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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!

Guess where I went last Monday? My best friend Elizabeth and I flew to Orlando, Florida, and went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! Yes, we did, we did!! We totally wore our Gryffindor ties and everything (in the 90 degree heat, no less). Mr Brat was nice enough to keep Baby Brat for me, so it was geeks girls only. We flew down Sunday, went to the park Monday, and flew back Tuesday. I wish all my fellow HP fan LJ buddies could have been there, too. I know you would have loved it. :)

Want to hear all about it? Okay, needless to say, SPOILERS AHEAD. Also, lots and lots of pictures. :D

(ETA: I've posted this entry a second time here because LJ messed up my date of posting, grrr.)

As we walked toward the park, there was a security checkpoint where they peeked into our purses to make sure we had no weapons. Our security officer was a skinny old dude with white hair who, when he saw our Gryffindor ties, raised his fist and shouted, "GO, SLYTHERIN!" He then expounded on why it's silly to be a goody-two-shoes, that the bad guys have all the fun. "Look at Las Vegas, for crying out loud." LOL.

Here's the entry and some exterior shots. It was hot as blue blazes when we were there, but don't the rooftops look magical? The sign says, "Please respect the spell limits" (you can click on all these images once or twice to see a larger version).

The Hogwarts Express. It doesn't go anywhere, but isn't it cool? :)

On the left is Honeydukes, and on the right is the Owlery. In the center is a butterbeer cart. ;)

The Three Broomsticks and the Hog's Head were actually in the same building. Here are some shots of the Three Broomsticks. The sign says, "The Three Broomsticks - Fine Eating Establishment."

I love the way all the corridors and stairways overhead were asymmetrical. You can see a house elf's cleaning cart here.

Another shot of the house elf's cart.

I love this winding staircase. A cool thing that I was unable to capture was that occasionally a light would illuminate one of the walls and you'd see the moving shadow of a house elf cleaning, or an owl delivering a piece of mail. :D

I loved this sign in the Three Broomsticks! There was another sign (not photographed) which stated yesterday's specials, lol.

Here's a place to park your broomstick when you're coming in for a pint of butterbeer. It's one of the hallways that connects the Three Broomsticks (on the left) and the Hog's Head (to the right, which you can't see in this photo).

The Hog's Head. I was hoping it would be its own establishment with a rougher, tougher, snarkier staff, but oh, well; I guess they have to cater to the kids (though they DO serve beer). It was actually just a bar, and was connected to the Three Broomsticks. There was no Aberforth, and there were no goats (or goat smells). :( But we could hear "dishes" being thrown around and dropped "upstairs." A sign on the wall leading "upstairs" said "Guests of the inn only."

You can see the Three Broomsticks again through the open fireplace.

The hog's head on the wall would move and snort every once in a while! His blue eyes were actually pretty creepy. And the plaque on the wall next to the shrunken heads says that management is not responsible for your losing your head. ;) Note the doxy eggs in the bottle above. The attention to detail was pretty amazing.

For those of us who have written fanfic in which this stuff features prominently ;), here are photos of firewhiskey (lower left). Unfortunately, they don't/can't actually serve the stuff. Stupid fire code.

Yummy butterbeer is yummy. There's a creamy topping that is oh-so-buttery; the drink itself tastes like a cream soda. We kept our commemorative mugs.

Here's a photo of the Hog's Head beer, which was actually pretty tasty! We kept these mugs, too.

Past the Hog's Head were the "public conveniences." They didn't have a lot of ambience inside, but they did have Moaning Myrtle's voice piped through the speakers. You will forgive me for not taking a photo inside the bathroom. :)

Just past Zonko's (the red storefront) you can see Honeyduke's (in pink). Like the Three Broomsticks and the Hog's Head, Zonko's and Honeyduke's are actually connected inside. Here are some photos of Zonko's Joke Shop.

"Please do not walk on the walls."

I was very tempted to buy some U-No-Poo. ;)

Extendable Ears, which they had hanging from the ceiling (forgot to photograph those).

I really wanted to buy this t-shirt because I thought it was really cute. The cheapest shirts are $22, even kids' sizes. I did cave and buy myself a Cornish pixies shirt, which you will see later. :)

On to Honeyduke's!

We ran out of time and didn't even get to taste any pumpkin juice!!! :( But here's a photo, anyhow.

I always wondered what Cauldron Cakes look like.

Here's Ollivander's, which was connected inside to the Owl Post's interior. We didn't stand in line for the show because the line was always too long, and as I mentioned it was 90 degrees outside. Apparently they have a show where one child is singled out and the wand "chooses" that child. Sounds fun!

