Celebrating lunar new year at Disney California Adventure 

Happy Lunar New Year!! The Lunar New Year is decided by the cycle of the moon, and for 2017 the new year was on January 28.  Most people associate Lunar New Year with the Chinese, but the Vietnamese (who calls it Tết Nguyên Đán) and South Koreans also celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Disney California Adventure (DCA) had a 2 week celebration with culturally-inspired food, music, entertainment and festive decorations. I went with Stephen, and our friends Roger and Karen on Sunday, February 5th, to catch the last day of the festival.


Even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, that didn’t deter the crowd from coming. The park was busy and so was the line for food.  At 11:45, we quickly went to the China line and picked up one of each item: The Xiao Long Bao (pork dumplings), Luo bo Gao (turnip cake), and Dan Ta (Custard egg tart).  Stephen tried the Tsingtao beer, while I had the Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea with the boba, tapioca pearls (popular in China and Taiwan).

The food was quite tasty, despite being cold.  We were also lucky to have the food, as the kiosk ran out of the turnip cake and egg tart after we ordered.  Karen, Stephen and I made our way to the Paradise Garden to find a table while Roger dashed over to Korea to pick up the Kim Chi Bokkeumbap (a spicy fried rice) and the Yachae Mandu  (steamed vegetable dumpling). Karen found a kiosk at Paradise Garden that sold Cha Siu Bao (steamed barbecue pork-filled bun).

We tried getting food at the Vietnam kiosk but they ran out of food and it took 30-minutes to restock.  We also passed up on the menu from Paradise Garden, which has pricier food items such as whole fish (served after 5 pm), Galbi (Korean short ribs), Japchae (Korean noodles), and Pho (Vietnamese beef soup noodles).

The park was decorated with plenty of red, lanterns and signs, explaining the different countries who celebrate the Lunar New Year.  There was also a breakdown of the 12 zodiac signs, based on the year you are born (which sign are you?).

Throughout the park, there were stations where guests could meet Disney characters like Mulan and Mu-shu, a Chinese calligraphy presentation, to a Chinese acrobats, and a festive show called Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, featuring ribbon dancers, fan dancers, drummer, and of course the Dragon dancers.

While having lunch, we heard the 12:00 show of the Mulan Procession, and so we waited for the 1:00 performance.  We found a great spot near the center of the show, and camped out. The choreography was well done, and the costumes were beautiful.   It was worth the wait.

After the show, we made our way to the “Annual Pass” corner, where they had information on Disney Adventure, a photo opportunity, and a Lucky Wishing Wall, where you can write a message for the new year.

Disney California Adventure really stepped up their game this year.  In the past years, the celebration was just ok , with some token Chinese dancers and a parade, nothing special. Sure, there were a lot of organizational problems with this event, such as not preparing enough food runs, or poor time management for the “meet and greet”.  However, if DCA continues a tradition like this, I’ll gladly come each year to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  Thumbs up!

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