ORIGINALLY POSTED: August 11, 2010
When I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it was way back when the second book had only been in stores a few months and most of the world hadn’t yet been bitten by the HP bug. It took a few chapters, but when we got to Diagon Alley I knew I’d stumbled upon something special. I remember feeling like I witnessed history in the making, feeling assured that once the books caught on, we’d have another Narnia Chronicles on our hands. The most vivid emotion though was that this book was the first time I’d read something as an adult that made me feel like books used to when I was a kid. I realize that is a terrible sentence, but hopefully you know what I mean. In short, I was mesmerized.
I quickly devoured the book, then the second, then waited impatiently for the third (which totally blew me away) and about this time word started spreading and the world was about to catch HP fever. It was the first time I remember ever dreaming about characters from a book and it happened more than once. The characters, the world was so real to me that when I was intrenched in one of the books I was completely surrounded. I remember catching myself before telling a friend that the next time I went to England I wanted to make a special trip to Hogwarts.
This last month, that silly fantasy of mine came true. Or as true as it can within our Muggle world. While in Orlando for the RWA conference, me and Emily and my mom made a side trip to Universal Studios to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We got up super early, we hired a car to take us to the park and we walked the long way to the entrance of the park. But we’d been smart and we’d pre-purchased our tickets so we were able to just walk right in. We made a beeline to the HP area (mostly we followed the crowd because that’s where everyone else was going too!)
And then we rounded a corner and there it was, across the way, but Hogwarts rose up from a hill just like I’d seen in my mind so many times. I’ll admit it, I got a little misty and giddy and started snapping pictures. We kept our trek through the park, passing by some really cool looking other areas, but we were on a mission.
Suddenly we were there, right up to Hogwarts door. There’s a ride in the castle, but I had read enough stuff on-line before hand to know that my motion sickness would probably cause trouble, so mom and I headed into the tour line where we were able to just walk through the castle while Emily went on to the ride. (she’ll have to tell you about it when she returns from her family vacation) Inside the castle we saw the hall of portraits where some of the pictures moved and talked. Then we saw Dumbledore’s office and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and the entryway to the Gryffindor common room with the Fat Lady’s picture. It really was totally magical and my only complaint was that I wanted it to be longer. I wanted to see the Great Hall with the floating candles and I wanted to see the actual common room and the floating staircases.
But never fear once we were out of the castle (dumped conveniently into Filch’s Emporium, a gift shop where I purchased my own copy of the Maurader’s Map) we walked strait into Hogsmeade. Now technically this was a mixture of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, but it was just fantastic. We bought wands and we had butterbeer (so tasty!) and we saw the Hogwart’s Express (another misty moment for me!) and we bought chocolate frogs in Honeydukes and went into the Owl Post. And I have to take a moment to personally thank all of the English families that were there that day, their lovely British accents really added to the experience for me. Then in the bathroom (which they called “public conveniences”) you could hear Moaning Myrtle whine and cry.
So how about you, what fictionalized world would you like to see come to life? If you could step into any book you’ve ever read, which one would it be? One lucky commenter will win a collection of books I brought back from the conference.