The owlery outside, with animatronic owls. Note the owl dung, lol. The overhead fans were much appreciated.

I loved the clock innards (you can see the clock face in one of the exterior shots at the beginning of this post).

More animatronic owls (and dung) inside the Owl Post. There were lots of "birthday wands" for sale, along with the wands of all the characters ($29 each). And of course you could buy Hogwarts stationery.

We somehow missed the Toad Choir performance. :( But here are the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students about to perform. The girl in Gryffindor robes introduced them, citing a spirit of magical camaraderie and cooperation as the reason for holding the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Then the guys did martial arts, jumps and somersaults, and quarterstaff fighting, followed by the girls doing their wand and ribbon dance. It was cute to watch the Durmstrang boys watching the French girls dance; the guys were all pretending they didn't want to be interested in them, but they totally were. ;)

There was, of course, lots of cool merchandise. I really wanted this Marauder's Map, but it was $50. (I found out later you can get it in the Noble Collection for $35 - which is still a lot, but better than $50). They had one of the maps on display under glass, and they projected some little footprints and name labels floating around, which was a very cool effect.

These are all fake storefronts. Love the formal wizards' robes at Gladrags.

Scrivenshaft's had a quill that was "writing" in the left window (you cannot see in this photo).

Wiseacres Wizarding Supplies and Potages Cauldrons.

Hogwarts! Here is proof that we did indeed wear our Gryffindor ties. That's me on the right; my friend Elizabeth is on the left. We saw a couple of teenage girls with eyeliner drawn into lightening bolt scars on their foreheads, and a couple of girls in their twenties wearing grey school uniform skirts and school ties, but that was it; everyone else wore shorts and t-shirts. If there was a geek contest, I guess we would've won first or second prize. ;)

Here we are in front of Hogwarts (I'm on the left). Plz to be ignoring the thumb of the nice lady who took our picture.

As you can see, the wait time for this ride was 60 minutes. Part of the time is near the greenhouses, and part of it is through Hogwarts itself.

Before we actually entered Hogwarts, we had to put loose items into a locker (so they don't fall out on the ride). I wish I'd kept my camera, because I could have taken photos inside Hogwarts and then just stuffed the camera into my pocket for the ride, which was called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (FYI, I didn't ride the other two roller coasters - Flight of the HIppogriff, and the Dragon Challenge. My friend has motion sickness, and I'd heard the other two rides weren't as great as the Hogwarts one. I think you can see these rides on YouTube.)

The inside of Hogwarts was VERY COOL. The portraits of the founding wizards/witches talked to each other. We went into Dumbledore's office, where he stood on a balcony and talked about doing what is right versus what is easy. Then we went into the Defense Against Dark Arts classroom, where Harry, Hermione, and Ron told us they'd sneak us out for some Quidditch. All the images of the characters were filmed and shown on a scrim with real objects behind them in the background, so the effect was quite 3-D and realistic. I was impressed! Oh, I forgot to mention that Ron made it snow in DADA class, and my friend caught some and said it was cold! (Must have been shaved ice. Or magic. ;))

The ride itself was great fun. There were huge screens that made you feel as though you were flying over the Quidditch pitch, or over the towers of Howarts, and there were animatronic creatures, too. We went into the Forbidden Forest and got terrorized by acromantulas and dementors, and a dragon chased us into a tower, and we landed in the Whomping Willow at one point. I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you I screamed and laughed like a little girl! It was quite awesome. :D

Here's all the stuff I bought. That's me in our kitchen at home holding a puppet of Norbert hatching out of an egg, which I bought for Baby Brat. He absolutely LOVES this puppet. :)

I bought myself a Marauder's Map mug. It doesn't do anything cool when hot coffee is added, though I've seen some mugs online that show footprints or say "Mischief managed" when hot liquid is poured in.

My Cornish pixies shirt. :)

Baby Brat's Marauder's Map shirt. It's too big for him right now, but it'll fit him before I know it.

Here's a slinky that I bought Baby Brat from Zonko's.

I didn't get anything for Mr Brat because he is definitely not a fan of Harry Potter. But he tolerates my fangirlishness quite well. ;)

And FYT, some cuteness. Can you believe Baby Brat is 20 months old now?? (That's Mr Brat next to Baby Brat.) This was the first time ever that I've been away from my son overnight (TWO nights, no less!), and I won't lie - it was a little tough at first. But Mr Brat had some vacation, so there was good Daddy time while Mommy was gone. :)

If all these photos were not enough, you can go to my public Photobucket page and see a few short videos of the theme park that I posted, along with these photos. I hope this was enjoyable and made you feel as though you were there. I wish I could have taken all of you with me!! We would've had a blast. :D


( 27 Dreamt — Dream It )
Oct. 5th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
Jealous doesn't even begin to cover it! :)

Although admittedly I'm a bit afraid that should I ever get there, it won't measure up to what I imagine a "real-life" Harry Potter world could be like. However, they have moving portraits, butterbeer and presumably licorice wands and sugar quills, so I'm thinking it would probably be close!

