REVIEW – Is Disney California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney Worth $75

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A Touch of Disney is a ticketed event at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. In this post I’ll share my experience, review some of the exclusive food items available, and talk about some event-exclusive photo ops.

A Touch of Disney was announced on February 24, 2021. The event would mark the first time one of Disneyland Resort’s theme parks would be open since closing in March, 2020. There’s no doubt Disney wanted to emulate the success of multiple similar food events over at Knott’s Berry Farm. But bizarrely Disney waited until their California parks had been closed for almost a year to announce a similar event. Fans were excited to return to DCA, rides or no rides, and when the tickets went on sale March 5 thousands of people waited in multi-hour-long queues on Disney’s website for a chance to purchase admission. Tickets sold out and then Disney added a few extra dates due to the popularity. The next day, a bombshell announcement was made by the California government; theme parks can reopen with limited capacity starting on April 1, 2021. Disneyland Resort would then later announce a reopening date of April 30, 2021. That leaves A Touch of Disney in an awkward spot. If I would have known Disneyland and DCA were fully opening a month later, I wouldn’t have purchased an expensive ticket to a food-only event when the “real thing” was near. I’m curious if others feel the same way. I’m also curious if Disney would have even planned and held the event if they would have known what they know now about a reopening date.

Arrival

Parking is included in the cost of admission. Everyone attending must park in the Mickey & Friends Parking structure. The flyover ramp is appropriately marked for the event.

After going through a temperature check and security, everyone must walk along the space usually used as a tram route shuttling visitors to and from the parking area. The length is about a quarter of a mile. There are benches to stop along the way if you need a break.

Along the tram route you’ll find your first photo op. Two of the Autopia cars and a Honda SUV are on display.

Upon entering the park you’ll be given a guide map and a Disney gift card with $25 on it.

The Food

Food at A Touch of Disney consists of favorites from Disneyland (such as Bengal Barbecue skewers, Dole Whip, and others) and new small bites similar to what you’d see at one of DCA seasonal food events like Food & Wine. Prices range from $7 to $10 so your $25 will go quick (mine was depleated after just three items). The first item I tried was Monte Cristo Sandwich ($10) available at Smokejumpers Grill. This Disneyland classic is usually sold at Blue Bayou Restaurant and Cafe Orleans. The A Touch of Disney version is just as decadent, rich, and glorious as the classic one across the esplanade.

Another item from Smokejumpers is the S’mores Shake ($6.49). You can’t go wrong with a chocolate and vanilla shake with a little bit of graham cracker and marshmallows. This and the Monte Cristo was a HEAVY meal and I do not recommend starting your day with these two items like I did.

Next up I tried the Impossible Cheeseburger Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($8) from the LA Style booth. The best I can describe this item is imagine if you took a Big Mac (special sauce included) and then crumbled it over some mac and cheese. Not bad but also not great.

With my gift card depleted I paid for one more item out of pocket, the Pepperoni Pizza Egg Rolls ($7) from California Craft Brews booth. These were decent and I appreciated the helping of pesto sauce that was included. No other food items on the list caught my eye so I decided to move on to the photo ops. It’s worth mentioning food from any of the booths can be ordered in person from several different kiosks around the park. You’ll then get a receipt which you take to the booth to pick up your item. There’s also mobile ordering via the official Disneyland app. I used mobile ordering for all of my items and found the process to be quick and easy.

Photo Ops

There’s no up close and personal meet and greets with Disney characters available at A Touch of Disney but they do appear for selfies and other photo opportunities. Here you can see Goofy and Max fishing in Pacific Wharf.

Max catches a pair of boxers. Hilarious.

Mater is available to get a selfie with in Cars Land. Disney cast members are not allowed to touch your phones or cameras at most of the photo ops.

If you’re curious about how close you can get to the characters, here’s a zoomed in picture of Sadness from Inside Out.

And here’s what a selfie with her looks like, using a camera held at an arm’s length from my body.

Another selfie spot in Hollywood Land near Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

Chip & Dale search for acorns in Grizzly Peak.

Roz from the old Pixar Play Parade is located in Paradise Garden Park.

Some of the cars from Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters in Cars Land.

Another parade float from Pixar Play Parade.

Paradise Gardens has a nice Coco photo op.

 

The fruit stand in Cars Land is closed but nuts, bolts, motor oil, and other car parts have been placed on the shelves where human food is usually located. Nice touch.

