June 5, 2012

Harry Potter World, Part 1

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Ok, so, when I was putting together this post, I realized that there’s no way I can squeeze all my Harry Potter World pictures and ravings into only one entry, hence the “part 1” in the title.  There will be two parts.

And before I dive in, let me just explain to you a little bit about my love for Harry Potter. For those who also love Harry Potter, there’s no need to explain—you already get it—but for you who aren’t already fans and haven’t read the books, allow me to clear a few things up. It is probably tempting to think love for Harry Potter is very nerdy and rather immature, since it’s a children’s story, right?

Wrong. Well, wrong about the children’s story part, anyway.

I read all the Harry Potter books for the first time in Fall of 2010. I watched the final movie in the theater (I’d seen all the previous movies, but didn’t consider myself a die hard fan at that point), and after watching that last of eight movies, I was so in awe of the story and the way it ended that I decided to purchase the first book and give it a try. Two days later, after finishing the first book, I bought the rest and, literally, lived in that wonderful, magical world for about a month straight (some of the books are extremely long).

It was practically my reason for living during the period of time while I was reading the stories. Every morning I’d get lost in them while I sipped my morning coffee, I’d reward myself with some midday reading, and I’d read late into the night before bed. If we’re being honest here, some days I didn’t actually do anything else besides read. They are that good. I was completely amazed by J.K. Rowling’s brilliant story telling, and couldn’t even fathom that such an intricate world came out of one woman’s head.

But it’s the characters and the plot that get you. This is no children’s story… or it’s certainly not JUST a children’s story. Readers of Harry Potter grew up right along with the stories, and as such the stories changed and evolved over time. There are incredible themes of good versus evil, friendship, death, courage despite fear, and yes, love.

Nearly every important aspect of living and dying is addressed in these stories, and the writing is absolutely beautiful. These days, you don’t have to be a good writer to sell millions of novels (think Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey), but Harry Potter is the best of every world. I finished those books feeling like I’d just become a better person. They changed me.

Having said all that, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear it’s been a dream of mine to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, which is a part of Universal Studios. And guys, it blew my mind (though it was a little smaller than I expected it to be). It was raining half the morning and pretty terrible weather overall the day we went, but that didn’t damper my excitement. They did an incredible job of accurately portraying Hogwarts and Hogsmeade right down to the smallest of details, and it was just… magic. A day I’ll always look back on with so much fondness. I was thrilled to have a fellow Harry Potter connoisseur and friend by my side, and we just had the BEST time.

More to come this afternoon on Hogwarts, dining (and butterbeer drinking!) at the Three Broomsticks, and a perfectly magical mini-show inside Ollivanders Wand Shop. Stay tuned!

storyboardtest014IMG_8279-1 Hogsmeade!

storyboardtest015IMG_8281-1storyboardtest016 IMG_8277-1storyboardtest019IMG_8290-1storyboardtest017 IMG_8259-1IMG_8310-1The general consensus is that pumpkin juice tastes like drinking pumpkin pie. So fall-ish and delicious! :)

More coming later…

71 comments:

  1. gah! i am so jealous! these photos are so great and make me wish disney was a little closer to me than it is. i'm so happy that you got to see this place, especially since you're such a big HP fan. I started reading them when they came out and then had to reread them as I got older because i started forgetting what happened before the movies came out. can't wait for part II

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  2. Omg I'm so jealous! I love Harry Potter :)

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  3. O.M.G. - I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been awaiting this post ever since you got back! I'm also a HUGE HP fan! I started reading them a long time ago - before the movies, before the big fanfare and before Universal Studios - and I am so jealous that you got to go to Harry Potter World!!! I need to get there but I'm just not sure when I can make it happen!
    Looking forward to Part II so I can live vicariously through you!

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  4. I have been in love (obsessed) with HP since I was about 7 or 8. I admit to crying while watching the final movie! It would honestly make my life to go here, and if that makes me a nerd then I am happy with that!!

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  5. It's amazing how Rowling crafted those novels. I believe I could read them over and over and find something new each time.

    P.S. I'm super jealous that you got to go to Harry Potter World!

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  6. I think I just died a little inside. No wait, I definitely did.

    Is it weird that going there is on my bucket list? Probably - since it's the only thing that's currently on my bucket list.

    Anyways, I can't wait to read more about it this afternoon. I loved reading the books, but I loved watching my great-grandmother read them even more.

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  7. Your pictures are amazing! I had the time of my life when I went in February. I've been a fan for over a decade, so this was a long time coming for me, and yeah I mean... I cried. Ha :)

    The best p arts for me were the castle ride, frozen butterbeer, and just walking through Hogsmeade. I couldn't believe I was THERE!

