From gourmet food items like a honey orange glazed salmon salad to the more standard LA fare like beer-battered fish tacos, my BFF and I tasted and tried it all.
It was with empty stomachs and full hearts that my friend and I crossed the hallowed threshold into Disneyland California Adventure. The jubilant music had already buoyed my spirit, and I was ready to eat and ride some roller coasters, but perhaps not in that order!
Read on as I take you through every dish and sip that was part of my California Adventure Food and Wine Festival tour!
As someone who prides themselves on always knowing the best places to grub out, I was truly in foodie heaven being given free rein at this renowned festival.
So get comfy, grab a snack, and settle in for my mouth-watering escapade into the culinary prowess of California.
About the Festival
Before we dive into the yummy eats and how to make the most of your Sip and Savor Pass, let's break down the basics. For the uninitiated scratching their heads at the unlikely marriage of Disneyland and haute cuisine, let me assuage your fears. Disneyland does way more than cinnamon-scented churros, and they do it well!
The California Adventure Food and Wine Festival is an annual celebration of vibrant cuisine, wine, craft beer, and entertainment in Disneyland's aforementioned park. Beginning March 4th and lasting through April 26th, 2022, this year's Festival theme centers around the state's lush bounty of produce and local ingredients.
As a non-Magic Key member, your Sip and Savor Pass will run you $57 and $52 for members. Not just a super cool laminated lanyard, this pass bestows you with eight ticket tabs, each of which is redeemable for food or non-alcoholic beverage items.
Related Post: Insider's Guide to Disneyland
This year's festival features creative offerings at 12 food booths and many of the park's participating restaurants. Your flashy pass will remind you that Sip and Savor items may be tasting size portions only, not full-size entrees at particular restaurants. However, I found overall every portion to be quite generous and filling.
Honestly, for the amount of delicious food, my friend and I consumed, $57 is quite a steal! Though, if you are truly worried about getting the most bang for your buck, you could always opt for the most expensive item at each food booth.
In addition to your pass, each Sip and Savor participant is given a darling 'tasting passport.' Besides a detailed menu breakdown of the festival marketplaces and a park map, this darling book also doubles as a commemorative souvenir!
Ambitious eaters can collect all 12 Food and Wine Festival stamps and then receive a Stamp of Completion. I would love to brag and say I earned this hallowed honor, but unfortunately, my tummy tapped out at around eight food items.
Related Post: Everything You Need to Know About Disney's Genie+
For all of our home chef masterminds, Disneyland has got you covered! Besides dabbling into a smorgasbord of delights, you can also check out:
- Scintillating culinary demonstrations - pick up some impressive knife skills or discover your new favorite recipe when you hone in on captivating culinary demos from Disney and visiting chefs.*
- Family programming - let little chefs in on the action when you pencil in wacky encounters with Goofy or sweet bakery magic with Alice's Wonderland Unbirthday Party.
- Cocktails @ Sonoma Terrace hosted by CORKCICLE® - escape to wine country in Anaheim for an expanded special menu of vino, signature cocktails, and savory treats.
- Groovy Live Music - throughout your festival journey, the beats are flowing! I was lucky enough to enjoy some awesome light jazz and rock crooning.
- Soarin' Over California - this classic scenic ride is back for a limited time only and allows you to cruise over mesmerizing scenery everywhere from Big Bear to Malibu.
Craving even more epicurean excitement? If the Food and Wine Festival is your sole focus, why not go all out and reserve a unique bookable experience? There are endless ways to elevate your California Adventure culinary tour, from elegant wine receptions to mixology seminars and more.
Even if you decide not to spring for the full Sip and Savor pass, you can still wander through the prolific festival marketplace and purchase items a la carte.
Wondering when this delicious decadence will make its way to Walt Disney World? All my Florida fans hold tight because EPCOT routinely hosts food, art, and cultural events.
My Day at the Disneyland Food and Wine Festival
Let me preface this day of iconic eats by saying I was two-timing. Not just loyal to the foodie festival gods, my friend and I were also eager to conquer as many rides and Disney attractions as possible.
This means we spend our day bouncing between both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland, taking plenty of food-focused breaks in between. If you are a Disneyland devotee and doing just one park per day, I am sure you could tackle even more dishes.
