With so much transformation coming to the Disneyverse in the next couple of years - a whole new land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is coming this summer and Marvel Land is coming to California Adventure in 2020 - seize the day and go now. While it might seem counterintuitive, because of course you want to catch up with the latest and greatest, this moment is the quiet before the storm. Crowds are going to be gargantuan, and I imagine the parks will have to turn people away at a certain point. Besides, Star Wars Schmarwars - I like it old school.
That said, there are plenty of new things happening all the time at the Disney Resort. New food items especially seem to be coming at a fast and furious rate. The reality of the Instagram age has hit the town full throttle and the opportunities to snap something “kawaii,” or cute, abound.
Throughout the parks, even the ubiquitous food carts have upped their game, departing from the usual ice cream bars and striped boxes of popcorn. Opt for some Mexican street food - a churro coated in chocolate or, even better, a healthy version of corn on the cob called elote. It comes with a variety of authentic components to mix and match. Slather a little mayonnaise for stickiness, sprinkle some Tajin spice, a mix of salt, lime and chili and finish with Parmesan cheese. This delicious newcomer is completely unexpected and all the more remarkable for it.
New last year, Pixar Pier’s Lamplight Lounge serves up some of the best food I have ever eaten in California Adventure. Sit outside with a view of Paradise Gardens, and if you’re lucky take in the World of Color, a fantastical combination of lights, lasers, fountains and music. Order the spinach salad for something on the healthier, yet still scrumptious, side. Topped with a soft poached egg, warm, wild mushrooms and charred onion vinaigrette, this entree is definitely filling enough to constitute a whole meal. Also delicious is the cheddar burger, fulsome with roasted plum tomatoes and avocado spread on a toasted Amish bun. Consider the game upped.
As an added bonus at the Lamplight Lounge, alcohol is available. Make like a grown up and order a Six Tentacles, a heady blend of Kikori Japanese whiskey, yuzuri yuzu, liquid alchemist passion fruit, lime, and agave nectar. Non-alcoholic drinks with a swizzle of fun include the spectacular Infinity Fizz, a combo of berry, Apple Juice and cherry pearls. The drink itself is like a special effect, with a chunk of dry ice on the bottom to make the glass bubble and smoke. The taste is reminiscent of a watermelon or sour apple Jolly Rancher and the added touch of boba balls pop on your tongue. I have never had a more fun drink.
Across the “street” in Disneyland proper, indulge at the new Tropical Hideway in Adventureland. Renowned for the extremely popular Dole Whip, and the savory Banyan Beef Skewers at Bengal BBQ, this classic portion of the park hasn’t served up much in the way of new delights until recently. Take in a quick show at the Enchanted Tiki Room before stopping by.
Color yourself surprised to find Chinese Dim Sum on offer. Choose between a spiced vegetable, lime chicken with butternut squash or Bulgogi beef with chiles. Don’t forget a dipping sauce; the gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) adds just the right amount of spice. If you’re looking for something sweet, the Filipino favorite Lumpia, reminiscent of a fried egg roll, comes stuffed with pineapple and cream cheese.
For a theme park that took decades to really dive into the food scene, Disney is really starting to make some bold and delightful choices on their menus. Delivering on snacks that are exotic and delicious is a no brainer, and just increases the good time had by everyone, adults and children alike. Surprisingly well done.