Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Most Magical Place on Earth Deserves a Better Title Than This: Part II

If you're having Quidditch problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a Snitch ain't one.
There's no other purpose for that in this post other than I just really wanted to lead off with it. Cause you can't tell me that's not a good pun.

Anyway, the last time we talked I told you all about part one of my Harry Potter adventure in Diagon Alley. So now I'm gonna try and tell you all about part two: Hogsmeade.
From the moment we stepped off the Hogwarts Express and entered Hogsmeade Mosby and I knew it was going to be just as magical and awesome and fantastic as Diagon Alley. And it was. However, don't let the above photo fool you - despite the snow on the rooftops it was still really warm. And humid. And I'm from Arizona and we don't do humidity. But maybe it's winter year-round in Hogsmeade?

While Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have different shops for the most part, the main difference in the two is that in Hogsmeade you'll find the mecca of all things Harry Potter: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The castle is actually the main ride in Hogsmeade, and while you wait in line, it winds you through the castle, and the pictures on the walls move and talk and float between frames, and you meet Harry and Ron and Hermione in the Observatory and it's just a good time all around. Although, if I were describing Mosby's and my trip to Harry Potter world, "just a good time all around" would probably be the understatement of the year.

Besides the castle ride there's a couple other small roller coasters to ride within Hogsmeade; one being The Flight of the Hippogriff.
Mosby and I rode this one over and over because the line was never more than 15 minutes long and quite frankly, it's a hoot. The first time we rode it I just laughed and laughed because I dunno, fun things do that to me...uncontrollable laughter. Plus, on the way to the ride you can make a pit stop at Hagrid's cottage and say hello.

The other cool thing about Hogsmeade is there's a small stage where they have shows every so often throughout the day. We were fortunate enough to catch the introductions of the gentleman from the Durmstrang Institute and the ladies from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic for the Tri-Wizard Tournament (cough, book #4, cough cough).

The food in Hogsmeade is at none other than the Three Broomsticks. And just like the Leaky Cauldron, it was nothing but impressive.
More important than the food however (or maybe not, I do get really cranky when I'm hungry), are the drinks. And Hogsmeade knows how to do drinks. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you don't need a Happy Hour. So we Happy Hour'd (that's a verb now, I just made it up) at the Hogs Head just like Harry and Ron and Hermione.
If I lived in Hogsmeade all the time, the Hogs Head would be my spot. It's where all the cool kids witches and wizards go and well, if I were a witch at Hogwarts I'd like to think I'd be one of the cool ones.

After the Hogs Head we decided to cruise up and down Hogsmeade one more time to make sure we didn't miss anything.
One of those "things" being some dessert from Honeydukes. Like maybe some Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans? You know, the candy with flavors like Sardine, and mashed potatoes, and phlegm? 
Fortunately I didn't get any of the aforementioned flavors. Fortunately.

When we were finished at Hogsmeade we took the train back to Diagon Alley in London...
...and not until our second day at the parks did we notice something just outside of Diagon Alley...
Grimmauld Place! Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix (cough, book #5, cough)!

Eventually our two days at the parks came to end. But we made sure to see and do everything in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley two and three times over; like laugh hysterically on The Flight of the Hipogriff, fly all over Hogwarts on my Nimbus 2000 via the ride in the castle, and escape from Gringotts bank on the back of a fire breathing dragon...with no seatbelt. I feel like these posts really don't even do it all justice. It truly takes you to another, more magical world! We stayed until the park closed on our last day and watched the sunset both in Orlando Florida, and on our time at Harry Potter world.
 And a fantastic time it was.

Sunday was Harry Potter recovery day. So after the late service at Mosby's church we nursed our Harry Potter hangovers with some blood orange mimosas and Sunday brunch.
After that, the jeans came off, the sweatpants came on, the hair went up, and we stayed horizontal as long as we possibly could as we watched (you guessed it) Harry Potter movies all afternoon. They tell you when you're super hungover to drink beer the next morning right?? So this is kind of the same thing except with Harry Potter instead of actual alcohol.

After another solid morning of sleeping in, and one more round of sushi for lunch on Monday, it was time for me to fly back home to AZ Monday night. I hate when the thing you've been looking forward to for months and months finally comes to an end, but alas, so is life. Flying across the country to hang out with someone I met on the internet is something I never ever ever pictured myself doing, and I know it's really weird and creepy for outsiders looking in; but this is hands down, the absolute best thing about blogging: meeting people and building relationships that will last a life time! Next time, see you in AZ Mosby!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Most Magical Place on Earth Deserves a Better Title Than This: Part I

