Disney California Adventure’s Food & Wine Festival runs from March 4 to April 26, 2022! This guide offers a list of marketplace booths, tips & tricks for enjoying DCA’s foodie special event, what to order, what not to order, good value menu items, and recommendations for making the most of this event, which has free and upcharge components.
The 2022 DCA Food & Wine Festival returns after a 2-year hiatus, looking to build on its success from the prior few years. DCA’s Food & Wine Festival had really been growing into its own, more closely resembling its cousin at Epcot with each passing year. That will once again be the case, as the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is the biggest event at DCA since the park reopened last spring.
In addition to the marketplace booths and seminars that ran last year, this year the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival will also feature ticketed events, including culinary demonstrations by a mixture of Disneyland Resort and visiting chefs, wine receptions, mixology seminars, and more. We’ll have more information about the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival once the event starts. For now, here are some tips and an overview based on what Disneyland Resort has revealed thus far.
One thing you’ll note that this guide doesn’t cover is saving money. While we had a lot of fun spending time grazing the marketplaces at the DCA Food & Wine Festival, it’s a costly experience. There are no “secret hacks” for parlaying a couple of filling snacks into a meal that winds up being less expensive than counter service options. The portions are relatively small, and the prices relatively high. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has spent the day wandering around the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. It’s the exact same idea.
When the DCA Food & Wine Festival was announced, we were super hyped. We never got a chance to experience the original event, and were bummed back when it was cancelled. It’s been gone for the last 5 years, so we figured it was gone for good. As tourists, we came to love California’s diverse culinary scene, so it seemed like the old event would have been an excellent opportunity to expose ourselves to more California cuisine as part of a thematically-fitting special event.
While Disney California Adventure has improved dramatically in the last few years, it seems like the park’s theme has shifted way from “California” more towards a generic catch-all park with loose California ties to shoehorn everything in. It’s Disneyland’s “studios” park.
That’s not necessarily problematic in many cases–things like Cars Land are exceptional even if the Route 66 connection is tenuous. Still, it’s nice to see a return to the park’s purported theme with the Food & Wine Festival. After experiencing this and a few other special events like Lunar New Year at DCA, I think this is a great way to keep the “California” in DCA. Now, where is my Parade of Whales down Buena Vista Street, Disney?!
Irrespective of all that, the DCA Food & Wine Festival has the potential to be a fun event that emphasizes the park’s theme. We’ll start our coverage with menus for the marketplaces, then some reviews of specific things we tried, followed by our overall impressions of the event. Let’s get started…
For the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival there are 12 marketplace booths, an increase from Lunar New Year before it, but down from the 15 booths that last appeared at the event as staffing shortages still plague the parks.
Here’s an official list of the 2022 DCA Food & Wine Festival booths:
Avocado Time – Indulge in flavorful medleys that make your mouth sing.
Berry Patch – Hail the big berry for top billing!
California Craft Brews – Cheers to a round from California’s best local breweries.
Cluck-a-Doodle-Moo – Rally for these sliders, wings ‘n’ beer—a sports fan’s dream!
D•Lish – Enjoy delicious sweet and savory dishes sure to delight!
Garlic Kissed – Stop by to savor mouthwatering dishes and specialty beverages.
Golden Dreams – Tempt taste buds with well-seasoned eats and nectarous drinks.
I Heart Artichokes – Partake in the thistle—prepared in 2 different ways!
LA Style – Feast on favorite southland food-truck flavors.
Nuts About Cheese – Let us introduce you to wine’s best friends.
Peppers Cali-Ente – Snack on hot ‘n’ spicy fare with a Cali twist!
Uncork California – Sip vino by the glass or try a flight.
We’ll have food booth reviews starting the first week of March 2022, so stay tuned for that!
Sip & Savor Pass
During the 2022 DCA Food & Wine Festival, the Sip and Savor Pass will be available for purchase by all guests. The pass provides a commemorative credential, lanyard and 8 convenient entitlement tabs that you can redeem for select food and nonalcoholic beverages at participating locations during the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival.
We’ve done this several times, and strategically order the most expensive savory items on each menu (and pay out of pocket for desserts), which ends up saving us a decent amount of money. This cuts costs a bit and makes some of the more expensive items a bit more in line with reality.
The Hollywood Backlot in Hollywood Land will be home to an assortment of entertainment and presentations during the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. Guests may meet Chef Goofy or dance along with Chip ‘n’ Dale as the Jammin’ Chefs serve up tasty new rhythms using pots and pans.
Disney Junior’s new animated series “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery” is the inspiration behind a limited-time festival experience for junior chefs at the Hollywood Backlot Stage. During “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery Unbirthday Party,” live host Rolly Pin and two animated characters from the series, Alice and Princess Rosa, invite guests ages 3 through 11 to express their creativity through hands-on cupcake decorating with a special visit from Minnie Mouse, who arrives to admire their talents. Space is limited for this experience, and participant sign-ups begin 45 minutes before each show time.
Throughout DCA, there will be live musical performances, art displays, family-friendly entertainment and craft stations for kids.
Seminars & Signature Events
On Saturdays and Sundays at the Hollywood Backlot Stage, guests of all ages can watch culinary demonstrations from a diverse mix of Disney and visiting chefs, who will prepare their favorite dishes while sharing insider cooking tips. Notable presenters this year include Disneyland Resort Executive Chef Chris Maggetti, Pastry Sous Chef Gracie Gomez, Chef Jet Tila, Chef Shachi Mehra, Chef Kevin Bludso, and many others.