Is Disney California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney Worth $75

No, A Touch of Disney was not worth $75. Food prices were too high, the included gift card is too low in value, and besides the few photo ops mentioned above most of the park felt like a closed theme park (because that’s what it is). Rides sit motionless, and most stores remain shuttered. I found the park to be missing life and energy. Not that I need rides to enjoy a theme park, but it felt like DCA was lacking any energy.

Considering you’re paying $50 just for the privilege’s of walking around DCA I hoped there would be even more characters, or some form of live entertainment. Was it impossible to hire a band to play on a stage with an appropriate distance from the crowd? Not even the World of Color fountains were running to provide a little motion in that area of the park.

One freebie I found, the Games of the Boardwalk were set to freeplay. Unfortunately no prizes were being distributed, although they were giving out prizes on the first day of the event when members of the media were in attendance.

That wraps up this review. It was nice to be back in a Disney theme park and I’m incredibly happy Disneyland Resort cast members can have a job again. A Touch of Disney definitely got me excited to see the parks fully operating again.

Did you think A Touch of Disney worth $75? Let me know what you thought about the event in the comments below.  

 

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Guy Selga Jr.

Disneyland writer for TouringPlans.com and co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Also a Disneyland local and appreciator of Disney theme park history. Twitter and Instagram: @guyselga

34 thoughts on “REVIEW – Is Disney California Adventure’s A Touch of Disney Worth $75

  • March 21, 2021 at 12:23 pm
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    Thanks for this! I also wish I hadn’t spent $150 on two tickets to this, when the chance of going back to parks for real is closer now — and I just planned a WDW vacation! Should have saved my money!

    I also got a 6:30 Lamplight Lounge reservation during Touch of Disney, which was exciting to find — but will we even bother with the food booths when we’re paying for a restaurant later in the day? If we’re not snacking all day, what’s the point?

    At least now we’ll go in with reasonable expectations. Thank you!

    Reply
    • March 21, 2021 at 7:32 pm
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      Hopefully you have a good visit!

      Reply
  • March 21, 2021 at 1:26 pm
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    Agreed… we were there yesterday (3/20/21) …and upon entering at security it immediately felt as if we had entered a boot camp with one individual telling us ( myself…my best friend…and her daughter) that we had to walk shoulder to shoulder..what in the world ??? Cast members were rude and you could tell they did not want to be there. As previous annual pass holders and going on a frequent basis prior to covid, I have to say this was the first time I have been turned off by the park and it’s cast. The food.. no great really. Don’t bother with the brisket mac and cheese at smoke jumpers …its kraft with meat on top…or the sliders at cluck a doodle moo… a dry patty with pickeld onion on top. They could’ve put more effort into this and I won’t bother doing this again if the opportunity presented itself. # NOT WORTH IT.

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    • March 21, 2021 at 7:31 pm
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      Thanks for the reply.

      Reply
    • April 9, 2021 at 1:44 pm
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      You may have missed it, but they told the people ahead of me that the “walking shoulder to shoulder” was for the K-9 team. They didn’t care once you were past that area.

      Reply
  • March 21, 2021 at 6:55 pm
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    I would totally agree if this was 2018 or even 2019. But after over a year of not leaving my home town for over a year I am definitely willing to pay $75 for this. There are some good tips here like what not to waste my card on. But my mind has not changed. Still happy I actually have plans on the calendar.

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    • March 21, 2021 at 7:31 pm
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      That’s a good point and definitely worth mentioning. Thanks!

      Reply
  • March 22, 2021 at 9:38 am
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    Hey Guy, we went to Mayfair and worked at blockbusters together. I enjoyed your review and it was nice to see a familiar face again!

    Reply
    • March 22, 2021 at 11:33 am
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      Cynarra! I hope you’re doing well. So good to hear from you!

      Reply
  • March 22, 2021 at 7:40 pm
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    This definitely could have been a better-run event. I guess that’s the downside of being behind the 8-ball about throwing a food event. Knott’s does it much better though it’s noteworthy that Disney’s food is freshly assembled vs. Knotts where oftentimes the food is already sitting under warming lamps.
    There was a lot of confusion about how to buy food and while I appreciated their attempt at low contact, making people line up at one of only two cashier stations ON OPENING DAY to buy food from ALL the carts was probably not their smartest idea. There was also some misinformation by Disney cast members. We were trying to figure out how to use the dining card in conjunction with the Disney app and overheard someone being told to use it as a payment method (which is correct). A few minutes later, we heard a cast member tell someone they can only use a credit card if they want to use the app to order food. Otherwise they have to line up to use the dining card that came with the TOD ticket.
    Food took longer to push out than they should have but I feel like that’s quintessential Disneyland. But I still at the end of the day appreciated being there.
    p.s. Agreed – the Monte Cristo sandwich was glorious!

