What is the Touch of Disney Event?
Disneyland has been closed for a year now, and they’re coming up with clever ways to bring workers and visitors back to the resort. I just attended the opening day of the brand new Touch of Disney event.
Touch of Disney is a unique food event that is happening at Disney California Adventure. It will be a lot like the Food and Wine event, with the focus being on food and drink. Attractions will not be open. However, the Disneyland reopening date has been announced!
Attendees will be able to visit food and drink marketplaces, eat at some DCA restaurants, and can do some souvenir shopping. There will also be some unique photo opportunities with characters.
What are the Dates for the Touch of Disney 2021?
Touch of Disney begins on March 18th, 2021. The event is happening each week, Thursday to Monday through mid-April. The event runs from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
How to Buy Tickets
Tickets went on sale on March 4th, 2021. There was a virtual queue line system enacted from the website to purchase tickets. There was a ticket limit of 8 per purchaser. The event is now sold out. Tickets cannot be purchased at the ticket booths.
The cost is $75 for guests age 3+ and includes:
- $25 A Touch of Disney Dining Card redeemable for food and nonalcoholic beverages at select dining locations within the Disneyland Resort (subject to restrictions including not being valid for alcohol purchases),\.
- Parking for the event in the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure beginning at 11:30 am.
- Unlimited digital downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos captured during the day of the experience.
What to Expect on Arrival
Parking at the Mickey and Friends parking garage is included with the event ticket. I’ve heard from a Disneyland source that due to bottlenecking delays on the first day they will be opening the garage earlier than 11:30 am as stated. After parking, you’ll be directed to walk along the typical tram route as there are no trams operating.
If you’re staying at one of the Harbor Blvd hotels — like I did — there it’s an easy walk to the resort entrance from the Harbor Blvd entrance. This entrance is not busy at all and of the three times I entered I didn’t have a single wait and walked straight through all the checks.
All guests who are arriving at the resort, whether to go to Downtown Disney or to attend Touch of Disney will pass through three levels of screening. The first is a temperature check, where a cast member will take your temp with a touchless digital thermometer. Next, you’ll walk past a K-9 patrol. Lastly, you’ll come to the security bag check where you’ll have your bags inspected and walk through a metal detector.
After clearing the screenings you’ll line up to enter Disney California Adventure. You’ll need to have your Touch of Disney ticket barcode ready to be scanned at the turnstiles. At the turnstiles you’ll be given a Touch of Disney printed park ticket and a $25 Dining Card. Don’t forget to grab a printed map as well.
Touch of Disney Map
As I mentioned above, you’ll want to grab a map to help you locate all of the great things to eat and photo-op spots. It also has the Touch of Disney menu for the food locations.
Things to Eat at Touch of Disney
Grab a snack dish at one of the six marketplaces – these marketplaces are the same as Disney California Food and Wine Festival. Much of the food is the same, but some dishes have been shifted around.
The popular Carbonara Mac & Cheese with Bacon is back and you can get it at the Golden Dreams marketplace. And the California Craft Brews marketplace is back serving some awesome California beers. And you can’t leave without enjoying the Very Very Berry Mickey Waffle at the D•Lish Marketplace.
Disney California Adventure Restaurants
There are seven restaurants open for the event, along with various popcorn, churro, and snack carts. Check out the options at Award Wieners, Cozy Cone Motel, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, Sonoma Terrace, Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats, Poultry Palace, and Smokejumpers Grill.
They’ve even placed some of the popular event food at the restaurants. The Asian-style Beef Barbacoa Street Tacos which are normally at the LA Style marketplace are found at Cocina Cucamonga for Touch of Disney.
And New Orleans Square food fans will be excited to know that the Monte Cristo sandwich is on the menu at Smokejumpers Grill. The Impossible Chili Waffle Fries at Smokejumpers are also fabulous for even non-vegetarians.
If you’re a margarita fan I have to say that the Pineapple (seasonal) Margarita at Cocina Cucamonga is delish! And I was happy to note that I could tell it had alcohol in it. :) My friend got the Blue Angeleno Cocktail at Smokejumpers and she said it was tasty and well mixed as well.
And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, check out the S’mores Shake at Smokejumpers or the Carrot Cake Funnel Fries at Award Wieners. The Carrot Cake Fries actually tasted a bit like churro fries with a cream cheese frosting.
Reservations at Carthay Circle and Lamplight Lounge
The day that reservations opened for these two restaraunts during the Touch of Disney event dates they were snapped up fast. It never hurts to check each day and especially the day before you’re planning to attend as some poeple might cancel their reservations.