Here’s the schedule of free culinary demonstrations during the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival:
Culinary Demonstrations with Disney Chefs
March 5: Stephanie Yee, Pastry Sous Chef
March 6: Toby Hollis, Disney California Adventure Park Chef
March 12: Brenden Neumayr, Elena Aranda, Alexander Fuentz Cardenas, Angie Arenas; Festivals Beverage Team
March 19: Marcel St. Pierre, Chef de Cuisine
March 20: Marcel St. Pierre, Chef de Cuisine
March 26: Chris Maggetti, Executive Chef
March 27: Moises Carranza, Festivals Chef
April 2: Alex Flores, Chef de Cuisine
April 3: Gracie Gomez, Pastry Sous Chef
April 9: Markus Meza, Candy Maker
April 10: Markus Meza, Candy Maker
April 23: John State, Culinary Director
April 24: Christina Orejel, Pastry Sous Chef
Culinary Demonstrations with Visiting Chefs
March 5: Chef Steve Kling
March 6: Chef Soon Teoh & Khim Teoh
March 12: Chef Wing Lam
March 13: Chef Jamie Gwen
March 13: Rafael Molina
March 19: Chef Bret Thompson
March 20: Chef Shaun O’Neale
March 26: Chef Alejandra Tapia
March 27: Chef Omar Fierro
April 2: Chef Michael Rossi
April 3: Chef Rich Sweeney
April 9: Chef Shachi Mehra
April 10: Chef Justin Warner
April 16: Chef Ernie Alvarado
April 16: Chef Paolo Dungca
April 17: Chef Jet Tila
April 17: Chef Paolo Dungca
April 23: Chef Kevin Bludso
April 24: Chef Nyesha Arrington
Culinary Demonstrations with Festival Sponsors
Cooking demonstrations and educational farm-to-table presentations by some 2022 DCA Food & Wine Festival sponsors involved in growing the foods will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays.
March 12 – 13: California Milk Advisory Board
April 2 – 3: California Milk Advisory Board
April 16 – 17: Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co.
April 23 – 24: National Geographic
Fridays through Sundays at the Paradise Beer Garden, guests can enjoy chats with visiting breweries.
In addition, there are upcharge offerings that can be booked in advance for those who want a more elaborate and extravagant experience at the 2022 DCA Food & Wine Festival. These are as follows:
Carthay Circle Winemaker Receptions – Enjoy hand-selected California wines, masterfully paired with an array of small plates.
Wine, Beer and Mixology Education & Tasting Seminars – Discover something special when sommeliers, brew masters and mixologists divulge their industry expertise during these fascinating 45-minute sessions.
In comparing the lineups, the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival has grown as compared to last year, but is still somewhat scaled back as compared to its predecessors from the earlier years of DCA. There used to be a lot more free presentations & tastings, plus paid dinners, tasting walks, and even a Festival Showplace. It sounded a lot more like Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival before its hiatus.
In fairness, the elaborate event was before Cars Land, before World of Color, and even before the Little Mermaid dark ride. Those were the days when Mali was booming, the park was fighting off an invasion of burger proportions, and sunglass-wearing dinosaurs roamed the park soaking up the rays. Ahh…the not-so-good ole days. Basically, Disney was doing anything it could to lure unsuspecting prey into DCA convince guests to visit DCA, so a larger event made sense.
I am pleased that there are some free presentations in addition to the paid seminars and costly marketplaces. The event was announced right around the same time as a few upcharge offerings at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, so I was a bit apprehensive that it was being brought back in name but not spirit with only the “best” revenue streams surviving.
Although there are ways to blow money and prices are high, the return of the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival doesn’t seem like a cash grab–at least not entirely. Although it does feel less like a celebration of California’s culinary scene as it could be if more effort was made with presentations, displays, etc.
Aside from the presentations and marketplaces, we were pleased that Blue Sky Cellar was open as a lounge for Annual Passholders, with Cast Members handing out free buttons, plus free phone charging, and Seasons of the Vine playing inside.
If you’ve never seen it, Seasons of the Vine is a high-quality (one of the few DCA 1.0 things about which that can be said!) short film about wine growing with an exceptional score.
There are also Food & Wine Festival-inspired menu items at the restaurants around Disney California Adventure. I tried the Dungeness Crab Corn Chowder in a Boudin sourdough boule, and it was phenomenal. Lump crap meat in a rich soup plus filling (fresh!) bread for only about $10 after my AP discount.
Basically, the takeaway here is that at Disney California Adventure’s Food & Wine Festival, prices are high and portions are small, but the food is good. After some hiccups opening the booths, things went smooth operationally, and it was easy to hit the booths while wandering the park, but I wouldn’t call this a fun “experience” like could be said of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. That definitely has a great experiential element, likely in part because you’re wandering the countries of the world while grazing the booths.
For us, that’s what makes the high prices there palatable. Yeah, you know you’re paying too much, but it can be such an enjoyable event that you don’t mind too much. By contrast, I don’t think the DCA Festival has that going for it, at least not to the same degree. It’s a change of pace and something different to do, but not a reason to visit the park in itself. It’s a nice diversion if you’re already in the park, but if you can’t make it, you’re not missing much.
Will you be attending the 2022 DCA Food & Wine Festival? Any new or returning booths you’re excited to try? Booking any of the special seminars, or sticking to the free ones? Do you agree or disagree with thoughts on the 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival? Any additional thoughts on specific samples? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!