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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When Harry Met Shelley (or My Day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

(insert Harry Potter Theme song)

So, yes, I was the luckiest person in the world last week. I got to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! (which I will refer to as HPW henceforth).

It was amazing. I wish you all could have come. Actually...uh...I'm sure I DID see some of you there because Everyone In The World was there last Monday. Well, maybe not everyone...but at least half of the world was there. (Yes...v. crowded.)

You can see some of the bajillions of people here...I could have made some of them disappear, I suppose, but I had to follow the rules on the sign and respect the spell limits. Just common courtesy, really.

So, first let me say that when you first walk under the archway into Hogsmeade, you really do get chills, because IT LOOKS LIKE WINTER!! (But it is Florida in July, which is the direct opposite of Winter. Look it up) Lucky for us, the day was overcast, even with a downpour in the middle of it. I had a swell plastic, there will not be a picture of that!

I could go on and on about the wonder of it...but I don't want to be like when you went to somebody's house for dinner when you were a kid and they whipped out the slide projector and you spent two hours perusing somebody else's pictures speckled with random people you don't know in places you don't care about. So...highlights only it will be!
1. The Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter:

This is it! The Biggest Ride there. It's inside of Hogwarts...really the only way to see the castle is to ride the ride. One word review: SCARY!

I am not sure what I expected...but it starts off like Disney's Soaring Over California...('re's quidditch....whee) then things go horribly, horribly wrong. I don't want to ruin it for you, in case you go soon....but let me just say this. My daughter Issy tried to film it with her phone (and she is one lucky kid that she didn't drop her phone during the ride!) but it was way too dark. All she got were the screams. 5 minutes straight of us screaming at the tops of our lungs! My throat was RAW at the end....(where we got stuck for a few minutes. Yep. The ride stopped. Luckily it was right AFTER the dementors....and spiders who gleek on you...and the dragon...and did I mention the spiders....???)

I'd like give the ride an A+ (except that I kind of didn't see it all....what with my eyes being closed and all.) It was the thrill ride of all thrill rides.

Well done!

2. Wizards Like Sugar:
There is the Butterbeer wagon in the middle of the road. We got ours from the Butterbeer Maid, selling from a tray just outside the wagon. They also sell Butterbeer and Pumpkin juice in the Hogshead and the Three Broomsticks, but the lines were WAAAY too long.

Butterbeer tastes kind of like a greasy rootbeer float (made with cream soda or vanilla soda) but with no icecream...just the thick, salty, buttery foam on top. Yes, it sounds a little gross...and it is...but it is also deliciously cold. (Even though the day was cloudy, this was Florida in July). We bought one to share...had to dare someone to take the last swig. (In other words, the first swallow is the best...followed by thoughts of, "'s bloddy sweet!" Followed by thoughts of, "Hey! I'm actually drinking Hogsmeade....lalalala!")

Pumpkin juice also = super sweet. Like spiced apple cider, but cold. It would probably be better hot. (Interesting to note that the pumpkin juice they sell there really DOES contain pumpkin there somewhere. It was our vegetable for the day.)

Honeydukes: Cali bought 15 bucks worth of candy. (Yes, I win mother of the year.) Every kind of sugar imaginable.

3. If HPW wants to make more money (and who doesn't these days) they should have more stores....bigger stores...with more stuff:

We waited in line for an hour just to get into a tiny little store (Dervish and Banges) thinking if there was a line this must be a good store, right? Not really. My girls were ready to drop some cash on Tshirts...with Ron on them of course....and they went home empty handed. It was just too crowded in the stores, and the stuff wasn't really different than anything you could get at Hot Topic.

The line for Olivander's Wand Shop was over 3 hours. I just couldn't do it. I mean, I'll wait in line for a ride...but for a store? Naahhh. So my plan was to break a branch off a tree to use as a wand...see? Then I would really have a wand (that was made of wood instead of plastic) that I got from HPW. But....the trees were too gorgeous to rip a branch from.

See? Lovely trees. That's Cali and I (notice my pseudo-Hufflepuff colors...yellowish stripes.) Of course, when I saw this picture, I realized how long my hair has gotten and that I should have just worn all black and been Lucius Malfoy in drag.

There were more rides (dragon coasters....flying hippogriffs.....) and such. But the best part was walking past the Hogwarts Express and feeling like you had just walked into a dream.

I love you, HPW!

Artsy shot taken by Noel.

Here's hoping they build one on my coast.



Renee Collins said...


