One of the requirements of my Sociology and Anthropology class was to go to one of three places and observe people. My choices were to go to a comedy bar, go to a gay bar, and go to Enchanted Kingdom. The curiosity in me made me more inclined to visit a gay bar or a comedy bar as it would have been a new and different experience for me but scheduling conflicts had me settle for the Enchanted Kingdom option instead. Nevertheless, the trip proved to be quite worth it in the end.
Though I had been to Enchanted Kingdom many times before, this trip marked a couple of firsts for me. This trip marked the first time that I’d go to Enchanted Kingdom with the intent of observing people, previous school trips had me ride the rides with physics concepts in mind, and it also marked the first time I’d been going to Enchanted Kingdom with the level of independence that I had. All the other times I went to Enchanted Kingdom, I would have some sure mode of transport. It could be that a family member would drive, a family driver would drive or it could be that we would hire a van for the day to bring us there and bring us back. This time though was quite different as it had me taking the LRT-MRT and then taking a shuttle. It was a tiring commute but I had company so it wasn’t so bad.
When we finally arrived at Enchanted Kingdom, we immediately set out to ride the rides. Our first stop was the popular Space Shuttle, which is by far the most “extreme” ride EK has to offer. Afterwards, my classmates and I went through the circuit of rides that I’ve grown to love over the years. We rode the Rio Grande Rapids, the Anchors Away, Flying Fiesta and others.
I lost track of time in EK but I do remember that we took a break sometime in the middle of the whole thing to have a late lunch. We had lunch at Launch Time, an air conditioned dining area in front of Space Shuttle. The first thing that I noticed is that though the place can seat more than a hundred customers, there were only around two to three groups of people dining in this place. Sure, the price ranges for food was a lot higher than the food at the food court, but that’s because it comes from some sort of catering service. Not to mention, the servings were big.
I look around and see that the tables, chairs, and walls are neatly maintained. There are few scratches or vandalism on them. I then compare this to the food court, where everyone was looking for a place to sit in. It was hot and noisy because it seemed like a company outing was scheduled and a band was performing on stage. The food served there were mostly fast foods; ones that can are easily prepared, transported, and disposed. Food preference, I guess, plays a role in going to amusement parks. People would rather eat on-the-go. In the company outing’s case, it was more convenient for them to stay at the food court because everyone else they knew were there with their families.
Another observation that struck me was the general age range of the different people who rode the different rides. Mostly teenagers and young adults rode the rides that we rode such as the Space Shuttle and the Anchors Away. They also liked to play the arcade games for a chance to win a plush toy, despite the expensive price of paying 50 pesos per game. The younger crowd rode the rides such as the Roller Skater and other kiddy rides and they were often accompanied by their parents or yayas. Adults still seem to have fun even at those parts of the park by taking pictures at the boulders. It is fair to say that that certain Sunday, more adults visited the park because although it’s nearing summer, most kids are not done or are still finishing school at this time in March. If a school field trip can’t keep the park alive, then a company outing can.
I also thought about all my trips to EK and though also about how each trip was different for me as well. How I transitioned from riding the “kiddy” rides to riding the “scary” rides and I realized that in its own right, Enchanted Kingdom is a sort of modern day rite of passage. Kids would always ask to go to Enchanted Kingdom because it was already a trip to an out-of-the-ordinary park filled with countless games they could play. At the same time, they could only wish to reach the height requirement to ride an attraction. When they reach their young-adult stage, they can now ride the main attractions, like the Space Shuttle, but can no longer enjoy the Air Pterodactyl because they are too big for it.
It was definitely a fun experience having to ride the attractions with my classmates and at the same time being aware enough of my surroundings.