Why Lunar New Year Is One of the Best Times to Visit Disneyland and Universal Studios

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at these California theme parks.

Lunar New Year Festival Disneyland
Photo: Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

California locals know that the end of winter is the best time to visit theme parks. January and February bring smaller crowds, shorter waits, and cheaper tickets — but this season also brings an exciting celebration vacationers don’t often take notice of.

Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood go all out for Lunar New Year, filling the parks with stunning decor, themed experiences, and traditional entertainment — all with a friendly and familiar twist.

Lunar New Year Festival Disneyland
Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

From a Kung Fu Panda noodle shop you won’t believe is real to a full-fledged festival of culinary delights, it’s an under-the-radar experience most park-goers don’t know about, and it just happens to come at the perfect time to visit.

Take part in these one-of-a-kind Lunar New Year festivities from Jan. 23-Feb. 9 at Universal Studios Hollywood and Jan. 17-Feb. 9 at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort.

Experience Unique Character Interactions

Lunar New Year Festival Disneyland
Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

Character meet-and-greets abound for special one-of-a-kind mementos during Lunar New Year celebrations: Disneyland Resort hosts photo ops with Mulan, as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse sporting red Lunar New Year attire. You'll also have the chance to see Pluto and the Three Little Pigs. Plus, see the rest of the gang, including Goofy and Chip 'n' Dale in their festive outfits during Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s Master Po and Tigress from "Kung Fu Panda" will pose for photos with guests, as will Minions wearing traditional Chinese New Year outfits and Hello Kitty in a new, custom-designed look.

Dine on Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean Dishes

Hungry revelers can enjoy traditional and modern Asian cuisine at both parks, with Universal Studios Hollywood offering themed food at Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop.

Disney California Adventure launches its own mini food festival for Lunar New Year, with themed kiosks and tasting-sized portions to enjoy. This year, there will be 4 festive marketplaces where guests can try delicious food and beverages like beef bulgogi short rib and peach sojitos. Look forward to traditional Asian cuisine — with a Mickey twist, of course. In addition to the 4 food marketplaces, you'll also be able to order from a festive menu at crowd-favorite, Paradise Garden Grill.

Lunar New Year Festival Disneyland
Courtesy of Disney

See a Live Show or Parade

Megatron— yes, the "Transformers" character — will speak Mandarin with guests entering the festivities at Universal Studios Hollywood, and guests can even take the famous Studio Tour in Mandarin.

At Disney California Adventure, Mulan leads a procession of characters and performers every day, culminating in a colorful choreographed show with drummers, ribbon dancing, and martial artists.

Lunar New Year Festival Disneyland
Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort

Enjoy Celebratory Entertainment and Decor

With red lanterns strung above, plum blossom wishing trees, and zodiac touches, the parks embrace the excitement of the holiday in beautiful displays. At Disney California Adventure, guests can also make themed crafts or add a message to the Lucky Wishing Wall. Universal Studios Hollywood welcomes groups specializing in martial arts and traditional lion dances on select dates so guests can enjoy traditional entertainment.

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