Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure is a celebration of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese traditions that runs January 21 through February 13, 2022. It’s the first big event of the year at Disneyland Resort, and in this post, we’ll share tips & info for visiting, plus photos from the annual event.
Disney is ringing in the Year of the Tiger during the Lunar New Year celebration at DCA during this limited time event that offers a joyous cultural celebration with a touch of Disney magic, featuring Asian-inspired food and drinks, vibrant décor, keepsake merchandise, rare characters, and exciting entertainment! (Note: World of Color “Hurry Home” is not being performed in 2022.)
Lunar New Year celebrates the celestial journey of the sun and the moon on their voyage toward another year. Disneyland Resort’s special festival invites you to make memories with your family and friends while sharing wishes for good health, luck and prosperity throughout the year to come. Here’s a look at what you can expect during the 2022 Lunar New Year festivities…
It’s a great little celebration, and really makes me wish that Disney went through with its plan for a series of “Small World Celebrations” that began several years ago with Opa! A Greek Celebration. Perhaps now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open, DCA will start offering some counter-programming to draw locals away from Disneyland.
The Lunar New Year entertainment is great. There’s an educational component that feels inspired by actual Lunar New Year celebrations. This provides guests an authentic slice of culture alongside the fun of the Mulan processional and special character meet and greets.
Thankfully, it’s not simply characters from Mulan and Mickey Mouse in traditional Lunar New Year garb–there’s actual substance to this.
For Lunar New Year 2022, things are a little different than normal. First, Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession is a cavalcade rather than a small processional with a show stop in front of Paradise Garden.
It now travels a portion of the parade route, stopping in front of the Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure where it turns around and returns back toward Paradise Garden Grill. My favorite viewing spot–and where I shot these photos–is near Prosperity Bao & Buns, with Mickey’s Fun Wheel (or whatever they’re calling it now) in the background.
Second, Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession features a gorgeous new float debuting for 2022 with Mulan, Mushu, Goofy, and traditional Chinese drummers.
Decorated in red and gold to symbolize good fortune and happiness, the float features bright bunches of red firecrackers with golden tassels, and delicate red and gold lanterns that come aglow for after-sunset performances.
The costumes are stunning in the processions. If you can go to a late afternoon show, do that, as the light hitting the performers makes for some really nice photos.
There are a ton of performers in the Mulan procession–probably about 20-30.
We’d also recommend catching the last procession of the day, as it occurs after dark and the lanterns on the floats are illuminated.
Given this and the high quality of the performances, I’m surprised Disney doesn’t try to extend the Lunar New Year celebration a bit longer. It’s a really nice draw, probably not that expensive to put on, and is really popular with guests.
Additionally, the Paradise Garden Bandstandpresents daily live performances featuring enchanting traditional musical instruments, along with Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese folk dancers.
The San Francisco-based musical group Melody of China performs a fusion of Chinese folk, classical and contemporary instrumentals.
Of course, character meet & greets are part of the event, which is a nice touch for families. Enjoy special appearances by Disney characters at the Paradise Gardens Gazebo, where you may spot Tigger, Mulan and Mushu, Mickey and Minnie, and the Three Little Pigs–all dressed in their festive finery.
On top of that, the titular character from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ film Raya and the Last Dragon, makes her official debut at the Disneyland Resort during the Lunar New Year celebration. Under a forest canopy deep in the heart of Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, you may encounter the heroic Raya.
While in Paradise Gardens, head over to the Lucky Wishes Wall to share your own special wishes of hope, health and happiness that roar with confidence for the Year of the Tiger.
There’s also complimentary arts and crafts, including dragon’s pearl coloring craft and Chinese calligraphy with local artisans. Plus, new face painting opportunities have been added to the celebration, available for purchase.
The best part about Lunar New Year at DCA is that 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.
There are lots of cool decorations up around Paradise Garden.
It may not seem like it from the photos here, but there’s a lot to see outside of the procession.
In addition to this, there’s other live entertainment on the band stand stage that you can enjoy while eating, plus stations where guests can get their faces painted, art stations for kids, and several spots set up with educational info about Lunar New Year in the various cultures that celebrate it.