This was me less than 5 minutes ago, before I started writing this post: "Alright, deep breaths. Close your eyes. You can do this. You can write about Harry Potter world like a normal person without totally freaking out. You can keep one train of thought. You can compose a normal blog post that makes sense to the reader because you are a wizard and you can do anything you set your mind to." So, with that said, I'm gonna try and tell you about my vacation to Florida and the motherland of all motherlands - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Two weeks ago I boarded a plane to Florida to visit a girlfriend. Except that technically I hadn't met her in real life before. Like, we text message and video chat all the time and everything, but since she lives in Florida we don't always hang out. And by always I really mean never. Cause you know, Florida and Arizona aren't exactly a five minute drive down the block. So what brings two girls on opposite ends of the country together for a few days to frolick around Orlando together? Blogging.
I met Mosby via her blog. In the huge, gigantic, ginormous world of blogging, one day I somehow landed on hers a couple of years ago, left a random comment on a random post, and like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, that random comment turned into a real-life friendship. A metamorphosis, if you will. I get extra credit for that analogy? So long story short, Mosby is who she said she was and I didn't get catfished...nor did she try and kill me in my sleep, so that alone makes the trip a win, right?

I got into Florida late Thursday afternoon and our first order of business (besides wine... Oh and sushi for dinner.) was...drumroll please...The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We woke up super early, made a pit stop for coffee, and drove to the park to be there as it opened. And like the punctual ladies we are (I'm not actually that punctual, but for Harry Potter I will be) we did just that.

As soon as our tickets were scanned and we passed through those turn styles we kinda looked at each other with bug eyes as if to nonverbally say, "OMG WE'RE HERE!" Who am I kidding, we verbally said it too. And that moment has to be documented right? So we took a quick selfie and then power-walked through the rest of the park to finally arrive at Harry Potter World's newest addition - Diagon Alley (queue harps and angels singing).  
Diagon Alley just opened this summer so being the newest of the two Harry Potter parks we decided to tackle that one (and its lines, and crowds, and all of the lines) first.

The main attraction in Diagon Alley is its ride, Escape from Gringotts, which is like, a roller coaster/4D simulation thing. Inside of Gringotts. Like, you get to go in it. And there's goblins for bank tellers and newspapers with moving photos, just like in the book and ohmuhgosh I'm getting excited just thinking about it again.
Is that a picture of a picture, you might be asking? Yes. Yes it is. Cause I'm an amateur blogger and don't have a scanner. There's probably a spell of sorts to turn a hard copy photo into an electronic version but since I left all my magical powers in Diagon Alley you're just gonna have to deal with a picture of a picture. Muggle life...the struggle is real.

After we successfully escaped from Gringotts on the back of a flying dragon it was time to peruse Diagon Alley.

We started by ordering none other than a butterbeer. Cause how else are you supposed to start your journey through Diagon Alley?

We then proceeded on to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes,
Stopped by The Daily Prophet,
...couldn't find Rita Skeeter however. Rehydrated with some Gilly Water,
then continued on past Flourish and Blotts,
And even cruised through Knockturn Alley by Borgin and Burkes (no vanishing cabinets for sale, however)
...we didn't stay long though; all that dark magic is bad ju-ju.

The grand finale was at Ollivanders where you guessed it.......I bought a wand. A magical, interactive wand.
My wand didn't choose me per, say. I chose it. Mostly because the little show they do where Mr. Ollivander actually comes out and pulls someone from the crowd to have a wand chosen for them, they always pick the kids. It's not fair. Grown ups are kids too OK? Don't make me stand there and raise my hand and stomp around yelling, "Pick me! Pick me!" Cause I'll do it. But I digress. I went with Luna Lovegood's wand because I liked the look of it, I love Luna, and I too - like Luna - was personally sorted into Ravenclaw House via Pottermore, the "Unique, online, Harry Potter Experience." But don't tell anyone about the Pottermore part - I have to be careful about the level of Harry Potter fandom I publicly divulge because I still need people in some aspects of my life to take me seriously, like the 27 year old adult that I am.

So after all that spell casting, it was definitely time for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. Casting spells really works up an appetite.
Lunch wasn't complete with an adult (albeit, still muggle) beverage: A Dragon Scale brew.

After we were finished at Diagon Alley we figured it was time to head over to Hogsmeade. Do you know how you get to Hogsmeade?? You guessed it:
The Hogwarts Express!
We made our way over to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station and ohmuhgosh is it 
We pulled out of the train station in London and made the magical journey to Hogwarts, and it was just that - magical. Like, the people that work on the train tell you, "Have a magical day!" as you exit. I always replied with an enthused, "THANK YOU! I will definitely do that!"

And we did. We had a magical day. A magical day that ended with a couple glasses of wine in Mosby's backyard.
Cause that's where this post is ending.

I'll tell you all about Hogsmeade in another post because I think this one can only be described as "long-winded" so far. Oops. I was trying to do this logically and separate the two posts into Diagon Alley and Hosgmeade - but truth be told, we were at both places, back and forth, all day, errry day. We apparated between the two parks. Or used Floo Powder. They teach you how to do that at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you know (not really, but one can hope)

So there it is. Diagon Alley is everything you would imagine it to be times a million. Yes, A MILLION.

Net up: Hogsmeade!

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