Lunar New Year Archives

January 29, 2018

Lunar New Year Food Offerings at Disney California Adventure


One of the highlights of any holiday event at the Disneyland Resort is trying some of the special foods and beverages that are available. For Lunar New Year, these offerings celebrate the cuisines of China, Korea, and Vietnam at three festive marketplaces and the Paradise Garden Grill.

Each marketplace features appetizer-sized portions of traditional dishes, as well as a dessert item and beverage. At the Media event I attended I had the opportunity to try several of the dishes, including a couple that are new this year.

Lunar New Year 2018 food

Korea Marketplace

* Kimchi Bokkeumbap - Kimchi-vegetable fried rice. $6.00 * Yachae Mandu - Steamed vegetable dumplings with sesame-garlic soy sauce. $6.50 * Yang Gaeng - Sweet red bean and raspberry jelly. $4.50 * Banana Milk (non-alcoholic). $5.00 * Mae Shil Ju - Plum wine cocktail with a rose petal garnish. $12.00 * Hite Pale Lager - $9.00

The Kimchi Bokkeumbap did not have a very strong kimchi flavor - pretty mild. A good selection of vegetables, though unfortunately it contained small pieces of red bell pepper. Yuck. I was able to mostly eat around it.

Lunar New Year 2018 kimchi bokkeumbap

I really did not like the new Yang Gaeng at all. It was like eating sweet gritty jello. Not a pleasant texture, and much too sweet.

Lunar New Year 2018 Red Bean and Raspberry Jelly

China Marketplace

* Pork Soup Dumplings with black vinegar and ginger. $7.00 * Three Cup Chicken. $6.75 * Egg tart. $4.25 * Five-Spiced Peanut Brittle. $4.50 * Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea with lychee popping pearls (non-alcoholic). $5.50.
-- Add a glowing lotus flower $5.00 * Tsingtao Lager. $9.00

The Three Cup Chicken is new this year. Chef John State, whose culinary team is responsible for the food and beverage offerings, told us that it's a traditional recipe, made with 1 cup each of rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. It was served over rice, and I thought it was very good.

Lunar New Year 2018 Three Cup Chicken

The Pork Soup Dumplings returned this year - they were a guest favorite last year. They weren't as soupy as I expected, and they cooled off before I had a chance to eat them. Tasty but not amazing. I wish the bowl had included some of the broth and been more of a soup.

Lunar New Year 2018 Pork Soup Dumplings

Another returning item is the Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea. I had also tried this last year and thought it was too sweet. It seemed less sweet to me this year, though I'm not sure I could've told you it was passion fruit-flavored without knowing that. The light-up lotus flower is a $5 add-on.

Lunar New Year 2018 Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea

Vietnam Marketplace

* Sticky Rice Cake - with pork. $6.50 * Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer - with sweet and sour sauce. $7.00 * Purple Sweet Potato Macaron. $5.25 * Vietnamese Iced Coffee. $5.00

There were no changes to this marketplace menu. I sampled one of the Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewers. I was expecting a whole shrimp, but it was a mixture of chopped shrimp that had been lightly breaded and fried. It was very good, probably my favorite of all of the items that I tried. I would've chosen a different sauce for it, though.

Lunar New Year 2018 sugar cane shrimp skewer

According to Chef State, the Sticky Rice Cake is very labor intensive to prepare. It's also not something you can be in a hurry to eat, since it has to be untied and unwrapped!

Lunar New Year 2018 Sticky Rice Cake with pork

I was a little concerned about it at first - the wrapping (banana leaf?) had an unpleasant aroma, but fortunately that didn't affect the contents. I found that it was very filling - there was a good amount of tender pork in the middle of the rice. The carrot "slaw" that came with it was quite good: vinegary with a little bit of heat from the jalapeno.

