I know it's Sunday, which means it should be SUNDAY FUNDAY!!
But who cares about that, because I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Friday! And I know you all would much rather see pictures and read about my time there than get awesome links (J/K, but I'll be delivering those links tomorrow instead. I still want to spread the blogging love.) I think this is totally justifiable because Harry Potter is book-related (more on that later).
We got up at 5:30am, which if you know me in real life is SUPER early for me. I mean, I have to be at work at 8:30, I live 10 minutes from my office, and I think I roll out of bed at about 8:15 most days. So that should tell you how I feel about early wake-up calls. But we wanted to be on the road by 6 so that we could be there right when the park opened at 9, and hubs wanted to stop at Cracker Barrel for a delicious, filling breakfast to get us through the morning.
We walked into Islands of Adventure (the area of the theme park which houses WWoHP - remember, it's not a whole park on it's own, though that would be awesome) a little after 9. We did have to wait in line to get inside the Harry Potter area but it was only about 30 - 40 minutes, and the line moved the whole time. Mostly they were just herding people slowly through the park, I think, and trying to keep us from storming the gates.
So I walked through the gates into Hogsmeade, squeezed my husband's hand, and made this emoticon come to life: :D
The first thing we did was ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. The wait was about 60 minutes, and the longest I ever saw the line was 90 minutes. Considering that, at one point, we were pulled out of the park (those who follow me on Twitter got to see me rant about that ordeal - it wasn't the park's fault or anything, and we got to come back later and see Hogsmeade at night so it ended up being totally fine) and went to the Universal side and waited 60 minutes for the Simpsons ride, that wait time is legit. Plus the details in the line are ah-MAZ-ing. It makes it not even seem like a wait. (And park workers-er, wizards- said single riders get on right away, if you don't want to wait at all. But then you miss out on the castle.) Here are a few of my favorite details (and trust me, this is barely the tip of the iceberg!!):
I got to see the end of a frog choir performance, which was funny, and the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons dancers, both pretty cool. Pretty much the only thing we skipped this time around was Ollivander's wand show, because the line was ridiculous and there was no shade, so it would have been two hours of standing in the hot sun. I know I'll be back, hopefully when it's a little quieter, so I can go then.
This place is seriously merchandise heaven. I'm writing this in my new Gryffindor PJ pants. One of my mother in law's friends works there, and she said they can't keep things in stock because they had no idea things would move off the shelf so fast. I guess they underestimated Potter fans. But really, if people started reading the series as kids when it came out, they're at the height of their buying power now - many are in their mid or late-20s, possibly with no kids, so all of their disposable income can go to MERCH. Or they have kids who want toys. It's genius.
All in all, though, the experience was truly amazing. You could spend all day there, but you could also easily spend half a day there, go enjoy the rest of the park, then head back in for dinner - because seeing Hogwarts castle lit up at night is amazing (and my camera just wouldn't capture it well enough to do it justice).
The coolest thing of all, though, is that all of this - eight hugely successful movies that launched the careers of three (and more) bright young stars, a theme park, and more - came from a book. A middle grade book. Written by a debut author.
Just remember that next time you're struggling to put your sentences together or make time to write. You better finish that book - it could be a theme park one day.