Festival of Holidays Archives

November 15, 2017

Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays


Festival of Holidays 2017

The Festival of Holidays has returned to Disney California Adventure for its second year. Like last year, the Festival celebrates holiday traditions from around the world: Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Navidad, and Diwali. There's entertainment, character greetings, crafts, and of course FOOD!

This year there are twelve different Festive Food Marketplaces as well as special menus at the Paradise Garden Grill and the Sonoma Terrace. The Marketplaces are located along the parade route from Carthay Circle to the Golden Zephyr in Paradise Pier.

Festive Food Marketplace Menus

There are a few returning marketplaces (Making Spirits Bright, Brews & Bites, Winter Sliderland) and some returning food and beverage items, but most of the 60+ selections are new. Food prices range from $3.75-$5.00 for dessert items to $5.00-$7.75 for savory items. I was pleasantly surprised that some of the prices were lower this year, as much as a dollar, though most were $0.25-$.50 decreases. Wine and beer flights also had a modest price decrease. While prices for individual glasses of wine were generally unchanged or slightly up, the price for individual servings of beers was down $0.75 (though I think $9.00 is still high for a less-than-full-size serving of beer).

Annual Passholders can purchase a Sip and Savor Pass for $45. The pass has 8 tabs that can be redeemed for food and most non-alcoholic beverages at the Marketplaces. If used for items priced at $6.00 and higher it can provide a significant savings. Passholders must present their AP to purchase the passport, and most cast members at the order kiosks require you to show your AP when using one of the tabs.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Sip and Savor Pass

When using a tab at the Marketplaces, AP holders receive a small AP button. There are 11 different colors available (no button for Making Spirits Bright, since there are no eligible items there).

Festival of Holidays 2017 small AP marketplace buttons

All guests can pick up a Festival of Holidays Tasting Passport. They should be available at the ordering station of any of the Marketplaces. The passport lists the menus of each Marketplace along with some photos, and there's also a spot for a different sticker that is available at each Marketplace. No purchase necessary for the sticker, and it's helpful if you open it to the correct page before giving it to the cast member at the ordering station. After getting all of the stickers a Stamp of Completion is available at several locations.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Tasting Passport

I tried several food and beverage items on my visit earlier this week. When I first read the list of menu items, the one that most intrigued me was the Frosty Frosé - frozen rosé, blue Curacao & white cranberry juice from the A Twist on Tradition kiosk. $At $13.00 it's expensive, but it was very refreshing.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Frosty Frose

From the same place I also tried the Butternut Squash & Almond Pakora Fritters. $6.00 for these, and the best bite that I had all day. The fritters were soft and warm inside with a good flavor.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Butternut Squash and Almond Fritters

At Blissfully Braised I tried the Braised Pork Belly Adobo with garlic fried rice and sliced green onions. tender! The pork belly was a bit too fatty, though. I think the crunchy bits on top were fried pork rinds, but I'm not sure. I thought it was a reasonable portion size for $7.50 - especially since I used one of my tabs and it cost me less than $6. :-)

Festival of Holidays 2017 Pork Belly Adobo

Grilled Chicken Sausage with Red Beans and Rice was my selection from Grandma's Recipes. Whew, that's one spicy grandma, and this dish was too hot for me, especially the beans. I couldn't eat them. Too much chili powder for me. $7.25 for this one.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Chicken Sausage with Red Beans and Rice

From Winter Sliderland I had one of the returning items from last year: Roasted Turkey Slider with Cranberry Sauce ($7.50). It's like Thanksgiving dinner on a bun: dressing on the bottom, then lots of sliced turkey, covered in gravy with a drizzle of cranberry sauce. Yummy, though it's very similar to the Holiday Turkey at Earl of Sandwich, and that one is bigger and cheaper.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Turkey Slider

Last was the Baked Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from Festive Holiday Extras. $6.50. Good-sized serving, and very cheesy and filling.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
There are special holiday drinks available at the Hollywood Backlot area. I tried the Fireside Cider for $12.00. It's hot apple cider with a shot of cinnamon whiskey. It tasted good on a cool evening.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Fireside Cider

There's also a special menu at Paradise Garden Grill. It's basically the same as last year: burritos, street tacos, chicken mole. I haven't tried any of it yet. The Sonoma Terrace has a new menu for the Festival, offering chicken caesar and portobello mushroom and zucchini grilled "piadina" wraps.

In addition to all of the food and beverage offerings there's a variety of entertainment available during the Festival. I spent much of my time at the Festival just wandering between the entertainment venues - and I still didn't see everything.

The Sound is new to the Festival this year, performing on a stage next to the Pacific Wharf Cafe. They are an a capella group, performing holiday favorites as well as a song about Kwanzaa. I really enjoyed their performance.

Festival of Holidays 2017 The Sound

The Mariachi Divas also perform at the Pacific Wharf stage, but I didn't see them that day.

