The Lunar New Year celebration is underway in Disney California Adventure Park, lasting from January 20 through February 15, 2023. Excellent Asian-inspired cuisine is just one of the many offerings that usher in the Year of the Rabbit and Year of the Cat, honoring Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures. Six booths make up the Lunar New Year Marketplaces for 2023:
• Bamboo Blessings – New for 2023
• Wrapped with Love – New for 2023
• Lucky 8 Lantern
• Prosperity Bao & Buns
• Red Dragon Spice Traders
• Longevity Noodle Co.
While it is possible to purchase individual items from the Lunar New Year Marketplaces at posted menu prices, a popular alternative is to purchase a Sip and Savor Pass. Sip and Savor allows guests to pay one flat rate for a lanyard and themed credential containing six detachable tabs. These tabs can be redeemed for food items and nonalcoholic beverages from the marketplaces listed above. For 2023, the Lunar New Year Sip and Savor Pass costs $45 before tax. Magic Key holders save $3 per pass, for a total of $42 before tax, and also receive a Magic Key lanyard featuring an exclusive design. Passes may be purchased at the Sip and Savor Cart near the entrance to Cars Land, the Merchandise Marketplace stand near The Little Mermaid attraction, at Seaside Souvenirs, and at the Lunar New Year Marketplaces themselves.
A common question surrounding the Sip and Savor Pass is often “is it worth it?” Sure, the credential with its brightly-colored art and handy lanyard is a fun way to celebrate the season. But do you actually save money using the tear-off tabs instead of paying for each item separately? That’s what I set out to discover.
Doing the math showed that each of the six Sip and Savor tabs is worth $7.50 (or $7 after the Magic Key discount). To save money or just break even, the tabs should be used on items worth at least the minimum amount. The higher the menu price above the minimum, the more money there is to be saved with Sip and Savor. So then the question is, what can you get for $7.50/$7, and are those items worthwhile?
The selections below qualify for the $7.50 (or $7) minimum price tag. Notably, all of the nonalcoholic drinks and only one of the desserts are priced below the break-even point. Alcoholic beverages are not included with the Sip and Savor Pass.
• Mickey Mouse-shaped Hot Dog Bun – $7.50
• Mickey Mouse-shaped Purple Sweet Potato Macaron – $7 (break even for Magic Key only)
Wrapped with Love
• Pork and Shrimp Wontons – $8.75
• Bok Choy & Mushroom Dumplings – $8.75
Red Dragon Spice Traders
• Red Spice Fried Chicken Bites – $8.75
• Gochujang Elote – $7.50
Lucky 8 Lantern
• Quesabirria Egg Roll with Guajillo Pepper Consomé – $9
Prosperity Bao & Buns
• Pepperoni Pizza Bao Bun – $9
• Char Siu BBQ Pork Bao – $9
Longevity Noodle Co.
• Garlic Noodles – $7.50
• Spicy Pork DanDan Noodles – $8.50
About the Food
I have been privileged to sample most of the food offerings from the Lunar New Year festival, both this year and in the past, and I can say that this event offers consistently first-rate choices. All of the items above are worth trying. My favorites have been the Red Spice Fried Chicken Bites, the Char Siu BBQ Pork Bao, the Spicy Pork DanDan Noodles, and the Mickey Mouse-shaped Purple Sweet Potato Macaron. The Mickey Mouse-shaped Hot Dog Bun, Quesabirria Egg Roll, Pepperoni Pizza Bao Bun, and the Garlic Noodles are great choices for those who aren’t the biggest fans of Asian flavors, or just don’t enjoy food with a spicy kick.
When to Sip
The Sip and Savor Pass is a great idea for those who really want to dive in and experience all that the Lunar New Year festival has to offer. If at least six of the higher-priced food items above have you interested, I do recommend Sip and Savor as a good value. For those looking to score the maximum value for money, using the six tabs for each of the three $9 items* together with the three $8.75 items** will save a total of $8.25 over menu prices (or $11.25 with the Magic Key discount).
* The $9 items are the Pepperoni Pizza Bao Bun, Char Siu BBQ Pork Bao, and Quesabirria Egg Roll with Guajillo Pepper Consomé.
** The $8.75 items are the Pork and Shrimp Wontons, Bok Choy & Mushroom Dumplings, and Red Spice Fried Chicken Bites.
The nice thing about Sip and Savor is that tabs can be used across multiple trips to Disney California Adventure Park through February 15, 2023. Just remember to keep the credential safe between visits; tabs that are broken off before reaching the marketplace registers become void. Sip and Savor may be a good option if you plan to visit several times during the festival, or just plan to have one outstanding food day.