The sun was just begging to peak out and offer whispers of warmth when we commenced our foray into the park. Post a few 'warm-up rides,' I was wired and ready to start the sampling. Marketplace offerings began to open around 10:30 am, and it was the perfect time to inject my body with some much-needed caffeine.
Related Post: 13 Best Places to Stay at Disneyland
Conveniently, most festival marketplace stands are clustered by the Pacific Wharf and wind their way through the beginning of Paradise Gardens Park. Although, as previously mentioned, many of the park's regular food establishments and vendors also serve up unique festival tastes for this extravaganza of eats.
Horchata Cold Brew
Like any proper food-obsessed writer, I had pre-scanned the menu offerings and had my heart set on sampling the Horchata Cold Bew from the Cappucino Cart at Pacific Wharf.
Ever since spending 2+ years in Central America, I have had a special place in my heart for this sweet rice-based drink. I couldn't wait to sample it mixed with some refreshing cold brew.
Pre-caffeine, I was supremely thankful that the ordering process was so simple. Each marketplace kiosk has an 'order here' window. Present your cheerful cast member with one of your 8 Sip and Savor tabs, and order your chosen drink or meal. You will then be handed a 'receipt' and be asked to wait in the pick-up line for your items.
Throughout my entire theme park day, this process was seamless and never took more than a few minutes to fulfill.
I was presented with a full-size iced coffee beverage to my absolute delight. As someone who does not take their coffee black, it was love at first sip with this creamy, sweet, and vanilla-accented drink. Super drinkable, the flavors of espresso and cinnamon married in perfect harmony on my tongue.
If you've never had the pleasure of trying horchata, I would describe it as a lighter, more watery almond milk with accents of vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon. Overall this iced beverage almost gave me Vietnamese Iced Coffee vibes. Truly tasty, I gulped this bad boy down in no time.
Many loyal Food Festival fans say not to 'waste' your tickets on drinks, but I disagree. This addicting drink was a slam dunk for me and would also be a welcome addition come later afternoon to avoid that dreaded 3 pm slump.
Chicharrón Crusted Fried Artichoke Dip
After hanging out with some Guardians of the Galaxy and wasting no time savagely destroying my ride companion's web-slinging score, I was ready for some real food. I had previously strolled by the 'I<3 Artichokes' stand, which totally intrigued me. It turns out California is just ripe with artichokes!
Over 99 percent of commercial artichoke production in the United States is in California. As my mother can attest to, I am a long-time artichoke dip lover.
Unsurprisingly, I was immediately drawn to the chicharrón-crusted fried artichoke dip. Was I a bit muddy on what chicharrones were? Sure! Did I care? No, it sounded like the ideal pre-lunch nosh, and I was all in.
Not to be hyperbolic, but you will want this crunchy crazy appetizer at every party! Picture a tried and true deep-fried mac and cheese ball, but instead of carb-on-carb goodness, it's stuffed with your favorite dip. As much as I enjoyed the cheeky swap of crunchy chicharron crumbs for plain panko or breadcrumbs, the dip inside truly won me over.
Related Post: How to Devise the Perfect Los Angeles Packing List
Cheesy tender bites of artichoke combined with hefty amounts of spicy jalapeno and creamy black beans to balance it all out. Your artichoke-infused order comes with two pretty decent-sized balls sitting pretty on top of a swish of spicy aioli. However, if you have a low spice threshold or are lactose intolerant like my poor friend, this is probably best to skip.
Those heavenly balls had whet my appetite, and my loyal companion's stomach was barking after an unfortunate corn dog encounter*, so it was time to ingest some real food. I had a hankering for something virtuous. Nothing screams' healthy LA' more than avocado toast, so we hightailed it to the Pacific Wharf Cafe. The cafe is one of the park's restaurants participating in the Festival and is charming as can be.
This park section is designed to look like a San Francisco Wharf. Everything from the intoxicating smell of fresh-baked bread to Ghiradelli's chocolate storefront whisks you away to the Golden Gate City. I couldn't help but squeal in delight when I saw sourdough baked in the shape of a Mickey as we made our way to the front of the line.