Mostly Kosher and Blue13 Dance Co. are returning groups, both appearing on the stage at Paradise Pier Park. Mostly Kosher is a klezmer band, though they also perform in several musical styles such as Latin, R&B, jazz, and rock. "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" was one of their numbers - quite unexpected, but very well done.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Mostly Kosher

Blue13 Dance Co. celebrates Diwali with traditional folk dances, in addition to a Bollywood-inspired disco party.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Blue13 Dance Co

This video contains short clips from performances by The Sound, Mostly Kosher, and Blue13 Dance Co.

The Holiday Toy Drummers, my favorite from last year, have also returned, but to a new location. They are performing at the Paradise Pier Obelisk (I'd never seen that term before - it's the entrance to Paradise Pier next to Ariel's Undersea Adventure). I don't like the new location because the sun is behind them which makes them hard to see/photograph unless you're off to the side. The drummers always look like they are having as much fun as the audience. I've seen them a number of times now, and they still make me smile every time.

New this year is the Holiday Sunset Concert. Each evening at either 6:00 or 6:30 there's a 40+minute show. Phat Cat Swinger performs Friday-Monday, and the Mariachi Divas perform Tuesday-Thursday. I saw Phat Cat Swinger, and they really put on a great show. They are a "Little Big Band" and performed a lot of swinging music in the style of the "Brat Pack" - Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. Mostly holiday music, but there were a few other songs like "Bella Notte" and "Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was my favorite of the evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and hope to see them again this holiday season.

Also returning this year to the Paradise Gardens area are !Viva Navidad! street party and Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. Holiday foods and character meet and greets with Princess Elena and other Disney characters are also available there.

Festival of Holidays 2017 Viva Navidad

Other Festival offerings...there's several tables set up in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure where guests can do some holiday-themed crafts like coloring a Diwali lantern.

Festival of Holidays 2017

Festival merchandise is available at several kiosks along the parade route. A Festival of Holidays souvenir hot/cold mug is available at many of the Marketplaces.

Festival of Holidays 2017 beverage cup

For Annual Passholders, the AP Corner is located in the Sonoma Terrace this year. Passholders can get a Festival button (only one design this year, rather than a new one every couple of weeks) and purchase AP-exclusive merchandise. There's also a special AP photo op.

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP Corner

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP button

Festival of Holidays 2017 AP merchandise

OK. I think that covers all of the Festival of Holidays activities! There's a lot more holiday fun going on at Disney California Adventure - but that'll be for another blog post.

November 13, 2017

First Look: Holidays at Disneyland Resort


Contributing photographer Jason of sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, November 10, 2017, for a first look at the holiday offerings around the resort.

I arrived to find a very busy parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. The line of cars to enter the parking structure stretched beyond the Disneyland Drive overpass.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A couple of video clips giving an overview of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Construction site this afternoon.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The exterior siding is almost all installed along Disneyland Drive now.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A closer look at the rock work.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Buena Vista Street Christmas decorations.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A long line for Smokejumpers Grill.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The FastPass return for Soarin was backed up and curved toward Smokejumpers

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The hot item today appeared to be the Pluto Holiday Popcorn bucket.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Country Bears are back this year. They are meeting between Grizzly River Run and the Bay Area.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Some new Toy Soldier decorations in the planter near Paradise Pier.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Mostly Kosher performing in Paradise Park

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A video clip of Mostly Kosher performing.

Festival of Holidays Marketplace Kiosks are all open. Laura will be doing a full posting on the here is just one menu picture to show what the format is.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival has returned to Paradise Gardens this year.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Sound was performing in the Pacific Wharf area when I walked by. They are a new group this year.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

More Toy Soldiers

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A Festival of Holidays photo location - Pluto was there as I walked by. Clarabelle Cow also appears there.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Next stop Disneyland. The hub has its Holiday plantings

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Partners Statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Ornament Steins were for sale at various locations in both parks. Here is the offering at the coffee cart in the hub.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Found a spot on Main Street in the hub for A Christmas Fantasy Parade. Before the Parade Taffany's Dance Academy Twinkle Holiday Parade

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

A video clip of the Twinkle Holiday Parade.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade making its way up Main Street USA.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Mailroom scene features Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Donald again this year.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

The Winter Wonderland Group is next.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Gingerbread Treats, Clarabelle Cow has been updated this year.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Santa and his reindeer finale to the parade

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Made my way through the crowd after the parade to Town Square for the nightly Flag Retreat. A good size crowd gathering for the kick off to Veteran's Day weekend.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

it's a small world holiday

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

it's a small world finale room video

Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Moving back to Disney California Adventure...Disney Viva Navidad! is back in Paradise Pier again this year.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Disney Viva Navidad! Finale Video Clip

Phat Cat Swinger performing at the Holiday Sunset Concert at Paradise Pier

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Phat Cat Swingers - Sleigh Ride Video Clips

Phat Cat Swingers - Belle Notte Video Clip

Phat Cat Swingers - It's Beginning to Look a Like Christmas

Phat Cat Swingers - Run Run Rudolph Video Clip

Stormtrooper sourdough bread being made at the Boudin Bakery.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Luigi is celebrating the holidays with the new "Joy to the Whirl" holiday overlay.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Hollywood Land has minimal decorations again this year. Santa and his reindeer are back.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Buena Vista Street Christmas Tree

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Disneyland Town Square Christmas Tree

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks.