Even though it’s the winter “off-season” at Disneyland Resort, Lunar New Year 2022 is still drawing crowds. Expect that to hold true for the duration of the event. The food booths are especially busy, as are the meet & greets, which routinely have hour-plus lines.
On the plus side, you can grab a last minute spot for the cavalcade and have a great view. Same goes for the entertainment in Paradise Garden, which is a relatively uncrowded area of Disney California Adventure.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the food being served up at DCA’s Lunar New Year festivities…
2022 Lunar New Year Food Menus
One of the highlights of Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure is the marketplaces, serving a variety of Asian-inspired dishes prepared with a Disney twist. These include Longevity Noodle Co., Lucky 8 Lantern, Prosperity Bao & Buns, and Red Dragon Spice Traders.
These food booths are the same stands used for DCA’s Food & Wine Festival and its Festival of Holidays. While Lunar New Year’s culinary component is not as fleshed out as those events, it’s starting to expand and come into its own. We’ve already tried several dishes from the last two incarnations of the event, and have generally liked what we’ve tried.
Note that due to there being so few food booths, the lines can get long. We recommend rope dropping the marketplaces, ordering as close to 10:30 am as possible. From what we’ve seen, Longevity Noodle Co. has the longest lines, with guests stretching back through the World of Color seating area throughout the day for this marketplace. Prioritize this one.
Alternatively, you can place orders at a single marketplace, and then go to the pickup lines at other booths from there. Those return lines can still be lengthy, but you’ll save a good amount of time this way (assuming Disney doesn’t “disable” the multi-booth ordering, which does happen from time to time).
For the best value in your epicurean adventure, we recommend buying the Sip & Savor Pass. This provides six vouchers, redeemable for food and nonalcoholic beverages at Lunar New Year Marketplace kiosks and other select dining locations.
We usually make a pass of the marketplaces before redeeming any vouchers, making note of the items that are most expensive out of pocket, and thus offer the best bang for buck with the Sip & Savor Pass. A good rule of thumb is paying for the desserts out of pocket and using the Sip & Savor Pass on the more ambitious savory snacks.
Longevity Noodle Co. Food Menu:
Garlic Noodles: Long noodles tossed in a zesty garlic butter with Parmesan cheese
Spicy Pork Dandan Noodles: Pan-fried noodles with ground pork and a spicy tri-chile blend sauce
Mickey-shaped Tiger Sugar Cookie: Sugar cookie dipped in red chocolate with gold Mickey-shaped tiger
Mickey-shaped Tiger-striped Sugar Cookie: Sugar cookie dipped in red chocolate with gold tiger stripes
As shown above, Paradise Garden Grill has a special menu for Lunar New Year, and a few other options can be found at the Festival Food and Beverage Cart.
Our favorite tends to be Paradise Garden Grill, as it serves full meals that are ambitious and delightful. One of our favorite “traditions” during the event is joining Guy Selga of TouringPlans.com to devour the Whole Fried Fish, which tastes so much better than it looks. I’m also a big fan of the BÃ¡nh MÃ¬, if you want something a bit more…conventional.
Overall, Happy Lunar New Year is an event that’s well worth experiencing if you’re a Disneyland local, really into cultural experiences, or are thinking of an early-year Disneyland Resort vacation. We were really impressed by the overall quality of Happy Lunar New Year, and ended up spending about half the day over in Paradise Garden enjoying it. It seemed very popular with other guests, and we’ve never seen Paradise Garden this busy–it’s even busier during this than during Viva Navidad.
As an added bonus, January and February are generally great months to visit (if you don’t mind some refurbishments) as the crowds are at their lowest points of the year, and “winter” in Southern California has air quotes around it for a reason. The event itself is a very high quality little offering you could spend a couple of hours experiencing, and is a nice gesture for locals and those who want something new or unique. For most people, it isn’t going to be something around which a trip should be planned, but considering that it’s only running for 4 days, it’s excellent.
Does Lunar New Year Celebration look like a classic “edutainment” experience, or does it look uninteresting to you? If you have been, what do you think of Happy Lunar New Year? Any tips to add? Hearing from you is half the fun, so if you have additional thoughts or questions, please share them in the comments!