It seems that every time I travel to a theme park, there’s a food and wine festival. In the past few years, I’ve been to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and the Disneyland Paris Food and Wine Festival – all based on serendipitous planning. Luckily, my latest trip to Disneyland also landed on the start date of the Disneyland Food and Wine Festival at California Adventure, and I had the chance to experience it.
Disclosure: I attended a media event at the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival and received complimentary admission and tastings as well as a Sip n Savor pass. All opinions are my own.
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Tasting California at the 2020 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine
What is the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival?
If you haven’t been to one of these Disney events yet, you are definitely missing out! They are so much fun, and you’ll have lots of options of things to do beyond tastings. Within California Adventure, you’ll be able to visit 13 individual kiosks where you can purchase food and drink samples.
The theme of the festival is California cuisine, so it’s really a celebration of all of the delicious fresh food that you’ll find in California – things like watermelon, artichokes, and avocado. You do pay for these samples, and prices range from around $6 for a non-alcoholic specialty beverage to upwards of about $8.50.
The kiosks are located within the park, so valid park admission is required. Unlike the various parties at the parks, this is not a separately ticketed event, although there are some events that require an additional fee.
When is the Disneyland Food and Wine Festival?
This year, the festival runs longer than ever! It started on Friday, February 28th, 2020, and runs through April 21, 2020. It’s held daily.
What Foods Can You Expect to Find at the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival?
Regardless of your food preferences, you are likely to find plenty to enjoy. These samples are generally about tapas size, so you can probably eat two or three, or choose to share more.
This year, the marketplaces are the following:
- Nuts about cheese
- Uncork California
- Golden Dreams
- California Craft Brews
- One in a Melon
- Peppers Cali-ente
- LA Style
- Avocado Time
- Off the Cob
- I ❤️Artichokes
- Berry Patch
- Garlic Kissed
There are also some exclusive Food and Wine samples at various locations throughout the park and Downtown Disney. These locations include the Paradise Beer Garden, the Paradise Garden Grill, the Hollywood Lounge, the Hollywood Churro Cart, Sonoma Terrace, Ballast Point Brewing Co., Catal Restaurant, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Splitsville, and Salt & Straw.
I had the chance to sample a bunch over two days, and my favorites were the following:
Grilled Shrimp Tacos: jicama tortillas with cabbage, tomato slaw, and pineapple-chile salsa. I had to get these twice because they were so good. They are sold at Peppers Cali-Ente.
Brisket Fries: These have BBQ brisket, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, crema, and onion. There are two different sizes of this at Paradise Garden Grill – a full size, and a tasting size for the festival.
Shrimp and Braised Corn: this dish has chorizo, green onions, and corn kernels, and was so delicious. You can find it at Off the Cob.
Impossible Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese: I was surprised at how much I loved this. It really tastes like a cheeseburger and is made from the plant-based Impossible Burger. It’s sold at Nuts about Cheese.
Poke-Style Watermelon with Cucumber: This refreshing sample is made with marinated watermelon, white rice, cucumbers, and onions.
Black Garlic Soy-braised Pork Belly Bahn Mi: a mini Bahn mi with pickled carrots, sliced jalapeno, and more. You can get this at Garlic Kissed.
Mickey-shaped Caramel-Peanut Milk Chocolate Macaron: This huge macaron is filled with a delicious peanut filling and is so good. This is a great one to consider sharing. Like the shrimp and braised corn, it’s at Off the Cob.
Beverages at the 2020 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival
Despite the name, you can definitely find more than just wine at the festival. In addition to delicious wines, there are also non-alcoholic specialty drinks, cocktails, and beer. I tried one of the non-alcoholic drinks and two of the cocktails and loved all of them.
Strawberry-Rose Lemonade: This non-alcoholic drink is made with strawberry, rose, amber honey, and lemon juice. It’s so refreshing and was perfect on a hot day.
Cantarito-Style Paloma: If you like spicy beverages, this alcoholic drink is a must-try. It definitely has a kick, so you’ll want to make sure you are okay with some heat. It’s made with tequila, cantaloupe, Habanero-infused pineapple juice, Fresca, and lime juice.
Mezcal Cocktail: I love Mezcal, so I absolutely had to try this. If you like smokiness, definitely try it. You can find it at Avocado Time.
