A few months ago, my friend Josie approached me with the idea to road trip out to Georgia, pick up her husband from training camp and go spend the weekend at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The whole thing was a surprise for her husband's birthday, so we took a solemn oath of secrecy and began preparation.
In the last month, I've spent most of my free time re-immersing myself in the Harry Potter books and movies, spiraling into a fervor of muggle mania.
It was in this craze that I entered the most magical place on earth.
Instead of a play-by-play of our weekend, here are my 10 Favorite Moments and general tips for having the best time of your life at Harry Potter World.
1. The Rides. Holy Phoenix the rides.
The most important ones to get to are The Forbidden Journey in Hogwarts Castle and Escape from Gringotts. Do NOT skip the lines. I don't care if you have an express pass or are a single rider, the waiting in line is half the fun. In Hogwarts, you can explore different passageways and rooms, and interact with holograms of Dumbledore, Harry, Ron and Hermione. My favorite part was the hall of portraits where the school founders argue about Quidditch and student behavior (be sure to look at what they are holding!).
Gringotts has the same dramatic flare, with animatronic goblins and an entrance hall that will take your breath away.
2. Ollivander's Wand Shop is a short presentation where Ollivander picks someone from the audience to receive a wand. I must of been giving off some serious magical vibes because he chose me! He'd hand me different wands and ask me to try spells. The first few times ended in some kind of misfortune, but the last wand he handed me...
I'm sure he tells everyone that they are "destined for great things", but he REALLY meant it when he said it to me, ya know?
3. Buy the freaking wand. YES it's obnoxiously expensive, but it will double the amount of fun you'll have! If you get the interactive wand, you also recieve a map of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that marks all the areas where you can do magic. If you go to the markers and say the correct spell, MAGIC HAPPENS! Unlock doors, make things fly, turn on lights, make it rain... you may look like an idiot:
But it is totally worth the thrill.
6. Do your research before you go and look for the details. Here were some of my favorites:
Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom in Hogsmeade.
The Goblin who will reply to your questions in the Muggle Money Exchange.
Kreacher peaking out the window at Number 12 Grimald Place.
Dialing MAGIC at the telephone booth to hear a message from the Ministry.
The dragon breathing fire every 15 minutes.
The creepy wizards who stalked you in Knockturn alley.
The Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin & Burkes that has a surprise if you listen closely.
Sending post cards by owl post outside Dervish and Banges.
7. In order to ride the Hogwarts Express, you need to buy park to park passes. It's a little more expensive but they make it worth the price! You run through walls to get to Platform 9 3/4, escape dementors in the corridors, and if you watch closely, you'll see a glimpse of Voldemort in front of Malfoy manor! The experience is different depending on which way you are traveling so make sure to ride it twice!
8. Sit Down. People Watch. Take as many pictures as your short battery life will allow.
Do all the weird geeky stuff you feel like doing.
Buy ALL THE THINGS!
Breck after looking at all my purchases:
Annoyances from the trip:
1. The couple in line behind me who were asking why Harry didn't just shoot Voldemort with a gun.
2. The lady who looked at Gringotts and said, "So... is this like... the school?"
3. The sorority girls with "Best house since Gryffindor" shirts.
(OKAY IS WAS SUPER CLEVER. GAH)
Going home was difficult.
I'm currently sitting in Gryffindor boxers, sipping pumpkin juice out of my Hogwarts mug, nibbling on a chocolate frog and watching the last movie. But...
Sigh. You can't deny he's got style.
P.S. I'm also counting this as #11 on my 25 before 25 list!