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Believe in Holiday Magic final and snow fall clip

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Back to California Adventure

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Mater's Jingle Jamboree Video Clip of one the songs

Mater's Jingle Jamboree Video Clip of one the songs plus some jokes he told between cycles.

World of Color - Season of Light

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

World of Color - Season of Light - Goofy Decorating video clip

Jason @ image from Friday, November 10, 2017

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.

January 10, 2017

Three Kings' Day at Disneyland

Three Kings Day

For a number of years Disneyland has celebrated Three Kings' Day - El Dia de los Reyes Magos. January 6 (Epiphany) is the official day, but this year the events took place January 5-8.

Three Kings' Day celebrates the visit of the kings to the Christ child on the 12th day after his birth. Traditionally it's three kings: Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrrh.

The Paradise Gardens area of Disney California Adventure was the site of this year's events.

Three Kings Day

There were several displays set up. On the night before children traditionally place their shoes out for the kings to fill with toys and gifts.

Three Kings Day

"Rosca de Reyes", or "King's Cake" is a traditional food. It's a sweet bread, round like a crown, and decorated with candied fruits, which resemble jewels.

Three Kings Day

One of the activities was face painting. No charge, and it was available to adults and kids.

Three Kings Day

There was also a craft area. Guests could color paper lanterns or decorate a crown with stickers. There were a number of tables and chairs there.

Three Kings Day

Three Kings Storytelling took place several times each day on the Paradise Gardens stage. This was different than what I expected, but I thought it was well done. I thought it would be more like the Epcot storytellers, with someone acting the part. Instead it was two musicians, who both spoke and sang about holiday traditions such as Las Posadas, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and Three King's Day.

Three Kings Day

Here's a video of the entire performance.

A few other things I noticed while wandering around the parks...

I'd never gotten a very good look at Skylar on Princess Elena's float. He is a magical talking jaquin.

Skylar Princess Elena

Since Santa Claus is taking a well-deserved vacation, Santa Goofy was greeting guests in the Redwood Creek "Holiday Visit" area.

Santa Goofy

In that same area one of the deer sported a Santa hat.

Three Kings Day

The Tower of Terror closed on January 2 and is under wraps during the conversion to Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT.

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror

Over at Disneyland, Pocahontas was greeting guests along the Rivers of America near the exit to Big Thunder Mountain.


In honor of the Moana movie, several locations in Disneyland are offering a special Pineapple Parfait dessert. It's pineapple, cake, and custard. The necklace is also edible. I tried it and thought it was pretty good.

Pineapple parfait

December 21, 2016

Disneyland Resort Update - 12/16/15


I've been traveling a lot, but I wanted to make another visit to Disneyland during the holiday season. When I renewed my annual pass earlier this year I opted for the Signature AP, which is blocked out during the Christmas holidays - December 19-January 1 - so this weekend was my final opportunity before that. (I really don't WANT to be at Disneyland during those two weeks anyway!) Jason (Disneygeek) met me there on Friday afternoon and we wandered around for the rest of the day and evening.

We had a rare southern California rainstorm on Thursday and Friday, but according to the forecast the rain would be over in Anaheim by noon. When I left San Diego at 10:30 it was still raining there, but by the time I reached Anaheim the roads were dry and there was even a little bit of blue sky. As the day went on the clouds completely cleared off and we had a sunny day, though it was cool by southern California standards - only about 60 degrees.

Some major changes at Disneyland this week: most of the security checkpoints have been moved. Downtown Disney is now a "secure" area, so guests coming from the Mickey and Friends garage go through security before boarding a tram. I was surprised to see a fence up along the tram route where it goes through the garage. If you park on the first level then you cross the tram route inside the garage rather than from the Pinocchio parking lot as it was before.

Disneyland security fence

The bag check is still done manually, and then everyone goes through a metal detector. I wish they'd installed x-ray machines rather than the manual check. I arrived about 12:20, and things weren't very busy then, so I got through quickly.

Disneyland security

There are additional security checkpoints set up at the other entrances to Downtown Disney. From the Downtown Disney parking lot:

Downtown Disney security checkpoint

From the Grand Californian:

Grand Californian Security checkpoint

There's also one from the Disneyland Hotel, though I didn't get a photo of it. The security setup on the east side of the esplanade (for guests coming from the Toy Story parking lot and the hotels on Harbor Blvd) is unchanged. They still go through security on the east side of the esplanade.

