Aileen Quijano

WHEN Aladdin invited Princess Jasmine on a magic carpet ride to see “A Whole New World”, I bet he was talking about Disneyland. Where else can you find a place as magical as this, where every turn’s a surprise, there are new horizons and a hundred thousand things to see?

My very own magic carpet ride to Hong Kong Disneyland was no less than shining, shimmering and splendid. Let me share this whole new world with you with these 10 reasons why “I heart” Disneyland:

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1. Oh My Princesses!

When I was a little girl, I used to wonder what it would be like to meet the beautiful fairytale damsels in distress in the flesh. Would I swoon? Do I ask them to introduce me to Prince Charming? Should I ask for their beauty secret? Meeting Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Cinderella and Snow White at 31, I realized two things: one, with proper make up, beauty is ageless; and two, you’re never too old to pose with them.

2. Festival of the Lion King

For 30 minutes, you get to experience this inspiring Theater in the Wild where Timon & Pumba sing “Hakuna Matata (No Worries)” and the Lion King teaches about the Circle of Life. It’s a Musical Spectacular in a Greek-inspired revolving stage with excellent lights, color and special effects, plus a talented cast including Pinoy performers, who wink and shimmy to our code, “Mabuhay!”

3. 3D Magic in FantasyLand

What child has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan, or tumbling into Alice’s Wonderland, or dancing with the Little Mermaid Under the Sea? These fantasies were brought to life in my first ever 3D experience. I would never forget, as I put on my yellow-rimmed 3D glasses, how I popped Donald Duck’s bubbles under the sea, whooshed in the air with Peter Pan, and the best yet-- soared, tumbled and freewheeled on a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Princess Jasmine to the splendid tune of

“A Whole New World”.

4. Main Street U.S.A.

Disneyland is more than the park and rides. It’s the smell of roasting chestnuts on Mainstreet. It’s the street sweepers, the wandering characters, and the new (sometimes unexpected) discovery around every corner like puttering motorcars, horse-drawn streetcar, jitneys, quaint shops and other bits of memorabilia along the

boulevard reminiscent of America’s Victorian period.

5. High School Musical, Live!

As soon as the drums roll and the Wildcats call out, “What time is it?” you’ve got a party with dancing on the streets!

6. Jungle River Cruise in Adventureland

There was a long queue to this trip into the heart of tropical jungles. As you journey into the unknown, you will find hippo-filled rivers, wonder at Tarzan’s tree house, and discover exotic adventures around every river bend. Was it worth standing in line for so long? Absolutely.

7. Riding the Carousel

For the longest time, I’ve been skittish around merry-go-rounds. Something about wooden horses going round and round to a scary tune makes me dizzy. But as I stood before Cinderella’s Carousel in Fantasyland, I thought, what the heck, if she can do it, why not? And this time, it didn’t make me dizzy at all. Like riding a unicorn, it made me fly!

8. Tomorrow Never Dies

In Tomorrowland, you literally got the world (at least a version of it) in your hands. Here, you can rocket through outer space, blast at warp speed and glimpse near-future technology. Like our dreams, this place is timeless. Inspired by hope for a peaceful and prosperous future, Tomorrowland is home base to many futuristic ideas and is a tribute to history’s visionaries who have dreamt of a better world.

9. Spectacular Fireworks: Disney in the Stars

Like the rest of the crowd, I squatted on the cobbled street before Sleeping Beauty Castle to see Disney in the Stars, the nightly fireworks show. Pretty soon, the street lights went off. A hush fell as music flowed, then in a heartbeat, the night sky exploded in colors. Speechless, I got the chills. Not because it was 12 degrees cold in Lantau, Hong Kong. But for the first time, I saw elaborate fireworks synchronized to orchestrated classic Disney songs following – get this-- a story line! Simply spectacular.

10. You Gotta Believe in Magic

Being in Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth”, is just like being handed a magic lamp with a genie inside it. Whether you wish for love like Beauty, seek out a thrilling adventure like Simba, or chase a whole new world like Aladdin-- anything is possible—all you have to do is believe! Disney’s magic isn’t just that thrill of riding the space shuttle, seeing Mickey Mouse surfing on top of a whale’s fountain, or getting up close and personal with Tarzan (oh my, the muscles baby).

The magic also comes from the laughter, wonder and memories of spending time with family or friends. It is the realization that a dream has been brought magically to life for the young and (ahem!) young at heart. A day in Disneyland equals a lifetime of inspiration. Once you’ve experienced the magic, you’re never the same again.