The occurrences of this post took place some time ago, but due to several distractions I am only writing them out now.
Gordon and I were given tickets to Universal Studios for Christmas – it was a three-day pass, including both the Universal Studios park (with Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (boasting Hogwarts and Hogsmeade), and a park-to-park pass which allowed us to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two. Now, if you’re one of the few unfortunate people in this world who hasn’t read J.K. Rowling’s enchanted Harry Potter series, I’ll have to explain some things. Diagon Alley is a street full of wizarding shops, in between Horizont Alley and Knockturn Alley – which is crammed with stores for dark wizards. Hogwarts is, of course, the wizarding school which students attend between the ages of eleven and seventeen, and Hogsmeade is “the only all-magic village in Britain,” located right by Hogwarts. So now that you know the basics, let’s begin.
I don’t want to give too much away for those of you who may be going in future, but at the same time I’d rather not make this a bland article, so I’ll do my best to obtain a spot in the happy medium.
We started at Universal Studios and hurried through the New York and San Francisco sections of the park to reach The Wizarding World right away. Each area of Universal Studios is arranged to appear as a real city. Walking by the “ocean” in San Francisco with seagulls over my head, I nearly forgot that I was in Florida. I was already grinning madly as we entered the park, but I became truly giddy upon seeing London. There, in the middle of Florida, are King’s Cross Station, Big Ben, several small bookshops, and a row of apartments on Grimmauld Place. There’s the triple-decker Knight Bus, and Stan Shunpike leaning against its purple exterior chatting idly with Ernie, the driver. And a stereotypical London phone booth, which I later slipped inside to dial 62442, the code to enter the Ministry of Magic, though to my disappointment no cool female voice spoke into the air, asking my name and business.
But the true magic lay behind a brick wall passageway discreetly hidden in Muggle London. I stepped hastily through and saw to my pure joy and astonishment a very nearly perfect replica of Diagon Alley. I stood there for several moments with my jaw hanging open, filled with amazement, hardly able to breath for happiness, admiring Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes on my right, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor on my left, and straight ahead, Gringotts bank, topped by a blind albino dragon which breathed fire every ten minutes. After recovering myself, I set off down the street taking it all in. It was a bit crowded, by not overly, being a Friday when most visitors with annual passes were busy with school and work. The cobbled road was wet, though it hadn’t rained in a week, because it was London, and in London it’s always just rained.
I gaped at Ollivander’s wand shop (since 382 B.C.), grinned at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, and continually reminded myself to breathe. In Horizont Alley, I watched Celestina Warbeck perform several songs I knew (A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love, You Charmed the Heart Right out of Me), and several I didn’t (the Quidditch anthem, for example). I bought a wand from Ollivander’s, because there are interactive sites throughout Universal’s Wizarding World which allow you to “perform magic” if you have the proper wand, and that was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
I also pretended that it was me causing the dragon to breath fire, and every time it happened I held up my wand with a look of intense concentration and cried aloud “incendio!” It was fantastic to explore Diagon Alley and imagine myself in the world of Harry Potter (after Voldemort’s time, of course).