From the tram I could see the demolition that's occurring at the former House of Blues location. According to a recent Disney Parks Blog post, Splitsville Luxury Lanes will be opening there in late 2017.

House of Blues demolition

When I got off the tram, it was great to be able to walk directly to the esplanade without going through security! And the esplanade looks so open now! Jason reminded me that the security tents at the esplanade had been in place for over 15 years. Wow.

Disneyland esplanade

This was the first time I'd been to DCA during the day this holiday season.

Festival of Holidays

My first order was to have something to eat, so I visited a couple of the Festival of Holidays Marketplaces. I never saw any lines at any of the booths except the Brews & Bites booth that sells beer. As I mentioned in my initial review of the Festival, I think the prices are just too high.

This time I tried the Harvest Puff Pastry with Leeks and Parmesan from the "Treats for Santa" booth. $4.25. I was surprised that it wasn't served warm. But it was pretty tasty, and I thought $4.25 wasn't a bad price, since it was a good-sized serving. Much more in line with the price I expect.

Festival of Holidays Harvest Puff Pastry

From "Mosaic Delights" I tried the Mini Falafel Donuts with Pickled Vegetables & Tahini Drizzle. This one was $7.00 - and it should have been $4.25. :-) Though it says "donuts", it's really a savory dish. I liked the flavor of the falafel and the pickled vegetables. It was just too expensive.

Festival of Holidays Falafel Donuts

I felt really badly for the cast members working the food booths - they had very little to do, and I'm sure that makes their shifts seem really long.

Jason and I met at the World of Color Fastpass machines. Even though it was almost 1:00, we were still able to get Fastpasses in the Blue section (the best of the non-dining package sections) for the 9:00 showing of Season of Light. Because of the rain there weren't too many people out and about yet. There was a second show scheduled for 10:15...I have a feeling it was very sparsely attended.

Since I'm writing this resort update instead of Jason there's going to be more words than photos, so if you're interested in Jason's excellent photos and construction update please visit his web site:

There's an AP Corner for Annual Passholders set up in the Grizzly Peak Recreation area. It opened November 11 and is available through January 8. Pretty minimal offerings compared to some of these in the past. There's a button, a photo backdrop, and a coloring area. But no character greeting opportunity or refreshments like water and popcorn as there have been at previous AP areas. Also, there's only a single button for the event, rather than a different one each week (you can see my button on the left in the photo below). There were no guests there when we arrived, and the cast members looked pretty cold! The location is out of the way, and a little hard to find, though there were signs for it at the entrance.

Festival of Holidays

There were additional craft opportunities along the parade corridor. This one was Christmas-themed, but I saw one for Kwanzaa also.

Festival of Holidays

Our next destination was Disneyland, so that I could see the "A Christmas Fantasy Parade" for the first time this season. We went all the way back to the parade start at "it's a small world". Not real crowded, but there were more people back there than i expected. We still had a spot behind just one row of people, though.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade

For some reason the toy soldiers were missing when the parade first started this holiday season, but they are back now. Always one of my favorite parts of the parade.

We left our viewing spot just before the final float appeared so that we could get in line for "it's a small world" Holiday before the crowds descended on it after the parade was over. We had a good view of that last float with Santa Claus from the line.

A Christmas Fantasy parade

"it's a small world" Holiday is celebrating its 20th holiday season this year. In recognition of that, some number of "hidden 20s" have been placed in the attraction this year. Jason is very good at spotting them and pointed them out to me, though the only one I was able to photograph was this one at the exit.

it's a small world holiday hidden 20

We went back to Frontierland to take a look at the Star Wars Land construction progress. This is the first time I've seen anything other than piles of dirt!

Star Wars Land

And this looks interesting. No idea what it is, though. There's still no official word out of Disney as to when Star Wars Land might open, but at least now there's actual construction underway. As I mentioned, Jason has a lot more (and better) photos available on his site.

Star Wars Land

On Main Street we caught the end of the performance of the Dickens Yuletide Band. In the clip below they perform a medley from "The Nutcracker."

We were planning to see some of the holiday entertainment over at DCA, so went across the esplanade back over there. But first we went back to Hollywood to check on Fastpasses for Tower of Terror. After dark, the Tower of Terror offers "Late Check-Out", where the attraction takes place in the dark, with no soundtrack. Fastpasses were not originally available for the after dark part, but that changed recently. We were there about 3:00, and there was a sign out to that effect.

Tower of Terror Late Check-Out

And the Fastpasses themselves denote Late Check-Out.

Tower of Terror Late Check-out

We still had some time before the first holiday act, so we went for a spin on Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters, since it had a short line. For the holiday season there's a new song: Jingle Bells. We heard it as we were walking to the attraction, but it wasn't the song that played for our ride.

