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Thursday Treasures

May 16, 2013

Pedro's Favorite Things Week: My Favorite Disney Theme Park Memory

Since this week is all about my favorite Disney things, I decided to do something for Thursday Treasures: highlight my all-time favorite Disney theme park memory. As you may probably know, last year I went to the Walt Disney World resort for the first time in my entire life. Needless to say, it was a dream come true. It was a trip that generated a lifetime of memories. And yet, one of them stands out the most...

No, it isn't me witnessing Cinderella Castle for the first time...

No, it's isn't meeting Mickey and Minnie for the first time...

No, it isn't me winning the animator's drawing on my first drawing lesson...

No, it isn't meeting Belle, aka my favorite Disney Princess...

Collage of characters 

These moments are beyond awesome, and create one amazing first trip to Disney story. So, which memory is my favorite, then? Believe it or not... it is setting foot on Disney's Animal Kingdom for the first time ever. I know that for many, Animal Kingdom is the weakest park at the resort, and thus many people often leave it out because they would rather go visit the Magic Kingdom instead of learning about animals. Since I had plans later in the evening, I decided to do Animal Kingdom first since that tends to close a little earlier than the other parks, and doesn't have as many things to do. So on a very warm Sunday morning, after I had rested and unpacked my stuff, I headed down to catch a bus to the park.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

I finally arrived to the park, they checked my bag, they scanned my finger and park ticket, I entered the park, and... I stood there completely awe struck by it all. It was a really odd mix of confusion, lack of direction, and astonishment. While hundreds of park guests were walking right past me, some with crying kids, other just as lost as I was, and others were just walking like it was nothing. But I must have been that one guy that stood in the middle of it all with his mouth wide open. At that point, I was no longer in Puerto Rico, heck I was no longer in Orlando, I was at the Walt Disney Resort, and I was engulfed in one of its many stories.

I kept walking past all the shops, all the signs, and all the cast members, and I couldn't stop and be entranced by it all. That was the start of a real experience, one that I wasn't living out through the reports of other people, pictures, videos, and podcasts, I was actually there. My feet were leading me through this now very real park. It was a lot like when Dorothy enters Oz and realizes that she isn't in Kansas anymore, and the bright colors invade the film after many minutes of brown. Only now I was in the middle of a wild animal story, and everyone looked and played the part. I was even taken aback by the fact that cast members wished me a happy birthday, all because I wore my button that day. And all of that was topped by one thing... seeing the Tree of Life for the first time ever.

Tree of Life

When I finally saw it, my eyes blocked everyone and everything out just so I could stand there and witness something incredibly beautiful. It was the moment that made me realize that my 30 year dream was a reality now, and that it was a build up to something much more spectacular. I was so taken by it that my heart lead me to the attraction it housed: It's Tough to be a Bug. That's when I made personal history and made that show the very first Disney attraction I had ever experienced. It was a really great moment of sensory overload as the bugs sang, sprayed stuff at us, we were swatted, the spiders came down from the darkness and somehow Flik assured us that everything would be fine in the end. I walked out of that attraction with a huge smile on my face. Who cares that a stink bug just farted on our faces? It was a preview of things to come not just in that day, but in the rest of the week!

The day would then become a mix of really great feelings. From absolute fear as I traveled back in time thanks to the Dino Institute and facing the Yeti in Expedition Everest, to the absolute joy as I met Pluto and Goofy in Dinoland, USA. I was so excited to meet them, I actually called home and said, 'I am in line to meet Goofy and Pluto! Isn't that AMAZING??' There is a saying that goes like this: you never forget your first time. Yes, it was fantastic how I experienced the other parks for the first time, but my first day at Animal Kingdom remains to this day a magical experience, hence why it is my favorite Disney memory of all time.

 

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