Something exciting came to Disney California Adventure this Holiday season, Disney Festival of Holidays, which runs through through January 8, 2017. It is a Holiday celebration inspired by various cultural traditions from around the world. The Festival brings traditions together such as Christmas, Navidad, Three Kings Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. At the Festival, you get to take part in delicious food and drink, live entertainment, and crafts.
My husband and I decided to take a Disney date and leave the kids behind to check out the Festival of Holidays. There are 14 festive foods marketplaces serving up multicultural tastings at different locations around the park. We grabbed a guide and started on our way down the line of kiosks.
I really liked every tasting I had! But full disclosure, I made a plan of attack for us for the Festival eats before arriving at the park so I knew just what we wanted to try and didn’t pick up an item neither of us would care for. The tastings were not cheap so we wanted to make the most of our money. Unfortunately, no Annual Passholder discounts applied.
First on the route was Heritage Cottage, we had the Braised Beef Short Rib with smashed potatoes and sauerbraten sauce. The short ribs were so tender and fell apart at the touch. Definitely a favorite!
Our next stop was Nosh & Nibbles, we ordered the Brisket Potato Croquette with horseradish crème. I took one bite, then my husband took over the dish. It was so good! It was like a gussied up pot roast and mashed potatoes.
Good Fortune’s Feast was up. My picky husband passed on this marketplace, so I took one for the team. (ha!) I ordered the Adobo Pork Bao with shaved red onion and crispy garlic chicharron. I hadn’t had a Bao since Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival this past April and was excited to enjoy another one. The pork was very tender and packed with flavor. I really enjoyed the texture the chicharron brought to the bun and the acidity from the pickled red onions.
I also tried the Smoked Duck & Vegetable Spring Roll with cabbage and sweet plum sauce. I could have had a couple more of those rolls. Admittedly though, I didn’t taste much smoked duck in the spring roll. I would have liked it to have a bit more of a standout flavor, especially considering it was $8.75.
Onto Mistletoe Morsels, where the name alone had me exploding with Christmas spirit. Another spot my husband skipped on since he is not a fan of seafood. I enjoyed the Classic Crab Cake with lemon tartar sauce. It was chock-full of crab, always a good quality in a crab cake. The lemon tartar sauce added a nice zing to the cake. I kicked myself the next day for not ordering the Holiday Eggnog Cocktail with whipped cream and nutmeg dusting. I was so focused on food that I never really paid much attention to the drinks. When I go back to the park in December, I may have to correct that transgression.
Southern Home Holidays was the marketplace I was super excited to hit up. We ordered Southern Mac & Cheese with jalapeno cornbread crumble. It ended up being my husband’s favorite out of everything we tried. The mac & cheese was so creamy and cheesy! The cornbread crumble had a little kick to them due to the jalapenos. I would say they were more cornbread croutons than crumble. We ended up pushing most of those aside, although good in flavor, but they were so big and kind of got in the way.
Also from Southern Home Holidays, we got the Sweet Potato Pie with streusel topping, candied pecans and cinnamon whipped cream. Loved it! It was very similar in taste and texture to pumpkin pie. Not to mention, the mini pie itself was adorable! My husband isn’t a fan of sweet potatoes, but even he liked the pie. Had I not been eating my way through the festival, I probably would have ordered my own pie and not shared. For sure, two thumbs up!
Winter Sliderland was another spot I was pumped for. I love sliders so I knew I this was the place for me! I’ve never been a big fan of Thanksgiving dinner sandwiches, but in the form of a slider I figured I could get on board with. Okay, I take back what I said, I am a fan of Thanksgiving dinner sandwiches. It had roasted turkey slices, stuffing, cranberry sauce and warm gravy. My eyes said to order a second slider, but my tummy said no. I could have had a trio or more of this slider alone.
I also ordered the Kalua Pork Slider with pineapple jam and cider slaw from Winter Sliderland. I expected more out of this slider, but was underwhelmed. I ended up just eating the pork out of it, which was flavorful. I wasn’t a fan of everything mixed together and there was more slaw then pork. It wasn’t for me.
Yuletide Yummies had a lot of great menu items that it was hard to narrow it down. We opted to order the Mini Turkey Pot Pie with cranberry drizzle. I really enjoyed it! For a mini pie, it was filled to the brim with turkey, gravy, potatoes, pies and carrots. The pie crust was nice and buttery and I enjoyed the sweetness from the cranberry drizzle.
For dessert, I picked up the Gingerbread Bundt Cake with orange-vanilla sauce from Yuletide Yummies. Another item my husband was uninterested in so it was all mine. Boy, was this top on my favorites! If you are not a big fan of gingerbread I would say skip it for the Eggnog Cheesecake or Mocha Yule Log, but being a fan of gingerbread I couldn’t wait to dig in. The center of the bundt cake is filled with an orange-vanilla sauce. It added such a great element of sweetness to the cake, which was not overly sweet. I pretty much devoured it even though I was full and in need of a nap. Yuletide Yummies also had a Frozen Chocolate Milk with whipped cream and sprinkles. I couldn’t get my husband on board with trying it and nearly asked some strangers if I could snap a picture of their Frozen Chocolate Milk, but came to my senses that that may be an odd request.
Our final stop on the Festival of Holidays marketplace route was Treats for Santa. Treats for Santa was serving up various Holiday desserts, Assorted Cookies, Panettone, Peppermint Bark, Brittle, Fudge, Warm Bourbon Cider, White Hot Chocolate with house-made peppermint marshmallows, and they even had a Mickey Snowman Cookie Decorating Kit. If ordering an assorted cookie, you get to pick exactly which cookie you want. We couldn’t resist this festive Mickey sugar cookie with wreathes on his ears.
Located next to Treats for Santa in the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area is a special Annual Passholders event. There is an exclusive button for pass holders, a photo spot, and coloring pages. Since we didn’t have our kids with us, we just grabbed our button and headed on our way.
We did not make it to Making Spirits Bright, Spice Salutations, Brews & Bites, Fiesta en Familia, Mosaic Delights, and Abuelita’s Kitchen.
Along the Festival of Holidays you will find Disney ¡Viva Navidad!, they are offering Holiday foods, crafts and Disney character greetings in their finest Navidad duds. ¡Viva Navidad! also includes a fun street party hosted by the Three Caballeros, which includes folklórico and samba dancers, live musicians, Mickey and Minnie dressed up for the fiesta, and Disney Princess Elena of Avalor who made her debut at Disneyland during the Festival of Holidays. You can’t help but find yourself moving along to the street party!
There is so much more going on at the Festival of Holidays; dancers, live bands such as Mostly Kosher, Mariachi Divas, and Holiday Toy Drummers. We caught the Toy Drummers marching to the beat along the marketplace route. Wow, talk about show stopping performance! They play precision drills to Holiday songs. And boy do they play them! During the festival, you can also visit Santa and his elves at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. And to commemorate the Festival, you can do some shopping with hats, t-shirts, cups, personalized ornaments, and more.
There is so much holiday fun that you could easily devote a day to taking in all the festivities has to offer. It was so much fun eating our way through the marketplaces. I hope the Festival of Holidays returns next year with even more festive eats.