Since moving from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure in 2013, the Lunar New Year Celebration has expanded every year. In 2018, in addition to new entertainment and food offerings, the event will take place over the course of 24 days, from January 26 through February 18.
This short interview with Mirna Hughes provides an overview of what’s happening this year.
The celebration takes place in the Paradise Park and Paradise Gardens areas. A large gateway near the entrance to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure marks the beginning of the event area.
This is the Year of the Dog, so Pluto gets his moment in the spotlight. His image is featured on the decorative banners in the park, as well as on some of the merchandise.
Some of the merchandise, such as the Minnie flowered hat ears and the Mickey plush, came from Shanghai Disneyland. Mickey’s foot has the Shanghai logo.
It’s not a festival without food, of course! There are three food marketplaces in the Paradise Park corridor, offering representative dishes from Korea, China, and Vietnam. I’ll have another blog on the items that I tried.
Only a few of the items are new this year, including “Three Cup Chicken”. Never fear: the popular Pork Soup Dumplings are back. (I have it on good authority that these are Mushu’s favorite! 🙂 )
The Paradise Garden Grill restaurant also offers a special Lunar New Year menu. The Crispy Fish Dinner – a whole tilapia served family style – returns this year, along with the Galbi (Korean style pork ribs). The Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich is new this year. Also new this year: food is delivered to guests at their table. After ordering guests will receive a number along with their beverages and accompaniments, but the dishes will be brought to the table.
There are a lot of activities for guests. Near Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a free face painting kiosk. A number of designs are available.
Most activities are in Paradise Gardens. Kids (and adults) can color and make a paper lantern featuring Pluto. There are also calligraphy artists who will write a New Year wish or your name – it’s a nice free souvenir.
At the Lucky Wishing Wall guests can write their new year wish on a Mickey-head-shaped card and tie it on. The Mickey cards are new this year. My wish for last year came true, so I hope for the same result for this year’s wish.
There are some static displays with information on how Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese families celebrate. This is the Year of the Dog, but another sign tells about the other animals, and you can find what year you were born in.
The character meet and greet is at the gazebo in Paradise Gardens. Pluto, Mickey and Minnie, and Mulan and Mushu, all in New Year attire, alternate in that location. Interestingly, there is no PhotoPass photographer there. There is a cast member who will take photos for guests with their own camera.
Chip and Dale, also in New Year attire, roam around the area, creating their usual playful chaos.
The AP Corner for annual passholders is located between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. There’s a special photo backdrop (with a PhotoPass photographer), and AP holders get their own Wishing Wall.
There’s also a special Lunar New Year button available to Annual Passholders.
There are several exclusive pieces of merchandise available to Annual Passholders at Elias & Co. or the festival merchandise kiosk in front of Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
There’s even more entertainment offered this year, with performers from around the world.
Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession returns with a few changes. Goofy, as the God of Good Fortune, joins the procession, along with a dance group from Taiwan. The show is performed four times a day. It’s a beautifully colored and energetic show and I think it’s worth seeing, but unfortunately the prime viewing is pretty small. I’d recommend arriving 30 minutes early to get a front row spot.
Full video – one of my favorite parts is when Goofy gets his groove on at the end.
New this year is GuGu Drum Group from Shanghai. They are a group of drummers who tell traditional stories with percussion. There are six shows a day in Paradise Park – the shows are about 30 minutes long. Visually I found them very interesting, but since I don’t understand the stories or traditions, I thought the show was too long.
Dat Nguyen returns to the Paradise Garden stage for the third year. He sings and plays several different instruments: guitar, lute, and melodica.
Also appearing on the Paradise Garden stage is Korean musician Luna Lee. She plays a Korean stringed instrument called a gayageum. She was not performing the day I visited.
This video is an entertainment overview, including a short interview with Mulan and Mushu on their favorite thing about Lunar New Year.
Each night preceding the first World of Color show, the Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration is presented on Paradise Bay. It’s the story of a little lantern making his way home so he can celebrate with his family. It features animation, lights, and fountains, and ends with a fireworks display. It’s a cute show.
This is last year’s video – the show is the same except that now it’s the Year of the Dog.
Just to give you a general idea of the schedule, here’s a copy of the opening weekend’s Times Guide. (Click on the image for a full-size version.)
Like last year, I was impressed by all of the different offerings available during the Lunar New Year celebration – Mulan’s Procession in particular is a “don’t miss”. It’s easy to spend a good portion of a park visit enjoying all of the different entertainment and some of the food. Right now with so many construction walls in Disney California Adventure because of the Pixar Pier project and other seasonal refurbishments, the festival provides some needed additional entertainment alternatives to guests.
* I was an invited guest to a Lunar New Year Celebration Media event. My opinions are my own.