Is It Worth Visiting the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival With Kids?

The annual Food & Wine Festival at California Adventure may seem geared towards adults, but there’s a surprising amount for kids of all ages to enjoy, too.

For years, I’ve loved the arrival of spring – it signals the return of the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, which brings celebrated chefs, mixologists, and plenty of wine to Disneyland Resort. From festival marketplaces serving up delicious California cuisine to flights of California wines and beers to special demonstrations and dinners that offer an educational element, this festival is so much fun, especially if you’re an oenophile like me.

But in the last year, my Disneyland days changed when I welcomed my first child (and suddenly, my husband and I weren’t heading to the parks for a glass of wine or fancy meal!) However, this year, I wasn’t going to let my transition from child-free Disney adult to Disney mom stop me from enjoying my favorite California Adventure festival! So, I brought my 10-month-old along with me to the 2024 Food & Wine Festival to find out what was available for families with little ones to enjoy and experience. 

To my surprise, there’s a lot for families with kids to do at the California Adventure Food & Wine Festival! Whether you’re visiting with busy toddlers, character-loving kids, or tweens and teens, there truly is something for every taste and age group. 

The Wide Range of Food Options Suits Even Picky Eaters

BBQ Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese from Nuts About Cheese, DCA Food & Wine Festival
The BBQ Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese from Nuts About Cheese was one of my son’s favorite dishes. Photo by Heather Adams

The heart of the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is, of course, the food. Each one of the festival marketplace booths serves up a mix of small, tasting-sized portions of dishes that highlight California’s diverse cuisine. At first glance, that might not seem like the food at this festival is very kid-friendly – after all, how many kids do you know who are into bourbon-flavored ice cream? – but in actuality, the menus are surprisingly tailored to every taste.

While many of the festival marketplaces serve dishes that lean more adult, there’s a wide selection to choose from. Whether your little ones prefer sweet or savory, cheesy or veggie-forward, you’ll find something they can eat (or, even better, will actually enjoy!) at the festival. 

For example, my son has just been getting comfortable with solid food and various textures and flavors, so I didn’t think he’d be interested in eating much beyond macaroni and cheese at the 2024 DCA Food & Wine Festival. However, during our visit, we actually found quite a lot of kid-friendly (and baby-friendly) options! Some of our favorites included:

  • Impossible Beef Stroganoff from Earth Eats
  • Impossible Chicken Parm Bites from Earth Eats
  • Cheeseburger Bao from California Craft Brews
  • BBQ Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese from Nuts About Cheese
  • Carbonara Garlic Mac & Cheese from D-Lish
  • Olive Oil Cake from D-Lish

When you visit the festival marketplaces, you’ll find a wide selection of options. I like that there are always staple dishes that will please both kids and adults. For example, year after year the macaroni and cheese options always satisfy every age; there’s also always a spin on chicken wings that’s great for picky eaters. 

Can’t find something your little ones will eat at the festival marketplaces? Don’t forget that restaurants throughout California Adventure also participate in the Food & Wine Festival. Some, like Paradise Garden Grill, will offer full-size portions as well as Sip and Savor tasting portions, so there are a ton of options you can try.

Food Portion Sizes Are Great for Sharing with Kids

In addition to offering an array of different dishes for every palate, the portion sizes offered during the DCA Food & Wine Festival are also nicely tailored to sharing. While the tasting portions you’ll get at the festival marketplaces might seem ideal for an adult, I found they’re perfect for splitting –– and that way, you can allow everyone in the family to try a little. Then, once you’ve found some winners, you can head back to those booths and enjoy another tasting portion, if appetites allow!

If you’re visiting with young kids who don’t typically clean their plates, the tasting portions are also particularly handy. It’s sizable enough to fill them up for a meal, or you can split a tasting portion between kids to really get some bang for your buck.

I highly recommend getting a Sip and Savor Pass – you can opt for one with eight tasting entitlements or one with four, but the larger one offers a better value! You won’t have to fuss around with cash or credit cards at each booth, and you can try a wide variety of festival foods. For a family of three, one pass should offer plenty; however, when my husband and I bring our son as well as grandma and grandpa along with us, we opt for two passes. 