    Reply
  • March 23, 2021 at 4:52 pm
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    I was there this past weekend. The mobile order process has some glitches, but other than that not too bad. Games were free and we were able to enjoy some of the food with our $25 vouchers.
    Noone really said anything about walking in any particular area or keeping a distance. Not sure why people would complain for something you voluntarily agreed to. Your ticket ends up costing $50 w/ parking. not too bad if you ask me! We all missed Disney days

    Reply
    • April 1, 2021 at 11:15 pm
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      As a LONG-time pass holder I resented having to pay for parking for each ticket. That could have been configured differently (like paying online separately. Plus many people I talked to didn’t want the hassle of waiting until 11:30 to park, so they paid $10 for the Simba parking. The food choices were not up to the level of the previous food and wine festivals we’ve attended and my wife and I felt they were a bit pricey. We do appreciate the care that they’ve taken as far as social distancing. We’ll have to see what’s in store as far as passes go when the park opens. Overall we were disappointed. Note to Disney: Please don’t try to make up your losses in the first month. Give your customers fair pricing and they will return!

      Reply
  • March 24, 2021 at 1:46 pm
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    Great after reading this now I regret spending $600 worth on TICKETS. Hopefully I can get my hands on Merchandise at least

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  • March 24, 2021 at 9:12 pm
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    This was not worth the money wasted on expressive food and tiny ass portions. Got an event that was focused on food, this was a waste of money. Other than waking around and those cheesy games, there was nothing else to do. $25 host card was a waste since it went by two food items I ordered with tiny portions. This was a total rip off

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  • March 24, 2021 at 9:13 pm
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    This was not worth the money wasted on expressive food and tiny ass portions. Got an event that was focused on food, this was a waste of money. Other than waking around and those cheesy games, there was nothing else to do. $25 host card was a waste since it went by two food items I ordered with tiny portions. This was a total rip off. Disney is nothing more than a cash machine now.

    Reply
  • March 26, 2021 at 3:40 am
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    Not worth it. Took 75+ minutes to park, get through security and walk 1/4 mile to park where food is not readily available. Reservations for restaurants and walk up at 2 full service restaurants sold out within hour of opening. Not sure if could have been done prior to entering because when tried to reserve through app, said we weren’t within vicinity of restaurant. Ordering food not intuitive and frustrating for hungry guests. Ordering through app did not accept dining payment tickets so paid by credit card because hungry. If card accepted, must type in numbers rather than scan. One of 4 payment tickets didn’t work- Said not activated. Apparently not uncommon occurrence. Waited 30 minutes to get someone to give me replacement. Hassled everyone in my party for all paper documentation. If at entry, there appears to be an issue, do not accept “come back if it doesn’t work” – don’t wait until payment is declined. Not at all the usual Disney customer service experience by most staff. If you can find someone… 25% of them wonderful, 75% of encountered staff apathetic, annoyed and unhelpful if you don’t understand, can’t find something, have a problem. Not at all up to standards I had enjoyed as a 10+ year pass holder. Felt conned. Experience far from up to par with previous Disney standards.

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  • March 27, 2021 at 12:20 pm
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    For anyone who has gone to A Touch of Disney, are they checking ID’s to get in?

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    • April 1, 2021 at 11:17 pm
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      They did not today. I showed them my ticket linked in the app and they scanned it – good to go.

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  • March 27, 2021 at 1:09 pm
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    Went on Thursday 3/25. Arrived at 12:30 so not much line to get into the park (after the very long walk with 2 kids). First round of food was ready in 20 mins. When we tried to order again around 4pm, many places were 2+ hour wait for food to be ready. I find this unacceptable – we had to use the cards up and the kids were tired and cold. Finally ordered churros with a 40 min wait in the app and then the line to “pick up” was another 20 mins. The shops by the entrance had a line that went down the block. Not sure why they couldn’t have more stores and dining open when there was such a large crowd. It seemed like too many people (way more people than had been shown in pics posted online from the previous week). Not worth the $300 (plus additional for the Girarhdelli and alcohol that couldn’t be bought with the dining cards).

