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Your most "magical" theme park moments?


Matt N
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Hi guys. Ever since Disneyland first opened in 1955, the idea of "magic" has been a cornerstone of much of the theme park industry, and over the years, theme parks have become almost intrinsically linked with the concept of "magic", particularly in the case of parks that err more on the family-friendly and/or heavily-themed sides. Nowadays, "magic" is quite possibly one of the biggest marketing clichés in the theme park industry; many, many theme parks use magic as a key selling device within their advertising and propaganda. Building upon this, my question to you today is; what are some of the most magical theme park moments you've ever experienced? What are some of those moments within theme parks that actually gave you goosebumps, or actually made you feel like a child on Christmas Day, instead of merely promising these emotions to you in an advertising campaign? When have theme parks lived up to the magical propaganda and really made you feel like you're experiencing something special? Let's spread some positivity and magic this closed season by reminiscing about some of our fondest theme park memories!

 

I'll get the ball rolling with some of my answers. There are many, many moments I could have gone for here, but a few that come to mind are:

  • Stepping into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida for the first time (August 2014) - Now I admittedly think that both Potter areas could have qualified for this, as I adore both and both felt pretty special when I experienced them for the first time, but I have to say, stepping into Diagon Alley for the first time and experiencing Gringotts for the first time when I was 11 years old has easily got to be one of my fondest theme park memories even 7 years on; admittedly, the 3 hour queue wasn't too fond, but the land, the main indoor queue section of Gringotts, the Gringotts ride itself and the overall experience of Diagon Alley left me genuinely speechless in a way that very few things have since. Admittedly, I'm unsure how the land and ride would stack up for me now, but even having already experienced it before in 2016, I remember the whole WWOHP experience feeling like true theme park magic at its finest!
  • Riding Mako at SeaWorld Orlando (current #1 coaster) for the first time (August 2016) - You all know my opinion on this coaster very well by now, so I won't bore you with details of my first ride, but even though this isn't magic in the sense you're probably all thinking of, I couldn't not mention it; the raw euphoria of experiencing that insane first drop and those phenomenal sustained airtime hills for the first time back in 2016 still sticks with me 5 years on, so in that sense, I'd certainly say that my first ride on it and  it becoming my #1 is one of my most magical theme park moments!
  • Watching Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom (April 2019) - As much as I'll admit that the Magic Kingdom didn't quite live up to the hype for me when I first went in April 2019, and that I'm also not huge on shows in theme parks in general, I have to say that my first and only time watching the much hyped night-time spectacular at Magic Kingdom was quite something; I don't know quite what it was, but this show really was brilliant, and something about it really felt magical and gave me goosebumps! Watching Happily Ever After was the very last theme park thing we did on that trip to Florida, and as much as I'm not usually a show person, it really was the perfect way to end the trip for me; it definitely meant that the theme park element of the trip ended on a high! (I'll conveniently brush over the last day, where our trip ended with a mad rush off of the Fantasia mini golf course to the airport when the mother of all storms abruptly began to soak us...)
  • Riding Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios (April 2019) - You know those times where an attraction's been really hyped up and you worry that it won't possibly live up to the hype? My first ride on Florida's Tower of Terror was one of those times for me, but I needn't have worried, because I exited that attraction genuinely awestruck! For me, it was one of those rides where every little bit of it felt absolutely perfect; for starters, the entire queue and pre-ride experience is phenomenal, being crammed full of little details, while also carrying a rather brilliant ambience about it the whole way around that really gave me shivers! The dark ride portions carried on this brilliant ambience, but the icing on the cake was the drop tower itself; I was shocked at the raw strength of the airtime, and I couldn't stop laughing the whole time! Overall, my first and only ride on ToT was a genuine magical moment for me, and I certainly regret only doing it once!
  • Islands of Adventure in general (Various) - I know this is quite general, but on both Florida trips where we've visited Universal, Islands of Adventure has always had this wonderfully magical vibe throughout the entire park that no other park I've ever been to has; it just makes me incredibly happy every time I go, and the combination of that and the park's amazing ride selection and theming are what make it my #1 park of all time! IOA is the absolute pinnacle of fun and magic for me, and I'm gutted that I haven't visited in 5 years, because it holds a very special place in my heart!
  • Pre-entry/entry experience at Alton Towers (Various) - To be honest, I think the whole park at Alton Towers has a certain aura of magic about it, but for some bizarre reason, I've always found the build-up to a day at Alton Towers to be quite possibly one of the most magical parts (Not my favourite part by any stretch, but certainly one of the most "magical"; it's a very different type of magic to the others in this list!)! Even the drive through the Alton village and along the country lanes still gives me this child-like feeling of excitement all these visits later, and when you combine that with a ride on the monorail (or walk down the golden path) and the walk down Towers Street facing the ruins themselves, I really think Alton Towers' entry experience really stirs up feelings of magic for me!