The Holiday Toy Drummers was the first entertainment offering we saw, and they are my new favorites. They were so much fun to watch - especially since they seem to be having so much fun themselves. This is a video Jason took of them several weeks ago - they don't have any variation in their sets.

Holiday entertainment takes place in a number of different locations around DCA. The drummers were near the Boudin Bakery in Pacific Wharf, and from there we went to Paradise Gardens to see Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. It was pretty well-attended. Elena sang several songs, including two Christmas songs.

Festival of Holidays Elena of Avalor

The Stilt Circus performs along the parade corridor, though both time we saw them they were in Carthay Circle.

Festival of Holidays stilt circus

To get to Downtown Disney we exited through the Grand Californian. I hadn't seen the gingerbread hotel in its finished state - they were still decorating it when I was there in November. Pretty impressive structure.

Grand Californian Gingerbread house

There's a new Pandora store in Downtown Disney now, right next to Jamba Juice.

Downtown Disney Pandora Store

I was surprised to see a very large outdoor seating area outside Tortilla Jo's. During most of the year that might be pretty attractive, but it was a chilly afternoon and we didn't see anyone sitting outside.

Tortilla Jo's outdoor seating

The tree in Downtown Disney is in a new location this year. No skating rink, probably because of the construction of the fence for the security perimeter.

Downtown Disney Christmas tree

We took the monorail back to Disneyland from Downtown Disney. It was very nice not to have to go through a bag check there. And there was no line for the monorail, in fact some of the cars were empty. Jason and I were the only people in our car. We saw the start of sunset on our ride.

Disneyland sunset

At the Star Wars Launch Bay cast members were distributing Rogue One - A Star Wars Story buttons since the movie had just opened. There were a couple of display cases with costumes and props from the movie - pretty much the same as what I saw in Florida the week before.

Rogue One button

The lights weren't on yet, but the castle was decorated for the holidays.

Sleeping Beauty castle

We had dinner at Village Haus, largely so that we could sit inside where it was warm. There weren't very many people in there, and it was so quiet that we could actually hear the background music! It was the same holiday track that is played on Main Street. It was very nice to hear it.

The castle lights were on as we walked through the castle after dinner.

Sleeping Beauty ice castle

The Jambalaya Jazz group has added some holiday cheer to their set.

After dark their last song is White Christmas, and it snows.

snow in New Orleans Square

When we walked by Tropical Imports in Adventureland we noticed a sign for a new dessert - a Pineapple Parfait. Layered pineapple mousse, vanilla cake and pineapple topped with whipped cream and a chocolate Heart of Tefiti pendant. Normally I would've tried this, but it was a cold dessert and I was already cold enough.

Pineapple Parfait

Back to DCA to catch some more of the Festival of Holidays entertainment. Starting at 5:30 there are four different acts in a row at the stage in Paradise Park. We missed the first one, but we saw RAISE - an acapella group, Mariachi Divas, and Mostly Kosher. The latter are pictured below. They were surprisingly entertaining.

Festival of Holidays

The wind had come up and it was quite chilly by the water after we'd been sitting there for almost an hour. I suggested we go "under the sea" to warm up. :-) We walked right onto the clamshell vehicle.

There was still over an hour until it was time to be back for World of Color. I was looking for warm places, and we went into the Animation Building. There were a number of other people with the same idea, but we lucked out and there was a sofa we could sit on. I always enjoy sitting in there and watching the animation clips and artwork and listening to the music. I saw something I hadn't noticed before - it looks like there was a "Coppertone moment" in Frozen during the "In Summer" song. Cute.

DCA Animation Building

On the way back to Paradise Bay we stopped at Award Weiners so that I could get some hot chocolate. That tasted pretty good - and it felt good in my hands. :-)

Jason knows the spots, and found us an excellent location to watch World of Color - Season of Light. We were just behind the dessert party area, so there was no one standing in front of us.

It was windy, but not enough to cancel the show. It made for some interesting effects on the fountains. I was surprised at how clear the projections still were, despite the wind.

World of Color - Season of Light

This is such a good show. All of the effects work so well together.

World of Color - Season of Light

We made the right decision to choose to see World of Color and not the fireworks show at Disneyland - it was canceled because of the wind.

That was the end of our day. When we arrived back at the Mickey and Friends garage I was surprised to see that almost all of the security check lanes were still open. It was almost 10:00 - not too many people arriving at that time of night.

It was a good day - I was able to see all of the entertainment that I'd wanted to see. And thanks to the rain and the cool weather the parks weren't very crowded at all.

November 20, 2016

Disney California Adventure Celebrates the Holidays with New World of Color - Season of Light and More

World of Color - Season of Light

There's a new version of World of Color for this holiday season: World of Color - Season of Light. It combines favorite holiday musical numbers with heartwarming scenes from Disney and Disney-Pixar movies, choreographed with fountains, lasers, lights and even flames.