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  • March 30, 2021 at 6:41 am
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    Hi I am discouraged after reading and watching video reviews about “A Touch of Disney” experiences. I have tickets for April 12th. I am taking two young kids who both have never been and are so excited. I’d hate for their first Disney experience to be disappointing. I didn’t see anyone mention their kiddos reactions/feelings. I’d also really appreciate any suggestions on what I could do in order to make it more enjoyable for the kids?

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    • April 1, 2021 at 11:24 pm
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      I have to be honest here (I don’t have kids but I’m a Disney-focused travel agent and have been to DLR and WDW many times): this is not a great opportunity for a first time visit. But, you’ve already bought the tickets. Arrive as early as possible to take best advantage of the food pick up times. Another review I read said characters tend to be out earlier in the day. (I arrived at 3pm today, and did not see any aside from Lightning and Mater). Stop and get as many Photopass pictures as possible, and also take photos at the “photo op” spots – these don’t always have a Photopass photographer but you can do selfies or see if other guests will take photos for you. Show the kids the menus in advance, have them pick a couple items they most want to try. Take time to browse the shops and let them pick 1-2 souvenirs.

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    • April 2, 2021 at 12:35 am
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      Unfortunately, it was the biggest waste of money. Cast members are rude and drill sergeants! Mobile orders take over an hour to get and you still wait in a long line. An extremely disappointing trip to say the least.

      Reply
    • April 2, 2021 at 7:59 pm
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      Oh no! I really would’ve hated for this event to be my children’s 1st experience. It is NOT indicative of the way the parks are usually run. I would wait if you could! It was not a pleasant experience and there is really nothing anyone is doing except waiting around for food!

      Reply
  • March 31, 2021 at 1:30 pm
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    We went when it was 80+ degrees outside. Not enough tables, not enough shade, prices were too hight for food for as little as you got. You could only get the receipt for some of the food and not others and still had to mobile order at a lot of places. The whole food situation was a nightmare and stressfull. We only found 2 characters aside from lightning and mater. We bought way too much. We ended up going to Knotts the next day. Knotts was amazing, half the price, generous portions, lots of tables and shade. Disney would be rated a 2 at the very most. Knotts was a very high 5!

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  • April 2, 2021 at 7:56 pm
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    I have been an annual pass holder for over 20 years and miss spending time at the parks but this event was a WASTE OF TIME! So disappointing and poorly planned. If walking a long distance is an issue you might consider parking in the Downtown Disney lot and pay the fee otherwise you will be walking from the parking structure along the whole tram route. We were fine but noticed families with small children or elderly struggled with this. Make sure you have a snack before going because the majority of food and drink options are by scheduled “mobile order only”. We got to the gate at 2pm and were looking forward to grabbing some ice cream after the long walk and the 1st available time was 530-6pm A 3 HOUR WAIT! We tried to buy ice cream at the Smokejumpers Grill closer to the entrance but again it was mobile order only and pick up was from 355-425pm! We saw that the churro cart across from the restaurant was selling water and sodas but the line to purchase was 20 people deep. Scrolled thru the food list and the 1st available food was at Cocina Cucamonga. I ordered 2 skewers and walked to Pacific Wharf. There was a long line of people who already placed orders and were waiting. 10 minutes later a busser informed us that we didn’t have to wait in line but had to check in FIRST! After check in we still had to wait 45 minutes as our “food was being prepared”. THEN when your screen turns blue to notify you that your food is ready you have to check in with another guy holding an ipad to confirm and he directs you to another line where you wait to pick your food up at the window. Almost 1 1/2 hour later we received our 2 skewers with 3 tiny cubes of chicken. Basically add 45min to an hour after the original order time on the app. Only plus was that as soon as we ate our skewers we were notified that our 1st order back at Smokejumpers was ready. I was sure to CHECK IN before walking over there. After standing in line we received our food at 445pm! TWO HOURS AND 45 MINUTES AFTER WE GOT TO THE PARK! RIDICULOUS! We left with money still left on our cards. It was way to difficult to eat anything else.

