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Introduction to Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival

If it’s a Wednesday in May, it must mean…Mirror Image Post day!!! Hooray!!! That’s right, today you get a two-fer — Ryan from Main Street Gazette and yours truly here at the Disney Food Blog are reviewing “mirror-image” food topics in Disneyland and Disney World. This week we’re taking a look at Disney’s Food and Wine Festivals, and I get to talk about Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival — which is going on RIGHT NOW!

Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival Overview

Disneyland Resort’s Food and Wine Festival is a fun, diverse, and exciting six weeks full of celebrity chefs, California cuisine, artistic exploration, great wine, and good beer. And here’s something you might not know — the festival takes place primarily within the gates of Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park!

Chef Showcase Stage

This year, the Festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary! It’s still a rather small festival, but with blockbuster seminars from chefs like Guy Fieri, Cat Cora, Keegan Gerhard, and Robert Irvine, along with fantastic wine and beer walks, tastes of incredible California ingredients, and a hip, “never-know-what-to-expect-next” atmosphere, the Festival fits its location and fills its six week stint perfectly.

How do you know what’s happening, and when? Disney has it all organized for you! Before you go, check out Disneyland’s website for up-to-date info on the Food and Wine Festival — this is also where you can pre-purchase tickets for some of the more popular events happening during the Festival.

Once you arrive, keep a look out for schedule signs throughout the park. These will tell you what seminars and special events are happening that day!

Events and Seminars During the Festival

Daily Schedule

The Festival Showplace

This is a new development for Disney’s California Food and Wine festival, and it’s a great one. This is the heart of the Food and Wine Festival in Disneyland Resort! Here, in the Backlot of Disney’s California Adventure, you can find:

Olive Oil Seminar at Festival Showplace

  • Incredible (free!) seminars (when we were there, topics included Olive Oil, and Women in Wine!!)
  • Disney’s “Taste of California” tasting items
  • The incredible Coca-Cola Freestyle machine
  • The Stella Artois “Star Lounge”
  • The Festival’s Wine “Seller” and merchandise shop
  • The Festival’s “Junior Chef” stage (located right outside the Festival Center)
  • For those of you interested in the merchandise available to commemorate Disney’s 5th annual California Food and Wine Festival, check out some of my favorite items right here:

    Snacking, Sipping, and Exploring: Around the Park

    One thing you never need to worry about at any Disney Food and Wine Festival is going home hungry! Here at Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival there’s plenty to keep you noshing for at least a couple of days.

    Taste of California Tasting Items
    In the Festival Showplace, you have the opportunity to sample eight tapas-sized portions of delicious California-inspired cuisine!

    Taste of California Items

    Two of our favorite items were the beer and cheese soup in a bread bowl (natch!) and the island ahi:

    Beer and Cheese Soup

    Island Ahi

    Festival Beer and Wine Walks
    There are three “walks” in the Festival this year: Italy and California wine walks and a craft beer walk. Simply grab your ($10) passport for one of the walks, and indulge in four of the wines or beers featured on the walk.

    The California Wine Walk features wines from Sonoma, Napa, and the Central Coast of the state:

    Napa Valley Wine Station

    The Italy Wine Walk features wines from Tuscany, Puglia, and the Veneto:

    Italy Wine Walk Stations

    And the Craft Beer Walk features some of the more unique craft beers from around the world:

    Beer Walk Options

    Festival-Inspired Cuisine Throughout the Park
    One of my favorite parts of the festival was the festival-inspired cuisine that popped up on the menus at many of Disney’s California Adventure’s quick-service dining locations!

    Fesival-Inspired Dulce De Leche Cheesecake

    This included the Mangia Meatballs at Award Weiners, the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake at Cocina Cucamonga, the Pork Sandwich at Taste Pilot’s Grill, the Thai Rice Spring Roll at Lucky Fortune Cookery, and a few more!

    We were lucky enough to sample several of the items created especially for the festival — you can read our reviews by clicking the links above!

    Festival Artisans Gifts and Crafts
    Another new addition to Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival for their fifth year is this special artisan section. In this small area between the Tortilla Bakery and Pacific Wharf, you can find three or four artisan stands set up where folks are showcasing food-related crafts, art, and culinary masterpieces.

