It was officially the worst day to go to a theme park. The sun had no mercy on all the good people wanting to spend the weekend in Enchanted Kingdom. It was scorching hot but that didn’t stop the people flocking the gates of Enchanted Kingdom. There were already a number of occupied parking spaces, mostly vans. People were crowding the entrance, excited to spend the rest of their day in the theme park. The weather doesn’t seem to stop them.
Upon entering the green gates of “EK”, I was greeted by people taking pictures. One group immediately launched themselves to a spot, with the carousel as their backdrop. It was an immediate pit stop for everyone that entered the park. I even found myself compelled to take a picture like them. Maybe it’s a tradition to take pictures in front of the entrance or just because it’s seems like a picture perfect background. Either way, everybody needed their picture taken. Barkadas teasing each other to pose and families preserving their togetherness are just one of the things that can easily be seen in that place.
Back in high school, Enchanted Kingdom was known as the barkada haven. Minutes away from my old school, it was common for all of us to hang there for a weekend or a day in the summer. It has serves as our personal event’s venue, from birthdays, to farewell. It was not surprising for me to see a bunch of teenagers almost the same age as me running around, excited to try every single ride even if it’s not the first time.
The groups vary depending on age and composition. Some would be an all-girl group with the occasional gay friend or an all-guy gang sometimes with the girlfriend tagging along or just a plain mix of girls and boys, with the girls huddled together in conversation and the guys surrounding them to protect/tease. Age doesn’t even matter when it comes to a barkada. Some groups were younger than me, probably just high school students, others were college students and surprisingly, there are those even older than me, maybe even working.
These groups go on every single adrenaline filled ride as possible, even if the lines were epically long. I guess screaming their lungs out together made it more fun to ride the Space Shuttle. Of course, they still flock to the bump cars. I’m guessing being able to hit each other with a few jokes and petty insults thrown is a good form of bonding and being brutally honest without getting hurt. It was nice to look at them but it was pretty hard to put myself in their place. As much as I know how my old school’s view on EK, I have never been part of the putting. I’ve been invited but I’ve never actually went there with my barkada because I usually decline it
Surprisingly, families overshadowed the barkadas. There were kids running around, dragging their parents sometimes their maids to certain rides. There were old people sitting in one of the benches waiting for their grandchildren. There were mothers’ recording every single moment, her child is on a ride. Kids, cousins probably were running around the place, ecstatic to spend time with each other after so long. It feels like family reunions were taking place right before me. Thinking about it, it’s of no surprise seeing as it was a Sunday, the best day to spend time with the family.
A normal Sunday would be spent with the nuclear family but in the case of the guests, the whole family tree seems to have arrived. Grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousin stuffed themselves in one van for a day of pure adrenaline excitement, despite paying P500 for each member for entrance and rides, excluding food. The teenagers lined up for the adrenaline rides much like the barkada, while the adults will go and accompany the kids in the carousel or kiddie rides. Other adults will even join the younger generation in the rides be it the ferris wheel or the carousel. The grandparents would sit in the corner and watch the family have fun, enjoying the smiles on their faces. It was the routine for all the big families that arrived.
The nuclear families that came made a point to spend time together as possible. Most had kids with them, sometimes the parents or the maids will be dragging a toddler or a stroller with a baby. The dads will accompany the kids to rides like the roller skater or bump and splash while the mom stays behind to take pictures. It was always the case that the dad would be the adult on the ride on occasion an older sibling while the mom stays behind to care for the younger ones or take pictures. It was seldom that the mom takes the rides unless it’s the carousel.
While watching the families, I realized that I’ve never been to an amusement park or theme park without my family. That would be the first time I went to EK without them. The first time I went there, I rode the carousel with my whole family and my dad took me to the bump cars while my mom took pictures. I was in the same routine as the families, which would explain why I view theme parks as a place for families rather than friends.
The essence of going to Enchanted Kingdom was neither the rides nor the souvenirs. Watching the people there, it was clear that it’s just another event’s venue. The real matter is spending time with people you care about, be it friends or family. The rides, souvenirs, even the pictures are just reminders for the time spent on being with each other. I think that’s why Enchanted Kingdom’s final words pasted on the gates are “The Magic Stays With You”. The magic is the happiness brought by a day spent with people you love.
Coleen Meir Araza-100251-P