    Found your blog through Twitter by the way, I'm @melissaa24 :)

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  8. While I don't fully understand the obsession with Harry Potter, I DO understand how cool it would be to go to a place where your favorite book was turned into real life. Glad you were able to experience it!

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  9. My husband has agreed to go with me in December. He's not as excited as I am, but he will tolerate me. Your pictures, as always, are absolutely gorgeous!

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  10. love the fake snow on those buildings! I am actually not a huge fan of Harry Potter but I do think this is so cool how they have created these places in real life, I bet it is really cool after reading the books to be in a place that looks like it did in the movies! :) looks like a lot of fun!

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  11. if i were die-hard, that harry potter place would be just about the coolest thing ever. lindsey wants to go baaadly. she's read them twice already and nathaniel is reading them a second time right now!

    have you seen friends with benefits? there's a part where mila kunis is making fun of justin timberlake's love of harry potter. made me think of this.

    but, let me be clear, i'm not making fun!

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  12. Good God, I can't even convey to you how jealous I am. I'm actually considering booking a flight to Orlando RIGHT NOW. :)

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  13. i just cannot get over how beautiful your pictures are! you are a very talented lady

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  14. Ah, I'm so jealous! I to, am a lover of Harry Potter! I actually read the books before I saw all the movies. I waited in line at midnight for the last three books with my brothers, and saw both parts of Deathly Hallows in the theater at midnight. I cannot wait for the day when my fiance and I can travel to the Harry Potter world as well!

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  15. Dear Jo,
    Mischief managed.
    Love, The Harry Potter Generation


    So glad you got to go to Hogwarts! It looks splendid!

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  16. I WANT TO GO SO BAD. SO SO BAD!!

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  17. Ok - you've inspired me to finally read the books. I've always liked the movies, but for some reason never felt inspired to read the books even though I've always been a fan of LOTR and even Chronicles of Narnia. I have a lot of plane time coming up and though I'll be hoping on the bandwagon WAY late, these seem the perfect way to pass the hours.

    PS - can't wait to hear what you though of 50 Shades. I'm in a big minority out here, so I'm wondering what you think...

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  18. Ah sounds and looks amazing. I have always loved the Harry Potter series too. Read the 1st book my freshmen year of highschool and have been hooked ever since!

    Love the pictures and can't wait until part 2!

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  19. Wow I had no idea at all that a place like this exists! It looks so magical <3

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  20. I'm beyond jealous. I've been DYING to go here ever since it opened. My fiance's parents have a timeshare at Disney World and we go often but NEVER ever get to go to Universal. I cry every year (yes I know how bratty that makes me seem)but I just can't help it.

    We're spending my birthday this year at Disney and I'm secretly hoping I will be surprised with a visit here. Fingers, toes and all other body parts crossed.

    So glad you go to experience it though. I'm not living vicariously through you.

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  21. *now

    .... clearly I was too excited!

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  22. wanna know something crazy? I've read all the books multiple times, seen all the movies, have a bunch of HP gear and my hubby hasn't seen ANY! I am thinking I need to just get the first on netflix :-)

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  23. I think it's so awesome they made this place. Even after the books have ended, the Harry Potter legacy still lives on here! Okay, that sounded super cheesy, I know. Glad you had a great time!

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  24. This is probably my favorite post of yours. Oh how I love Harry Potter. And I'm so jealous. I want to visit the Wizarding World SO badly. I'll just have to live vicariously through your posts and beautiful pictures!

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  25. (1) These picture are awesome. I've never read the books but you are making me curious. (2) Your little brother is A-dorable! (3) Can't wait to hear more about Fifty Shades of Gray. Again, I'm curious but rarely have time to read anything these days.

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  26. So jealous you were able to go there! I am dying to! Can't wait to read the part 2 post. And I totally understand everything you said about the books. An amazing storyline that is well written to boot?? Seriously unheard of these days. J.K. Rowling is genius.

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  27. Hey! I have been following your blog for some time, and was really excited to know you were going to the Harry Potter wonderland! :) See, I live in Europe, and have no idea when I can visit it myself, so thanks so much for the little tour! I have been a fan of Harry Potter for over ten years, and I agree - it is a very special, magical world, and the writing is great. What amazed me: the complexity of writing increased with each books - as if the Rowling was adjusting to the audience growing up.

    Again, thanks for the wonderful post, will be waiting for the next update!

    PS I would def also recommend audiobooks read by Stephen Fry :)

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  28. This post made me that much more excited to go! I can't wait for part 2. A theatre friend of mine performs at WDW and WWWHP (although she sings as a Slytherin... boo!), and I'm always so jealous that she gets to call that place work!

