My Day at Hogwarts

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I was crushed--crushed--when I found out the grand opening of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park wasn't going to be open until June 18th--a week after we were scheduled to be in Orlando.  I had heard rumors of an early "soft opening", but only for people staying at a Universal Studios resort.  

The first day we were in Orlando, I called and pleadingly asked, "Is there anyway we can get in?  Pretty please, with butterbeer on top?"  The lady I spoke to, while sympathetic, was obviously constrained from giving me the full skinny.  She advised, "Well, if they were to open it up, it would be to people who got there early and stood in line."  It felt like she was winking at me through the phone, but I couldn't be sure.  And, as it was going to be expensive and time consuming to get to Universal Studios from Disney, I didn't feel I could gamble on such flimsy information.

But then, on our next-to-last day in Disneyworld, Nice Sister-In-Law ran into someone with a "Wizarding World" t-shirt.  "Oh yeah, it's wide open--and the ride is awesome!" he told her.  That was good enough for me--we bought tickets and arranged for transportation the next morning.

We got there early as suggested, and headed straight for Harry Potter.  When we got close, a Universal employee was telling people that no one would be allowed into Harry Potter without a Universal Studios room key.  I wanted to cry, but we decided to keep walking--just to see if we could peek inside, if nothing else.  Just before the entrance, there was another employee advising people that they could wait in line for "if and when" the park opened.  That sounded more promising, so we quickly jumped into the end of the line.  

Less than fifteen minutes later, we were standing in Hogsmeade!

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In addition to the ride--The Forbidden Journey, a fantastic, flying-through-Harry-Potter-on-a-broomstick experience that was so awesome we had to do it twice--there were two other roller coasters, the Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff.

But a lot of the fun was in just hanging out!

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There were butterbeers and monster books.  And bigger bits from the books were everywhere too--e.g. the flying Ford Anglia and Hagrid's Hut.

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Zonko's joke shop--where there were fanged frisbees, sneak-o-scopes, remembralls, and pygmy puffs.

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And Honeydukes!  Truly a magical-seeming place, with chocolate frogs, licorice wands, and, of course, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans!

We also stopped in at Olivander's, which was more like a show than a shop.  Small groups were allowed in, and one child from each group was chosen to select a wand.  Then at the end of the performance, everyone could buy wands if they wanted, which I did...'cause, yes, I am that big of a geek!

There was also an Owl Post where I got my post cards stamped with a "Hogsmeade" postmark. And Filch's Emporium, which had Maurader's Maps, along with t-shirts and the like.  We also caught a performance of the Hogwarts choir (complete with chirping toads).

Basically, it was awesome!  If you're in that neck of the woods and you're a fan, you simply must go!