It’s OK for Grown Ups to Cry at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando… A Lot!
Let’s get this out there right now. I am a Potterhead. Whatever that means to you, I don’t care. No, I don’t smoke pot. Yes, I am 100% a Harry Potter fan. I started reading the books in college right after “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was released. My friend Jamie basically yelled at me to read the books. I did what he told me in that instance (I ignored him when he made other, less wise suggestions during our college years), and I will be forever grateful.
I met and bonded with my best friend in grad school over Harry Potter. She was such a committed Potterhead that when “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” was released during our grueling first quarter, she read while running on the treadmill for an hour every afternoon… and never fell off! Obviously, our friendship was meant to be. And yes, she is very mad at me for going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without her for the first time.
Harry Potter’s Power on Adults
Twenty years have come and gone since the first Harry Potter book (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”) was released in the United Kingdom. No one, not even J.K.Rowling’s publishers could have predicted the international phenomenon Harry, Ron and Hermione, along with all of their friends and family would become. They entered our lives and haven’t left.
I literally turned to my 8-year-old earlier this year while watching the first film and said “I gave birth to you so I could share my love of Harry Potter with you.” He thinks I’m crazy. I’m OK with that. If a parent can’t share the things she loves with her kids, what’s the point, right?
When Universal Orlando Resort invited me to be an ambassador for their parks this year, I said yes without hesitation. I mean really, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was there. There was nothing to think about. If I could bring my laptop and work in the Three Broomsticks and rent a room at the Leaky Cauldron I would move in. The boys could visit me on the weekends.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Made Me Cry!
Little did I know that the very first event I would go to would be the Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. I was completely unprepared for the emotion this would inspire. I was not alone.
My friend Brock cried as he entered Hogsmeade for the first time, our first glimpse at the magical world of Harry Potter that Universal Orlando Resort had brought to life. He was embarrassed. Children weren’t crying, but he was.
I declared to him and all around us, “No! You embrace this emotion. For at least 15 years we have lived with Harry Potter. We waited in line for HOURS for the books and movies to be released. We waited for years to find out how Harry, Ron and Hermione (and my personal favorite Ginny) would survive “He-Who-Must-Not-Be
Harry Potter on Steroids
Like our parents before us when the Lord of the Rings books were finally made into gloriously long movies (director’s cut anyone? That’s a big yes for our family.) and people could go to New Zealand to put Middle Earth into a real-life place, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter lets us step into the world we have held in our hearts and minds for so long.
Want to see that world on steroids? Go during the Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. Cosplay is encouraged and you better believe I was annoyed with myself for not bringing a costume!
Like a Kid in Honeydukes Candy Shop
What was I feeling as I entered Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley? Hogsmeade snuck up on me. It was our first stop as we rushed through a lot of different rides and stops in Universal Orlando Resort. We were doing an overview of the park. Obviously, I just wanted to get to everything Harry Potter, but the rest of the park was amazing too.
We came upon Hogsmeade station and the Hogsmeade sign, so I couldn’t quite see down the row of shops. I was busy taking photos of the sign. I took one more step, and suddenly I had the perfect vantage point to look straight down the lane going through Hogsmeade. Did a squeal? Well, I think it was more of a scream/squeal/bizarre high-pitched wheezing sound. I did not hyperventilate at least. Everyone in my group knew how I felt about Harry Potter. Yes, there are photos of me dabbing my eyes out there somewhere.
I honestly thought Diagon Alley would get me more, but it was Hogsmeade. The snow on the roofs, seeing the turrets of Hogwarts up ahead, the shops, the butterbeer cart; it was all there for me to take in. I couldn’t stop spinning around and looking everywhere.
One day I really will just sit on a bench and people watch, but not my first visit.
Did the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Live Up to the Hype?
Diagon Alley was amazing as well. The architectural design and construction that went into that space was incredible. Getting to be in there at night with just our little band of 15 people so we could get photos was a dream come true. Did I do cartwheels down the alley? No! But I had planned to and totally forgot! I’m still kicking myself. I was just so overwhelmed.
Every moment of being inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter lived up to my expectations and more. The staff inside this part of the park was kind and enthusiastic towards the fans. They each had their favorite flavor of Butterbeer and they could steer me in any direction I needed to go. When you go, don’t be afraid to grill them with your Harry Potter questions. I sure did. Yes, I was working, but I just had to know where to get my Gryffindor scarf, Quidditch shirts for the boys, and my Ireland Quidditch pin.
As an adult, I am proud that I could embrace my love of fantasy fiction in the beautiful land the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort has brought to life. There are so many adult fans that you will always be with your people when you are in the park. Never feel embarrassed when you cry. Plenty of teenagers were crying. Adults, kids, and everyone in between were thrilled to find their magical place in this world.
Will I be back? Oh yes! Will it hit me again that I am hanging out in the Wizarding World? You bet! Anyone who works at Universal Orlando Resort will tell you that they love to hang out here. Seeing the Knight Bus, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley never gets old. I’ve seen their faces as they tell me this. The joy that spreads across their face and lights up their eyes says it all.
So, until next time… mischief managed.
This post is part of a paid partnership with Universal Orlando Resort. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.