The Feels! Moments at Disney Parks that Bring Out All the Emotions

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Copyright Disney
Copyright Disney

It is not surprising that a lot of tears are shed at the Disney Parks. You’ve probably been a witness to one or two meltdowns over your trips to the parks. However, there are good tears that can be shed. Those are the tears I’m going to write about today.

Walt Disney and all the Imagineers past and present successfully created theme parks that draw out a variety of emotions. There is fear of a new thrill attraction, disgust at the behavior of a villain, sadness at the thought of ending our magical vacation, anger at rising prices (though I’m sure they don’t want anger), and joy at pretty much everything else.

Happiness and joy can be communicated in a variety of ways. From a smile or a grunt of acknowledgement to squealing and jumping with glee, the feeling is shared with others. But the feeling of joy that I adore is when someone is so happy that they are moved to tears.

I certainly have shed my fair share of happy tears over the years, and I would love to know what attractions, shows, or just simple acts have made your nose start itching and the water well up in your eyes. Read my list, and share yours below!

Seeing the castle for the first time

It’s not like the castle has been hidden from us as we plan our vacations and look up Disney on the Internet – Cinderella’s castle in Orlando is one of the most photographed icons in the world. But that first moment of turning the corner in Town Square and seeing that familiar castle – Cinderella’s or Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Anaheim – is enough to turn anyone into a puddle of tears. You did it. You made it! This vacation is finally happening!!

Copyright 2016 Claire NatMeeting your favorite character

I wonder how the characters feel when someone steps forward and just starts crying because they’re so happy to meet them. We all understand that these are not the real characters, but it doesn’t matter at all. Because of the location and how well themed it is, we can easily sense in our heads that this person, animal or creature before us is the character we know and love! I got pretty close to tears when I got to meet Chewbacca, though I think my awe overcame my emotion.

Having the lights go off for the start of a parade or fireworks

For me, a critically emotional moment is the very start of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Since I’ve had memories of that parade since I was young, any chance I get to see it takes me right back. As the synthesized voices sing “The Main Street Electrical Parade!” and the lights immediately wink out, I’m transported to child form, excited to see my favorite characters march down the route in their lit-up splendor.

Watching a child get a magical moment

It is sometimes a glorious feeling when you get to witness a stranger’s joy. I have been privy to that sensation, and the joy that’s emoted by the child immediately transfers on the people around him or her. I remember one moment when I was waiting for the gates to open at the Magic Kingdom and I saw a cast member walking around. She stopped at one family and was talking casually with them. Then suddenly she brought up the idea of that family opening the park with the Disney characters on the train. The looks on the faces of those children were priceless. They were floored! And I was excited for them.


Finding Nemo the Musical (7)Finding Nemo: The Musical

It’s probably no surprise to my readers that I pick something thanks to the music. Out of all the shows, this one gets me emotional every single time, and that’s mostly because of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez’ beautiful song “(In the) Big Blue World.” When all the sea creatures appear all over the theater and rush down the aisles, that is a moment of artistry. I also adore the song “Go With the Flow” that is sung by Crush, and I think it was the perfect song to sing at the end of the musical during the bows!

Experiencing someone in your group getting emotional

This emotional moment is brought to you buy all that time and money you spent on planning this vacation. The hours you spent on the phone or Internet. The emptying of your wallet. The headaches wondering how you’re going to fit it all in. The daydreams of seeing your the people in your group having the best time of their lives. And then…that adult or child in your group gets just as emotional as you were hoping they would. They jump for joy. They look at you with that look. They scream with happiness. They cry. And you’re just done. They wonder why you’re crying, but you just shake it off. When they plan their own Disney vacation someday, they’ll get it.

Copyright Disney
Copyright Disney

The end of Fantasmic!

