If you haven’t had the chance to experience the Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney’s California Adventure Park, 2020 is a great year to start! While this celebration has been happening the past several years, 2020 marks the Year of the Mouse which, as you can imagine, is a big deal at Disneyland.
First thing to know is that the festival does not cost extra money to attend. Like most festivals, the entertainment and many activities are free for park goers to enjoy. There are things like the food marketplaces that cost money but you’re paying for food and drinks which makes sense.
Disney has improved upon this smaller festival each year and this years was the best by far. Check out all the things you can do and get ready for some serious fun!
Lunar New Year Location
This years festival is in the same place as last years and where every Food and Wine Festival is held; along the main walkway from Carthay Circle Restaurant up past Cars Land, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, past the Corn Dog Castle and into Paradise Gardens dining. Because Lunar New Year is smaller than Food and Wine it actually starts just before Ariel’s.
Along the path you’ll see several marketplaces for food, merchandise stands and activities. At the intersections between Paradise Gardens and Pixar Pier, where World of Color is, you’ll find the stage for Mulan’s Processional Celebration. Back in the Paradise Gardens dining area there are character greetings and some other activities.
It’s really hard to miss where the festival starts as there are massive signs mentioning the celebration.
The Sip and Savor Pass
This festivals highlight is the marketplaces serving up some delicious foods from several Asian countries who celebrate the Lunar New Year. While you can visit each one and grab the food and drink that you want, I would highly recommend looking into the Sip and Savor Pass if you plan to try a least 5-6 food items.
The Sip and Savor Pass can be purchased at any of the marketplaces or merchandise stands inside the festival.
Any guest can purchase the Sip and Savor Pass which includes 6 tear off tickets valid for any food item or non-alcoholic drink at any of the marketplace stands.
Annual Passholders can receive a discount on the Sip and Savor Pass by showing their AP at time of purchase. If you play your cards right the Sip and Savor Pass can actually save you a bit of money over playing cash for each item. The obvious way to saving is using your food tabs for the most expensive items on the menu.
Of course, AP holders will save the most as they receive a discount on their pass. Either way, these passes are really popular, are a great keepsake with lanyard and can help you save some money.
If you don’t plan to buy more the 5 items on the menu from the Lunar New Year Marketplaces I wouldn’t suggest buying a pass. Simply use cash or card and buy your items. Passes are valid till February 9th, 2020. They do not have to be used all in one day.
Some of my favorite food items from the marketplaces this year include:
- Firecracker Chicken Wings
- Chicken Meatballs and Lo Mein Noodles
- Black Sesame Mochi Donut
- Vegetable Egg Roll with Garlic Noodles
This years marketplaces include:
- Longevity Noodle Co
- Lucky 8 Lantern
- Prosperity Bao & Buns
- Red Dragon Spice Traders
Lunar New Year Mobile Ordering
This year is a step in the right direction for the festival as they added the ability to mobile order from each of the marketplace stands right from the Disneyland App. It’s great for guests who only plan to try a few items and don’t want to wait in line. You essentially bypass the cashiers where everyone is standing and waiting to buy and head straight to the marketplace and let them know you’re there for a mobile order.
Like regular mobile ordering, you’ll purchase the food item(s) that you want and then when you’re ready to pick them up you just tap I’m Here and they will get your food ready. Each stand had a dedicated line for mobile ordering so you should have no issue picking it up.
There is a downside to mobile ordering and it has to do with guests who purchased a Sip and Savor Pass. Unfortunately there is no way to redeem your tear tabs from your pass for a mobile order. You can only use them with a cashier and tear them off in front of them in order to use it. This is a pretty big bummer and in the future I’d love to see them make the Sip and Savor Pass app friendly somehow.
So for right now mobile ordering is only good for cash and card guests who are not using a Sip and Savor Pass. It will save you a bunch of time and is available as all stands.
A hint that really isn’t a hint because there are signs all over the place saying it; you can order any marketplace food item at any of the stands and then take it to the correct stand to pick up the food item. So let’s say that one of the stands has a really long line at it but the one across the way has nobody. Head to the smallest line and buy the food item from the other stand. Now take your receipt over to the stand you wanted to order from, the one with the long line, and go straight to pick up your food.
All you need is your receipt and you’re good to go. Like I said, it’s not really a secret because Disney encourages it and it’s a great way to save time.
You can catch a parade and a show all at the same time with Mulan’s Processional which includes Mulam, Mushu, Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang! They’re all dressed up and ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year with you as the parade down Paradise Gardens over to their stage.
The parade starts at Silly Symphony Swings and ends by Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. The characters than participate in some traditional dancing and music on the World of Color stage. It’s actually a really fun show and it takes places several times each day. Be sure to grab a park map for times and the parade route.
If you’re wanting to catch just the parade, line up along Paradise Gardens just before the parade starts. Cast Members will keep you to either side of the path as it makes it way down towards World of Color. The parade isn’t very long so have your cameras ready to take pictures and videos. See my video for what you can expect.
Overall the entire thing doesn’t last very long if you attend the parade and show. Plan on about 15 minutes.
Of course there’s activities to participate in! The biggest one is probably the character meet n greet for Mulan and Mushu. It’s located in the Paradise Gardens dining area on the right hand side about half way in. The characters only come out every so often so be sure to check the signs for times or ask a Cast Member.
Guests can get their own pictures taken with these two famous characters with an amazing backdrop. It’s a lot of fun, very quaint and totally worth it.
Just before the character meet n greet area is a Lunar New Year wishing tent where you can grab you own wishing ears and write a wish for 2020. The ears paper, string and pens are all provided. Simply grab however many you want, write your wishes and then hang them up along with the thousands of other wishes for 2020.
Lastly, your kids will enjoy the coloring and face painting area where they can do just that! Grab some crayons and color paper and go crazy! Anyone who wants to get into the celebration can have their face painted with various designs. All of it is free and done on a first come first served basis. I suggest getting there early for the face painting.
This year had a lot more festival merchandise than last year and it was so much better too. From shirts to plushes, spirit tees to AP merch. They had it all and it all looked really great!
Like all merchandise, AP holders could get a 20% discount on everything and like all collectible merchandise there was very little and most of it got bought up within the first 2-3 days.
What really surprised me and also bummed me out was the Spirit Tee’s. They were really cool with some great gold designs on a red shirt…but they sold out of all sizes except XL within the first 2 days! A few days later they got some more but they also sold out quickly. I talked with a Cast Member at one of the stands and they said for smaller festivals like this they don’t get very much merchandise so it’s best to come early.
Be sure to catch the Lunar New Year Festival at California Adventure Park before it ends Feb. 9th, 2020. You can get tickets to the theme parks at a discounted price when you purchase them here.
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.