Lunar New Year 2018 Sticky Rice Cake with Pork

The Purple Sweet Potato Macaron is beautiful to look at. Purple buttercream in the middle, and some gold leaf on top. I don't get the appeal of macarons in general, so while this was probably a fine macaron (and it was larger than most macarons I've seen) it seemed typical to me. Which is to say chewy and overly sweet.

Lunar New Year 2018 purple sweet potato macaron

There's a small food cart in Paradise Gardens that sells pork bao ($5.50) and almond cookies ($4.00). I tried the pork bao. It was very small for the price and the filling was dry. It was served with a sweet chili dipping sauce, which was sticky and too thick - almost gelatinous. I've had much better (and cheaper) bao from my local 99 Ranch Market.

Lunar New Year 2018 pork bao

The Lunar New Year menu at the Paradise Garden Grill restaurant offers complete meals inspired by several Asian countries. It's the same menu as last year with one new item added - a banh mi with grilled marinated pork belly. I would've liked to try this, but I was too full from everything else.

Lunar New Year 2018 pork banh mi

Though Paradise Garden Grill is a quick service location, in this incarnation it's serving food that is prepared to order like a table service restaurant. So there's been a change in the way the food is served this year. After placing their order guests receive their beverages at the window, along with a number card to place on a table in the seating area. Once the food is ready, cast members will deliver it to the table.

Paradise Garden Grill

* Whole Crispy Tilapia - tilapia lightly dusted with rice flour and deep fried, with citrus-chili vinaigrette. Served family style with soup, vegetables, and rice. Meal for two $24.99

* Kalbi Beef Short Ribs - marinated and grilled Korean-style beef short ribs with green onions, served with steamed rice and kimchi. $14.99

* Vegetable Japchae - sweet potato noodles, onions, shiitake mushrooms, carrot, spinach, snow peas, broccolini and lightly sauteed tofu, tossed with sesame oil and a sweet and spicy sauce topped with toasted sesame seeds. $10.99

* Beef Noodle Soup - rich seasoned beef stock, thinly sliced tri-tip, rice noodles, with classic accompaniments of onion, jalapeno, basil-lime and hot sauce. $11.99

* Banh mi with Grilled Pork - marinated pork belly, pickled carrots and daikon, with cucumber, cilantro, seasoned mayonnaise and jalapeno on a crisp baquette. $11.99

* Mango Pudding - $3.99

* Almond Milk Tea with Pudding - $4.99 Add a glowing lotus flower $4.59

* Black Beer Stout - $7.50

The booth prices are typical for a food festival at DCA - which is to say that they are high. Two samples will run $12-$14, which is about what you'll pay for a counter service meal - but it's not nearly as much food. Still, the quality is good, and some of the items are also very attractively presented. If you view it as an experience, and an opportunity to try something different, it's easier to justify the expense.

In contrast, the prices at Paradise Garden Grill are on par with what you'll pay for a counter service meal around the Disneyland Resort, for a food selection that you won't find at any other resort restaurants. I know where I'm eating if I return to DCA during Lunar New Year.

* I was an invited guest to a Lunar New Year Celebration Media event. My opinions are my own.

January 27, 2018

Disney California Adventure Lunar New Year Celebration - the Year of the Dog


Since moving from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure in 2013, the Lunar New Year Celebration has expanded every year. In 2018, in addition to new entertainment and food offerings, the event will take place over the course of 24 days, from January 26 through February 18.

This short interview with Mirna Hughes provides an overview of what's happening this year.

The celebration takes place in the Paradise Park and Paradise Gardens areas. A large gateway near the entrance to Ariel's Undersea Adventure marks the beginning of the event area.

Lunar New Year 2018

This is the Year of the Dog, so Pluto gets his moment in the spotlight. His image is featured on the decorative banners in the park, as well as on some of the merchandise.

Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

Some of the merchandise, such as the Minnie flowered hat ears and the Mickey plush, came from Shanghai Disneyland. Mickey's foot has the Shanghai logo.