    One of the displays that drew my attention was a Lucero Olive Oil tasting area! Here, you could taste test dozens of Lucero flavored oils and vinegars; even the display itself was lovely:

    Lucero Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting Station

    Special Events

    One of the biggest parts of the festival is the line-up of special events, seminars, tastings, and celebrity chef showcases.

    Chef Showcase Stage

    Ticketed Events
    A number of the events you might like to attend will require hard tickets for entry — these include many of the wine-pairing and Winemaker dinners, the Brewmaster dinner, the Napa Rose Cooking School, Sweet Sundays demonstrations, and others. You can find a full list of Signature Events here.

    Note: Many of these events sell out before the Disney even prints the Food and Wine Festival booklets (!!), so stay tuned in to learn when tickets go on sale. Usually, Annual Passholders have first crack at purchasing tickets a few days before sales open up to the general public, but be ready in mid-February next year to grab your tickets early!

    No-Cost Events
    Believe it or not, many of the celebrity chef seminars, along with several other interesting and info-packed seminars and events cost nothing at all! These include Kitchen Conversations with your favorite cookbook authors and industry experts, Junior Chef experiences for your favorite chefs under the age of 11, Beer and Spirits Education and Tasting Seminars, various culinary demonstrations, and more!

    Jr. Chef Information

    Just note — to attend some of the celebrity chef seminars, lines grow early and grow long! (Reports of lines at 5am for Chef Guy Fieri are not uncommon!) Know when your preferred chef is presenting, and arrive at the gates early that day.

    Overall Review

    I had a wonderful time visiting Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival! Remember, it was my first time at the festival, and even I was able to navigate the events and food options with relative ease (and if I can do it, YOU can do it!!). To learn more about Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival, and to see my coverage of the Festival so far, check out my Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival dedicated page.

    With just a little bit of preparation and research, your day(s) at Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival can be full of exploration, fun, education, and some really fantastic food, wine, beer, and more. If you live in or around Anaheim, I highly recommend heading down to the festival — it’s still going through May 31, 2010!! And if you’re not local but are considering a trip to Disneyland next year, definitely keep April and May on your short list for trip timing.

    Thanks for visiting Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival with me today! Be sure to check out Main Street Gazette for Ryan’s take on Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival in Disney World! To check out the previous “mirror-image” posts in the series, see WDW’s Confectionery vs. Disneyland’s Candy Palace, and Pizza Planet vs. Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

6 Comments

  1. Elisabeth says:

    I was happy to be at DLR this year during the festival, but very sad when my dining partner was not up to eating adventurously. Oh well, I got to see everything anyway, and I have to say, I like the small feel to the one at DLR, but I love the variety at WDW.

    Glad you got to go this year!

  2. Lily Sieu says:

    I came to Disneyland to celebrate my mom’s 75th Birthday. We had no idea we’d have the best time touring Disney’s California Food and Wine festival at the California Adventure. We especially enjoyed the Lucero exhibit and the culinary demonstration by Chef Rick Garcia! Wow! That was a great day! THANKS!

  3. AJ says:

    Elisabeth — Sorry you weren’t able to branch out while at the festival! There weren’t too many “adventurous” dishes, but for picky eaters, anything can be over the top. :-( I really enjoy the smaller festival as well, and both festivals have their pros and cons. Do you go every year?

    Lily Sieu — Such a cool story! Thanks for sharing about your Mom’s 75th birthday at the festival! It’s the perfect size to wander around for a birthday day at Disneyland. Wasn’t that Lucero exhibit cool?!?

  4. Elisabeth says:

    AJ – I wish we could go every year, but we just happened to be there for a funeral and made it a priority to fly in a few days early to see what the festival was about. We are talking about going back…I just need someone to help me eat next time. I did enjoy browsing everything though.

  5. Lily Sieu says:

    Hi AJ!
    YES! Lucero packed a lot of punch for such a compact exhibit. They were very accomodating and thoughtful in both presentation and product. I never new that flavor infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars could be so varied and tasty! I have since become a subscriber to their newsletter on their website.

    Mom said she’d like to make Disney and CA Adventure an annual trip on her birthday. And for my mom, that is an amazing statement.

  6. AJ says:

    Elisabeth — I could definitely help you with the eating!

    Lily — So exciting! I’ll tag along with you and your mom! ;-)

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