Bring an empty belly and a full wallet if you plan on coming to the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure! It’s going to cost a lot and taste really good. My daughter Emma and I went on opening weekend to this new event to experience it for ourselves. It’s pretty impressive with a celebration of many different holidays from around the world – Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas/Navidad, and Three Kings Day. The Festival includes entertainment, crafts, merchandise, but most of all – FOOD!
Location: Disney California Adventure main thoroughfare toward Paradise Pier
Type: Quick Service
Specialty: High end gnoshing
Cost: About $8 each per dish, about $5 for dessert
Craig’s and Emma’s Favorites: Adobo Pork Bao (Craig), Chicken and Potato Curry (both), and Iced Mint Tea (Emma)
You can take pictures with Santa in his new home at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, listen to the Holiday Toy Drummers, watch the extremely tall performers of the Stilt Circus, watch the Blue13 Dance Company perform traditional Indian dances, and a whole host of other types of entertainment. They have kid stations with coloring and crafts set up all along the main walkway leading from Buena Vista Street to Paradise Gardens (with a little detour to Grizzly Peak for Santa treats). And to top it off they have an assortment of vendors selling different holiday gifts. One of my favorites was the Arribas Bros. who have beautiful stained glass creations including the rose from Beauty and the Beast in various sizes – all with touches of real gold. There is plenty of Disney related merchandise also including shirts, caps, sweatshirts, and pins with a more diverse selection than I can remember. They even had Mickey dreidels!
But you really come for the food. Similar to the Food and Wine Festival earlier this Spring, there are various stations set up all along the main walkway. Fourteen to be exact! Each one serves tapas style food, dessert, and drinks (usually both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Some, like Treats for Santa which featured cookies and white hot chocolate, specialize in one item more than the others. Overall there are traditional European and American dishes like Braised Beef Short Rib, Brisket Potato Croquette, and Southern Mac and Cheese. There are also Asian influenced items like Smoked Duck and Vegetable Spring Roll, Roasted Lamb with Basmati Rice, and Mini Falafel Donuts. Classic Mexican dishes like Chicken Cilantro Tamale, Chicken Mole, and Torta al Pastor can be found. And a potpourri of other samples also – Swedish Meatballs, Crab Cake, and Mini Turkey Pot Pie to name a few.
In the dessert round-up you can find holiday cookies, baklava, sweet potato pie, spiced peanut brittle, and even a cookie decorating kit! Emma and I only tried the cookies and while good, they weren’t great. We were more impressed with the drink selection. I don’t typically drink alcoholic beverages, but there were plenty that looked like fun – full beer flights, hard lemonade, and lots of wine selections. But we really enjoyed the Merry Berry Punch (basically a raspberry sherbet float), Iced Moroccan Mint Tea, and Emma loved the White Hot Chocolate with House-Made Peppermint Marshmallows (which looked cool by the way but too white chocolate for me).