Lunar New Year 2018 Shanghai Minnie Ears

Lunar New Year 2018 Shanghai Mickey plush

Lunar New Year 2018 Shanghai Mickey

It's not a festival without food, of course! There are three food marketplaces in the Paradise Park corridor, offering representative dishes from Korea, China, and Vietnam. I'll have another blog on the items that I tried.

Lunar New Year 2018 Korea Booth

Only a few of the items are new this year, including "Three Cup Chicken". Never fear: the popular Pork Soup Dumplings are back. (I have it on good authority that these are Mushu's favorite! :-) )

Lunar New Year 2018 pork soup dumplings

The Paradise Garden Grill restaurant also offers a special Lunar New Year menu. The Crispy Fish Dinner - a whole tilapia served family style - returns this year, along with the Galbi (Korean style pork ribs). The Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich is new this year. Also new this year: food is delivered to guests at their table. After ordering guests will receive a number along with their beverages and accompaniments, but the dishes will be brought to the table.

Lunar New Year 2018 Crispy Tilapia

There are a lot of activities for guests. Near Ariel's Undersea Adventure is a free face painting kiosk. A number of designs are available.

Lunar New Year 2018 face painting

Most activities are in Paradise Gardens. Kids (and adults) can color and make a paper lantern featuring Pluto. There are also calligraphy artists who will write a New Year wish or your name - it's a nice free souvenir.

Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

At the Lucky Wishing Wall guests can write their new year wish on a Mickey-head-shaped card and tie it on. The Mickey cards are new this year. My wish for last year came true, so I hope for the same result for this year's wish.

Lunar New Year 2018 Lucky Wishing Wall

There are some static displays with information on how Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese families celebrate. This is the Year of the Dog, but another sign tells about the other animals, and you can find what year you were born in.

Lunar New Year 2018

The character meet and greet is at the gazebo in Paradise Gardens. Pluto, Mickey and Minnie, and Mulan and Mushu, all in New Year attire, alternate in that location. Interestingly, there is no PhotoPass photographer there. There is a cast member who will take photos for guests with their own camera.

Lunar New Year 2018 Mickey and Minnie

Lunar New Year 2018 Mulan and Mushu

Chip and Dale, also in New Year attire, roam around the area, creating their usual playful chaos.

The AP Corner for annual passholders is located between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. There's a special photo backdrop (with a PhotoPass photographer), and AP holders get their own Wishing Wall.

Lunar New Year 2018 AP Photo backdrop

There's also a special Lunar New Year button available to Annual Passholders.

Lunar New Year 2018 AP button

There are several exclusive pieces of merchandise available to Annual Passholders at Elias & Co. or the festival merchandise kiosk in front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

Lunar New Year 2018

There's even more entertainment offered this year, with performers from around the world.

Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession returns with a few changes. Goofy, as the God of Good Fortune, joins the procession, along with a dance group from Taiwan. The show is performed four times a day. It's a beautifully colored and energetic show and I think it's worth seeing, but unfortunately the prime viewing is pretty small. I'd recommend arriving 30 minutes early to get a front row spot.

Lunar New Year 2018 God of Good Fortune Goofy

Lunar New Year 2018 Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession

Full video - one of my favorite parts is when Goofy gets his groove on at the end.

New this year is GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai. They are a group of drummers who tell traditional stories with percussion. There are six shows a day in Paradise Park - the shows are about 30 minutes long. Visually I found them very interesting, but since I don't understand the stories or traditions, I thought the show was too long.

Lunar New Year 2018 GuGu  Drum Group Shanghai
Dat Nguyen returns to the Paradise Garden stage for the third year. He sings and plays several different instruments: guitar, lute, and melodica.

Lunar New Year 2018 Dat Nguyen

Also appearing on the Paradise Garden stage is Korean musician Luna Lee. She plays a Korean stringed instrument called a gayageum. She was not performing the day I visited.

This video is an entertainment overview, including a short interview with Mulan and Mushu on their favorite thing about Lunar New Year.

