Given today is JK Rowling and Harry Potter’s Birthday, I thought it only fair to post my take on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in my blog.
For all us 20th century folks, Harry Potter is much more than just a fantasy. We grew up with Harry Potter, we sympathised with that 11-year-old kid living in the cupboard under the stairs, we found ourselves in the years as Harry, Ron and Hermoine made their way through Hogwarts and waited with bated breath on those long lines in July 2007 just to get our hands on the final chapter in Harry’s life just to find out if he lives to tell the tale after Voldemort. Every summer vacation would essentially mean reading all the books from 1 to 7 just to get lost in the magical world once again. And it will not be fair if I don’t admit that I waited years for that Blessed letter from a magical unknown kingdom far far away to come at my doorstep saying I was special too just like Harry Potter. (Yes, you can call me crazy)
As we grow up (eventually), the closest thing to reliving the magic for us poor muggles is to well visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. And that’s exactly what my sister and I planned to do for my 24th Birthday this year, we decided to relive our childhood awesomeness in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and they did not disappoint us.
Just like every other Universal Studios, the crowds are crazy, not to mention the heat in Orlando, but there was nothing that was stopping our smiles as we made our way through the throngs of crowds at the entrance into the park. We did not look left or right once inside the Universal Studios and made our way straight to the Harry Potter part. As we were finding our way with a map, right in front of us was a big Purple bus, the Knight Bus in all its glory. The beauty of this place is the fact that they do not leave a single detail . The knight bus was right there in the middle of the park, with a conductor who looked exactly like the guy in the movie and the talking puppet. I jumped out of my skin when the puppet struck a conversation with me as I posed for a picture.
And right opposite was No. 12 Grimmalud Place, right between No. 11 and No. 13, they have a puppet like Snape’s figure looking out the window if you knock on one of the cubes on the doors. After looking at that we slowly made our way into Diagon Alley, the entrance like a broken wall and the magic began. It was exactly how you would visualize it, larger than life stores of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Gringotts with that overbearing dragon, Gladrags Wizardwear, Olivanders, Flourish and Blotts and more. Not to mention the theme music playing continuously on loop that could give you the goosebumps. And believe me when I say they got the details down to the T, right from pygmy puffs for sale in Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes to the nose of the goblin sitting in Gringotts when Harry first visits Diagon Alley, they’ve got it just perfect. The ride at Gringotts was excellent, the animation brilliant.
We then moved from one store to the other, we wore Gryffindor outfits, bought wands at Olivanders not to mention the insane amount of Harry Potter stationery and merchandise. we purchased. As we reached exhaustion just walking around Diagon Alley, we came across Three Broomsticks and of course the famed Butterbeer. Three Broomsticks had that gloomy, dark aura and the Butterbeer whipped with cream was the cherry on our expedition to the world of Harry Potter.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we took the Hogwarts express from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade and one look outside the station and I knew there was more Pottermania to come. As you enter Hogsmeade, you actually feel like its Christmas time. Snow clad buildings, an owlery, Honeydukes with more chocolates than you can imagine not to mention more Potter merchandise.
As we made our way across the bridge we got the first glimpse of the Hogwarts Castle and my god! There it was, in real life, the tall towers rising above the clouds, every brick exactly the way you imagined it. I fell in love with the castle. I had read about the rides of Hippogriff and the dragon fly and believe me the dragon fly was amazing, but nothing had prepared me for the walk in the castle. The entrance to the castle, the Triwizard cup, the Gryffindor common room, the Fat Lady, the moving pictures, the mirror of Erised, the entrance to Dumbeldore’s chambers, the dungeon classroom and these are just a few of the things, It was the enchantment in all 7 books in one castle right before your muggle eyes.
Already blown away with the castle, I was surprised when the line came to an end and failed to understand where they were letting us through in groups of 4. I then realised that there was a ride in the castle. Wondering what more there could be as I thought I had seen it all, we sat down in a moving conveyor belt and I had no clue what was coming.
It was a motion simulator ride to give you the experience like you were flying on a broom right behind harry chased by the dragon, doing all the stunts of the first challenge in the Triwizard Tournament, seeking the snitch under the stands of bystanders in Harry’s first Quidditch game, feeling the gloom spread as the dementors entered the castle grounds and attacked Harry in the Quidditch field. My foot shook as the ride got over, I could barely stand. The ride truly left us speechless. That ride, that castle, that experience it was all worth it.
JK Rowling, you truly made my childhood amazing and Universal studios did let me live the dream even if it was just for two days. A big shout out to the amazing sister for planning the best birthday ever!