My favorite thing so far has been the Dynamics portion of the program, but I only experimented with it a tiny bit in the introductory, i'll watch that DVD later on tonight probably.
Animation is freaking great! My favorite tutorial so far has to be rigging a robot with bones and doing some basic animation. I never thought Maya would be as easy to use as it is, but so far it's great. I imagine with more complex scenes it gets more complicated, though.
The only real downside to the PLE is the watermark, which you get immuned to after a while, though it'll suck once I start rendering stuff i'm sure. Another downside, but really no fault of Maya, is that for a few things, they use the middle mouse button, something that I don't have as of now. I suppose you could remap the commands though?
So far Maya has been great, and if you are interested in the least bit about modelling/animation, etc. and have no idea where to start, I definitely recommend picking up the PLE. It was $31 to get it shipped to me, and you're really only paying for the DVD tutorials, which are well worth it. I'm one of the types that can hardly draw a stick figure, but it's a LOT different in 3D, especially once you get used to the tools and whatnot. Maybe one day i'll get off of some cash and buy the full version, but that day will have to wait until i'm actually good [lol].