World of Color - Season of Light

We saw it Saturday night, and I have to say that it's my favorite version of the show. The fountains are not so much the main focus of the show now, and all of the different effects are much more integrated and complement each other. I thought the lasers were used especially well.

And I loved the music. I'm old enough to remember my parents playing Christmas albums by Nat King Cole ("The Christmas Song"), Bing Crosby ("Mele Kalikimaka"), and Dean Martin ("Let it Snow"), and I enjoy hearing them again. But it's also great to hear contemporary artists such as Michael Buble and Idina Menzel ("Baby It's Cold Outside"), and Amy Grant ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"). And Pentatonix's version of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies", followed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizard in Winter", had everyone cheering.

World of Color - Season of Light

The animation clips were very well chosen. Who can forget the heartwarming moment from "Lady and the Tramp" when, on Christmas morning, "Darling" opens the box and Lady's head pops out?

World of Color - Season of Light

And I had to laugh when Sadness from "Inside Out" appeared - to the music of Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas." :-)

During the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth", giant soap bubbles, shaped like hearts, rise into the air and float away.

World of Color - Season of Light

My camera battery died partway through, but here's the first 16 minutes of the show, including the Pentatonix and TSO numbers.

As I mentioned, we thought it was a terrific show. In reading Disney's "Fact Sheet" about it, I found a few items that explain some of the new aspects.

  • Five newly installed barges in the lagoon erupt in a brilliant lighting effect to punctuate the grand finale.
  • More than 800 individual light fixtures are needed to illuminate the show.
  • Six laser projectors are deployed to create a variety of entertaining effects.
  • Nearly 20 high-definition projectors convey imagery to the screens of water.

You'll need a Fastpass to access the viewing areas for the show. These are available at the entrance to Grizzly River Run beginning at park opening. Fastpasses for the areas that are more centered are distributed first, so go early. There is some standby viewing, but it's further back and tends to fill up early.

World of Color - Season of Light

In addition to the regular Fastpass option for the show, there are options for Premium viewing experiences. Lunch and Dinner packages are available at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Wine Country Trattoria, and a Dinner Package at Ariel's Grotto. The newest option, introduced earlier this year, is the Sparkling Dessert Package. Lee and I did that one on Saturday. It's unique because you actually get to sit for the show - everyone is seated at small tables. A plate of cheese, fruits and desserts is served to you, along with beverages. At $79 plus tax it's the most expensive of the viewing options, but it's my favorite way to see the show.

World of Color Dessert Package

We have more information on Dining packages on our World of Color page.

We took a quick look around the park at some of the other holidays options. This year Santa Claus has moved from his Elias and Co. department store Santa setting to a more rustic area along in the newly named "Redwood Creek - Santa's Holiday Visit".

Redwood Creek Santa's Holiday Visit

Santa is tucked away in the Ahwahnee Circle (the small amphitheater). I was wondering if guests would be less interested in visiting him there, but the line was long, so that's apparently not an issue. Without standing in line there was no way to get a good view of Santa Claus, so this is not a very good photo.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I thought it very amusing that this is the roof of Santa's greeting area. :-) A place for the reindeer - but only eight of them - to hang out.

Redwood Creek Reindeer Landing  Zone

The Redwood Creek area itself has decorations, which I don't recall seeing in the past. The Jingle Bridge is hung with bells that ring when people bounce on it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The "challenge" aspect of the Redwood Creek area is now "Elf Games". Some additional elements have been added at some of the apparatus, like a sack of gifts at the slides for the "Pack the Presents" game.

Redwood Creek Elf Games

There's also a meet and greet spot with Chip and/or Dale.

Disney California Adventure Chip

Guests seemed to be enjoying the area - as I mentioned the line for Santa was fairly long and there were a number of kids enjoying the various challenges.

This isn't a holiday thing, but right now DCA is showing an extended preview of Moana in the Bugs Land Theater. Using all of the available effects. Including lots of water. We really enjoyed the preview - the movie looks very good.

Disney California Adventure Moana preview

The rest of the park seems to be decked out in its usual holiday style. The Christmas tree is in Carthay Circle, and there's a tree lighting show every night. The residents of Cars Land have also decorated the town of Radiator Springs - Seasons Speedings to all! :-) (I'm certainly enjoying the Passholder benefit of free downloads of PhotoPass photos!)

Cars Land Seasons Speedings

Here's the new popcorn buckets being sold in both parks. The Santa Mickey was VERY popular and we saw lots of people carrying them around. Getting them before they sell out.

Disneyland 2016 Santa Mickey Popcorn Bucket

I believe the Elf Mickey Stein is only available at Disneyland. That was also popular.

Elf Mickey Stein

There's also a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs refillable mug that seems to be available resort wide.

Snow White Holiday mug

To close, even though this isn't DCA, either, the construction of the enormous gingerbread house in the Grand Californian was underway. This year it's a gingerbread version of the hotel itself. There's even a fire in the fireplace.

