Disney announces food festival at California Adventure Park

Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park, partially reopened for outdoor food and shopping with new COVID-19 guidelines in place
Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park, partially reopened for outdoor food and shopping with new COVID-19 guidelines in place
Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images (Getty Images)

Back in March 2020, both Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and its adjacent sister park, Disney California Adventure, closed amid pandemic concerns, and have not reopened since. The rides have not operated, not even in limited capacity. This is significant, because Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, only stayed shuttered from March to July 2020, and has operated continuously ever since (though with varying levels of precautions in place). This week, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the park’s opening, Disney California Adventure has announced it will host a limited-time ticketed food and beverage event in mid-March—perhaps a tentative step toward restoring full park operations. The Orange County Register has the story.

“Currently planned to begin mid-March, we will debut an all-new, limited-time ticketed experience, focused on our world-famous food and beverage offerings from around the resort, the latest merchandise and unique, carefully crafted entertainment experiences,” wrote Disneyland president Ken Potrock in a letter to cast members (read: park employees). California Adventure typically hosts a food and wine festival each spring, but this new event sounds like a distinct experience intended to replace it.

The Register notes that between the employees needed to staff this upcoming food festival and the workers who have already returned to Buena Vista Street (another shopping and dining area within the resort), the plan puts nearly 1,000 people back to work at the park. There will be no attractions or parades as part of the event, though there will be “some entertainment.” Maybe this means an abundance of walkaround characters?

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There’s not a whole lot to announce yet—Disney didn’t specify a cost for this ticketed event, nor a name for the event, nor how long it would run, nor the food, drinks, and/or entertainment that could be expected, nor the safety protocols that would keep it from becoming a superspreader event. But the bare-bones announcement is still significant, because it shows that Disney’s California parks could be on their way toward resuming normal operations, perhaps even using the festival as a test case for how to maintain safety amid a pandemic that’s still raging across California and beyond. For now, at least, the actual fun parts of the park remain closed.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

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Yesterday was DCA’s 20th anniversary, and to celebrate that same feeling from opening, almost nobody was there and even fewer wanted to go back.

Disneyland president Ken Potrock, whose name sounds like a bad Flintstones parody, has presided over the park for exactly zero operating days. He was handed the job after COVID started, making him the 4th park president in 4 years. He’s been very angry at the state government for not letting his resort kill more residents and tourists. I wouldn’t trust him to watch my iguana, much less with the lives of thousands of people.