not big on alcoholic drinks, but I’m always down for a yummy sounding cocktail, and I love peach, so I was really excited to try this drink!

As a note, alcoholic drinks are not eligible for Sip & Savor Pass.

First things first, I love the color! It’s such a pretty drink!

But of course, what really matters is how it tastes. And this one is so yummy! It’s has a nice and sweet taste from the peach flavor, and is slightly tangy and tart from the yuja, but not by much. I will say it barely tastes like it has alcohol in it, like you’ve gotta try pretty hard to taste it. At some point I did question if there was even soju in it, but my Asian glow told me that yes there was, so there it is. There really wasn’t that much though since I really didn’t feel much of it. In terms of value, since you are paying $14.00 for it, I would have preferred more soju, since that is what you’re paying for - if you want the non-alcoholic one it’s like $6, so I would say it’s not quite as worth it if that’s what you’re going for, but again I did really enjoy the drink and it’s probably my favorite of the ones tried!


Lychee Celebration ($14.00)

Lychee Celebration
Lychee Celebration

Location: Prosperity Baos & Buns


* Says she doesn’t drink much alcohol, then proceeds to talk about two alcoholic drinks she had over the course of two days *

This one was another winner! I absolutely love lychee flavor, so of course I needed to try this! (Disney really knows what the best Asian flavors are!) This drink had both gin and prosecco, and you could taste the alcohol in this slightly more (but only slightly). I felt like this drink was a bit more sweet and syrupy, which is mostly why I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I enjoyed the soju peach yuja-ade. Either one is very yummy and refreshing though!


Do you agree with my takes on these items? Let me know in the comments below!


Sip & Savor Pass

The Sip & Savor Pass is for sale to Magic Key Holders for $40 and non Magic Key Holders for $43. The pass comes with 6 tabs so for those of you looking out for deals, that comes out to $6.67 per tab for Magic Key Holders and $7.17 for everyone else. That means you should make sure to spend your tabs on food items that are above those price points! After scouring the foodie guide, I figured that there weren’t 6 items I wanted that were above $6.67 (alcoholic drinks are not eligible), so I chose not to get the Sip & Savor Pass and instead just purchased each of the food items individually. Don’t get me wrong, all the food looked super good, but there were some items I get at other places for much cheaper that I couldn’t justify buying even though it was Disneyland.

Just as an example - the Mickey hot dog bun. I know it’s Mickey shaped (and everything tastes better when it’s Mickey shaped!) but I get hot dog buns for like $3-4 at most from Chinese bakeries. Also garlic noodles from really yummy places have large portions for $7 and the sample sizes you get from the booths is just not it for me.

Anyway, that being said, I skipped the Sip & Savor pass and was glad I didn’t feel obligated to get things I wasn’t interested in trying just to use the tabs in a cost-effective way (and end up spending more than I otherwise would have in the process).

 

Also as a heads up if you’re headed to the foods booths! Pick the shortest line and order all your items so that you only have to wait in the pickup lines at the other booths! I don’t know if it’ll continue being wildly busy, but on opening weekend the lines were ridiculously long. I found that the first booth that’s located right at the Lunar New Year arch (Red Dragon Spice Traders) was the shortest line both days (the other ones were so long they snaked).

 

So there you have it, some tidbits from Lunar New Year at Disney's California Adventure in 2022, the Year of the Tiger! It's a short but so sweet season, so I really hope you get the chance to check it out!


If you wanna see all the foods I tried (since I know I missed some photos) check out my Lunar New Year foods reel here!





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