While everyone around us was going to town on Boudin bread bowls filled with steaming clam chowder, we had our eyes on some lighter fare. We ordered two avocado toasts and then collected our trays to devour the goods.
First things first, this girl was stacked! The perfectly toasted slice of sourdough bread was piled high with a mound of buttery avocado. Generously sprinkled on top of this near mountain of creamy, green delight were cheeky balls of fire-roasted cherry tomatoes and pearls of mozzarella.
The entire concoction was liberally drizzled with tangy balsamic. While I like avocado toast as much as the next food and fitness-obsessed girl, I would never say it's my go-to.
Nevertheless, this toast knocked my socks off! Surprisingly the roasted tomatoes brought a welcome sweetness to the dish that balanced the acidity of the balsamic vinegar and the ripe avocado. I'm not a big mozzarella fan, but if you were, the balls certainly add some staying power to this healthy starter.
I found this plate super-sized and quite filling, depending on your appetite. You might want to follow it up with another snack.
Wowee! Plenty of park hopping and tours through the Haunted Mansion and the Jungle Cruise. I was then ready to give my feet a rest. The park had been good to us, but I could sense my friend's impending hangry, knowing it was once again time to eat!
As you may have previously noted, it is called the Disneyland Food and Wine Festival, and I felt it would be rude to leave Mickey hanging without some imbibing. Also, as my friend pointed out after 12 hours of rides, lines, and Genie+ reservations, 'Mama needs her juice.'
Red Wine Flight
We trekked over to Uncork, California, for a classy array of wine, cheese, and chocolatey treats. Located just a stone's throw before the Pacific Wharf area in Grizzly Peak territory, this quaint stand will make you believe you are sipping reds in the Napa Valley. While I may have been ready to fulfill my vineyard fantasies, the park was as busy as ever.
Related Post: Current Festivals and Events at Disneyland Resort
To secure the libations and ensure I wouldn't have to sample standing up, my friend volunteered to scout out a table. Uncork California features a wide array of alcoholic beverage options ranging from wine flights to exotic fruity Green Apple & Lychee Mimosas.
It was now past 7 pm, so I decided to ixnay the champagne and instead ordered a red wine flight, a California Artisan Cheese selection, and the Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch.
I'm a red girl through and through, so I was thrilled to sample these California varietals, which are hard to come by where I live.
For $17, my flight afforded me samples of:
- Sebastiani Merlot from Sonoma County
- Meiomi Wines Pinot Noir from California and
- Robert Mondavi Private Selection Aged in Bourbon Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon from Monterey County
I am no sommelier, but I drink a fair amount of vino non professionally, and I was perfectly pleased with these pours. I usually abstain from Merlot, so no one was more shocked than me when I found myself smiling after the first sip of Sebastiani.
Related Post: When is the Best Time to Visit Los Angeles?
The mouthfeel was terrific, and the rich, bold notes of oak and vanilla kept me coming back for more. Wine number two was the Pinot Noir. A sweeter sample, this one was giving me notes of red fruits and berries. It was the perfect accompaniment to the Honey Orange Glazed Salmon we tried later.
Lastly was the Bourbon Barrel-aged Sauvignon. Full disclosure, I had tried this wine previously years ago, and it's safe to say I am a fan. On the heavier side but supremely drinkable, this darkly rich Sauvgingon has lots of smoky flavor with a tantalizing taste of scotch and coffee.
An ideal bottle for when you want to spend a romantic evening cozying up by a fire.
California Artisan Cheese Selection
To accompany my tiny plastic cups of wine and kick off my 'dinner' proceedings, I had also asked for the California Artisan Cheese Selection. Boasting Vella Cheese Company® Habanero Jack and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company's® TomaProvence.
On top of the generous amounts of Fromage, this 'to go' cheese board also included plenty of crunchy sweet sugared pecans, smoked almonds, water crackers, and juicy grapes.
Related Post: How Much Does it Cost to Go to Los Angeles?
Although I am addicted to sriracha, and a hot sauce drizzle is never far from my mind, I have to say I was much more taken with the less spicy cheese. The Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company's® TomaProvence delivered an herbaceous umami taste that was unparalleled.