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

A smaller version of the gingerbread house is available for purchase - $85.

Grand Californian Gingerbread House

November 15, 2016

New Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure gets a holiday makeover this year with the presentation of the first Festival of Holidays at the park. The Festival celebrates holiday traditions around the world with food, beverages, and entertainment. Princess Elena of Avalor makes her Disneyland debut in Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. The popular ¡Viva Navidad! street party also returns to Paradise Pier along with special food offerings and a character meet and greet.

Also new for the holiday season is World of Color - Season of Light. The show combines water, animations, projections and laser effects choreographed to both classic and contemporary holiday music. Selections range from Nat King Cole performing "The Christmas Song" to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Pentatonix.

World of Color - Season of Light

Santa Claus has moved to the Redwood Creek area this year - his greeting spot is tucked away in the Ahwahnee Circle. The elves have been busy setting up Elf Games for guests, such as the "Jingle Bridge" and the "Pack the Presents" slide.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Our weekend visit to DCA was much too short for us to experience everything that the park has to offer now. We concentrated on the Festival of Holidays - more specifically some of the fourteen Festive Food Marketplaces.

This aspect of the Festival is a food and wine festival - and there are even more marketplace booths (14) than there were for the return of the Food and Wine Festival to DCA earlier this year. The holiday booths also have much more of an international flair, with offerings inspired by Asian, Mexican, Jewish, Indian, Middle Eastern, German, and Swedish traditions as well as American favorites like sliders, Southern specialties and the classic turkey dinner. There's even a "Treats for Santa" booth with cookies and cookie decorating, peppermint bark, fudge, and panettone.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

All of the booths have special beverage offerings, also. There are booths dedicated to both beer (Brews and Bites) and wines (Making Spirits Bright) which offer flights or selections by the glass. Other choices include holiday eggnog cocktail, pomegranate margarita, iced mint tea, cranberry sweet tea, and chocolate beverages such as pumpkin spice hot chocolate, white hot chocolate, and frozen chocolate milk.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Our first taste of the Festival was Friday night - it opened on Thursday. We were surprised that the food lines were short/non-existent. Very different than the opening weekend of the Food and Wine Festival back in April. The only real lines were at the beer and wine booths.

First Lee tried the Brisket Potato Croquette with horseradish cream from Nosh and Nibbles for $7.50. He said it was very good.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Next we went to Good Fortune's Feast and tried two items. First the Adobo Pork Bao, $8.00. It was excellent, though I thought it a little heavy on the pickled onions. I didn't taste much "adobo" in it, though.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Smoked Duck and Vegetable Spring Roll with cabbage and sweet plum sauce was really good! But at $8.75 it was very expensive for the serving size.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We were at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival the week before, and I think we understand why the lines at the booths were so short. The prices for food booth items in California are significantly higher than those in Florida - where most Florida items are in the $5-$7 range, most of the California items are $7-$9.

At Spice Salutations we sampled the Carrot and Chickpea Fritters for $6.25. They were served with a coriander almond sauce, but they really didn't have very much flavor.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Chicken and Potato Curry, with kefir cream and grilled naan for $6.50. This was a more generous serving than anything else we'd tried, and it was very tasty. The curry was not too spicy. And the naan was good.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee sampled the Holiday Bright Seasonal Beer Flight from Brews & Bites. Spaten Brewery Oktoberfest from Germany, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Celebration, 21st Amendment Brewing Fireside Chat, and Karl Strauss Seven Sharks A-Circling. He wasn't wild about any of them.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

From Winter Sliderland we tried a Roasted Turkey Slider. It was expensive - $8.00. The turkey was nice carved slices, and it also had dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. It was very good, but it's not that much different than Earl of Sandwich's Holiday Turkey, which is twice the size for less money.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Kalua Pork Slider. $7.50 for this one. Pieces of nice roasted pork topped with pineapple jam and cider slaw. I liked this one better than the one that they have at Epcot.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

By then we were ready for some dessert at the appropriately named Yuletide Yummies. We chose the Gingerbread Bundt Cake, but requested that they leave the orange-vanilla sauce off of it. It was a dense gingerbread but very flavorful and we both liked it a lot. It was served cold but I think it would have been better served warm. For $4.25 I thought it was a decent-sized serving.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We also tried the Mocha Yule Log for $4.75. This one definitely gets the award for the prettiest dessert! It was really nicely decorated. And it was also a generous serving. Lee didn't care for the cream, but the cake was good. I mostly liked it, but it was a little too sweet. We couldn't finish it, and ended up taking half of it back to the room with us.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

One word of advice - you'll need to get a knife to cut both of these - they are too dense for a fork by itself.