Each night preceding the first World of Color show, the Hurry Home - Lunar New Year Celebration is presented on Paradise Bay. It's the story of a little lantern making his way home so he can celebrate with his family. It features animation, lights, and fountains, and ends with a fireworks display. It's a cute show.

Lunar New Year 2018 Hurry Home

Lunar New Year 2018 Hurry Home

This is last year's video - the show is the same except that now it's the Year of the Dog.

Just to give you a general idea of the schedule, here's a copy of the opening weekend's Times Guide. (Click on the image for a full-size version.)


Like last year, I was impressed by all of the different offerings available during the Lunar New Year celebration - Mulan's Procession in particular is a "don't miss". It's easy to spend a good portion of a park visit enjoying all of the different entertainment and some of the food. Right now with so many construction walls in Disney California Adventure because of the Pixar Pier project and other seasonal refurbishments, the festival provides some needed additional entertainment alternatives to guests.

Lunar New Year 2018

* I was an invited guest to a Lunar New Year Celebration Media event. My opinions are my own.

January 23, 2017

2017 Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure

Lunar New Year Celebration

In 2017, Disneyland has expanded the Lunar New Year Celebration to 17 days, from January 20 - February 5. This year celebrates the Year of the Rooster. All events take place at Disney California Adventure. I attended a media preview on January 19.

A map in the area shows the locations of the different events.

Lunar New Year Celebration

There are special Lunar New Year-inspired food items available at more locations this year. The Paradise Garden Grill has a special seasonal menu during the celebration, with selections like stir-fried vegetables and noodles, grilled short ribs with kimchi, pho, cassava-coconut cake, and almond milk tea.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Three marketplace booths offer items inspired by Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisine. These include sugar cane shrimp skewers, kimchi vegetable fried rice, turnip cake and pork soup dumplings, and sweet items such as sweet rice and dried fruit cake, egg tart, and a sweet potato macaron. Various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration

A special glow cube shaped like a lotus blossom is available for $5, either by itself or in a specialty beverage.

Lunar New Year Celebration

During the preview I sampled several of the food items and one of the beverage offerings. My favorite by far was the Vegetable Japchae, which is available at Paradise Garden Grill. Sweet potato noodles with vegetables and tofu, with a sesame oil sauce and toasted sesame seeds. It was really good.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The Banh chung - sticky rice cake with pork - from the Vietnam booth was also really good. It was wrapped in some kind of leaf.

Lunar New Year Celebration

I thought the Yachae Mandu - steamed vegetable dumplings from Korea, had a nice flavor, but they were a little too spicy for me.

Lunar New Year Celebration

I was intrigued by the Xiao Long Bao - pork soup dumplings - from the China booth. They actually have liquid inside! But I thought they were just ok. They needed a sauce, but I didn't care for the black vinegar-ginger sauce that came with them.

Lunar New Year Celebration

There are a couple of places near us that serve Luo Bo Gao - turnip cake - and we really like it. This one, from the China booth, is topped with pork sausage and oyster sauce. When I've had it before it's topped with egg. The oyster sauce made it taste fishy to me, and the turnip cake by itself was a bit bland (not surprisingly).

Lunar New Year Celebration

I also tried the Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea with popping pearls. I don't have a photo of it. I didn't really think it tasted like passion fruit - mostly it just tasted sweet. But I enjoyed it - the pearls are always an interesting sensation.

Other samples that were available that I didn't try were the Beef Pho Noodle Soup:

Lunar New Year Celebration

And the Kalbi Beef Short Ribs. Both available at Paradise Garden Grill.

Lunar New Year Celebration

One of the other entrees available at Paradise Garden Grill is the Whole Fish Served Family Style. It looks a little intimidating: it's a whole tilapia, deep fried and served with soup, vegetables, and rice. Served after 5:00. It's $24.99 and will easily feed two or more people. Very traditional dish, but very non-traditional by Disney standards!