I wish we could do a Metamorfic Moon group trip there. If anyone wins the lottery and would care to act as trip sponsor, count me on board! :D

And I can't BELIEVE how much Baby Brat has grown. One blink and they've gone from babies to little boys!

Oh, and almost forgot to say how much I love the Cornish pixies t-shirt. LOVE the colour and the shape - and it actually has a shape, unlike 99% of theme park t-shirts (and I say this as a bitter person who had her luggage lost on a trip to LA in 1999 and had to wear a Disneyland Mickey Mouse tent for three days).
Oct. 5th, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
I wish we could do a Metamorfic Moon group trip there

Oct. 5th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
OMG, we totally need a Metamorfic Moon group trip!! You are brilliant. :D

Although admittedly I'm a bit afraid that should I ever get there, it won't measure up to what I imagine a "real-life" Harry Potter world could be like.

I had to squint so I wouldn't see that it wasn't actually real magic going on, lol. Siriusly, I know what you mean. But once you're there, preferably with a fellow die-hard fan like I was, you willingly suspend your disbelief. And though I don't recall seeing licorice wands and sugar quills, there were plenty of other treats from canon. ;)

And I can't BELIEVE how much Baby Brat has grown. One blink and they've gone from babies to little boys!

Gah, I know it - Baby Brat is a little guy now, isn't he? I can hardly believe it myself. :)

I love the Cornish pixies t-shirt.

Oh, thank you! My friend talked me into getting it, and I'm glad I did. Of course, they charged extra for the fact that it has a shape, lol. I'm not even kidding. My sympathies to you for your time in the tent shirt. :(
Oct. 5th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
wish we could do a Metamorfic Moon group trip there

I was thinking the same thing! Wouldn't that be great?!
Oct. 5th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
We should totally make it happen!!! :D
Oct. 5th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
Oh, what fun! I'm so glad you went and had an enjoyable time. What was your favorite thing?

Did employees walk around in character? (Other than the Tri-Wiz group pictured.)

Great photos too! It looks so colorful and fun.

Was there a lot of merch?

AND zomg, look at the cute boy! He looks so grown up now!

I'm hoping all is well.

Oct. 5th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
My favorite thing was the walk through Hogwarts to get to the ride. I really wished I could shoo out all the other people and just linger in one place, really taking in the whole thing, you know? The attention to detail in the design of the place was incredible. It was like being inside the books and the movies all at once. :D

Most employees didn't attempt English accents, so I really appreciated the ones who did. And there weren't really any characters walking around, other than the Tri-Wiz folks and the train conductor. But there were LOTS of staff, and they were all in proper wizarding attire, whether for Hogwarts or Hogsmeade.

OMG, girl, there was SO much merch, and I wanted all of it! I wanted to get everyone I know on LJ a Gryffindor Prefect badge, but they were $8 apiece. If I'd been there one more day, though, I probably would've talked myself into getting them, lol.

Thank you for your sweet comments about Baby Brat. He really is a little man now, can you believe it?

Hope all is well with you, too. *hugs* I raced by your LJ earlier today and meant to come back and comment. Love the henna tattoo! I need to go back and read your whole post properly. ;)
Oct. 5th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
That's neat to hear such good feedback from fans re: the attention to detail! You can tell from all the great pics. Hogwarts sounds awesome!

Bummer there weren't people in character :-( I think they're missing out on a great opportunity there. Even if it wasn't big name characters, real fans would know and LOVE the opportunity for a pic or autograph.

I'd have a hard time resisting merch too, lol. Was it unique, or mostly stuff from Noble Collection/WB online shop? (Sorry for all the questions, lol.)

What's the little man going to be for Halloween?

Thanks for the henna love. :-)
Oct. 5th, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
Bummer there weren't people in character :-( I think they're missing out on a great opportunity there. Even if it wasn't big name characters, real fans would know and LOVE the opportunity for a pic or autograph.

Totally. You could get your photo taken with all the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons performers after their show, and you could also snap a photo with the Hogwarts Express conductor, but that was about it. The bartender at the Hog's Head (you can see him in the photos) was sadly uninformed about the books. You'd think they'd at least have trained him about wizarding drinks. I jokingly asked for a firewhiskey, thinking he'd have a funny reply as to why they couldn't serve it, but he said something like, "We're supposed to be getting our liquor license soon." I had to explain to him what I meant. And he STILL didn't even laugh. Gah. :/

You know, I haven't looked at the Noble Collection in a while, so I couldn't really tell you about redundancy. There were some things that both sites had. But it appeared there were lots of things you cannot get online. My Cornish pixies shirt, for one.

