A Touch of Disney is a limited time, ticketed food festival at Disney California Adventure Park. Tickets went on sale back on March 4th, and sold out in a few hours. The first day of this festival was March 18th, and it is running Thursdays through Mondays until April 19th. If you already have your tickets, you are in luck! I attended the festival on March 21st, and here is what I learned about how to make the most of your time during this festival.
Get there well ahead of opening! Gates may open 30 minutes early! The published times for the festival is 12 pm to 8 pm. We were staying a hotel on Harbor Boulevard, just a few minutes walk to the east entrance of Disneyland. We headed over at 10:15, went right through security, and were directed to the west side of the Esplanade to the ticket booths. There my husband went into line while the rest of us went into Downtown Disney District for beignets at the Jazz Kitchen Express and coffee (TIP! Always mobile order!) at the east Starbucks. We joined him back in line, and just before 11:00, we were ushered from the ticket booths into the Esplanade to line up at the Disney California Adventure Park gates. Right at 11:30 (30 minutes early!), they began to let us in.
If you are using the free parking that comes with your event ticket at the Mickey & Friends garage, it does not open for parking until 11:30. If you want to take advantage of the early opening, the driver can drop off everyone else at the Harbor Boulevard drop off point to get in early. The driver will then need to catch up with the rest of the party once inside. My friends decided they would rather maximize their time and they spent the $10 to park at one of the hotels offering parking in lieu of using the free parking.
DOWNLOAD THE DISNEYLAND APP!! I cannot stress this enough. The Disneyland app will save you so much time! All food, unless you have a dining reservation at Carthay Circle or Lamplight Lounge, will be via mobile order. You can mobile order from the App on your phone or you will have to wait in a line to use one of the Disney order kiosks. Don’t wait in line to order at a kiosk just to wait again to get your food! Download the app. Please.
Start in the back and move to the front. Most guests will start looking for things to do and eat as soon as they arrive. We did the opposite. We are Legacy Passholders, so we headed first to the Legacy Passholder Corner to collect our special Legacy Passholder-themed magnet and button, and take our picture with a Disney California Adventure Park 20th Anniversary-themed photo opportunity. Lines for the photo grow during the afternoon, so visit early. It is open from 12 pm to 6 pm in the Paradise Gardens across from the Silly Symphony Swings. From here, we moved onto the Pier to enjoy the carnival games. On the first day, they were giving away prizes to the winner, but the day we went, nothing was being awarded. Since then, they have given away special buttons to the winner, so it is worth checking out early when there are no lines.
Take advantage of the photos opportunities! Don’t forget that PhotoPass is included with your ticket! Use those photographers and get a great picture for your 2021 Holiday Card. There are plenty of photo opps around the park that don’t have a photographer too, so take selfie, set a timer or have a friend take it. It isn’t often you can take great photos without loads of people around!
Use up your dining card. Or not. You will each get a $25 dining card when you enter the gate. To spend this, you will either enter the code as payment into the mobile app or you can give it to your server if you are eating at Lamplight Lounge or Carthay Circle. The cards are also honored at snack carts! $25 will by you quite a few churros. So spend away!! But if you don’t spend it, you can use it again later if you come back to Touch of Disney, or hold onto the card and use it when the Parks reopen. They don’t expire!
Speaking of the dining card, there is are a few hangs up with it. You can only enter one card at a time per mobile order. For us, that meant we either had the balance above what the card covered put onto our credit card or we made multiple smaller orders. It is a bit of a pain because the 16-digit code does not save in the app so you have to put it in each time you order. If you have a dining reservation or are craving snacks from the carts, just save the card and use it for that meal to save a bit of time putting into the mobile order. Also, if you are ordering any alcohol with your mobile order, the card will not be allowed to be used as payment. You have to use the credit card linked to your account in the app.
Eat! Eat! Eat!! There is a lot of eat here. Spend some time reading the Food Guide to A Touch of Disney to get acquainted with all the choices. Our favorites included:
- Golden Dreams – Carbonara Mac ‘n Cheese with white cheddar cheese sauce topped with Nueske’s Bacon, Parmesan, and red pepper panko crumbs and Strawberry-Rose Lemonade (non-alcoholic)
- Smokejumpers Grill – Brisket Mac ‘n Cheese with creamy mac ‘n cheese, smoked barbecue brisket, pickled red onions and crispy fried shallots, ½ Monte Cristo Sandwich with sliced turkey, ham and swiss fried in a light batter, dusted with powdered sugar and served with berry purée (from Blue Bayou Restaurant), frozen Coke with rum
- Cocina Cucamonga – Asian-style Beef Barbacoa Street Tacos – Braised Beef with Pickled Onions, Ginger, Cucumber and Serrano Peppers in Corn Tortillas (these had some kick!) and Banyan Beef Skewer – Hot and spicy (from Bengal Barbecue)
- Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop – Ocean Beach Sundae – Vanilla ice cream, sea salt, caramel sauce, and handmade hot fudge topped with whipped cream, sea salt, and a Ghirardelli SQUARES Milk Chocolate (Ghirardelli’s does not honor the dining card, but will give you a Legacy Pasholder Discount)
Take a break and come back! Your ticket is good all day! So if you are staying nearby, you may exit the Park, rest at the hotel, and return later in the day. However, if you going into Downtown Disney District, there is no direct exit from the Park. You will need to take the exit at the gates, turn left and head into Downtown Disney District. On heavily attended day, like weekends, you can expect a wait to enter Downtown Disney. You can also leave and reenter the parking structure if you parked at the Mickey & Friends garage.
If you want help booking at a hotel or planning your Disneyland Resort vacation (California Residents only for now), be sure to contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel for a free vacation quote.
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