Seminars and Special Events at the Food and Wine Festival
In addition to the booths, there are lots of seminars and events that take place during the event. Some of these are offered for an additional fee, but they have made an effort this year to include even more free events. If events require advance reservations, you’ll want to make these as soon as possible.
Culinary Demonstrations take place throughout the festival. There is a variety of participating chefs including celebrity chefs and Disney Chefs. You can see the schedule here.
Family time takes place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. These family-friendly cooking demonstrations feature chef Daniella Malfitano.
Kids aged 3 to 11 can participate in Jr. Chef, featuring Chef Goofy. It takes place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet Chef Goofy and take photos at the Hollywood Backlot.
There’s also entertainment throughout the festival – look at the app or the online calendar for more information. Listen to live music at the Paradise Garden Bandstand and the Palisades Stage.
Every day during the festival, you can watch the Jammin’ Chefs, who are accompanied by Chip n Dale. This fun show is short but definitely worth checking out.
For an additional fee, you can also experience various seminars and tastings. These include a culinary adventure tour, wine education and tasting, mixology, beer education and tasting, and a winemaker receptions. Tickets for these should be purchased in advance.
Special Diets at the Food and Wine Festival
If you have special dietary concerns, there are plenty of options at the festival. Pick up a free tasting passport, and flip to the back for a list of different options.
You’ll find listings for vegetarian, kid-friendly, plant-based, and gluten-friendly options, along with where you can purchase these items. For those who are plant-based or vegetarian, there are several options made with the Impossible Burger.
Merchandise at the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival
I always love specialty merchandise, so I was thrilled to see the nice selection of bright colored products. You’ll find sweatshirts, special ears, t-shirts, salt and pepper shakers (and other kitchen merchandise), as well as annual passholder exclusive merchandise.
These products can be found throughout the festival, at the following booths: Festival Gifts and Artist Croner, Studio Store, Festival Carts (by the Golden Vine Winery), Elias and Company, and Trolley Treats (for Annual Passholder products).
Tips for Visiting the Disney California Food and Wine Festival
Pick up a complimentary tasting passport when you arrive at the festival. It includes a listing of every single food item that you’ll find, as well as a map of booths. You can also get a marketplace stamp for each booth in your passport, and then you’ll receive a completion stamp.
These passports are a great way to keep track of what items you’d like to try. You can also see whether an item is plant-based, vegetarian, kid-friendly, and gluten-friendly.
If you are planning to make a bunch of food and drink sample purchases at the festival, consider buying a Sip and Savor Pass. This past, which costs $56, includes entitlements for 8 different tastings (excluding alcoholic beverages). Disneyland annual passholders receive a $5 discount on the Sip and Savor pass, as well as a commemorative lanyard.
The Sip and Savor Pass can be used over multiple visits. However, you do need to leave the tabs attached until you make your purchase. It’s a good idea to do the math and make sure you’ll use the entitlements for the more expensive samples (keeping in mind that alcoholic beverages aren’t included).
If you like to take photos of food and/or yourself, there are several “Instagram walls” on the sides of the booths. I especially loved the one by I ❤️ Artichokes above. It’s fun to find all of them.
I was at the festival for the first weekend, so it was definitely crowded. We found that an off-peak time, around 3 pm, was the most efficient time with regards to lines. You can definitely have a meal from the samples, and I would recommend that.
Guests can order food from multiple booths at one booth. So, it’s a good idea to look at the passport in advance, and then make all of your purchases in one place. You’ll get a receipt for everything, and you can bypass the register line and instead go right to the pickup line.
There are, however, a few exceptions to this. At one point, I tried to order the Bahn Mi from one of the booths, and they were unable to sell it because it’s a popular item and they were afraid it would sell out. In addition, items from Paradise Garden Grill have to be purchased at that location.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Disneyland California Adventure Food and Wine Festival
Admission to the festival is included with valid park admission. Keep in mind that you’ll need a park hopper ticket if you are also visiting Disneyland park that day. Individual food samples and some events do cost extra.
The festivals are similar, but there are also some differences. They are held at different times of the year, and there are different events and seminars. In addition, Epcot’s festival focuses on international foods, while California Adventure’s festival focuses on California cuisine.
Unless there is a specific chef you are trying to see, you really can visit at any time during the festival dates. While Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays may be busier, there are also some events that also take place only on weekends.
Have you been to the Food and Wine Festival at Disney’s California Adventure park? What was your favorite food?