This is my personal cry-moment. Every single time. Any chance I get to see Fantasmic!, I go, because I am waiting for the ending. Don’t get me wrong – I love every moment of Fantasmic! But after the big riverboat passes through (sometimes I’ve already started crying during that part), and the chorus is singing “creating a night of wondrous DREEEEEEAMS!” and the music is transposing into a new key and swelling up and then BAM! There’s Mickey on top of the mountain, and the fireworks are all over the place, and the music is at its peak (oh gosh, I’m tearing up about it as I type!) and I am cheering and crying at the same time.

For some that “ultimate ending” is at the end of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. For others, it’s at the end of World of Color. For still others, it’s at the end of one of the many fireworks spectaculars. But for me, it will always and forever be the ending of Fantasmic! When I think of the one thing in a Disney vacation that must be done, Fantasmicis at the top, because I always end up with an emotional high!

What is your top tears-of-joy moment? Does it happen at every trip, or was it a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never luck into again? I look forward to reading all your responses!

Claire Nat

I've been enjoying Walt Disney World since my Nana pushed my sister's and my strollers back in the late 1980s. I enjoy my day job here in the Denver area as a teacher and music coordinator at our church. I love music, reading, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Michigan sports!

50 thoughts on “The Feels! Moments at Disney Parks that Bring Out All the Emotions

  • April 5, 2016 at 7:44 am
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    YES Finding Nemo! Always tears. And also at Illuminations and The American Adventure.

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:33 am
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      The American Adventure for sure, especially with the “Golden Dreams” song and montage.

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  • April 5, 2016 at 7:54 am
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    Yes! Nemo for sure! And mickey’s philharmagic for some reason!

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:34 am
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      For those of us that grew up with those movies, Philharmagic is THE place to see our favorite characters up close. Of course we’d get emotional! Good mention!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 8:02 am
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    For me, it is always the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show!

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:34 am
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      For sure! It’s always the sound of the actual train that is so amazing. Good one!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 8:08 am
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    Magic Kingdom welcome show for me too. The music, the anticipation of a wonderful day ahead, singing and dancing along with my daughter. Cue the waterworks!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 8:16 am
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    Its the first notes of Wishes!

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:35 am
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      This one depends on the people around you. I once found the perfect spot…but then a bunch of teenagers were behind me and talked through the whole thing. You have to find people who are just as excited about it as you! Thanks for the comment!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 8:47 am
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    OMD ! Stop, I’m crying reading this !!!
    Mine is the end of Fantasmic! too. But like you, seeing the castle for the first time in a trip, meeting THE character (Elsa for me… yes I am 33) and when someone traveling with you gets it.
    Awesome post. Thanks 😉

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:36 am
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      You’re welcome! And I’m about your age, so emotions are certainly not limited to the little kids!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 8:57 am
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    I agree with the end of Fantasmic! Really all of Fantasmic. And any time fireworks are shooting out of Mickey’s hands.

    Second place for me is the Tangled scene of Wishes when the lanterns are floating up the castle.

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:22 am
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      “like” for your second place and it goes on when everybody is singing “let it go”

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:37 am
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      I still want to learn how they shoot sparks out of his hands. I have seen it not work, and it was sad!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 9:03 am
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    When they announce your family name while boarding a Disney cruise ship.

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  • April 5, 2016 at 9:06 am
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    I probably get teary at many of the live shows and nightly fireworks shows… but I don’t have any distinct memories revolving around them. What I will never forget is going to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue the night of September 11, 2001. We honeymooned in Disney World and were there over 9/11 and I must say how incredibly impressed I was with how they handled getting folks safely and quickly out of the parks that day. While all the parks remained closed the rest of the day, restaurants and shows at the resorts were open. We had reservations for the Hoop-Dee-Doo that night, and if you’ve seen it, you know that it’s got a strong sense of Americana… I think everyone in the room was balling that night. Again, I was so impressed that the performers were able to hold it together that day and put on a great show.

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:38 am
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      That is emotion of a completely different sort. Out of such horrible events, that was a great way to stir up national pride. What an experience!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 9:27 am
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    My wife was the big Disney fan, but passed away from melanoma when our kids were 6, 3 and 3. I promised her we would come “visit her” at WDW in her memory, and bought DVC points with part of her life insurance.