They do offer walk up standby reservations, however you can expect the wait to be substantially long. We had a 3:45pm reservation for Lamplight Lounge and didn’t get seated until about 4:30pm. We left just after 6pm, so keep in mind that it will take a chunk of your 12:00-8:00 event time.
I will say that the Spotlight Nachos: Barbacoa were amazing! They’re different than the popular Lobster Nachos that most people know about.
What to Do at the Event?
Character Spotting and Photo Ops
While I don’t typically take time to wait in long lines for photos, the limited capacity of the Touch of Disney event meant that there were practically no lines at the photo spots around the park.
In Cars Land I was able to get some cute photos with Lightning McQueen and Mater. And in Hollywood Land, there was a cute photo op set up for WandaVision fans. I especially loved the Mickey hand D23 mural photo op that is at Pacific Wharf.
You’ll also want to keep your eyes out for some characters at the event. Goofy and Max were fishing from Pacific Wharf. Joy and Sadness were carrying memories at the Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind. And if you peek up at the Silly Symphony Swings you might even see Mickey and some of his friends.
Also keep in mind that your Touch of Disney ticket includes unlimited PhotoPass during the event. There are PhotoPass photographers at a few spots around the park, but not at each of the special photo spots. For safety reasons cast members will not be able to take your photos with your phone.
If you’re a Legacy Passholder, there is a special photo op for you at the back of Paradise Gardens. You’ll also be given a Legacy Passholder magnet and pin. Just make sure you visit before they close at 6pm.
Disney Visa Card Holders
If you have a Disney Visa Card, you’ll also find a special cardholder exclusive photo op from 2pm-5pm near Grizzly River Rapids.
If you’re craving some new Disney merch you’ll be happy to get to go back inside some of the shops at DCA. Along Buena Vista Street, Elias & Co and Trolley Treats are both open all the way through although you enter at one end and exit at the opposite. The shops close at 8 pm, however, if you’re inside shopping you’re able to complete your purchase.
Pixar Pier Games
We were surprised to find that they opened the Pixar Pier games for free play during the event. I’ve heard from a source that this will continue throughout the event. However, you may not be able to win prizes with the free play. You can play a Wall-E Space Race, Heimlich’s Candy Corn Toss, or Bullseye Stallion Stampede. The games are sanitized between plays.
Tips for Touch of Disney You Need to Know
Bring a Phone Charger
Disney is pushing using the Disneyland App for mobile ordering all food. Including marketplace food. This means that you’ll likely be on your phone a LOT. If you’re planning to stay the whole day I recommend you bring a battery charger for your phone.
You can also use the Fuel Rod system that is an exchange system located throughout the Disney Parks. You’ll pay $30 for a Fuel Rod and then be charged $3 each time you swap for a newly charged Fuel Rod.
If you’re familiar with mobile ordering at Disney Parks you’ll know that the timing can be tricky and you might have a substantial wait for your food. You’ll use the Disneyland App to access Mobile Ordering. Then each of the marketplaces and restaurants will be listed with pick-up times. Most of the time slots will show a 30 minute time window.
You’ll select your time slot for the restaurant and then select what you want to order. When you check out you’ll be given the option to pay with Apple Pay or Checkout. If you go through the checkout page you’ll be able to add your Disney Dining Gift Card number. Don’t forget that you can’t use the Disney Gift Card for alcoholic drinks, so you’ll need to order those separately.
After you place your order you can make your way to the restaurant during your order time slot and use the app to let the restaurant know that you’ve arrived. When ready, you’ll be sent a notification telling you to pick up your food (sometimes they’ll give you a specific window to pick it up from). There is a chance you might have a wait behind others who also have food ready to pick up.
The restaurants also have QR code signs in case you don’t plan in advance and walk up to order food.
If you don’t want to use mobile ordering or have a special payment method, you can order food at one of the Marketplace Cashier locations. There aren’t too many of these but I noticed one near the D•Lish marketplace near Buena Vista Street. There was another near the Little Mermaid attraction.
Stationary Eating and Drinking
One of Disney’s safety precautions is that you’re not allowed to walk around while eating and drinking. I’m happy to report that DCA added a lot of seating and standup tables throughout the park to allow you to sit or stand to eat and drink your food.
As the nights to get cool, you’ll probably want to bring a backpack and pack along a jacket or sweatshirt for the evening. Although getting cold is always a good excuse for some shopping. But lockers are not open, so expect to carry around your bags and jackets. A good reason to save shopping for the end of the day.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this new event! And let’s all look forward to Disneyland reopening soon!