Lunar New Year Celebration

Chef John State was part of a panel discussion we saw later, and spoke about how they developed the Festival food offerings by speaking with cast members and diversity groups, and looking at authentic family recipes. They explored flavors and textures. He was especially proud of how they are serving the whole fish dish out of a counter-service restaurant kitchen, when it's really something expect from a full-service restaurant.

Most Lunar New Year activities take place in the Paradise Pier area. In front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure guests can get their face painted.

Lunar New Year Celebration

They can also decorate a paper lantern.

Lunar New Year Celebration

In Paradise Gardens local artisans will craft a custom Chinese calligraphy for guests. The one on the left is my name, and the one on the right has the symbol for the Year of the Rooster on top, and good wishes for the new year below it.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Next to Goofy's Sky School is the Lucky Wishing Wall, where guests can add their own wish for the coming year.

Lunar New Year Celebration

For Annual Passholders, the AP Corner between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta offers a special photo opportunity, a wishing well, and an AP Adventure.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Lunar New Year merchandise is available at Seaside Souvenirs and carts in the area. I thought the t-shirt was very nicely designed.

Lunar New Year Celebration

A number of entertainment offerings are also available throughout the day.

A special character greeting area is available in Paradise Gardens, where Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Mulan, and Mushu, dressed in Lunar New Year costumes, will pose for photos with guests.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration

The Paradise Garden Bandstand will host performances by several different Asian musicians during the celebration, including classical guitarist Dat Nguyen and Jie Ma, who plays the Chinese pipa instrument.

At the Paradise Bay stage the Acrobats of China perform multiple times each day, engaging in gravity-defying acts of athleticism. They were not performing at the preview.

Mulan's New Year Procession is hosted by Mulan and Mushu who lead a number of performers to the music from the "Mulan" movie. This offering is scheduled twice a day on weekends, once per day on weekdays. I really enjoyed this, but I'm quite surprised that there are so few performances, as compared to Viva Navidad! or Elena's Grand Welcome.

The ideal viewing area for Mulan's New Year Procession is a pretty narrow area between Jumping Jellyfish and the entrance to Paradise Gardens - a very limited number of guests will have a really good view of it.

My favorite part was the dragon dancers.

Lunar New Year Celebration

But the fan, parasol, and ribbon dancers were quite beautiful.

Lunar New Year Celebration

And the martial artists (who performed to "I'll Make a Man Out of You") were fun to watch.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Each night, a special 6-minute pre-show will precede each performance of World of Color. Hurry Home features Mulan, Mushu, and a little lantern who is making its way home to celebrate the new year with family. This is an original story with all new animation in two different styles as well as the water fountains and special lighting effects. The accompanying music was originally created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort by Tan Dun.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Show Producer Jennifer Magill spoke to us about the new production. There are three different sequences, illustrating elements of the Lunar New Year celebration. In the first, the little lantern plays and has fun with Mushu, animated in a paper animation style.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The second part features the food. The lantern dreams of rice, dumplings, and other foods - and is pursued by mischievous chopsticks.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The third sequence focuses on the New Year tradition of reflecting back and looking forward. It features Mulan, and Lea Salonga recorded a new version of "Reflection" for it.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Eventually the lantern makes it home and is welcomed by family.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The end of the show featured actual fireworks - I was surprised to see that. But as Ms. Magill said - you can't have a New Year celebration without fireworks!

Lunar New Year Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration

It was a very sweet story, and I enjoyed it. You can see the video below.

I was very impressed by all of the different offerings available during the celebration. There are quite a few different things to do, and it would be easy to spend a good portion of a park visit enjoying all of the different entertainment and some of the food.

Lunar New Year Celebration

* I was an invited Media guest to a preview of the Lunar New Year Celebration. My opinions are my own.

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About Lunar New Year

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

Limited Time Magic is the previous category.

Mickey's Halloween Party is the next category.

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