Sip and Savor is also a fantastic choice if you gravitate toward savory items instead of sweets or beverages. As the list above shows, the majority of the higher priced items are based on entrees or appetizers. Although it is definitely possible to sneak some desserts and drinks into the mix and still save money overall, the pass has its best price advantage when the tabs are used toward mostly savory items.
There is also something to be said about the convenience of the Sip and Savor tabs. Whether or not you are concerned about saving money, it is very convenient to take out your wallet only once and know exactly how much you are spending up front. Trust me when I say from experience that buying items separately can add up, especially if your eyes are bigger than your stomach. It’s possible to blow right past your budget before you even realize it. And who doesn’t love the feeling of tearing off those little tabs? It’s so satisfying to hear that little zzzzip as each one comes off (or is that just me?). The artwork on the credential is gorgeous as well. Wearing it around my neck feels like I’m part of the cool kids’ club, just for those insiders who know what’s good.
When to Skip
Despite its charm, the Sip and Savor Pass may not be the best option for everyone. I suggest that you avoid the pass if you won’t have a chance to use all six tabs. Lines for each of the Lunar New Year Marketplaces can be long, especially on weekends and at mealtimes. If you and your group are more focused on experiencing attractions or entertainment, there may not be enough time left for purchasing and then picking up food at multiple locations. Marketplaces generally close by 9pm, which may be before park closing time on the day of your visit. Over the years, I’ve been offered at least three partially used Sip and Savor credentials from other guests who couldn’t use all the tabs. Time is money at theme parks, so it’s good to think honestly about how you’d prefer to spend your day. If you don’t love the idea of hanging out in food queues, it might make sense to choose one favorite booth to visit without the pass.
Another reason to skip Sip and Savor is if the food offerings aren’t your cup of tea. If you’re not a fan of spicy food (albeit mild in most cases), prefer a plant-based diet, or just don’t love Asian flavors, you might not want to commit to ordering six items. Instead, I would recommend seeking out those dishes that sound the most appealing and purchasing them separately.
If your motto is “it’s five o’clock somewhere” and sampling alcoholic beverages is a singular priority for you, the Sip and Savor Pass may not be your best choice. The Lunar New Year celebration offers a long list of tempting adult beverages, including craft beer infused with tea, fruit, or floral flavors and cocktails featuring baijiu, soju, or spirits with tropical notes. However, because only nonalcoholic drinks are included in Sip and Savor, the pass will not be much help if you are looking to indulge. Unless you are also interested in a full complement of food to accompany the drinks, you may be better off ordering those separately.
As mentioned above, the Sip and Savor Pass is the most economical when used toward savory selections. If you have a sweet tooth and like to wash down your treats with juice, tea, or coffee, you would probably be better off skipping the pass and buying those items separately. Doing the math, the total cost for the two desserts (Mickey Mouse-shaped Purple Sweet Potato Macaron – $7 and Mandarin Mousse Cake – $6.25) plus the four nonalcoholic beverages (Coconut-Lavender Matcha Foam Iced Coffee, Dancing Firecracker, Peach Yuja-Ade, and Raspberry Oat Milk Tea – $6.50 each) equals $39.25 before tax. Using Sip and Savor tabs for all of these would actually waste $5.75 (or $2.75 after the Magic Key discount).
A fun alternative to the Sip and Savor Pass is a Lunar New Year-themed gift card pre-loaded with a set amount of cash. This can be a nice balance between the convenience of the pre-paid tabs and the flexibility to choose the items you want but not overspend. Adult beverages may be purchased using the gift card, unlike with Sip and Savor. Excess money on the gift card can be used anywhere else in the Disney Parks that day or in the future. They come with a handy wristband that can keep the card close by, similar to the lanyard.
I hope that this look into the pros and cons of the Sip and Savor Pass helped you decide what may be right for you. My biggest recommendation is to give the Lunar New Year celebration a chance and jump in with an open mind. Try some food that’s new and exciting, visit a festive character, or take in a cultural performance. You’d be surprised how one taste leads to a world of good things. Speaking on behalf of the Daps Magic team, the Lunar New Year festival is a favorite every year and not to be missed!
Will you have a chance to ring in the Year of the Rabbit and Year of the Cat at Disney California Adventure Park this year? Is the Sip and Savor Pass a sip or a skip for you? Which food offerings look the most enticing to you? Let us know in the comments below!
May you and yours enjoy a lucky, prosperous, and joyous new year!