Day 29 of Family Road Trip from Miami to Alaska: A Big California Adventure and a Luau

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On the 29th day of our family vacation we visited Disney’s California Adventure, a theme park that is much bigger than it’s state-specific name suggests and that also is home to three of our top five favorite attractions from ANY Disney park.

Plankiando with Minnie was one of my day's highlights. It was my honor to do it for her!

California Adventure

California Adventure, launched in 2001, is a 55-acre theme park located adjacent to Disneyland.  Built on land that was formerly Disneyland’s parking lot, the theme park resembles various aspects of California including its culture, landmarks and history.

The park is undergoing major construction for the 2012 launch of Cars Land, which will bring three new attractions as well as the new Carthay Circle Theater, a replica of the movie house where Walt Disney debuted  “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”  Carthay Circle Theater will be the park’s new iconic structure.

California Screamin

A month after bestowing the best roller coaster award to Hollywood Studio’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, our family discovered it’s new favorite: California Screamin.

From start to finish California Screamin feels like a rocket-propelled missile of loops, dips and turns.  We were so addicted to this ride that we got on it three consecutive times!

Soarin’ Over California

Soarin’ Over California, the giant glider ride that takes you soaring through some of California’s most scenic places, originated in this theme park but is now also at Epcot, where we first rode it.  Soarin’ is so awesome that it has won the amusement park industry’s top award for best ride but what I think is most compelling is the potential it would have if it was retooled by Disney to include more soaring experiences, similar to what Disney did with Star Tours and its 54 different scenes.

World of Color

If you’ve been to Las Vegas you’ve more than likely seen the world renown dancing Fountains of the Bellagio.  Every night at the top of the hour the famous fountains synchronize light with contemporary or classical music to dazzle thousands of spectators.

The World of Color, California Adventure’s signature nighttime spectacle, is like the Bellagio’s world famous fountains only much better. This stunning show features a celebration of Disney’s biggest animated movies through synchronized water, light, animation and music like you’ve never seen anywhere.   We absolutely adore the World of Color so much that we believe it is not only the best nighttime spectacle of any Disney park but that it is also the best spectacle of ANY theme park in the country.   This show alone is almost worth the full price of admission to California Adventure.

Other Top Hits of California Adventure

If you have a little princess in your house, you have to take them to see The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, this year’s newest attraction at California Adventure.

The attraction features a slow moving ride aboard a giant clam shell that takes you through different scenes from the movie and includes high energy songs from the film (Think “It’s a Small World” meets “Little Mermaid” and you have the picture.

Given that we visited California Adventure in the middle of the summer it was great to know that the park has a ride for getting wet.  (Yes, that’s why these types of ride are so popular).  The park’s official “wet ride”, the Grizzly River Run, was useful for refreshing ourselves in the midst of the heat.   (Another great way to stay cool is to buy one of the portable water bottle fans that are sold throughout the park).

Another highlight of our visit was the Tower of Terror.  This is one of our favorite rides because my kids love to be scared and my wife and I just plain love anything related to “The Twilight Zone.”

Mariachi Divas

In midst of all the rides and shows we also had the chance to taste a little bit of the park’s Latin flavor by meeting, singing and dancing with the famous Mariachi Divas.  The Mariachi Divas is a group of talented, Latina Mariachi players that serenade visitors several times daily.  (The Mariachi-style version of the Mickey Mouse theme song sounds especially interesting).

Bloggers Luau

After a day packed with rides and fun, Disney’s public relations team invited me to attend a private Polynesian-style reception for bloggers so I could preview Disney’s newest resort: Aulani in Oahu, Hawaii.

After our blogger Luau We got a preview of the Disney resort in Hawaii, Aulani.

Another preview photo of the soon to launch Aulani resort in Hawaii.

Even though I was the only guy blogger in a room of 20 or so bloggers I felt a warm welcome from all the ladies and even got the honor to hang out with several respected Latina bloggers like Brenda Cisneros (Mejorando Mi Hogar), Monique Frausto (Blogs by Latinas), Rory Lassanske (Mama Contemporanea), Eva Smith (Latina Mom Bloggers / Tech.Food.Life) and Dariela Cruz (Mami Talks).

We snuck into Disneyland's Toon Town for a quick photo with Mickey and our Latina blogger friend Eva Smith.

During our brief photo shoot with Mickey we ran into Eva Smith (Latina Mom Bloggers/Tech.Food.Life), Brenda Cisneros (Mejorando Mi Hogar) and Rory Lassanske (Mama Contemporanea).

The most embarrassing but fun moment of the reception was when we did a luau dance.  Even though I don’t know how to dance a lick I enjoyed the luau dance because everybody was learning alongside me, the music is relaxing and the dance moves are smooth.  I can’t explain it but Luau dancing is the way to go for me!

Aulani is a gorgeous beachside resort that combines Oahu’s natural beauty and comfort with opportunities for exploring and adventure.  The timing of Aulani’s upcoming launch couldn’t be better for me personally because next year my wife and I plan to celebrate our fifth anniversary in Hawaii, where we had our honeymoon.   (We only hope Mickey and Minnie will have us over to celebrate next year).

After networking time (I particularly enjoyed meeting Theme Park Mom) and our luau, we were taken to dine at the Napa Rose restaurant of the Grand Californian Resort, easily the top fine dining venue of the entire Disneyland Resort.  We ate a Lobster “Martini” with Avocado and Mango-Lime Vinaigrette for our appetizer, a California White Shrimp Paella as our entree and a “dessert trilogy” of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Pate, Lemon Cheese Cloud Cake and Rustic Wine Country Croustada.  The highlight of our meal was having all 20 bloggers photographing their plates prior to each meal so they could upload their photos to Twitter and Facebook.  That’s what always happens when you get bloggers together to eat.

DISCLOSURE: Disney Resorts and Buick are proud sponsors of the PapiBlogger Making Memories Family Road Trip.  This year’s PapiMobile is a 2011 Buick Enclave.

Our dinner menu at the Napa Rose.

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