This past weekend, Disneyland Resort welcomed the annual Lunar New Year Celebration to its California Adventure Park.
Running until February 18, the festivities recognize the many cultures that celebrate this colorful event. Among the displays, you’ll find an attention-grabbing parade and various live music performances, delicious food offerings, and a special show before World of Color.
2018 is the Lunar year of the Dog, which is represented by our favorite sidekick, Pluto. One of my favorite lucky numbers of this sign is the number 9, because it correlates with the reasons why you should attend this special celebration.
Here are my top 9 reasons, in no particular order:
1. The food! There are booths set up featuring Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese food, drinks, and sweets. The Paradise Garden Grill also features a special menu that shouldn’t be overlooked. The smells are intoxicating and I wish I had more room in my stomach to try it all! On my visit opening day, I tried Three Cup Chicken (well seasoned with a hint of spice) paired with a refreshing Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea and Lychee popping-pearls (also offered with a glowing lotus flower) from the Chinese market. I look forward to my next visit so I can conquer more of the menu.
2. Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession. This is a must see performance that takes place between Goofy’s Sky School and Jumpin’ Jellyfish at 12, 1, 3, and 4pm (check the daily schedule for possible variations). The prime viewing location is directly between the two rides, in my opinion. Led by Mulan, Mushu, and “The God of Good Fortune” Goofy, the performers showcase their talents in colorful, whimsical costumes to the subtle sounds of classic Mulan scores. I was enchanted and ended up watching it twice in one day.
3. Hurry Home. This Journey of Little Lantern light show plays before the 9pm World of Color. As if we needed another reason to watch it?! A video of this addition will be up shortly.
4. Live performances. The GuGu Drum Group are famous drummers, athletes, and storytellers all the way from Shanghai, China. They retell ancient Chinese stories with Paradise Pier as their backdrop. Throughout the day, there are also performances by Vietnamese hat and flower dancers, Korean fan dancer and drummers, and performers from Taiwan.
5. Activities. There’s so much to do during this celebration, for free! Be sure to make a wish, declare it on a mickey-eared card, and place it on the Lucky Wishing Wall. I was lucky enough to make the first wish of the year.
I also managed to get my face painted, color and create a lantern, and have a lovely interaction with a calligrapher all within the first hour of the festivities opening. I felt renewed and invigorated, ready tackle the rest of my visit.
6. Characters. Not only are the usual suspects (Mickey, Minnie, etc) decked out in their best Lunar New Year outfits, but you’ll run in to rarities like Mulan and Mushu. I was also ambushed by Chip and Dale sporting their silk vests with pride. Tip: Keep an eye out for roaming characters if you can’t handle the long lines for the meet and greet area. They seem frequent the festivities.
7. Live music. Vietnamese artist, Dat Nguyen, masterfully plays original and traditional music and a range of instruments. He also has a wonderful sense of humor that draws the crowd in. He shares the Paradise Garden Bandstand with Korean musician, Lina Lee. Their talents are the perfect accompaniment to a few restful moments in the area.
8. Special Annual Pass offerings. Nestled in the back corner of the Paradise Garden Grill area you’ll find an exclusive Annual Passholder area, complete with its own photo opportunity and Wishing Wall. If you’re a passholder, make sure you stop by for an exclusive button and to check out the special merchandise.
9. Event Merchandise. You didn’t think I’d overlook that, did you? This year’s potential haul includes lucky red envelopes, insanely soft shirts, various merch with Pluto front and center, adorable mashup Minnie ears, and so much more!
The holy grail of event merchandise would have to be the Shanghai Mickey that made the trip to California this year’s shelves. I doubt they’ll last long!
The Lunar New Year Celebration opens at 10:30am daily, with closing times depending on the day of the week. It was quite popular, even on opening day, so I recommend getting there early to be able to enjoy all the event has to offer.