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  29. I'm welling up as I look at your photos. *sniff* I'm officially envious! One of our (kids & I) dreams is to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! How's the butterbeer? :)


    Just followed you on GFC! :) Hope I get a follow back. Thanks!

    www.themommist.blogspot.com

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  30. Very jealous, I really want to go to Harry Potter World!

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  31. I literally could not be more jealous of you!! I'm a die hard harold potter fan! I still hope someday that I will become a wizard and get my hogwarts letter. I can't wait for part 2. I got all excited just reading about your adventure...thank god for my imagination or life just wouldn't be as cool

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  32. aww i love that you loved it so much. personally, i stopped reading Harry Potter after the 4th book in middle school because they scared me, but maybe it's time to go back and start them all over again. looks like you had a wonderful time :)

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  33. I knew you were a kindred spirit the moment I found out you're a Potter Fan. Ahhh. Reading this post brought me back.... I started reading the books back in 2004. I remember going to midnight openings with my ipod on full blast (G-d forbid anyone shouted out a spoiler!!). I remember rewarding myself with "days off" from Columbia's rigorous reading and assignments by sitting in Starbucks with a HP book, drinking in the new pages one by one. Transported to a different world....

    Love it. And love you :)

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  34. I couldn't agree more about the books! It's way more than a children's book! When I first picked up the very first book I was in middle school and it drew me into a world that I didn't want to leave. I've must have read the books at least 4 times each, and now that I think about it, I want to re-read them again.

    There are so many life lessons that I've learned through those books that a book like Twilight will never compare to. I think the closest anyone has come to the Harry Potter books is The Hunger Games. I truly believe that all good books should have lessons within them. And Harry Potter is a classic that will live on forever.

    I am dying to go to Florida and visit Hogwarts! <3

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  35. LOVE THIS! I have always wanted to go here and it looks like you had a wonderful time!

    I grew up with Harry Potter and I was so sad to see it all end. It truly is a great franchise and I am so thankful that I was a part of it!

    Oh, and your comment about how you don't have to be a good writer to sell millions... and Twilight was one of the examples... Haha! I loved it! Watch out though... Twilight fans will go crazy!

    I can't wait to see part two of your adventure!

    xo Krystin

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  36. ah!!! i LOVE this!!! and now all i want to do is stop EVERYTHING and finally pick up book one.. i haven't yet, because i know i'll NEED to get all the other books immediately..

    sooo... if this is at universal studios, then maybe i can expect harry potter to come to LA?!?!? because oh my freaking goodness.. that would be AMAZING (especially since right now they have the buy a day get the year free deal going on..)

    oh one can dream...

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  37. It looks like you had a great time!! I can't wait to see more pictures. They did a really good job building HP World.

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  38. I was there on May 22nd and it was a dream come true. I grew up with Harry Potter. I was 11 when I read the first book and so I was lucky in that I got to experience his whole world while I grew up. I love that the books touch on what a normal, everyday teenagers life would be like so you can relate on some level when your the same age as Harry.

    Every time a new book was about to be released my grandma would pre-order the hardback edition and it would be delivered to my house on the day it came out and I would literally wait for the mail man to get to my house. I would run outside and grab it from him and then go into my room where I would stay until I finished the book, only taking breaks for the bathroom. I ate dinner in my room and I stayed up until 4 am sometimes because I wanted to finish the book.

    I love Harry Potter and I'm planning on getting a small tattoo eventually just so that the story is always with me no matter where I go in life. It has such a great story and you can really learn from the books. J.K. Rowling is my hero in a way.

    It good to know other people feel the same way about Harry Potter!

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  39. I love that I can read just how much you love these books. So much emotion in here. You're so cute.

    You both make me want to go there to check it all out. I've seen almost all the movies, but haven't read the books, but you're making me get very interested...
    Emily at Amazing Grapes

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  40. Okay, I feel like I have practically been there after reading your post! Rowling has clearly captured MANY with her series.....they were able to create movies and now a "world" out of it.

    I am thinking it may be time to pull out the books again. I was in the group that read the books as they came out before they even talked about making movies. I did cheat though, as the books got longer and the movies were being made I skipped the books. :(

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  41. I love HP!!! I can't wait to see the remainder of your pictures and trip story! LOVE IT! xoxo A-

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  42. so maybe i got chills reading this post because i just love harry potter that much and your description of the books is just that perfect. true harry potter fans are those who say the books changed them, because in reality you can't read them and not be touched & changed in some way. ahh i neeed to visit that place already and take in all that magical bliss.