So, those are just a few of my most magical theme park moments! As I said, I could have picked loads, but I decided to limit it down to a select few that came to mind at the time of writing!

 

But what have been some of your most magical theme park moments?

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Sure, I love nostalgic over indulgence 😁

 

Animal Kingdom in 2011 - Part of the Jammin' Jungle Parade - We were just getting a photo with Goofy in Camp Micky when a cast member approached us and asked us to met at the big doors near Kilimanjaro Safari at a  certain time. We got there and the same cast member told us we were going to be in the 45 minute parade around the park. It was our first trip to the park and it was quite the experience. Somehow watching it after that moment was never quite the same. 

 

 

Thorpe Park March 2013 - TPM meet - I think this was the trip to end all trips for TPM frankly. It was freezing cold, there was a large number of us and it was just one of those trips where the good humour and fun had no bounds. From riding Slammer (somehow in near zero temperatures), too Peaj and Sidders braving Tidal Wave. I still to tis day don't know how they still live. Great time and I don't think there was a better trip for the forum.

 

Toverland - Flaming Feather lunch - I think the Flaming Feather, overlooking Fenix and sitting in the blazing sun may just be one of my favourite theme park experiences when it comes to pure relaxation. Sitting and just being at peace makes this one of my favourite venues. I want to go back just to sit at the Feather tbh. Sometimes theme park experiences just come together perfectly. This was one of those.

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Sure, why not.

 

Disneyland Paris- My First Ever Visit (April 2015)

I was late to the Disney/overseas game, but wow did it begin on a high!

 

I might’ve been hungover from a night of drinking games, but was I excited. Everything about the trip seemed magical, from entering through the splendid Park entrance to watching Dreams before closing. It’s a trip I will never forget! 

 

Winter Phantasialand (November 2017)

I adore Phantasialand, but seeing it at Winter, was just spectacular. The park just went above and beyond with it’s Christmas event, with no corner looking un-festive. Stayed at Hotel Lingbao that trip, which can only be described as phenomenal.

 

Efteling In The Snow (December 2018)

Regardless of others opinions, visiting Efteling is literally a fairy tale place. Already stunning enough over Winter, we were greeted by several feet of snow on (what was supposed to be) the last day of the trip. The beautiful surroundings looked even more stunning in this setting, especially the entrance building (five senses). 
 

Cedar Point (August 2018)

America was always somewhere I wanted to visit, and that finally happened one late August. Customs might’ve been less desirable, but seeing what is arguably the park with the world’s best coaster selection was remarkable. Lots of atmosphere, even down to Magnificent Seven playing around Steel Vengeance.

 

Blackpool Opening 2020 (February 2020)

Blackpool has always been that place/trip to lift me up whenever life has thrown unwanted curveballs at me, and this one was no exception.

 

I wasn’t in a happy place at the time, however by enduring this opening trip, it was honestly an almost biblical experience. Catching up with friends new and old, experiencing the opening vibes and most importantly, BPB. I’d felt like myself again and ‘pure happiness’ properly for the first time in months. Whether that was nabbing the first PMBO train of that year or facing Icon in the rain.
 

It was all sublime. Pity what paved the way after didn’t quite follow Suite, but that’s covid for you.

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