The expanded 2018 Food & Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure kicked off this weekend with entertainment, merchandise and 13 food booths. This year’s Festival is six weeks long, and features returning favorites and new surprises.
As you enter California Adventure, be sure to grab a chef’s hat to get you in the spirit of the Festival! Typically, this is something that would be available at kid’s craft tables, but we didn’t see any of those this year.
Over in Hollywood Land, there is more happening this year, with extra entertainment, merchandise and food, including celebrity chefs Guy Fieri and Robert Irvine who will be appearing at the Hyperion Theatre!
They have also added a new merchandise kiosk in Hollywood Land, near Stage 12, that not only carries Food & Wine logo merchandise and other kitchen related products, but also food related fine art. On select days, artists will be in this area selling and signing their work.
For a complete look at the merchandise, check out my article that has more pictures and pricing.
For full food menus and pricing, head over to The DIS.
The Nuts About Cheese booth returns from last year, but has moved into Hollywood Land in front of Stage 12. We haven’t tried any of the food this year, but some of last year’s selections were surprisingly good.
Also in this back corner is The Brewhouse, featuring a selection of beers and beer cocktails.
LAstyle returns to Hollywood Land in the same spot as last year…with a menu that still disappoints. The tortillas on the Korean BBQ Beef Short Rib Tacos that we tried were really dry, and the meat, while slightly better than last year, was still tough.
The Mexican Chocolate Custard, with the cinnamon flavor that reminded us of Mexican hot chocolate, was good.
The Hollywood Backlot stage is home to family-friendly seminars and demonstrations, plus the Jr. Chef experience.
In the corner, near Stage 17, Annual Passholders will find a special area where they can meet characters, Daisy when we were there, and receive a special button. Unfortunately, it’s the same button for the whole Festival.
Head out of Hollywood Land, through Carthay Circle and toward Pacific Wharf, and you’ll find the bulk of the Festival offerings.
The first booth this year is California Craft Brews, which has moved from a spot a few doors down. The White Cheddar Lager Soup in a Mini Sourdough Boule, which is the staple of food festivals, is served here.
Next, is the new Peppers Cali-Ente booth, featuring a variety of spicy fare. We tried the Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese with Bacon, the Lime Margarita with Jalapeno Garnish, and the Watermelon Lemonade.
The mac & cheese and margarita were good, but the spicy rim did nothing to help the overly sweet lemonade, that had only a slight watermelon flavor.
The Uncork California booth is next, with a large selection of wines and wine flights.
Something you’ll find there, and at each of the booths this year is a little history or information about the product being featured there.
The new Strawberry Patch booth is next, with its “frushi” and strawberry pie, which are on our list for next visit.
Merchandise is next, and there is so much Food & Wine Festival logo merchandise that it takes a cart and a half to hold it this year. Luckily, they were able to fill in the rest of the second cart with rose gold Mickey ears. Again, click HERE for more merchandise information.
Avocado Time, another new booth, is next with its Avocado & Pepper Jack Petite Guacamole Burger, which is not worth the money.
Also new is Eat Your Greens, which features a vegetarian menu of salads and healthy drinks. We kept walking.
Lemon Grove has become Citrus Grove and features a new…uneven…menu. The Citrus-Brined Pork Roast with Tangy Barbecue Sauce was tasty, filling, and a great value. The crunchy fried onions were a great surprise.
The Crispy Orange Chicken & Rice with a Garlic Cracker was plain awful. Before we ordered, another guest told me that it was good if you liked fried chicken skin. She really should have said, “it’s good if you like fried chicken skin and dried out dark meat.”
Please skip this.
I Heart Artichokes is back in a new location and is even better than we remembered. The Fried Artichoke Carbonara was excellent, and featured huge pieces of artichoke heart.
The Bourbon Chocolate Whoopie Pie was good, but had a spicy surprise in the center that I wasn’t expecting. It actually improves the flavor of the dessert, so be sure to cut open the whoopie pie to see what’s inside!
The creatively named Cluck-A-Doodle-Moo is next.
“We have a chicken dish…we have a beef dish…what the heck do we name this booth?”
The tenderloin slider was transferred from another booth, but the Salt & Beer Vinegar Parmesan Chicken Wings are new. The wings are tasty, with a lot of meat on them, but while the vinegar smell was strong, the flavor of vinegar wasn’t there. Still some great fried chicken wings though.
Across the way, the Palisades Stage features live music throughout the week and culinary demonstrations on the weekends.
Continuing with the booths, Off The Cob is back, with its delicious Sweet Corn Nuggets with Beef Chili. Unfortunately, they were out of those so we tried the Shrimp Boil Tacos with Andouille Sausage & Fresh Corn and the Caramel Popcorn Crispy Treat.
The tacos were disappointing. While there was a good amount of shrimp, the greasiness of the sausage made the dish virtually inedible.
The dessert was interesting, but was more “crispy treat” than “caramel popcorn.”
The final booth is Garlic Kissed, and features the second mac & cheese dish of the Festival, plus the Black Garlic Soy-Braised Pork Belly Banh Mi.
The banh mi was good, but the pork belly dish served on a steamed bun from Festivals past was better.
The Festival continues into the Paradise Gardens area, which has become the Festival Beer Garden.
A temporary beer stand has been added to the area and the Paradise Garden Grill features a special Festival-inspired menu.
The Paradise Garden Bandstand features live music throughout the week.
I love that Disneyland continues to expand and try new things with the Food & Wine Festival, but this year’s offerings, at least the ones we tried, seemed really uneven. We only scratched the surfaced, however, plus we concentrated on the new items, so another trip to California Adventure needs to happen very soon.
Please let us know what your favorites and the Festival have been and what we should try next.
Tom is the host and producer of the DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition podcast, plus Disneyland Editor of The DIS. He enjoys traveling with his wife and teenage son. At this point, their favorite destination is Alaska, with a FIFTH cruise there planned for the Summer of 2019. In his spare time he volunteers with Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and help found his son's former Cub Scout Pack. His favorite Disneyland attraction is Space Mountain.