Wondering if the Sip and Savor Pass is worth the investment? I broke down the cost versus the value here.

There’s Family-Friendly Entertainment to Suit All Ages

Beyond the festival marketplaces serving food and drinks, there’s also quite a lot of entertainment across the DCA Food & Wine Festival – and most of it is family-friendly! If you look at the entertainment schedule, you’ll find a mix of live music, exciting shows, and even some quieter activities that kids of various ages can enjoy (along with adults, of course).

Much of the entertainment that takes place during the Food & Wine Festival is tailored to kids! Here’s an overview of the entertainment during the 2024 festival:

  • Cookin’ with the Jammin’ Chefs, a lively musical show featuring Daisy Duck, Clarabelle Cow, and Chip ‘n’ Dale plus some truly jammin’ chefs
  • Confection Purrfection with the SuperKitties, a brand-new addition for 2024 that combines the beloved Disney Junior show SuperKitties with a fun cupcake decorating activity for kids ages 3 to 11
  • Character meet and greets, like Chef Goofy, who appears only during the Food & Wine Festival in a special kitchen-themed setup in Hollywood Land
  • Live music, which takes place in the Paradise Garden festival beer garden and right along the waterfront of Paradise Bay
  • Arts and crafts, which give kids of all ages space to create their own chef hats with crayons and a little creativity

No matter your kids’ ages, these entertainment offerings are sure to capture their attention. While some activities are only for kids of certain ages (for example, kids under 3 can’t participate in the cupcake decorating portion of Confection Purrfection with the SuperKitties, and smaller toddlers can’t exactly grab crayons for arts and crafts), most will suit all families.

When I visited with my 10-month-old, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much he enjoyed the different entertainment options. He was absolutely enthralled by a performance of Cookin’ with the Jammin’ Chefs – and I was, too, thanks to the catchy tunes and the stellar dance performances of the characters! He also loved seeing the SuperKitties and Minnie Mouse appear during Confection Purrfection, even though he couldn’t get his hands on a cupcake.

Make sure to plan time in your California Adventure Food & Wine Festival visit for the day’s entertainment! You’ll find multiple performances offered throughout both weekdays and weekends, giving you plenty of opportunities to see every show or catch live musical acts.

It’s Not All About Wine (or Beer, or Even Cocktails!)

Avocado Time Photo Backdrop, DCA Food & Wine Festival with kids
The Avocado Time photo backdrop is a great place to get some family festival photos. Photo by Heather Adams

Sure, part of the fun of the annual Food & Wine Festival is sipping California wines, trying the endless California beer selections, or participating in cool activities like winemaker seminars, mixology classes, or even a winemaker reception at Carthay Circle. While these are all adult activities I’ve participated in in years past, visiting with kids means you can’t really attend any of these – but that’s not necessarily a drawback.

Visiting the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival with kids means you’ll need to skip the reservations-only 21-plus events, but there’s still so much to experience. I’ve found that you can create some great moments without the official seminars, enjoying a glass of wine and some festival bites with the family instead. 

For example, in lieu of attending a wine tasting, my husband and I head to Sonoma Terrace with a few festival marketplace dishes; we each grab a wine or beer and sit on the cushy lounge chairs with our son as we all share some bites. There’s room for little ones to stretch out and play (and the shaded seating is perfect for infants and toddlers to nap!) while you enjoy some of the adult festival offerings.

If your kids want to try some sips of their own, there are plenty of nonalcoholic options across the festival! You can easily order them a special drink of their own, like the Kiwi-Apple Lemonade from Cluck-A-Doodle-Moo or Strawberry Horchata from Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, to enjoy while the whole family relaxes. 

Ultimately, whether you plan to spend an entire day dedicated to exploring the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival with kids or just try some of the offerings during your springtime visit, I think you’ll find there’s plenty to do, see, and eat – no matter your age!

Thanks to Disney for inviting us to the opening day of the 2024 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, where we got to experience the festival marketplaces and exciting entertainment like Cooking with the Jammin’ Chefs and Confection Purrfection with the SuperKitties.