How to Enjoy the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival With Kids
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The Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is in full swing at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Running through April 23, 2019 in Disney’s California Adventure Park, the festival features California cuisine as well as wine, beer and spirits from the state.
Disney fans on the East Coast may be familiar with Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. Disneyland’s version is very similar. Entry to the festival is included with a regular Disney California Adventure Park ticket, although guests who want to visit Disneyland park in the same day need to purchase the more expensive park hopper option.
When purchasing amusement park tickets, remember that the purchase usually codes as entertainment and not travel, so use a credit card like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card or Citi Premier Card that rewards you for that category (Capital One Savor Cash Rewards gives 4% back on both dining and entertainment, making it the perfect choice). If you don’t have a card like that or simply want to save some money, you could alternately purchase your tickets and snacks using discounted Disney gift cards.
A total of 14 festival marketplace kiosks line the pathways of the park. Guests can stroll from kiosk to kiosk purchasing small dishes and drinks that are available at Disneyland no other time of year. There are a number of special entertainment offerings, seminars and tastings with celebrity chefs, some for an additional fee.
With a name like Food & Wine, families might worry that this festival is not really for them. And while there are plenty of things to do at Disneyland for adult travelers, the Food & Wine Festival is surprisingly kid-friendly. As the festival has grown over the last few years, Disney has added more and more to appeal to families, making it a full-fledged rival to the annual Food & Wine event at Epcot.
If you plan to visit with your kids, here are some of the best things to see, do, eat and drink at the 2019 festival:
Jr. Chef with Goofy
For families with kids ages 3-11, the highlight of the Food & Wine Festival is the Jr. Chef experience with Goofy. In this participatory show, kids mix up the batter for oatmeal raisin cookies and watch as Disney magic “bakes” them for a taste at the end. It’s available several times a day on the stage in Hollywood Land; check the Disneyland app or showtimes guides available at the park entrance for times.
There is no FASTPASS or chance to make an advance reservation time for this experience. If your kids are dying to try it, plan to arrive early. How early? Cast members recommend a full hour, but in my experience, 30 minutes is more than enough on regular days.
Kid-Friendly 2019 Food Choices
There are many adventurous choices at the Food & Wine Festival sure to please foodie parents, but picky kids can also find something to eat. Top 2019 food picks many kids will enjoy include:
Creamy Mac & Cheese with Garlic Breadcrumbs
Kids can rarely go wrong with macaroni and cheese, and this menu item is so good that families may need to order more than one to prevent fighting. The breadcrumbs add crunch and aren’t overpowering, but you can always request that they be left off if you think your child might balk at the texture or flavor. The dish is available at the Garlic Kissed kiosk near Goofy’s Sky School for $7.75. (Parents might want to hold out for the second macaroni and cheese offering at the festival, the Ghost Pepper Mac & Cheese, which packs a spicy punch.)
Salt and Vinegar Parmesan Chicken Wings
For $8 at Cluck-a-Doodle-Moo (near the middle of the festival), your family can share Disney’s take on a popular sports bar finger food. The dish comes with four wings, so it’s perfect for sharing. It’s one of the more “plain” items at the festival — which will make it a hit with picky kids — but still very flavorful.
Fresh California Berry Pie
If you are looking for a sweet treat, the berry pie might not be an obvious choice for kids in a theme park filled with churros and Mickey cupcakes. But take a chance on it if your kids are berry eaters. More tartlet than pie, the dessert has a colorful purple filling and is topped high with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and a light berry sauce. It’s available at the Berry Patch booth for $5.75.
Kid-Friendly 2019 Festival Drinks
While the Food & Wine Festival has plenty of wine, beer, and spirits for adults to sample, kids aren’t left out of the drink offerings Several colorful and festive non-alcoholic drinks are sure to tempt your kids. My top two picks in 2019 are the following:
Yippee! Mickey’s Cotton Candy Soda
Available at Golden Dreams (near the Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure), this $7.00 drink is Sprite-based with a vibrant blue hue. Topped with Mickey sprinkles and yellow cotton candy, it also comes with special effects. Stir some of the cotton candy into the drink and watch it change to green!
Strawberry Float with Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream & Crunchy Cereal Garnish
This sweet treat is both drink and dessert and probably rich enough to share. Just like the name suggests, a few scoops of ice cream are added to strawberry soda and topped with whipped cream and Captain Crunch style cereal for even more kid-friendly appeal. It’s available at the Berry Patch kiosk (near the entrance into Cars Land) for $6.50.
After you’ve eaten to your heart’s content, be sure to take in some of the family-friendly festival entertainment.
The can’t-miss show offering for kids is the Jammin’ Chefs. This musical group puts on an interactive show multiple times a day right in front of The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in the heart of the festival. The chefs beat cooking pot drums with spatulas and spoons, making some unique music in the process. Chip ‘n’ Dale even get in on the fun and dancing. About a dozen kids are invited up to join them in each performance, so tell your kiddos to enthusiastically volunteer!
Tips for Taking Kids to Food & Wine
If you plan to visit the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival with your kids, here are a few other tips:
- Purchase a Sip and Savor Pass. This $54 pass ($49 for Annual Passholders) entitles guests at the festival to eight food items or non-alcoholic drinks. That’s just about the right amount of food for a family of four to share for a single meal. The pass will save the vast majority of guests money over buying items a la carte, especially if you plan to order several of the more expensive, meat-based entrees.
- Scope out food choices in the Tasting Passport. Before you walk halfway across the park with a hungry kid trying to find the perfect item to eat or drink, review the Tasting Passport with your kids. This booklet lists all the food and drink items served at each Festival Marketplace. Pick it up at the information booth as you enter under the arch into the festival or at several other strategic locations. Kids can even collect stamps in the booklet as they visit each kiosk.
- Don’t wait in long lines. The festival has a new policy this year that allows guests to purchase food at any festival kiosk from the menus of all of the kiosks. So find the shortest line, order there, and take your receipt to the pickup window of the marketplace serving the food you ordered.
- Eat early. The lines at Food & Wine kiosks can be long, so families would be wise to avoid the most rushed times. The festival opens most days at 10:30am, and lines remain short for at least an hour. Consider an early lunch with your kids to avoid the crowds.
If you’re headed to Disneyland, you may also be interested in:
- Things Families Should Know Before Visiting Disneyland
- The Best Restaurants at Disneyland in 2019
- Review of the Disneyland Hotel
- 10 Tips for Visiting Disneyland With Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Where to Stay at Disneyland: On vs. Off-Property Hotel Comparisons
- Skip the Lines at Disneyland: 10 Line-Busting Tips for Less Waiting and More Playing
Featured photo by Disneyland Resort.
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