|The Wizarding World of Harry Potter|
|The Three Broomsticks|
|Eating a Turkey Drumstick|
|Hogwarts From Another Angle|
Anyway, we finally entered the true line, but from this perspective it looked rather long. Crap. At the particular spot where we met up with the line, a drink cart sat beckoning to thirsty line dwellers. If it's hot out and your line starts at the cart or even farther back, be sure to keep some cash (I'm not sure if they took credit cards) on you and buy a drink or two. You'll eventually reach water faucets, but they're a LONG way off (imagine how far back it was for those poor souls who had the 150-minute wait!). We didn't have any form of money (our wallets were in our backpack), so we settled in to wait. Fans blew misty water at us, helping to alleviate the heat, and the lines generally kept moving at a reasonably good pace. As we were walking along, we saw all the lines we were still going to have to go through (think of a giant maze with invisible walls), but we fooled ourselves into thinking, "it's not that long." And then we reached a certain point in the line and saw that it went back even farther, doubling and doubling again and again. This particular area was located in the direct sun without a sign of shade or a fan anywhere. Double crap. We already knew what we had to go through after this part because our line had already passed by all the other people way ahead of us. As we passed by them, they would look at us with sympathy mixed with a hint of smugness. Of course, this is the point at which the guy with the bad attitude started dissing the Harry Potter books, complaining about people cutting in line (they weren't), and talking on his cell phone. At that point, I wondered, "What would HP do?" Because that sun was getting hot and the six-year-old was getting cranky.
Finally, after we'd started hallucinating about swimming in mugs of Butterbeer and pumpkin juice, we reached the shaded conservatory area. It was actually even hotter here, but you could almost smell the magic as we approached the entrance so we tried hard to stay optimistic...and conscious. When we reached the water fountains, we gulped down mouthfuls of water, splashed some in our face, and hurried along to enter Hogwarts at last. The moment we entered the cool interior of the castle, I decided that the wait, while VERY long, had been worth it. Like childbirth, you forget the suffering almost instantly as you take in this wondrous world that you've seen only in the movies and in your feverish imagination. I won't give away everything that happened, but I will tell you this: You'll see talking/moving portraits, Dumbledore's chambers (where a holographic Dumbledore speaks to you), and you'll visit the Defense of the Dark Arts classroom, where you'll encounter Harry, Ron and Hermione. I couldn't believe how realistic the characters looked. In the Dark Arts classroom, something very awesome happens, so if it's a slow day, be sure to stop and listen to their whole skit and then, wait for it. I'll only tell you that it was magical. I have to say that although I didn't like the long lines, they did give you ample time to look around and take everything in. I loved the tour and kept thinking what a great job it would be to work at Hogwarts. I doubt the employees get as much free reign as I would like, but still...what fun!
|Hogwarts From Yet Another Angle|
Next, they strap you in and off you go on the best ride I've been on...EVER. Hermione is talking in your ear the whole time - not intrusively, but to warn and guide you. To be honest, I'm not really sure what she was saying, but it didn't matter, I was flying and dodging and flipping upside down. I was encountering spitting spiders and raging Dementors and feeling hot dragon's breath right in my face. I was inside the castle, then flying out of it, down onto the Quidditch field as though I was riding my own Nimbus 2000. Hermione could have been calling me a Numpty and I wouldn't have cared. The ride was so realistic that I felt like I was truly doing everything on my own. I even lifted my feet as we soared down toward the field at breakneck speed. This ride truly made me feel like I was a part of something bigger, like a heroine in a book come to life. Of course, unlike Harry Potter, I yelled the entire way. But I was shouting with joy this time around, not from mindless terror and fear of puking my guts out.
The ride came to an end all too soon. If the line hadn't been so long, I would have rode it again and again. I LOVED that ride. Now, just to keep you from raising your expectations too high, maybe I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. After waiting in line so long, I HAD to like the ride to make up for all that suffering. I must admit, by the time we entered Hogwarts, I was muttering something along the lines of, "This better be worth it or else Potter gets it..." But I don't think it was that. To me, despite the heat and three wilting children, one of whom decided to be churlish for the second half of the wait (I'm not sure I can blame him), it was definitely worth it. I hope you think so, too. I will tell you this...my youngest wasn't too sure about the ride afterwards (it's a LOT for a six-year-old and probably a little scary, too). When the ride was over, he tumbled off it looking a bit dazed. One of his sandals fell off as he stumbled along to join the rest of us. I grabbed his sandal and his dad scooped him up into his safe, strong arms. And after hearing us rave about it, along with a little recovery time, he decided it had been the best ride EVER. That's my boy.
It was back to reality after that. We fetched our stuff out of the lockers (the wand box was still there - hurray!), then visited Filch's Emporium, right next door and full of very expensive but fun stuff to look at. Lots of people were wearing Hogwarts attire (not just the staff), which, in that heat, is true dedication. After looking around the shop, we headed outdoors to take some photos and decide what to do next.
|Here Are the Cauldrons I Bought|
to Bring Home (I Wish)
|That's Right - Two Wands!|
|A Nod to the Gate in Anaedor|
|Beware the Power|
|Every Flavour Beans|
|The Islands of Adventure|
Even though there were difficult moments (intense heat, long lines, fussy kids, fussy mom, not knowing all the rules, losing kids), I don't really remember any of that. What I remember is an experience that was magical and uplifting - even the bathrooms were interesting (think Moaning Myrtle). As a writer, I can only hope that some day my work will become a similar inspiration to people around the world...an inspiration to dream big and fly high!
|I Can't Wait to Go Back!|
|Come Explore Anaedor!|