A Rich Culinary Heritage: The Lugo Family Legacy at Disneyland Resort 

For the Lugo family, Disney isn’t just a workplace; it is a legacy—a story deeply rooted in a culinary family tradition whispered across multiple generations and family members at the Disneyland Resort. The first of which is Juan M. Lugo Nuñez (Juan Sr.), who got his start in Food Prep at the Disneyland Hotel in 2006.

The culinary tradition did not originate with Juan Sr. but traces its lineage back five generations to his grandmother, Modesta Navarro de Nuñez. Modesta owned a traditional food stand in Yucatán, Mexico, where she served authentic Yucatán cuisine. Subsequently, Juan Sr.’s mother Tereza Nuñez de Lugo, and father Jose Ignacio Lugo, eventually opened a restaurant, La Palapa. To this day, the family still owns the restaurant and a bakery in Mexico, where Juan Sr. spent his formative years before relocating to California in 1994 to pursue his culinary dreams.

After starting his career at the Disneyland Resort, one of Juan Sr.’s most cherished memories became taking his sons to Disneyland. “Witnessing their excitement as we planned our visits always filled me with joy and pride, knowing I could provide such experiences for my family through my work at Disneyland Resort.” The enchantment of Disneyland captivated his sons, Marvyn and Juan Jr. “Growing up in Anaheim, the Disneyland Resort was an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember,” remarked Juan Jr. It was even more special knowing that their dad worked there. 

 One of the many visits to Disneyland park for brothers Marvyn and Juan Jr.

The Lugo family tree continued to spread at the Disneyland Resort, providing multiple opportunities for each generation. As of today, there are six family members working in culinary focused roles including Julissa Esquivel Lugo, a Banquets Sous Chef at the Disneyland Hotel, Julissa Espino Esquivel, an Order Cook at Lamplight Lounge, and Julio Esquivel Lugo, a Chef at Disney California Adventure park. Juan Jr. was the first to diverge from the path, embarking on a new career as an Intern in Public Relations at the Disneyland Resort. However, he remains closely connected to his culinary roots, collaborating on various food and beverage-related projects.

The Lugo family has become an integral part of the Guest experience. Every beautiful accoutrement Juan Sr. oversaw, the dishes prepped by Julio, the delectable delights at Carnation Café made with love by Marvyn, all carry forward the legacy initiated by Modesta so many decades ago. They can celebrate their heritage and continue a family tradition through their roles at Disneyland Resort.

Marvyn and Juan Sr. in the kitchen together at Disneyland Resort

“It makes me proud to see that our family continues to carry on our culinary heritage and that it never stopped at my grandparents. It means even more to bring that tradition to a place like Disneyland Resort that allows us to thrive and explore career interests,” remarked Juan Sr. Reflecting on his own son’s journey, he added, “Juan Lugo Jr., has found a love for communications, but still has a hand in helping to promote the culinary work that our family is proud of creating.”   

Today, Juan Sr. is the Executive Chef of Disneyland California Adventure park still working alongside his family—a delectable dream come true for the entire Lugo family.