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  43. I too, am obsessed with Harry. I read the first book in fifth grade and the last one came out my freshman year of college. I literally grew up with him...I could go on and on, but I know you get it. :) I'm super pumped you're writing a review of Harry Potter World, because my husband and I are road tripping down there in a month. So excited!

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  44. seriously, i love you haha. can i just say that you are a total nerd and i LOVE it!! looks like you guys had a wonderful trip.

    well deserved after what your late winter/early spring has been like...

    :)

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  45. 1. Thank you for addressing the adult appeal of the Harry Potter books.

    2. I must go here.

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  46. Oh, I am just dying to go!! And I haven't even read all the books yet!

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  47. Oh, I'm so jealous! The only thing I can console myself with is that I regularly get the train from Edinburgh to Kings Cross Station, and so I can visit Platform 9 3/4 frequently :-)

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  48. That looks so cool. Not as big of a HP fan as you but I am dying to go!

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  49. So JEALOUS! love these pictures!!! x

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  50. I just LOVE this and have wanted to go there myself too every since it opened. My husband and I adore the movies and the books alike. Thanks for sharing this....I'm jealous. Can't wait to read the subsequent posts about it!!!!
    -Kristen

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  51. Hmmmm..... maybe I should read the books... just a thought....

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  52. Um, your whole post is my exact story. Movies, then books, then full on "see you in a month honey".

    That first pic of Hogwarts is NUTS, so REAL?!

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  53. LOVE all your pics! I'm going in 2 weeks and cannot wait! I LOVE Harry Potter!

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  54. Although I haven't read the 'Harry Potter' books yet, I'm sure it's a well written story. Much better than the other popular books these days.
    It looks so cool there though! I bet it is really fun, to be 'in' the world you read about. I would love to do that with a favorite book of mine.

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  55. This makes my heart hurt and yearn at the same time. I've been thinking about re-reading the entire series (again) and after reading this...I'm going to have to.

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  56. Yes, yes, yes to all of this. i hope I can make it out there some time. Long way from California. :(
    Looking forward to part 2!!

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  57. I am soooo jealous!! I am going to FL in August and a friend of mine can get me in for free so I am def. taking advantage of that offer!! And I def. agree with Harry Potter being more than a childrens book. I was in fifth grade when the first came out and read them all as they came out and it seemed like the older I got the more "mature" the writing became, so it was truly like I was growing up with HP. Love this post!

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  58. Oh such a lovely intro into your post.

    I just had those warm and fuzzy feelings all over again when looking at your pictures. GAH! I want to go back now.

    Do you know about the HP exhibition that has been travelling the world? It was apparently in Sydney but I think I was travelling while it was on. So sad.

    Looking forward to the next post :D

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  59. i am SO INCREDIBLE JEALOUS!!! your photos are amazing and make me want to go so badly!! glad you had fun!

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  60. my sister keeps convincing her friends to get married in FL so she has a valid excuse to go here. not a bad idea...

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  61. I've never read Harry Potter and I'm quite ashamed of this! The way your describe it makes me realize what I've been missing :(

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  62. I've never been a HP fan but when we were in Orlando last year - I absolutely LOVED the HP ride and Hogsmeade... I can only imagine your excitement and enjoyment!
    x

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  63. oh holy geez. this is my heaven. i feel like everyone has their own HP story the same way that every couple has their own "how we met" story. those books got me through my first summer living on my own after my freshman year of college. and they brought me comfort again when i re-read them after finishing the bar exam a couple years ago. HP will always have a special place in my heart.

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  64. We didn't try the pumpkin juice but I believe you. Isn't the stores so cool. We loved them.

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  65. I had no idea there was a harry potter world! wow!! HOW COOL! this is being added to my bucket list for sure!

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  66. You articulated everything about the books and JK Rowling's writing perfectly!!!

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  67. I sooo want to go there! I've been a fan of HP for forever it seems. I started reading it in 5th grade and waited for those books each year. I really need to reread them again! Can't wait for part 2. :)

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  68. My experience with Harry Potter has actually been pretty similar to yours thus far. I read a few of the books when I was younger but stopped somewhere around the fourth one, even though I continued to watch the movies. I consider myself a full-blown nerd (and proud!), and especially so when it comes to book so I'm kind of ashamed of not having tackled such a widely read and critically acclaimed series. You've helped alleviate some of the "I-never-ACTUALLY-read-HP-when-I-was-young" guilt/trauma and inspired me to give it a go!

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  69. Thank you for the fantastic article. The place else could anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect means of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such information.
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Thanks so much for leaving your two cents! I read and appreciate every comment and respond when I can. Thanks for reading. :)

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