Before I dive into the world’s longest rant about Harry Potter, I first want to say thank you for all your support, advice, and love about Voices relaunching in January. I am truly lucky to know each and every one of you.
Now to the main event: THE BOY WHO LIVED. It’s not an over-exaggeration to say I cried upon entering Harry Potterland for the first time. I snagged tickets months ago for my mum’s birthday and during my last trip home, my family and I beat the crowds to explore the magical world of Hogwarts. You see, my mum and I are HUGE Harry Potter fans. Every couple years, we would hold our breath waiting for our Barnes and Noble pre-order to arrive and then devour them one at a time, laughing at the details of J.K. Rowling’s imagination and crying at the loss of our beloved characters. Ironically, the only member of our family to have gone to Harry Potterland before this trip is my dad, who — if we’re being honest — knows nothing about Harry Potter.
He doesn’t read fiction. It’s a whole thing.
So this October, an hour before the rest of Universal turned on its lights and loaded its popcorn machines, my parents and I were scurrying from parchment palaces to the Butter Beer stands like three muggles playing hooky.
We were each sorted into our houses the night before — Mum: Hufflepuff (no surprise, she is literally the nicest human I know), Dad: Gryffindor, Me: Gryffindor — so we felt right at home climbing the steps of Hogwarts. Now, the Hogwarts ride is the keystone of the entire land. The line itself is beautiful with talking portraits, surprise cameos, and welcomes from Harry and his friends. But then there is the ride. There is no other description for it than it’s bloody magical. You’re flying through the castle, battling dragons, playing Quidditch and ultimately, dueling Dementors. I mean, COME ON! It was too much for my Harry Potter fangirl heart to take so my mum and I immediately went on it again as my dad combatted the ride’s warned motion sickness on a bench outside.
This trip was amazing for a handful of reasons, but chief among them being it was one of the first times I’ve able to financially treat my family to something really special. And that left me feeling very proud.
It was also one of the few days of my trip home that we were all in the same place, unplugged from work and writing, and able to just enjoy a world we’d loved since 4th grade. Throughout the day we dined at the Three Broomsticks, watched wands pick their owners, and kids cast spells in shop windows. But mostly we chatted about life in New York, and laughed at things only we would find funny like my dad reenacting his motion sickness battle on the Minion ride.
In total it was the perfect day because for those 12 hours, I channeled 4th grade Carly, suspended all reality, and let myself believe in magic. Then like the lady I am, I asked for an entire bag of Miceli’s bread rolls to take home because I am an adult who now owns a Gryffindor sweatshirt.
And if for some reason my tales of Harry Potterland didn’t spark your cold, unmagical heart, I don’t doubt the Unipiper’s latest venture will do the trick.