    Our first trip, we went to Sleepy Hollow, and Tinkerbell asked where Mommy was. They told her “In heaven”, and her reply was “Well give me some big hugs and I’ll fly up to her and give them to her”.

    That night, before seeing Wishes for the very first time, the kids saw Tinkerbell descending from the castle. they screamed “Look! Tinkerbell’s back from heaven. Mommy’s got our hugs.” they saw the four heart shaped fireworks in Wishes, and said it was Mommy sending hugs back to us.

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:39 am
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      This is the best! What a wonderful memory your family will have!

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      • April 5, 2016 at 10:41 am
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        wow, now you have tears in my eyes…

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    • April 5, 2016 at 12:19 pm
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      What a lovely story. I am a bawling mess!

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    • April 5, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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      Oh boy!!!!! Sad and happy, all in a big ball of Disney magic. You are a wonderful Dad. That story has me weepy now, and that’s not easy to do.

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    • April 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm
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      I’m bawling just reading this! Bravo to Tink & WDW for making your memorial trip so beautiful. You & your family have my deepest sympathy.

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    • April 11, 2016 at 11:05 pm
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      Whelp now I’m balling at work. What a beautiful story!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 9:34 am
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    My biggest teary moment was the first time my kids saw Cinderellas Castle! Living WDW through your kids brings all sorts of feels and tears during their first trip! Also American Adventure gets me every time too!

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    • April 5, 2016 at 10:09 am
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      I am looking forward to seeing my trip later this year through the eyes of my parents! (No kids yet.)

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    • April 5, 2016 at 1:06 pm
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      Yes, Stephanie. My moment was standing behind my kids on the second floor of Main St Station watching them watching a parade. Priceless.

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  • April 5, 2016 at 12:36 pm
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    For me, it was showing my kids the Electrical Light Parade. That goofy synthesized voice announcing the beginning, then the music — yep, here I go right now! I can hear it in my head and I’m getting leaky eyes. I think the continuity between generations nearly always brings the big feels. Experiencing something as a child yourself, then getting to re-experience it with your kids is pretty magical.

    That same trip, when the kids were 6 and 8, we were in line very early (as instructed by Touring Plans) and we were chosen to be the opening family at the Magic Kingdom!!!!!! I’m embarrassed to admit that this moment is probably at the top of my list of wonderful things in my life. When Mickey took each of my little boys by the hand and walked them out to the railing at the depot, I thought my heart would burst. (I’m guessing the castmembers involved in that morning event must surely get a huge shot of magic from being a part of that.) Major magic. And now I have to go look up the pictures of that day!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 12:43 pm
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    “Some imagination, huh?”

    Every….single….time. There will never be a trip to WDW that doesn’t include at least one viewing of F!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm
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    Year before last, my then 9-year-old son was chosen to pull Excalibur out of the stone. I had no idea how emotional I’d be! My older brother and I tried our entire childhood to pull that thing out (never seeing the ceremony), and my son, at 7 years old, pulled and pulled with all his might at Disneyland. But we were in front of the carrousel at just the right moment, he was chosen and it was pure magic. Definitely one of our favorite Disney moments of all time.

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  • April 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm
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    I’m a crier, always have been, but Disney is guaranteed to make me cry with joy. I cry reading about other people’s magical experiences. I cry when I hear Disney songs or see a commercial on TV. I have experienced all of the above mentioned triggers. I cried walking down Main Street with my mom on her first trip, and on my most recent trip, I cried because I just didn’t want to leave. Gee whiz, I’m tearing up just thinking about that memory! Can’t wait to go back this fall with Mom AND Dad…it’ll be his first trip. *cue the tears

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  • April 5, 2016 at 5:00 pm
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    Oh, there are a bunch of moments but the one at the top of the list is Wishes, when it’s getting near the end and the music transitions from “Wishes” to “When You Wish Upon a Star” and the sky is filled with giant chrysanthemum fireworks. From there on out, it’s teary time!

    Another big one for me is the video montage at the end of American Adventure. I even try not to, but it gets me every time.

