Many years ago, my dear friend Kristen was on an airplane. She’s eagerly looking forward to cracking her big new Harry Potter book for several hours of cross-country magical mayhem when an older gentleman, sitting next to her, decides to chat her up, “Is that one of those books about magic?”
“Why yes it is.”
“Seems like a bad idea if you ask me– teaching children about witchcraft and wizardry.”
And in less than a beat she effortlessly retorts, “I’ve read every single book and have yet to cast a successful spell.”
That shut him up real good…
I’m envious of this story on so many levels. In any event, last week, after our third opinion, we spent the day visiting the highly anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
We arrived early to the snow-capped village of Hogsmeade. It was darling. It was adorable. It was a perfect little haphazard English village. Our first stop was the wand maker’s shop, Ollivander’s. After a well-acted scene whereby the wand chose the witch, we were ushered into a shop with boxes of wands stacked to the ceilings. After a bit of a consultation, our two little wizards left with two magic wands, while the clerks had disapparated a significant wad of my muggle money. Later on Nate asks me in pure, innocent wonder, “Why didn’t the light shine down when my wand chose me?”
The cashier recommends we hightail it to the Forbidden Journey ride within Hogwarts castle before the lines get long. The line is definitely the best part. The Forbidden Journey should actually be called the Nauseating Journey. Nate isn’t tall enough to ride, that lucky bowtruckle, so we use the “Child Switch” room. I should have known what I was in for when Jacob refuses to ride the ride a second time with me. I board the people mover and sit down in the roller coaster-like seat next to an elderly Asian woman. All I remember is a blur of motion sickness and the poor lady next to me screaming in alarm in a melodic cadence during our flight.
Next we peruse the local shops, practicing our inconsistently effective magic wand spells, visiting the owlery, taking a wide berth around the Monster Book of Monsters, and eyeing the magic broomsticks. After a surprisingly good lunch and a couple of butterbeers, we leave England for Costa Rica, some sort of desolate Transformer world, and a tram ride. Nate still has a lot of questions about the guy with the knife that chased the tram past the Bates Motel.
As we enter the deceivingly tranquil start of the Jurassic Park boat ride, Nate asks me in awe, “Is that real?” And on the final plunge, just after the T-Rex tries to take off our heads, the man in front of me loses his fur-edged pink protective hood. Fortunately I’m ducking down in total fear and it flies right over my head, whapping the guy in the face behind me.
After riding the Tranformers ride with my eyes mostly shut, I’d say the storyline of every ride goes exactly like this, “Oh everything is great la la la. Wait a second, we’re in a restricted area! Oh no, we gotta get outta here! Five minutes of brushes with death and 3-D plummeting and violent narrow escapes later… Oh phew, we’re safe. Great job team. The world is saved. Bye.”
After all that, we escaped back to the now crowded tranquility of Hogsmeade for a couple of chocolate frogs and some crisps.
It was just the sort of magical respite we needed during a long, overly Mugglish week. The boys are enthusiastically smitten with their wands, casting spells and unforgivable curses left and right. I don’t know how many times I’ve been stupefied, engorgio’ed and crucio’ed. My Silencio charm has no effect.
Can you believe… I’ve read all the books, twice, and have yet to cast a successful spell?