For the Food and Wine Festival the booths were set up on the parade route between Carthay Circle and the Pacific Wharf. But with the additional six booths they extend all the way to the Golden Zephyr, with one booth location next to Grizzly River Run near the restrooms.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Yuletide Yummies booth was in front of Ariel's attraction, and there were some metal tables - some of them with chairs - set up next to it. It was a very nice spot to sit and enjoy some of the entertainment that takes place in Paradise Park. We heard parts of performances from the Mariachi Divas and the Blue13 Dance Company.

The Food and Wine Festival had covered "arbors" with bar-type counters so people could stand and eat. Those aren't out - instead there are the typical round black metal standing tables like we see at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, along with a few lower tables and chairs. There seemed to be more low tables than there were chairs to go with them. It didn't seem to me as though the tables offered as much space for people to eat as the arbors did.

Saturday evening we went back to try more of the food offerings. The park was pretty busy, so I was expecting longer lines at the food booths, but that was not the case. We asked cast members if it had been busy that day and they said not really. I definitely think the prices are an issue. Just across the parade route from a couple of the food booths is a hot dog cart where you can get a hot dog and chips for $7.00 - more food than you'll get at the neighboring booths.

From Abuelita's Kitchen we sampled the Chicken and Cilantro Tamale with roasted tomatillo salsa. That was quite good. $7.50 for it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee also tried the Chorizo Bean Sope with Cotija cheese and crema for $7.00. He enjoyed that, too.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Back at Yuletide Yummies again I had the Mini Turkey Pot Pie with cranberry drizzle for $8.00. I was disappointed that it was mostly crust. It was a nice flaky crust, but there was way more of that than there was the turkey and vegetable filling. Not worth $8.00.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee wanted to try their Joyful Flavors Beer Flight, but they were out of one of the beers (and of course the one they were out of, Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar, was the one that he really wanted to try). And rather than substitute the cast member said they weren't allowed to sell the flight at all. We though that was odd - they substitute at Epcot all the time.

From Fiesta en Familia we tried the two pozole dishes. The Green Chile Pozole was a vegetarian dish, and was $6.25. It was very good and we both enjoyed it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

The Red Chile Pozole contained tender chunks of pork and was $6.75. It was also very good. Both pozoles had quite different flavors - it was interesting to taste what a difference red versus green made. I wish they had been more generous servings or that the price had been $2 less.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Lee tried the Southern Mac and Cheese from Southern Home Holidays for $7.50. It was topped with jalapeno cornbread crumbles - he said it needed more of that. He liked it. I had a taste but thought it was just ok - I'm not much of a mac and cheese fan, though.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

From Winter Sliderland we got another Kalua Pork Slider, which was much more generous with the pork than the first one.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

This time we also tried the Praline & Bourbon Whoopie Pie for $4.25. The whoopie pie was bigger than I expected and had a pretty good flavor - lots of cream inside.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

We made pretty good progress in sampling the food offerings, though there were still five of the booths we never got to. Still, I think we sampled almost everything that really sounded good to us. In addition to the food booths, there are full-size seasonal offerings at Paradise Garden Grill: Torta al Pastor, Street-Style Tacos, and Chicken Mole. I like chicken mole, so maybe next time.

There is entertainment going on at multiple locations during the Festival of Holidays. In addition to Paradise Park, there's also groups performing at Paradise Gardens, Pacific Wharf, and Sonoma Terrace. The latter was a surprise to me, but we heard part of a performance by Raise, an R&B a cappella group, and they were very good.

There's several entertainment offerings that we did not get a chance to experience - like Princess Elena's Musical Grand Arrival. There's also the Stilt Circus, and the Holiday Toy Drummers. The latter sounded like they might be a lot of fun to watch.

There's also some craft tables - the one we stopped by had Diwali paper lanterns that you could make. Diwali is the Eastern Festival of Lights.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

In the Festival areas there was really interesting music playing - it was modern and upbeat arrangements of songs for celebrations like Hanukkah. The loop was too short, though - we heard the same songs multiple times.

We found a cart that had some Festival of Holidays merchandise. Not much of a selection - there were t-shirts, including one specifically for Annual Passholders, and hats.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I was disappointed in the designs. All of the food booths and parade route banners had the Mickey-head logo below, which I really liked! I would've bought something with that logo on it.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

I'm sure the main idea behind the Festival of Holidays is to pull guests from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure - and especially to convince guests to buy a one day ticket to DCA rather than Disneyland. We were in Disneyland on Saturday and it was very busy. DCA was less busy, but to me it still felt busier than it would on a typical Saturday. The standby line for Soarin' was longer than I've seen it for a long time. While the marketplaces were not particularly busy (except those that specialized in alcohol), there still seemed to be a lot of people enjoying the other holiday offerings in the park.

We enjoyed the parts of Festival of Holidays that we experienced - I would like to see more of the entertainment. My only real complaint is the prices at the Festival Marketplaces - I think they are just too high.

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About Festival of Holidays

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Festival of Holidays category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney's HalloweenTime is the previous category.

Food and Wine Festival is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.