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    • April 9, 2021 at 1:54 pm
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      I could have written this myself. I had tickets for both April 1st and 2nd. On the 1st, after flying in, Ubering to my hotel, and getting settled in my room, I arrived around 3pm. No wait for security (at least from the S Harbor side) or to get in the park. I was STARVING, and totally wasn’t prepared for the mobile order system to have such a delay (was expecting a system like Universal Orlando where you order and show up whenever you want). Like you said, even just trying to get in the line across from Smokejumper’s for a darn bottle of water was 20-30 people deep. The return signs were confusing for mobile order vs paper receipt. I only stayed about an hour that day as it was also 90 degrees and I was so unbearably hot.

      The next day I was way more prepared, did 90% of my ordering via regular gift card between 11:10-11:20am while waiting in the Esplanade, and as soon as I entered the park around 11:20, sat down on a bench to do the rest of my ordering for the day with the Touch of Dining card. I wish there was a way to store the card in the app, but my big brain moment was saving the number in my notes app to just copy/paste instead of pulling the card out each time. Mobile return times started at 11:30, despite the event not “officially” beginning until 12. I was able to eat and drink everything I wanted on Day 2, and even took a late afternoon break back at the hotel before returning in the evening to finish up my snacking (accounted for this when doing the mobile ordering in the morning).

      I haven’t been to a DCA “festival” before but none of the food this time blew me away except the Fluffernutter Churro and the Gold Rush sundae at Ghirardelli. Some of the drinks were good. I guess I’ve been spoiled by Epcot’s festivals, where there’s always a couple of rave non-dessert food items.

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  • April 6, 2021 at 12:57 pm
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    Definitely not kid friendly or even adult friendly for that matter. I’m so disappointed that this was my 3 years old first “Mickey Mouse” experience. She only saw Goofy in the 7 hours we were there and waited around the rest of the time. Thank goodness she was a trooper nonetheless. The mobile only system was disastrous unless you’re a savvy tech millennial and plotted your day out beforehand. I just couldn’t predict that at 1:00 I’d want a pretzel and at 4:15 an ice cream (ridiculous).

    This event can’t compare in the least bit to Knott’s. Knott’s went above and beyond and left a lasting impression.

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  • April 9, 2021 at 4:20 pm
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    I’m going tomorrow with my boys. I didn’t know what the tickets were about. My husband surprised us thinking it was a special event of DL and DCA opening w/rides. Not the case and I didn’t know until after we purchased the tickets from a friend who couldn’t go after all. In any case, I’m happy to walk the grounds again. I’ll make the best of it, but I agree with the author of this blog, Guy and everyone who commented. I wish they would’ve posted and been more clear about what exactly the event was about and offered more incentives. A $25 gift card will definitely go very fast with things still being over priced. After reading this blog, I’m a little disappointed, but will make the best of it, take lots of pictures, and hope our experience will be a little bit better than what I’ve been reading. Seriously cannot wait till it’s open 100%.

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  • April 11, 2021 at 2:01 pm
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    Wow! I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. We are going today and I’m totally regretting it. However, my husband and I are looking at it as a rare time to spend time together just the two of us. I’ll try to put in my comments after our visit.

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    • April 12, 2021 at 12:42 am
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      So we just left. Thank you to those who suggested to order ASAP. Our wait time was 15 minutes to about 2 hours. In between I had time to shop and walk around and take pics. I suspect weekday would be less crowded. A lot of walking, good for our steps. The fried chicken was very good and monte cristo. After 6ish, it dies down a lot! Less crowded and room to watch the park a little animated. Everyone who worked there was helpful and eager to answer questions.

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  • April 12, 2021 at 12:06 am
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    I just returned home from this disastrous event. From being sniffed out by dogs to the quarter mile hike into the park, we were starving. On our way in a couple handed us their $25 food voucher and said they were leaving and didn’t want to use it. I thought wow why would you not want this? Then we we realized you have to order on the app like we were in China using WeChat and it would be an hour before we could get food or a drink, I was about to return the favor to the next jack ass who fell for this Disney cash grab. The food was awful. The cast members were rude and disinterested. This nice old man cleaning the tables told us they were short staffed while there were numerous guest relations people walking around to ensure you were keeping your mask on. There was no entertainment. No magic. It should have been free.

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  • April 12, 2021 at 11:28 am
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    How much total time did you spend in the park?

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    • April 12, 2021 at 8:27 pm
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      We were there 4-5 hours. The park emptied around 6-6:30. Plenty of places to sit down and dark enough to enjoy the park.

      Reply

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