Cocina Cucamonga Review

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Cocina Cucamonga is a counter service Mexican restaurant in Disney California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf at Disneyland Resort. This review features photos of the food, plus my thoughts on the cuisine here, and to whom this purported “Mexican” restaurant will most likely appeal. The menu here has a lot of options, including tacos, burritos, tamales, salads, and more.

I mentioned this in the Lucky Fortune Cookery Review, but I’ll reiterate: the Pacific Wharf “land” is very simple. It’s essentially an outdoor mall food court where there are multiple places with ordering windows and an abundance of common seating in the middle. There is no indoor seating, nor is there any theming to speak of at Cocina Cucamonga.

As a preface to this review, how you view the food at Cocina Cucamonga is largely going to be dictated by perspective and background. In terms of background, if you’re a Disneyland local living in Santa Ana, for example, or anywhere that has an abundance of Mexican fast food, this restaurant won’t strike you as even remotely authentic. If you’re from a small town in the Midwest where the only Mexican food around is Taco Bell, your opinion of Cocina Cucamonga will likely be much more favorable and issues of authenticity aren’t likely to arise. Regardless of your background, if you approach this restaurant from the perspective of whether Cocina Cucamonga has quality cuisine, your opinion is likely to differ from someone who approaches it from the perspective of whether it has authentic cuisine.

With those caveats about the restaurant out of the way, let’s take a look at the food, and see how it holds up… (more…)

Lucky Fortune Cookery Review

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Lucky Fortune Cookery is a counter service restaurant in Disney California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf at Disneyland Resort. This review features photos of the food and ambiance, plus my thoughts on this restaurant. The menu is very basic, consisting solely of made-to-order Asian rice bowls. You start by choosing a protein: chicken, beef, and tofu. Then you choose a sauce: Mandarin Orange, Spicy Korean, Thai Coconut Curry, or Teriyaki.

Much like the entire Pacific Wharf “land”, the restaurant here is also very simple. It’s an outdoor ordering area with limited seating adjacent to the restaurant plus a ton more in the middle of the restaurant area. Think of it as a glorified mall food court.

As far as Disney California Adventure dining goes, Pacific Wharf is often overlooked. Despite the limited menu here, Lucky Fortune Cookery is actually a bit of a hidden gem… (more…)

Smokejumpers Grill Review

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Smokejumpers Grill is a counter service restaurant in the Grizzly Peak Airfield area of Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. This restaurant replaces Taste Pilots’ Grill, and is the counter service restaurant in the park with a safe menu of standard burgers that will appeal to a broad cross-selection of guests.

The restaurant is themed and decorated to the smokejumpers who have protected California National Park Service (and other) areas since the 1930s. Like most Disneyland Resort restaurants, Taste Pilots’ Grill accepts Disneyland Annual Passes for discounts ranging from 10 to 15%. We previously were not too kind to Taste Pilots’ Grill, lamenting that its menu was totally uninspired. We’ll get to the food at Smokejumpers Grill later in the review, but let’s start by checking out the new-look of the restaurant.

Theme-wise, Smokejumpers Grill is designed to look like a hanger from maybe the 1940s or so that is owned by Herb and Millie and opened to pay tribute to, and serve, the local Bearpaw Basin Smokejumpers. You can read more about this backstory in the photo below. This backstory is a clever way to side-step having the inside be a virtual museum honoring the smokejumpers while also being a hangar–if it were an active hangar, it probably wouldn’t go to such great lengths to tribute smokejumpers, unless the smokejumpers there were serious narcissists! Besides the smokejumping motif, this is actually somewhat similar in base structure to the previous backstory in this location (you can read more about Imagineering’s backstory for Condor Flats here).

It seems as if the conversion from Condor Flats to Grizzly Peak Airfield is a continuation of the “hip” layer being removed as part of the Disney California Adventure overhaul. Imagineering continues to do a pretty good job with this… (more…)

101 Great Disneyland Tips

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Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are generally considered “locals parks,” and there are a lot of things they do that you, too, can do to save time and money, or just improve the quality of your vacation. Here are 101 random tips based upon our visits to Disneyland as Annual Passholders, and based upon lessons we’ve learned while in the parks from locals we hang out with who have been visiting for years.

Our 101 Great Walt Disney World Tips list was so popular that we’ve decided to do this one for Disneyland! Not all of these tips will be applicable to everyone (not everyone is going to need to know about a Baby Care Center…even if the adults in your party can sometimes be big babies), but there should be something for everyone here. Whether you’re a first time planner or a weathered veteran who still has nightmare-flashbacks to Light Magic, there are tips for you here!

We have a lot of tips to cover (101, to be exact) that will help you experience Disneyland and Disney California Adventure like a “pro.” Some are simple hacks to save money, some will help you save time, and others are just random oddities that will enhance the experience. Make sure to read the comments at the end where some readers have shared additional tips.

Note that this post has been updated for 2015 with some new tips, plus some old tips that are no longer relevant removed. Let’s get started with our 101 favorite Disneyland tips! (more…)

Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Tips

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Happy Lunar New Year is a celebration of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultural traditions in Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure from February 19–22. This post offers some photos from the annual event, plus tips for visiting if you’re heading to the event this year or in the future. This year, the celebration revolves around the “Year of the Sheep” with a Mulan processional, live music, dancing, red and gold decor, hanging lanterns, special Disney character meet & greets, menu items, and more.

Culturally, Lunar New Year is a multi-day annual tradition that is the customary time to reflect on the past and step into a new life of hope, prosperity, and happiness. Much like ¡Viva Navidad!, which felt like an event straight out of circa-1982 EPCOT Center, Happy Lunar New Year also combines authentic culture with Disney fun.

It’s not simply characters from Mulan and Mickey Mouse in traditional Lunar New Year garb and Disney saying because ??? that somehow equals a reflection of hope and prosperity. Rather, there is actual entertainment and and educational component that feels inspired by actual Lunar New Year celebrations, that give guests an authentic slice of culture alongside the fun of the Mulan processional and special character meet and greets. It doesn’t feel like it’s simply a ruse to sell some expensive event merchandise and overpriced menu items to locals (although that’s part of the equation). There’s a genuine effort to make this an enriching and entertaining experience for guests, and this is exactly the kind of thing that belongs in EPCOT.

What’s so special about the Happy Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure? Let’s take a look! (more…)