I squealed when I saw the title to this post! I have been dying to hear how this place was ever since I heard about it. Sounds amazing!

*sigh* One day. One day, I'll make my pilgrimage there, to the Mecca for all Harry Potter fans. :)

Natalie said...

That is awesome!!! I've wanted to hear from someone who'd actually been there and your review was excellent. We will definitely be taking the kids in a few years when some of them will be big enough to ride the cool stuff.

Anna said...

I am so jealous! It sounds like such a fun experience. *starts making travel plans* :-)

Stephanie Faris said...

SO cool. I wanna go...but by the time we get there, Harry Potter will probably be the old part of the park!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*sigh* I can't wait. But I will, especially for cool weather. When is Florida cool exactly????
I want a Forbidden Journey! Thanks for sharing these great pictures and memories.
(my word verification is "alabrou." Doesn't that sound like a spell?)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Awesome! Since I live in FL I've heard stories from a few friends that have went, and saw some pics, and I never get tired of it.

Such a fun place. I'm excited to go, but 'm giving it a few months (maybe a year) until the crowds die down a bit. ;)

Julie Dao said...

I AM SO JEALOUS!!! It looks INCREDIBLE. Too bad about the gift shops, though, I am always scouting for souvenirs when I go to theme parks. *pouts* I want to drink butterbeer at Hogsmeade! My birthday's coming up in a few months, maybe someone nice will take me so I too can ride a broomstick...

Shannon O'Donnell said...!

I am speechless with envy and admiration, so, um, wow! :-)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Lucky you!!!!! I just asked my daughter if we could go there on vacation and she asked if I was being serious. I said yes and she ROLLED her eyes at me. I guess I'll have to wait for grandchildren...

Stephanie Perkins said...

"My girls were ready to drop some cash on Tshirts...with Ron on them of course"

This means you should read Julie Halpern's Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, which I read recently and LOOOOOVED. And that is all I'll say about that.

Thank you for sharing these juicy details! Oh, I'm dying for the BIG RIDE and for a glass of greasy butterbeer. And those trees ARE gorgeous! And so are the ladies in front of the trees!!

Happy, happy, happy.

storyqueen said...

Renee- It was very awesome...I probably could post for days on it, but then people would hate me.

Natalie-Very much worth it to go. But you will want the kids to be old enough to appreciate it.

Anna-It was such a fun day! (If only the other people hadn't been there! hahaha)

Stephanie-Maybe so...but it will still be the coolest part!

Tricia-Yes, it does sound magic! and I don't know when Florida isn't really wasn't that bad when we were there. And my girls, (just back from Shanghai) said, "Mom, THIS isn't hot...China is hot."

storyqueen said...

Karen-I think it would be cool to go in October or November...all Halloweenish and ready for HP7!!

Julie-yep. It was a bit of a bummer that I didn't come home with great souveniers...oh well. I suppose I could buy stuff online and pretend I got it there...and then there's the whole tree branch thing...

Shannon-(Okay, the truth is that we HAD to go to Orlando for the girls' dance comp...Irish Dance North American Championships...) So, since we had to be there for a few days...and HPW was right there....

Sharon-You know, even my non-Harry Potter fan daughter (yes...I do have one of those, and yes, I do still allow her to live in my house) fell in love with HPW. She is now actually reading the 7th book. Theme parks CAN lead to reading I guess.

Steph-Okay, putting the Wild Nerd Yonder on my list. (Best title!) Whenever they have Leaky-Con again, they should totally have it near Harry Potter World!

Jackee said...

Look at you and all your cuteness! I love that you're in two ponytails--you rock that. Now on to repeat what everyone else said... jealous!

So, the Hogwarts ride is a bit like Soaring over CA and Indiana Jones and Space Mtn all rolled into one? Interesting.

Looks like so much fun. Thanks for sharing! :o)

Lydia Kang said...

That sounded like so much fun, except for the crowds. Too bad you can't do a crowd-dispelling spell on them.

Lia Victoria said...

I have to wait at least a few years before I go visit Florida. For now, I will just live vicariously through pictures and blog posts like this one :]

Dawn Simon said...

Oooh! I want to take my kids there! Love the pic of you and Cali. Your descriptions are awesome--I can totally see it. You are so lucky! I hope we get to go soon too!

Janet Johnson said...

Looks like some SERIOUS awesome fun. When my boys get a little older, this is SO on my list. :)

Myrna Foster said...

How did I miss this post? Thanks for sharing your pictures and impressions! It looks awesome!