If you’re wondering why I haven’t written about my vacation, it’s that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is complete sensory overload and putting it into words is not the easiest thing in the world. Your brain goes haywire the moment you walk into the park, because in terms of describing it in writing, where do you even start? It’s having eighty thought processes running at the same time, and on the page, you only have room for one. Everything you’ve heard about the park is true; you step out of modern day Orlando and into Diagon Alley and it feels so real because you can literally reach out and touch it. All the shops in Hogsmeade are exquisitely done, and the only one I didn’t go into was Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, because I spent most of my time eating dessert, anyway… and when I wasn’t eating dessert, I was eating lunch and dinner… and second lunch and second dinner. I know it was because I was with my dad and sister. I don’t really eat when I’m alone, unless I realize either that I haven’t eaten all day and I need blood sugar, or my stomach reminds me of it. Eating socially is so much easier for me, and I took advantage of this fact. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten more in my life.
In addition to eating my weight every day, the rides were spectacular. I haven’t been on a roller coaster in years, and interestingly enough, the Dragon Challenge had the most comfortable seats- and was just about the scariest ride I’ve ever been on, which meant that I could have spent a whole day riding it again and again. I didn’t, because there was so much to see, but just for the record, if you like roller coasters that scramble your brain into your stomach, it is totally worth it. The other rides are stomach turning as well, but not like roller coasters. They move, but mostly you’re watching a screen like IMAX so your heart drops, whether it’s riding alongside Harry on a Quidditch pitch or escaping from Gringott’s bank. Gringott’s has a dragon on top that shoots fire, and the first time I saw it was at night, and nearly jumped out of my skin because it came out of nowhere.
As you can imagine, the gift shops are fantastic, but I only got one souvenir. It’s a baseball shirt with a minimalist design that has the street sign for Grimmauld Place. There were many, many things I liked, but my inner design/font nerd fell in love quickly. It is totally the Jakob Nielsen of fashion. That being said, I spent more time in the SpongeBob SquarePants store than anywhere else, even though I didn’t buy anything.
All of the parks within Universal Studios are done as well as WWoHP. Walking through Jurassic Park was probably my second favorite. The rides aren’t as intense, but it really feels like you’re there. Incidentally, that day I was wearing my DC United jersey, but under it was a t-shirt picturing a T-Rex trying to eat a piece of pizza that says The Struggle is Real. It seemed appropriate, even though that wasn’t the only attraction we visited that day.
At The Simpsons park, I tried Duff Beer, but was more impressed with Buzz Cola (Duff Beer is awfully close to PBR, which is why I only took a sip… not a Portland hipster anymore). I think it’s cola with strawberry Squishee mixed in… but of course, it’s proprietary information so I could only guess, but I think it’s a good one.
I was also going to save this for my autobiography/case study, but I’m going to leave a breadcrumb here. The book is entitled Staring at Myself, which I believe Dana named because I told her that the only 3D I could see was both sides of my nose at the same time. The breadcrumb, given the last sentence, is that when we emerged from the King Kong ride, I was absolutely sobbing. You’ll have to wait for me to finish the book to find out whether they were tears of joy or frustration.
Outside of the park, we spent time talking about my mother, and Lindsay brought me the one thing I asked for from her house- my old Postman Pat doll I got in London when I was eight… and then she surprised me with my Yakko Warner plush. It was dad and Lindsay’s idea to have a vacation in memory of my mother, because not only did we have a great time, it was good to reminisce. Some of the stories I’d heard before, and some were new… it didn’t matter. Family stories are supposed to be told over and over.
The other piece of good news I received is that Lindsay’s job is going to be bringing her to DC and Annapolis (not sure if Richmond is in her territory) a lot more often… just balm for my grief, and I’m sure for hers. Because Lindsay has worked on mayoral and congressional races, it was not lost on me that if I moved here, she’d either be here often or move. I am so glad that of the visions I’ve had, this one has come true. It was even better than realizing I’m a Hufflepuff.