As the 2023 Lunar New Year Festival begins for many Asian cultures worldwide, two theme park moguls are getting in on the celebration: Disney and Universal Studios.
Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated in many parts of Asia based on the zodiac calendar, commemorating wishes for prosperity and good fortune. For the Chinese Zodiac calendar, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, while for the Vietnamese calendar, it is the Year of the Cat.
Of course, theme parks are no strangers to celebrations, such as the Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary, which ends in March, or the Disney 100 Years of Wonder coming to Disney Parks worldwide on the 27 this month. Moreover, theme parks have begun to offer limited-time entertainment and dining menus during the Lunar New Year, including Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland Resort.
For example, at Universal’s Hollywood & Dine location, Guests can sample tasty treats like the Long Life Sugar Doughnut, Fortune Cookie Frappe, Lucky Lotus Cocktail, Cherry Cheesecake Rabbit, Golden Mango Tea, Year of the Rabbit Almond Cookie, and Peachy Rabbit Cocktail (or mocktail). Plus, savory delights abound, like the Prosperous Steamed Fish Bowl, Secret Ingredient Noodle Soup, Creamy Sesame Noodle Salad, a Korean-inspired corn dog, Pork Ramen, and Teriyaki Chicken Bowl.
Similarly, Disneyland has commemorated the New Year since 2013, offering a festival on par with Walt Disney World’s Festival of the Arts, which offers six unique booths serving fusion fare with an Asian flair and exclusive rare character meet and greets. Unlike Universal, whose menu seems to stay closer to the traditional flavors, Disney combines Asian dishes with other cultures, such as Mexican and Italian cuisine.
Does this make Universal’s Lunar New Year menu “better?” Importantly, while Disney’s festivities have evolved into a huge month-long celebration with unique outdoor dining options, entertainment, and merchandise, Universal has scaled down its event for 2023.
In fact, Universal does not list Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop, where Guests could meet with characters from Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda (2008), such as Po, Mr. Ping, Tigress, and sample Po’s Dumplings and the Oogway Egg Roll. Also missing are the Mandarin-speaking Megatron Transformer, Hello Kitty, and Minions from the Despicable Me series. Hopefully, despite the lack of information on its website, Universal Studios will still decorate the central plaza of its Upper Studio Lot for the celebration, including traditional entertainment and the Lunar New Year Wishing Tree.
However, without these additional offerings, it’s hard to say which one is “best,” so Guests will have to try both for themselves. Universal Studios Hollywood offers its Lunar New Year Festival from January 19 until February 28, 2023.