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  • April 5, 2016 at 5:29 pm
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    First trip ever to WDW for me, DH, and our three kids…watching our then-six year old daughter reaching out to touch Donald Duck (still her favorite!) during Mickey’s Philharmagic. She was so excited – that got me, for sure!

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  • April 5, 2016 at 7:37 pm
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    One that always gets me…Hall of Presidents presentation and the segments of the Challenger disaster and 9/11. Always choke up

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  • April 5, 2016 at 9:08 pm
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    I have a few I always tear up at-Illuminations-the song We Go On just kills me every time. Wishes also gets to me. When my daughter was little she LOVED Aurora but was always too intimidated by her at meets to do much more than stare from afar. One year for MNSSHP when she was about 4 we did the meet and my daughter had dressed up as Aurora and had drawn her a picture. When she gave her the picture she hugged my daughter and sat and quietly and seriously talked with her for quite a while and I was a blubbering mess! The way my daughter looked at her with such admiration and awe was so sweet. She’s 13 now and still loves sleeping beauty and I have a framed picture of that sweet moment in our den.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 1:21 am
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    When my then 9 yr old son walked onto main street after not being to Disney for 3 years and had tears of joy running down his cheeks, then again at 11 yrs, and at 13. Main street makes him cry! And the look on my girls’ faces when they are watching the afternoon parade and a princess catches their eye and waves “just to them”. When Belle saw my daughter’s name in her autograph book and called her by name my daughter thought Belle had remembered her from the year before and was so thrilled. She still thinks Belle remembered her! Wow, I could go on and on. Thank you Disney for the memories! Love this blog.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 3:07 am
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    I got emotional reading your blog. I have been planning a Disney trip for my family since our first child was a baby and that was 6-7 years ago. We’ve been saving and planning and saving and planning and more saving (because we live on the other side of the world) and now down to 2 years to go – which might seem like a very long time away to everyone else but to me feels like the home stretch. I cannot tell you how many times I have imagined the look on the faces of our children and my husband (who has never been and doesn’t see what the big deal is but happy to indulge me on it). I think it may be the biggest show of waterworks in my life when we actually get there. I can’t wait! Thanks for the blog and I am enjoying reading the comments.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 10:21 am
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    At Christmas, that moment for me is seeing the Cinderella castle draped in the dream lights. Bonus points if I actually get to watch the show when they turn on the lights. Kills me every single time.

    And definitely those first few notes of Wishes, like someone said above.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 10:44 am
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    Wow,you have brought me to tears just reading this…actually everyone above has. I noticed you used all five emotions from Inside Out in paragraph two…nice touch! Wishes and IllumiNations are very moving shows for me as well as rounding the corner and seeing Cinderella’ s castle for the first time. That is just something else!

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  • April 6, 2016 at 11:34 am
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    I’m glad I’m not the only one who turns into a small child every time I see Fantasmic. I can’t listen to the finale without getting chills.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 2:02 pm
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    Yelling “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” while riding Space Mountain.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 9:24 pm
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    Disney is the best! My favorite commercial was one that had two young boys having a ball at Disney World, then at the end of the day when they were leaving, one of the boys would up being the Dad. Disney really brings out the kid in all of us!

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  • April 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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    The first time I took my daughter to Disney, we did the MK Welcome Show as our first park day, and as soon as the music started, I started SOBBING. I grew up in Florida and had been so many times, and finally being there with my daughter and introducing her to Disney Magic…well, I just couldn’t get ahold of myself. 🙂 After it was over and I finally stopped crying, my husband was like, “…well…that was weird.” hee

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  • April 7, 2016 at 7:38 pm
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    Wishes gets me every time. Also, seeing my very shy and introverted daughter come out of her shell when she meets her favorite characters just about does me in.

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  • April 8, 2016 at 11:11 am
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    I am British and the American Show at Epcot makes me cry and wish we had the same level of patriotism in the UK. Similarly the Hall of Presidents make my heart swell. Nothing in the UK compares.

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