While the Spicy Habanero Jack lingered on my tongue with a vegetal kick, I kept going back for more of the Provence and the nuts.
Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch
Like the true type A nutter I am, I had wanted to save all desserts to the end. However, my very hungry friend was desperate for more calories and wanted to dig into the Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch immediately.
Fun fact, I had thought I was ordering the Mickey Macaroon, but in a Food Festival confusion, I ended up ordering two desserts. But hey, I wasn't complaining.
Related Post: How to Make the Most of 2 Days in Los Angeles
This dreamy bite of Chocolate and Hazelnut looks just like a mega-sized Ferrero rocher and is perfect to share. The most decadent mousse lies beneath the hard milk chocolate and hazelnut studded exterior.
Layers of praline crunch, hazelnut ganache, and chocolate drizzle melted on my tongue. The filling is slightly reminiscent of Nutella but elevated to new levels of Disney deliciousness. Best of all, this luxurious beauty is dusted with gold leaf.
Post first dessert, my friend and I were primed to get some proper entrees in us. While he kept guard over our highly coveted table outside of the Sonoma Terrace, I whizzed by
- Avocado Time
- Golden Dreams
- Nuts about Cheese
to obtain the last of our goodies.
Petite Avocado Impossible Burger
Unlike me, my friend is heavy into meat substitutes. All day, he had been mentioning his burger craving. So naturally, he was super stoked to dive into the Petite Avocado Impossible Burger offered by Avocado Time.
Ideal for our vegetarian or vegan friends, this mini slider features a healthy smothering of avocado guac. Plus a slice of dairy-free Pepper Jack.
Keen to include some roughage, we wanted our bodies to remember the benefits of greens. We decided to split the Honey Orange Glazed Salmon Salad. This fairly healthy option came from Golden Dreams. It featured a smaller-sized piece of salmon garnished with mango salsa atop a bed of fresh salad greens.
The citrus and herb-infused mango salsa ideally complemented the perfectly flaky salmon. However, I have to say I am not a huge fan of cold salmon. So this salad wasn't a hit for me.
Next Level Crackers and Cheese
The last of our savory discoveries was the Next Level Crackers and Cheese. It features Bellwether Farms Fromage Blanc Spicy Prosciutto Spread. This arresting snack is available at 'Nuts About Cheese.'
Honestly, I was a bit confused by this odd offering at first glance. It looked like a cracker sandwich, and my tired brain wasn't sure what to make of this information.
Nevertheless, I persisted, and one bite later, I was hooked. The spicy 'Nduja Prosciutto Spread and the cherry jam were a match made in flavor heaven!
Sweet and savory is my jam, and this white cheddar-infused Fromage blanc was epic. This is a great heartier snack option. Additionally, it would be a perfect light bite to accompany any glass of wine.
My only complaint was that the cracker wasn't super crispy due to the high amounts of spread and jam by the time I dug in.
Snickers Caramel Peanut Milk Chocolate Mickey Macaron
Before we bid adieu to Cars Land and the Pixar Pier, it was time for one last sugary splurge. After all, calories don't count at theme parks. I had seen fellow foodies tucking into the cutest Mickey-shaped macarons. I knew I had to try them before we departed. Another item from Nuts about Cheese, this macaron is massive.
Related Post: Disneyland on a Budget: The Step-by-Step Planning Guide
The Snickers mickey macaron is the highbrow version of your favorite candy bar. The meringue was light, and the chocolate filling was silky smooth.
The hard milk chocolate coating includes chopped peanuts and even more chocolate drizzle. Honestly, I was already kinda full, but I couldn't stop eating this chewy morsel of nougat and caramel deliciousness.
And with that last luscious bite of Mickey's macaroon ear, we were off to grab our trolley back to parking.
The Disneyland Food and Wine Festival far surpassed any expectations I had about theme park fare. From succulent bites of salmon to sips of dreamy Pinot Noir, each Festival offering contributed incredible flavor and creativity.
With my Sip and Savor Pass, I was able to sample expertly utilized local stylings of California cuisine. I only wish I had the time and the stomach to stamp my foodie passport entirely.
What Iconic Disney Eats Should I Try Next?
Leave me a comment below!