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Disney or Universal or Knott's: Who Had the Best Food Event?

March 21, 2021, 4:41 PM · Which southern California theme park did the best job with its food festival?

In the past week, I visited both the Taste of Universal event at Universal Studios Hollywood and the A Touch of Disney event at Disney California Adventure. I skipped the chance to visit The Taste of Knott's Boysenberry Festival at Knott's Berry Farm, so I hope that someone who did go to that event will jump into the comments with a report.

As for Disney v. Universal, Disney charged $75 for its event, which included free parking, unlimited Photopass downloads and a $25 gift card for use at the Disneyland Resort. Universal's event was just $44-54 (depending upon the day of visit) and included five food or beverage items from select locations on the park's Upper Lot. Universal isn't charging for parking now, so that wasn't an issue. (Update: Universal is charging $10 now - see comments.)

I know that the primary appeal in both cases is the opportunity to get back inside these themed spaces, rather than simply enjoying the food. But on value for the prices charged, Universal won the head-to-head battle, at least for me.

You could get far more food for less money at Universal, and - frankly - I think that Universal's Upper Lot includes better themed immersive environments than Disney California Adventure offers. Getting a Butterbeer and a fish n' chips in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter beats a bread cone at Disney's Cars Land. Super Silly Fun Land and Springfield beat Pixar Pier and Hollywood Land, too. Now if this had been Disneyland versus Universal rather than California Adventure, my reaction probably would have been different.

But it wasn't. The one point I would give to Disney was its support for mobile ordering, which helped me to skip the inevitable queues at Universal. You still had to wait for food at Disney, but it was nice to find your own space in which to do that.

Obviously, enough fans thought these events were worth their prices, since so many of their dates have sold out. All of Disney's event is booked, and Universal added extra dates to its event, too. But I think it's still interesting to ask which of these three events delivered the most for the money that they charged.

If you missed our coverage, see what I had to say about Taste of Universal and A Touch of Disney. Each report includes video from the event, too. And here's our preview of the Taste of Knott's Boysenberry Festival, too.

For the record, Six Flags Magic Mountain also held a special event this month with its drive-through Cruis'n the Park Car Show. But that event was so different from the events at Disney, Universal, and Knott's that I didn't think it fair to include in the vote. But if you went to that event, I would love to hear what you thought about it, too.

Trip reports welcomed in the comments.

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Replies (3)

March 22, 2021 at 4:22 PM

I can only speak for Taste of Boysenberry Festival and Taste of Universal: Of the 2, Knott’s did a much better job. The food selection is great, all food items are made to order, and the food doesn’t get cold seconds after receiving them.

Also, Universal has started to charge a $10 parking fee(Free after 5pm) to all guests this past Friday due to the Universal Cinema opening up.

March 22, 2021 at 4:29 PM

Thanks for that update.

March 22, 2021 at 11:52 PM

Knott's has been doing a great job with their festivals. It's the cheapest option ($45 with a 10% passholder discount option), has the widest variety of food that they've been changing for each event, they added a ton of seating to eat in the park that's very socially distanced, the food quantity for each item has been solid (Universal is similar on this front), and they allow you two use two of your included items for alcohol.

They also have a craft fair with outside vendors as part of the event too (which is also something they do regularly for other events, especially around Christmas).

The entertainment side is also very strong with what they've been doing.

Mind you Knott's has the most experience running these events to this point, but it shows in what they're doing.

Taste of Universal was good and I enjoyed it, but I don't need to go multiple times (fortunately they are honoring pass parking now that they're charging, and it's still free after 5p if you're just going to CityWalk, with the standard rebate for AMC).

I'm going to Touch of Disney, and from what I've seen I will enjoy it, but it's a bit pricey for what you're getting (both on the food and entry front).

I don't regret doing any of them, but I'm also doing Knott's the most (I've attended each of their festivals at least twice, and more for some of them including this one). To me especially if you factor in value, Knott's wins hands down.

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