First Look at Disney California Adventure’s 2018 Festival of Holidays!

The Festival of Holidays runs at Disney California Adventure from November 9, 2018 through January 8, 2019.  We had the chance to visit on Opening Day and wanted to share our first look around the Festival Marketplaces.

Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

New to the Festival Marketplaces this year: each booth has Mickey-head signs on top identifying which holiday food traditions the booth celebrates.

Festival of Holidays Marketplace celebrating Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Navidad

There’s a new background music soundtrack this year – much greater variety in the content and the styles of music.

The Sip and Savor pass for Annual Passholders has returned.  This year it’s $49 for eight tastes.  It’s valid at Festival Marketplaces for food or non-alcoholic beverages.  The best value is to use it for  items costing at least $6.00.  It’s a better strategy to use it for the $7.00-$8.00 items.

Festival of Holidays Sip and Savor Pass

When redeeming a tab at one of the Marketplaces you’ll also receive a pin – they are different colors and designs.

Festival of Holidays AP Buttons

The Tasting Passport has also returned – there are stamps at each Marketplace, each with a different letter (purchase not required).  No prize for completing it, though you can get a completion stamp.

Festival of Holidays Tasting Passport

Prices at the Marketplaces are higher than last year: about $0.50 on food items and $1.00 on alcoholic beverages.  We have the menus, with prices, here.  The most expensive food item  is Beef Pot Roast on a Potato Roll with Horseradish Cream for $8.50, the least expensive are the Chocolate Chipotle Pot de Crème and the Milk Chocolate Candy Cane Pot de Crème, each $4.50.  The Winter Wonders booth offers three vegan items. There are also some gluten-friendly, milk-friendly, and vegetarian offerings  (these are noted on our menu page).

Festival of Holidays Marketplace

The food items are attractively presented – as you can see, the Turkey & Stuffing Tamale with Cranberry Relish that we purchased looks just like the photo.  It was really tasty!

Turkey & Stuffing Tamale

We also sampled the Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage.  This is a Gluten-friendly offering.  At $8.00 it’s one of the higher priced items – but we used one of our Sip and Savor Pass tabs for it.  It was quite good – the shrimp was nicely cooked and flavorful, and the grits were creamy and yummy.

Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage

Lox & Everything Bagel Nachos was an interesting take on lox and bagels.  Bagel chips covered in smoked salmon and crema, with a “salsa” of onions, capers, and tomatoes, topped with poppy and sesame seeds.  We enjoyed it.

Lox and Everything Bagels Nachos

This Pumpkin Soup with Maple Cashew Cream wasn’t quite as attractive – but really, how do you make soup all that interesting?  This is one of the vegan items from the Winter Wonders marketplace.  It was quite thick – more like pudding than soup.  The pumpkin flavor was there, and it was not overly spiced with winter spices.  The cashew cream had a slight sweetness to it, though I didn’t taste maple at all.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup with Maple Cashew Cream

We’ll have more information from the Festival of Holidays, including a look at some of the entertainment, coming soon.

Have you had a chance to wander around the Festival of Holidays yet? Let us know what you liked, or what you’re most looking forward to trying! Don’t forget to check out our complete list of the marketplace menus with prices!

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Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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