Disney California Food & Wine Festival is the best combination of my favorite things! Only at Disney California Adventure (DCA) will I find California foods and wine brought together around Paradise Pier for a night of indulgences. Imagine your county fair, with the smell of popcorn in the air, balloons bobbing around etc. Except that the popcorn is actually duck confit and the balloon is in the shape of Mickey Mouse and flashes different colors! Hipster me loves a good food festival.
Disney California Food & Wine Festival 2017
DCA Food & Wine Festival 2017 started on March 10 and goes until April 16th. Guests of the Disneyland Resort that get a park hopper ticket or California Adventure ticket can get automatic access to the Food and Wine Festival. Annual Passholders get a very special tour pass to visit the different food stalls. Items range in price from $5 to $8 and each stand has two main dishes and a dessert; as well as, alcoholic beverages to pair with them.
Obviously, I stocked up on festival goodies prior including the official Disney California Food & Wine Festival t-shirt, Christmas tree ornament, and limited release collectors pin. Crazy Disney lady? Or just passionate about food? You will never know!
There are several different activities that occur during the week during the festival including, lifestyle seminars, celebrity cooking demonstrations, Jr. chef classes, beer and wine pairings and more. Those special activities are by reservation only and have its own price. See all Food & Wine events that require a reservation.
This year, the Food & Wine Festival located just outside of Paradise Pier and The Little Mermaid ride featured a dozen stalls of food not normally sold in the park. These items were elevated and classier than the usual Disney food faire. Some items you could find in the park included Jackfruit nachos, deviled eggs, brie toast with fig and mint.
Food & Wine perks of being a passholder
Disneyland Annual Passholders recieve special perks during the Disney California Food & Wine Festival. Beside special photo opportunities and special AP buttons, Disney foodies got a special Sip and Savor Pass. The Sip and Savor Pass is an exclusive passport to try eight dishes from any of the stands (not including alcoholic beverages). It’s a straight trade where you redeem one coupon for one food item. There are eight coupons total so you can try eight dishes with the Sip and Savor Pass.
The best strategy is to get the expensive dishes that cost almost $8, rather than the desserts which is usually cheaper. I also suggest going with a friend. 8 small dishes may seem like a completely do-able task, but after plate number five I was starting to ask myself “do I really need to finish this?” There were two dishes I took a few bites of and threw away. It wasn’t worth getting full off of. It’s enough food to sample for two.
Food & Wine Festival Marketplaces
The Disney California Food & Wine Festival has 15 total marketplace stalls for guests to try. Each stall has an overarching theme that sets its dishes apart from the others. This year’s stalls were:
- Lemon Grove
- Seafood Sustained
- The Onion Lair
- Off the Cob
- Sweet & Sourdough
- LA style
- The Brewhouse
- Nuts about Cheese
- Uncork California
- I Heart Artichokes
- Garlic Kissed
- California Brews
- Olive Us
- Bacon Twist
Bolded stalls were the ones I ate at. I picked them pretty carefully prior. You will also notice that there are nine bolded when the Sip and Savor Pass only came with eight coupons. I had tried the Korean barbecue beef short rib tacos the week before when I had discovered that all of this magic food and wine goodness was occurring.
Here’s what I ate at the DCA Food & Wine Festival 2017
- Lemon Grove – Duck confit on potato mash
- Seafood Sustained – Salmon Tataki
- The Onion Lair – Braise Wagyu beef on creamy polenta (I FREAKING LOVE ALL THINGS POLENTA)
- Off the Cob – Sweet corn nuggets with beef chili
- Sweet & Sourdough – white cheddar lager soup n a mini Boudin sourdough boule
- LA style – Korean bbq short rib tacos with kimchi slaw
- I Heart Artichokes – Fried artichoke carbonara
- Garlic Kissed – Black garlic & soy-braised pork belly bao
- Olive Us – Chilled cioppino soup with shrimp and crab claw (large shrimp, bonus points)
My favorite dish was, surprisingly, the sweet corn nuggets with beef chili from Off the Cob. The corn nuggets was one of the two times during the festival where I got the cheaper item on the menu. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the sweetness in the corn plus the beef chili was made with shreds of beef and no ground beef like I had expected.
My least favorite dish had to be the black garlic & soy-braised pork belly bao from Garlic Kissed. Pork belly is far too fatty to not be crispy. Because the pork belly was sitting in heat trays they were jiggly and soft when put in the bao.
Cost break down of the Sip and Savor Pass vs. ad hoc eating
At $45 for 8 dishes, the value of the Sip and Savor Pass for annual passholders comes down to $5.60 a plate. Not bad! Whereas if I were to do ad hoc sampling of the marketplace, at minimum my total would have been $56. That makes the pass a great deal. Alas, I probably would have stopped eating after three dishes so Walt definitely outsmarted me this time. But considering the variety of food I got to taste, it was an awesome deal I could not pass up.
Disney California Food & Wine Festival Review
In terms of the food though, I am about to get real with you, was not really WOW worthy. A lot of it felt like stuff I could try to make at home and would probably taste as good . For example, the duck confit with potato mash, was tater tots that were slightly smashed with a fork. While eating the cioppino, the couple behind me goes “Is cioppino supposed to taste like pizza sauce?” I expected more from a food and wine festival in terms of quality. But, considering Disney is a large conglomerate that focuses on immersive experiences rather than culinary experiences, I can cut them some slack.
I did not get to try the wine part of the Food & Wine festival because they refused to take my ID as a legitimate form of identification. It was bull crap. The corner was bent from having it in my pocket and so as a result I had to miss out on the luxurious California wine offerings. Luckily, there was a bottle waiting for me when I got home.
It’s definitely a must-try if you are at the park during the festival. But, I wouldn’t fly out during Spring Break just to partake. Save your money and come during a less busy time and eat better food elsewhere.