The Lunar New Year event at Disneyland is a multicultural celebration for the Year of the Dog — and it’s in full swing! The 2018 Lunar New Year events include three tasty food booths, plus the return of a nighttime water show called Hurry Home, the Lucky Wishing Wall (add your own wish!), and Mulan’s Lunar New Year Processional.
You might even see your favorite characters dressed in their Lunar New Year finest! And since it’s the Year of the Dog, Pluto is serving as the adorable mascot for this celebration, which runs from January 26 to February 18.
The decor is everywhere, with red and gold being the dominant and traditional colors. Plus there are Chinese lantern details and ornate, stylized Mickey heads to add lots of visual interest.
And we’re pretty sure the Year of the Dog is the cutest year we’ve ever seen.
The three countries being highlighted during the Lunar New Year celebration are China, Korea, and Vietnam; and thankfully Disney has posted information about how all three countries celebrate the Lunar New Year with their own traditions. This gives the festival a little more substance, as kids and adults alike can learn something new!
And if you’re wondering What Year Are You?, the Lunar New Year festival has you covered. Find these signs as well, organized by animal and the years represented by that animal. With twelve animal representatives, the information is shared on three signs. And if you look closely, we bet you’ll recognize some of these animal friends!
Not surprisingly, the Lunar New Year celebration at Disneyland includes lots of eats. Over at Paradise Garden Grill, guests can try items from a Lunar New Year menu. (You might recall an overlay here for Dio de Los Muertes back in September of last year too! Paradise Garden Grill is kind of the “festival chameleon” in DCA.)
Our intrepid DFB Disneyland correspondent Heather Sievers (you’ll find her on instagram as @DiningInDisney) headed to the Lunar New Year Celebration soft opening on January 25, and and led a team of reviewers to try all the things — literally every food item at the China, Korea, and Vietnam food booths!
Let’s dig in! The first booth we’ll visit is inspired by the cuisine of Vietnam. This booth wasn’t our favorite (in fact, it was our least favorite), but the menu does offer some intriguing options.
Sticky Rice, Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewers, and Purple Sweet Potato Macarons round out the food at the Vietnam booth.
Sticky Rice with Pork is a simple dish, with the rice prepared in banana leaves. We love the tidy packaging.
The rice was, indeed, sticky. It formed a neat little square of carbohydrates. But the side of pickled vegetables was tiny in comparison and not sufficient to satisfy. This was a miss.
Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewers with Sweet and Sour Sauce should be a sure winner, but we found the shrimp to be a little mushy. The coating is nice, fried golden brown and speckled with sesame seeds. But there are better protein options at the other booths.
The best thing at the Vietnam Booth is the Purple Sweet Potato Macaron, which tastes more like vanilla than anything else.
Inside the perfectly crispy/chewy macaron is frosting and jam. And that purple color is so dreamy!
The Korea Booth was an improvement over the Vietnam Booth. You can see here that there’s a little ordering area to the left of the booth itself, providing a nice amount of space for those both ordering and waiting for food. The set-up at these booths is just like that of the DCA Food and Wine Festival (coming up in March!) and Festival of the Holidays.
The menu at the Korea Booth features two savory food options and one sweet. (They didn’t have the Banana Milk on our visit, but we’re going back for it!)
The Kimchi-Vegetable Fried Rice was a OK option (although our least favorite of the three). The kimchi flavor was present but not overwhelming — kind of like a starter kimchi dish for folks who aren’t big Korean food buffs. The scallions on top add a lot of color and freshness too.
The Steamed Vegetable Dumplings with Sesame-Garlic Soy Sauce were winners. The dumpling wrapper was supple and filled with a tasty mix of vegetables. The seasoning was mild but complemented by the soy sauce.
The Korean dessert offering is Red Bean and Raspberry Jelly, which was a sort of pasty version of Jell-o. And while that might not sound all that appetizing, it was actually pretty good! It’s also a lovely color, fitting for the Lunar New Year celebration.
The China Booth was our favorite of the day, with all the dishes really being winners for our reviewers.
The menu features more dumplings, some tasty chicken, and a surprisingly good egg tart.
Three Cup Chicken is traditionally made with one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine — hence the name Three Cup Chicken. This version has a little bit of a kick to it (owing to some dried red chilies in the sauce), making it AWE-SOME. This was our favorite dish of the Lunar New Year Celebration.
The Pork Soup Dumpings are nice little pockets of moist meat. They’re served with a Black Vinegar and Ginger Sauce.
Again the dumpling wrapper is chewy and smooth — and we love the simple starburst design on top. Inside is flavorful pork cooked in its own juices. Yum!
Egg Tarts are popular all over the world, and this Chinese-inspired incarnation is a good version. The tart shell looks a little light colored, but the combination of thick custard-like egg with the buttery dough worked for us!
It’s definitely thick — and very sweet. But the simplicity of the Egg Tart is part of its beauty.
We also checked out the Passion Fruit Green Tea with Lychee Popping Pearls. (After all — what’s a DCA festival without popping pearls???) We always love that Lotus Flower Glow Cube, which guests can add to the drink for $5.00. (You might recognize it from Animal Kingdom!)
Last but not least is a packaged treat from the Lunar New Year celebration: Five Spiced Peanut Brittle. The packaging makes this one portable, so we suggest grabbing one for the road if you’ve filled up on dumplings and Three Cup Chicken. 😉 The traditional five spice added to the peanut brittle is a yummy way to twist an old favorite.
Lunar New Year is such a fun time to visit Disneyland. With special events and special foods, it just adds a little something special to an already incredible place.
Check out all the details on the upcoming Disneyland Food and Wine Festival here! You can book events NOW!
Will you join in the festivities at the Lunar New Year celebration? Let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments below!