Disneyland and Amazing Mariachi-style Dining Highlight Day 14 of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip

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Jo Jo The Jedi Knight at Disneyland's Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy.

On the 14th Day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip, the Ruiz clan devoted most of the day to magical discoveries at Disneyland and the night to introducing the kids to an L.A.-style, Mexican dinner complete with an awesome mariachi group.

The contrast between visiting Disneyland yesterday (a Friday) and today (a Saturday in the middle of the busy July 4th weekend) was vast because the lines were very long today.

It took us 45 minutes to get this photo taken inside Mickey's house in Toon Town. Skip Toon Town Mickey and catch him elsewhere. It won't take as long.

Despite this fact, no attraction’s line – not even the hallowed Space Mountain – exceeded 25 minutes. Speaking of Space Mountain, that ride marked the first time I had ever been on a major rollercoaster with my daughter Elena and son Jonathan.  For me, Space Mountain is one of those rides that transports me through so much history for I’ve been on that same ride with countless family and friends, some of which are no longer with us.  My nostalgic waxing aside, I think this Space Mountain feels slightly better than Orlando’s.

The kids made friends with Michael (center) from Colorado.

Another thing we liked about Disneyland (and this may now be a regular feature at Orlando’s park as well) is the fairly new concept they have called Rider Switch Pass. What this means is that my wife and toddler can let my kids and I go on a ride and wait for us at the exit.  As soon as our ride is over, she gets on the FAST PASS lane with one of my kids and she rides the same one we were just on. In addition to Space Mountain, we rode the Matterhorn’s Bobsled, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.  The highlight of our second day at the park was the Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy, an interactive outdoor show that  sent my Star Wars fan’s heart soaring.

Seeing the Man in Black sent shivers down PapiBlogger's back.

In the Jedi Academy, a couple of Jedi knights select kids in the audience to join them for training on an outdoor stage.  Jonathan was beyond giddy as he and a group of some 20 other kids were asked to don Star Wars clothing and practice jedi moves with plastic light sabers. The highlight of the show, the moment that really captured my attention, was when Darth Vader and Darth Maul come out and battle with their light sabers against all the kids.  Naturally the kids win. I left Disneyland so excited about this show (it’s also available at Orlando’s Disney) that my wife bought me a retro Star Wars T-shirt.  Truth be told, PapiBlogger felt like a kid again.


Our dear friend and PapiBlogger partner Hector Galvan of Sprint Nextel invited my family and I to join him and his family for dinner at a terrific Mexican restaurant called La Huasteca in Lynwood, CA.

Mariachi Juvenil Tapatio was off the hook. The best mariachi group I have ever heard play live in person.

As we ate some delicious Chicken Mole Enchiladas and other tasty Mexican fare the restaurant’s mariachi house band, Mariachi Juvenil Tapatio, came out to perform. All of us have seen great Mariachi bands perform before but this 12-member group was a notch above all everyone else.  One of the violinists in particular was AMAZING.  My toddler Briani discovered the Mexican part of her heritage as she danced all over the place and my son was so astonished by the amount of Spanish he heard sung that he commented, “I didn’t know there were also Hispanics in California.”  (Son, that’s why we got you out of Miami as soon as we could).

Sprint Nextel Family Road Trip Tip of the Day

21st Century road trips are not what they used to be when my grandmother Margarita and grandfather Manolo took me on my first road trip to the Kennedy Space Center in the mid 70s.  Today it’s all about GPS and OnStar (a notch above traditional GPS) but guess what?

OnStar has signed an agreement with Google that lets subscribers search for Google Maps destinations and send them to OnStar's Turn-By-Turn Navigation service.

If you are traveling any considerable distance with your family, you may not need a map but you will want one.  We bought a giant Rand McNally Road Atlas because it’s a terrific way to track, with markers, where we’ve been.  It’s also useful as a teaching tool to show the kids where we’re headed as well as the geographic features of those locations.


We took the PapiMobile for a much needed bath today at a Anaheim gas station when a problem I had never encountered started to happen inside the car wash machine: the machine’s furry bumpers kept pushing us out and was misfiring everywhere.

Please do not use machine car wash machines with your luggage still on the roof.

Angela was in the process of getting off to request a refund when the gas station attendant frantically came out to the car and politely informed us of what had damaged his machine. We had accidentally put the car to wash with the luggage carrier still connected to the roof.   DUH!

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