Before I begin – a note to Creative Every Day participants. The theme for August is FIRE. We were on fire at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and not just because it was roasting and we were toasting in Orlando. It was magic.
One word: Butterbeer. Two words: pumpkin juice. Three words: The Three Broomsticks. Four words: Zonkos, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, Platform 9 3/4 (I’m counting that as one word.) Five words: Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Chocolate Frogs, sneakoscopes.
It’s all there. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then start reading the Harry Potter books instantly. Now. This minute. Warning – even if you think you are immune, they will consume you so make sure you don’t have any pressing obligations.
I’ve read them at least seven times. Each time a new one came out, I started at the beginning again, and then as soon as I finished the new volume, I started it again.
If you do know what I’m talking about, then you know that on June 16th, at Universal Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you know that we were in Florida for a soccer tournament. Crazy stuff – soccer in West Palm Beach in July. But since we were so close to Orlando, there was no way we were going to miss Harry Potter world!
So here we are – first evening, still fresh, not fried nor wilted from the heat. Since we’re going into Harry Potter the following morning, not much can stop us. So I thought. My daughter Jennifer, and grandkids Joe, Dax, Sarah and Sophie, are heading out to CityWalk for dinner.
Yep, we headed to Margaritaville and had a fantastic dinner. This isn’t a gimmicky restaurant – it’s a restaurant with fantastic food where the margaritas really pack a punch. Want your money’s worth? This is your place.
We took a water taxi back to the Royal Pacific Resort where we were staying, determined to be well rested for early admission to Harry Potter.
OK, the photo is from another time, but it is the water taxi. And I’m in it.
Here we are eating breakfast in The Three Broomsticks. Right about now you should be getting shivers, to think of actually being at The Three Broomsticks. Our excitement was off the charts. Mine was, anyhow, and I think the others, especially Sophie, were right there with me.
We drank Butterbeer. Whatever it is, it’s amazing. Seems to be a creme soda-type of drink, but it stays foamy right to the end. I’m glad they didn’t have the calorie count. Wouldn’t have mattered – we drank as much as we could.
We also drank pumpkin juice, also amazing. Who would have dreamed that I would be drinking butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks? And don’t try to tell me it’s just make believe.
Before breakfast, we beat it to Hogwarts for the already much-heralded ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
We wanted to beat the lines, but that had a downside – we couldn’t enjoy all the Hogwarts scenes along the way. We zoomed straight onto that ride. Once it started, I have no idea what was happening. We were swooping all over the place – were we really moving, or was it like Soarin’ Over California? There was no way to analyze it because it just went too fast! Aragog made a big (no pun intended) impression, and the Quiddich pitch was dizzying and dazzling. The entire ride was dizzying, and though I wanted to go again to take in all the detail, it was all I could do not to throw up. Too old for these swoopy things. I’ll just luxuriate in the atmosphere of Hogsmeade.
Yes, we were really there. We worked hard to appreciate the muted colors and the snow-capped buildings even though it was over 100 degrees in the shade with humidity to match. Harry Potter World is not large. Why did they not put it inside a climate-controlled bubble? It would only take magic, after all. Dumbledore could have done it in a snap.
You know, it really was God-awful hot. I made it for most of the morning and went back to the resort. Jen and the kids lasted longer. But I didn’t care – I was so entranced that I took the visual image back to the swimming pool and pretended all afternoon. The above photo is early in the morning – early admission time actually – before crowds.
I went to Ollivanders and bought a wand. Tip: the line to get in is daunting. But if you go early, before all the employees are in place, you can walk around back, slip in the door to Dervish and Bangs, and from there slip into Ollivanders. Did I feel bad circumventing the line? Not at all. I felt clever, like Hermione.
Came back out to a puffy sky imitating the snow on the Hogsmeade rooftops. I did not feel the chill.
I went into Zonkos. Stop a minute and imagine how it felt to be entering Zonkos. It felt real! Everyone there wanted to believe and we did. Tinkerbell would have blown up and popped, there was so much believing going on. I bought a sneakoscope. I just desperately needed one. There could be enemies lurking around every corner and now I’ll get warning.
I also bought some Chattering Teeth. Don’t ask me why because I’m sure I could not answer. I just wanted them.
Did I mention the Remembrall? Don’t want to forget that.
Honeydukes, where I stocked up on Chocolate Frogs, complete with wizarding cards. And I got some Ton Tongue Toffee for my husband.
Since I’m not too fond of wondering if I am about to get a mouthful of vomit or boogers or pus, I didn’t buy Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans.
We came back in the evening and the following morning and evening, mostly for butterbeer and shopping. I have many people to buy for. If you read my post about the trip home, you will know my carry-on was not filled with useful items like nightgowns, toothbrushes, and clean underwear. It was filled with Chocolate Frogs, butterbeer cups, Ton Tongue Toffee and Chattering Teeth.
Did I mention that you cannot get butterbeer anywhere else than Hogsmeade? And much of the merchandise is not available anywhere else. Which is as it should be. One should not be able to buy sneakoscopes or wands just anywhere. I bought three large stuffed Crookshanks, one Fawkes, one Fluffy, and Scabbers. If you don’t know what these are, pleaze read the bookz.
I do think a flaw in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is that you cannot go into the Hogwarts Express. We should be able to sit in compartments, drink pumpkin juice and eat cauldron cakes, and change into our robes. Another flaw was that I was unable to buy Luna Lovegood’s turnip earrings. Or were they radishes? I was looking forward to that. The Quibbler was available, however.
I bought 21 postcards and wrote them right there sitting in The Three Broomsticks. They are postmarked Hogsmeade. That’s not something you can get just anywhere. Consider yourself very privileged, the 21 of you that receive those cards. Not only postmarked but with a special Harry Potter stamp.
What else can I say to you? Did I mention how delicious butterbeer is? And that I bought a wand at Ollivanders? Probably. It was just magic. Being there was magic and real at the same time. Because in Harry Potter, the magic is real. The chance to live it was not to be missed – heat, humidity, rain, whatever the elements could throw at us wasn’t enough to dampen the astonishing thrill of really being in Hogsmeade and seeing Hogwarts. And I owe it all to my granddaughter Sarah, whose AYSO soccer team went to the nationals in Florida. But if I were you, I wouldn’t wait for someone in your family to have a soccer tournament in Florida. I’d just go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Preferably in spring, winter or fall.