Feel free to ask all the questions you like! That way when you go you'll have the inside scoop and will know how best to enjoy your trip. :D

ETA: Baby Brat is going as a skeleton for Halloween. I found some PJs with glow-in-the-dark bones on the front. :D

Edited at 2010-10-05 11:26 am (UTC)
Oct. 5th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Oh that's a total downer that people weren't informed on the books. Disney might be nazis about some things, but their employees KNOW their stuff.

Glad to hear the shops had unique items too.

Did you get a survey in the mail/email? I saw that some fans who've been in recent months mentioned it to Mugglenet. Something about "Would you like to see an expanded Harry Potter theme park?" I've heard they're considering doubling it in size!

A skeleteon, how cute! He'll be all cozy and comfy- and warm. He'll have a blast, I'm sure.
Oct. 5th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
I didn't get a survey, but my friend booked the hotel/theme park package, so she may have gotten the survey. I'm positive she'd give 'em a big ole YES!!! That would be SO AWESOME if they expanded it! As it is, it's definitely doable in half a day. I want a place that needs 2-3 days to explore! And I want people actually dressed as characters, who walk around and interact with patrons. :D

Are you dressing up for Halloween? I'm thinking of getting a blond wig and going as Sookie Stackhouse. ;)
Oct. 5th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
I do want to dress up, but we've no where to go. Last year we went to a great party, but *sigh* nothing yet.

IF I do dress up, I'm going to be Rosie the Riveter. :-)
Oct. 5th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's brilliant! I love it. I hope you can find a good party to go to!
Oct. 5th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
I thought it would be an easy costume to put together quick!
Oct. 5th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Definitely! We're going to a fundraiser for our local art house movie theatre. The theme is "heroes and villains," and I figured Sookie would count as a hero. ;)
Oct. 5th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
Ooh! That would be a really fun get-together! Great theme too.
Oct. 5th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
It's usually a pretty fun party, and there's a silent auction, too, where I've gotten some really neat stuff for cheap! Two years ago the theme was the 1970s, and our whole street went as Star Wars characters. Mr Brat and I went as x-wing fighter pilots, with helmets and everything, lol.
Oct. 5th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
I remember those pics with your wee little baby bump! That was an ingenius costume!
Oct. 5th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! ♥
Oct. 5th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, it looks like so much fun! It's great that you got to go, and with a fellow fan to boot. :)

It sounds like they've really paid attention to detail, and gone all out on the effects! (I don't suppose the DADA classroom had a wardrobe bumping around with a boggart inside? ;) )

It's great to see a picture of Baby Brat, too -- my goodness, he's so tall now! I'm glad he has good taste and likes his Norbert puppet. :)
Oct. 5th, 2010 11:17 am (UTC)
We really had a blast! I only wish I could've taken all of you guys with me. :)

No, I looked specifically for the wardrobe with a boggart, but no dice. :( But they did have the big skeleton (like in the movies) hanging overhead. And lots of spooky-looking stuff on shelves and in bottles.

Thanks, I can hardly believe how big Baby Brat has gotten. Lisa said I need to start calling him Little Man Brat, lol.
Oct. 5th, 2010 07:36 am (UTC)
Oct. 5th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
If I could've, I would've taken you with us! You'd have loved it. Though there was a dearth of Remus and Sirius-related stuff. :(
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
Dec. 1st, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
Weird, LJ never notified me of your comment (and it hasn't notified me of any comments to what I posted today, either). I just happened to pull up this post to make sure I had replied to everyone, and then I saw this, after I'd already popped by your LJ to see what was going on. :)

Have you had trouble with LJ not emailing you notices of comments?

ETA: I just checked my notification settings, and everything looks fine, so I'm not sure why LJ isn't emailing me ...

Edited at 2010-12-01 02:35 am (UTC)
Dec. 1st, 2010 10:37 am (UTC)
I think it just randomly glitches (seems to do it most often when I've made Important Community Posts, so I sit there going 'shit, everyone hates my idea for an event', then go back to the page to find 30 comments sitting unreplied to, lol).
Dec. 1st, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
Argh, it makes me sooo mad. It's been glitching for a week now, then, because I'm still not receiving notices. My fear is that people will think I'm just ignoring them, that I've simply dropped off the face of the earth (which hasn't QUITE happened yet, lol). Sigh.
( 27 Dreamt — Dream It )

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