Visitors make Lunar New Year wishes at Disney California Adventure Park

"Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession," hosted by Mulan and Mushu.
“Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” hosted by Mulan and Mushu, continues through Feb. 15 at Disney California Adventure.
(Joshua Sudock / Disneyland Resort)

There are many ways to celebrate Lunar New Year. The holiday is observed within multiple Asian and Pacific Islander cultures, each bringing their own traditions to the annual event.

“We light firecrackers when the New Year comes,” said Anaheim resident, Stephen Tran. “We go to the temple, we dance and sing and enjoy lots of traditional food.”

Tran was among the guests at Disney California Adventure Park on Jan. 20 for the opening day of the park’s Lunar New Year celebration, running through Feb. 15.

Tran visited the Lucky Wishes Wall in Paradise Gardens, where guests are invited to write their hopes for health and happiness on a small, red, Mickey Mouse-shaped piece of paper to add to the streamers of wishes.

Stephen Tran makes a wish at the Lucky Wishes Wall at Paradise Gardens Park.
Stephen Tran makes a wish at the Lucky Wishes Wall at Paradise Gardens Park at Disney California Adventure on Jan. 20.
(Sarah Mosqueda)

“We make a wish,” said Tran. “It is a tradition that we have to do every year.”

The wishes are anonymous, and many are silly, like a YouTuber wishing for more followers to their channel. Others are more personal, like a wish to get pregnant in the new year.

The Lunar New Year celebration at California Adventure has many traditions parkgoers can participate, however they choose to celebrate.

The Vietnamese Lunar calendar marks 2023 as the year of the cat, while the Chinese calendar celebrates the year of the rabbit. Both animals can be found in Lunar New Year decor throughout the park, along with bamboo, paper lanterns and lucky red envelopes.

Decorations at California Adventure highlight the tradition of lucky red envelopes for Lunar New Year.
Decorations at California Adventure highlight the tradition of giving out lucky red envelopes for Lunar New Year on Jan. 20.
(Sarah Mosqueda)

Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession features Mulan and her sidekick dragon, Mushu, as they march through Pixar Pier to Hollywood Land each afternoon and evening. The Procession features a Chinese dragon puppet, costumed warriors, drummers and dancers.

A collection of Asian-inspired dishes returns to the Festival Marketplace too.

“Disney California Adventure Park features six marketplaces, including two new ones — Bamboo Blessings and Wrapped with Love,” wrote Nicole Cantore, a digital integration specialist for Disney Global Food & Beverage, on the Disney Parks Blog.

The menu features flavors from Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, like pork and shrimp wontons served with a black garlic sauce and char siu BBQ pork bao served with pickled red onions and jalapeño. Other offerings blend Southern California flavors with traditional Asian cuisine, like the quesabirria egg roll with guajillo pepper consomé or the gochujang elote, which adds the spicy red chili paste found in Korean cooking to the popular Mexican street corn served with cotija cheese.

Local breweries are also spotlighted, with featured brews. Gingerine, a ginger wheat ale with tangerine from Placentia’s Stereo Brewing Co., is available along with a green tea rice lager from Anaheim’s Brewery X and Lunar New Year citrus IPA from Four Sons Brewing in Huntington Beach.

Sip and Savor passes are available for purchase, with six coupons that can be redeemed for food and nonalcoholic drinks at participating marketplaces and dining locations within the park.

Bok choy and mushroom dumplings  in California Adventure’s Festival Marketplace.
Bok choy and mushroom dumplings are served with a black garlic sauce in California Adventure’s Festival Marketplace on Jan. 20.
(Sarah Mosqueda)

“From sweet indulgences to savory snacks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” wrote Cantore. “All the Lunar New Year items will help you and your stomach start off the new year on a happy (and full) note.”

Live musical performances can be found throughout the park, including Melody of China at the Paradise Garden Bandstand and Korean American a cappella group Vocal Seoul at the Sonoma Terrace. Besides singing popular K-Pop songs from BTS, the latter group has been known to include a 4*TOWN song from “Turning Red” in their set list.

Nights at California Adventure usually end with a performance of “World of Color,” the water fountain show that features LED lights and high-definition projections on mist screens. For Lunar New Year a special preshow has been added to the nightly tradition. Hurry Home Lunar New Year Celebration features a score from the Academy Award-winning Tan Dun, originally created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort. The story follows Little Lantern’s journey home for New Year’s Day and also includes Mulan and Mushu.

Whether park guests are celebrating the year of the cat, the year of the rabbit or just looking for a tasty dumpling, they will have lots of luck at California Adventure’s Lunar New Year celebration.

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