Disney’s ‘Festival of Holidays’ showcases a variety of cultures for the season

November 21, 2016

The elves from the North Pole decorated the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure for the Christmas season, making it a place where families can visit with their boss, Santa Claus, in Anaheim, Calif., on November 10, 2016.

Celebrating the holidays of different cultures is the approach for the "Festival of Holidays" at Disney California Adventure.

Officials with the Disneyland Resort decided to honor many of the other holidays celebrated by various cultures from November to January, especially with the entertainment being offered.

"The performance groups featured at the festival give voice to their authentic cultural perspectives," said Susana Tubert, creative director of entertainment at the Disneyland Resort.

Tubert said the resort wanted to give visitors a chance to sample, through entertainment, many of the holidays this time of year, with music, song and dance.

Besides Christmas, some of the holidays represented by entertainment include Diwali, the Eastern Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, and Kwanza.

To that end, Tubert auditioned a number of entertainment groups to represent the various cultures so that visitors could "explore diverse holiday celebrations through the universal language of music and dance."

An additional offering is "Princess Elena’s Grand Musical Arrival."

"She is Disney’s first Latino princess," Tubert said.

Besides music, song and dance coming out party for the princess, the character will be available for photos too, according to Tubert.

Returning for its fourth year is the popular "Viva Navidad" street celebration.

But Christmas is the main focus, with decorations all over the theme park and a special new location for Santa Claus, in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail attraction.

"We turned Santa’s Elves loose in there, and they had fun turning it into something Santa and kids would love," Tubert said.

A Christmas bit of entertainment Tubert and others conceived are the "Holiday Toy Drummers." Four "toy soldiers" parade through the "Festive Foods Marketplace" as if they are toys, only as their performance progresses they get less rigid and start dancing more and more — until recalled to the toy factory.

Tubert also helped with the "Festive Foods Marketplace." Similar to the "Food and Wine Festival" held earlier this year, she said the idea was to offer a variety of foods representing the different cultures through what they eat.

"I’m a foodie; I tried 27 different foods and I enjoyed every bit of it," she said.

Some of the foods offered include: Southern Mac & Cheese, Adobe Pork Bao, Chile Pozole and Sweet spiced Kugel.

"There’s also plenty of desserts, after all it’s the holidays—it’s OK to overindulge," she said.

At the end of the night there is a new musical fountain show called "World of Color — Season of Light." It features a variety of classic holiday songs, as the water fountains, projections and lights play in sync with the music.

This is the first year Disney is trying this approach to the holidays, and it is only inside Disney California Adventure. Disneyland will still have the holiday overlays on It’s a Small World, the Jingle Cruise and Haunted Mansion Holiday, along with the holiday themed fireworks show and "A Christmas Fantasy" parade.

All of the holiday offerings at the Disneyland Resort run through Jan. 8.

 

 


McClatchy-Tribune Information Services