Travels Through Florida, 2013

This trip to Florida was super special. Yes, we attended a very good friend’s 50th birthday party, and that was certainly special.

But we also got to visit the Universal Studios Park, and you know what that means: all day at the Harry Potter theme park!!

If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, you’ll probably want to skip this next section. Just saying. It may get a tad annoying what with the dripping exuberance and all. You have been warned.

We had seen the commercials and read the reviews, but just like any other huge, magnificent, glorious adventure, that simply doesn’t do the actual experience justice.

Like giddy school kids, we charged up to the entrance…and walked right into Hogsmeade. It was wonderfully perfect. The shops and buildings were correct, there were costumed folk strolling through the street paths in character, and they were even selling Butterbeer and pumpkin juice in kiosks throughout.

Now this next part is important. Remember, Butterbeer doesn’t actually exist. It is a creation of J.K. Rowling’s to fit in her FICTIONALIZED ACCOUNT. HER HARRY POTTER BOOKS ARE FICTION! NOT REAL. MADE UP. But that doesn’t matter, does it? Even though we know the truth, we don’t care. A part of us continues to believe anyway, right? And when I mentioned Butterbeer, you already had a preconceived notion of what that should taste like, am I right? So here’s the important bit: Butterbeer tastes exactly as we all imagined it would! Absolutely flabbergasting, and infinitely delicious. Perfectly concocted. I must move on, or I will start slavering on the keyboard, which would be unsightly.

When we paused from gawking around at everything with silly grins on our faces and began looking at other people, we observed everyone else gawking around with silly grins on their faces. I never saw any unhappy, tired, dejected, or otherwise gloomy persons at all. Of any age. Everyone was just excited as anything to be there, right in Hogsmeade.

We had a delicious lunch at the Three Broomsticks, walked through the Owl Post and Ollivander’s, and were generally satisfied, until. We turned the corner. And there it was. Hogwarts. I’m serious, I think we both had tears in our eyes. We’ve all seen pictures. I’ll even post in my next post the ones I took. But photos do not do it justice. Until you are standing before the hallowed halls in person…well, there’s just no describing it, really.

The ride was fantastic, the food and drink was beyond compare….I have very little to add, really, except this: the merchandise selection was terribly appalling. There were t-shirts, hats, scarves, key chains, candy — all the normal stuff. But none of it was right somehow. It’s as if it were all designed by people who had never seen the movies. Or read the books. Or even been told of the books. Just greatly disappointing, really. A good friend, whom we were planning to buy a t-shirt but just could not do so with the dismal selection, pointed out that although they had opened a park featuring Harry Potter, maybe Universal was very limited in their rights to merchandising, and therefore had little to offer. That’s about as good a theory as any, so we’ll go with that.

Apart from the actual souvenir standpoint, it was overall a fantastically magical day. And they’re continuing to expand! We haven’t heard the last of you, Hogwarts. Not by a long shot!

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