Apr 28, 2016

Reading Harry Potter as an Adult | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

With the excitement of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening up at Universal Studios Hollywood, and several other Harry Potter related stuff going on recently, I decided it was finally time. I've been trying to re-read Harry Potter for the past few years and this is the year to do it.

I haven't read the series since the 7th book was released back in 2007. Before that, I read them constantly. It was different reading them, and growing up with Harry Potter at the same time. So with it having been 9 years since the last time I read them, I finally picked up the first one.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone introduces us to a ten (almost eleven) year old boy living with a horrible aunt, uncle, and cousin who treat him terribly and make him sleep under the cupboard. Living a very miserable life, Harry soon discovers he's not only a wizard, he's also very famous in the wizarding world. Of course, we all know this already and if you don't, then it's hard to believe you are not living under a rock.

Reading it as an adult is a very different perspective. When I first read Harry Potter, I was eleven myself, and his adventures seemed amazing and so daring. Now that I read it now, all I kept thinking was, "HE'S ELEVEN YEARS OLD, HE'S A CHILD! WILL SOMEONE PLEASE STOP HIM FROM ALMOST GETTING KILLED," and felt very Professor McGonagall about it.

But after the initial shock of realizing I was reading a book about a child, I got really into the story. It's not like I didn't know what was going to happen, but there were so many little things I had forgotten. There was also so many things you don't catch the first time around, until you know how the story is going to end. There were also several times where I found myself tearing up simply because it had been so long since I'd read about these characters, and I missed them. And I know what is coming in the future for them, and I know the pain, struggle, and so many more dangerous situations they'll be in.

I found it also surprising what an easy read it is. I guess I never noticed until now, but these books are so short and so fun, and really just quick to get through. I got through the first one in just a few hours, and it would have been less if I didn't have adult responsibilities. I am definitely glad to finally be reading them again, and am looking forward to getting though the rest pretty quickly as well. The Harry Potter series, as many of you know, is a must read for readers of all ages.

Apr 24, 2016

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Universal Studios Hollywood

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opened up on the 7th of April, and of course, I had planned to be there. The boyfriend and I had plans to get our annual passes for the park and enjoy our first day on opening day.

What we didn't expect was for park tickets to be sold out for opening day. I was crushed, and after several reassurances that my life was not over, we agreed that the following week would be better. I'm glad we did this after because 1) It rained on opening day 2) The lines for rides were about 2 hours long and 3) My boyfriend ended up getting sick that day (while we were at Disneyland) and wouldn't have enjoyed himself.

Anyways, Thursday was the day! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I had a hard time falling asleep the night before.

That morning I was up bright and early, decided to wear my Hogwarts inspired uniform (black leather skirt, knee high socks, Dr. Marten boots, and my Slytherin cardigan of course.) I decided not to take my Sirius Black wand because I knew I'd be getting another one there.We arrived and entered the park at 10:00am and headed straight for Hogsmeade. I was jumping for joy as we went through the archway. Immediately to the right was the Hogwarts Express and I wanted to burst into tears.

I took a picture with the conductor standing out front. We knew from checking the wait times that the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride was a 45 minute wait, so we wasted no time and headed there first (although my boyfriend had to drag me there since I wanted to stop everywhere -- Ollivander's, The Three Broomsticks, etc.)

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

The ride itself is inside Hogwarts, so our first view of the castle was while we walked to wait in line. The winding line outside the castle offers the best views of it. Once past the gate onto the school grounds, where I was warmly greeted with a "Welcome back, Slytherin" and a high-5 from a fellow Hogwarts student (employee), we were steered into the bag line. As it turns out, if you have a large purse or backpack, you have to rent a locker before the ride. I had a backpack so we had to make the quick stop, which turned out to be a bit of a commotion with all the people bustling around -- like a real train station! If you don't have a bag though, you can continue in the line. After the lockers, we made it back into the line.

As it turns out, and also read in several reviews after, waiting in line is actually quite enjoyable. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is considered to be the first ride (at both parks I'm assuming) to have a queue where guests enjoy being a part of. As a huge fan, I can agree wholeheartedly with this because as you make your way through the line, you also get to experience the inside of Hogwarts.

Winding through the outside portion of the line, there's a greenhouse with exotic plants, including Mandrakes. Once inside, there are statues, and classrooms, talking portraits, and offices, the hourglass with the points, and plenty of things to just "Oh" and "Ah" over. I had to pause in every section to get a few pictures in and really couldn't stop looking at everything. Walking through Hogwarts did not feel like a wait to be honest.

The ride itself is, in one word, magical. I have seen a few negative reviews on it already, but before I visited HP World, I knew nothing. I had NO idea what to expect and really wanted to just enjoy everything. Back to the ride. Universal is known for great, thrilling rides that really cannot be compared to other amusement parks. The Forbidden Journey is no exception. Not knowing what was in store, I really felt immersed into Harry Potter world, and loved the ride. I don't want to give too many details because it is really a ride that needs to be experienced first hand.

The Flight of the Hipogriff

After our first ride, we headed to the second ride of Harry Potter World. To be honest, the short little roller coaster looked laughable, but of course needing to experience everything, we quickly got in line. I am not a big fan of roller coaster rides but this one looked like something that I could handle. While the ride is short, the quick little roller coaster does provide a few stomach drops which come as a bit of surprise because it seems to move pretty slow from the line.

Butterbeer Carts

It is foamy and delicious. You can get it hot, cold, or frozen and since it was a warm day for us, we went for a frozen and cold. I definitely recommend the cold one better because it doesn't taste as watered down. And while it is quite delicious, it is also really sweet. Even for someone with a sweet tooth like myself, sharing one among two adults is perfect. And you have a choice of getting a souvenir mug!

Ollivander's Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC

For Ollivander's you can choose to experience your wand being chosen by waiting in line (approx 45 minutes when we went.) But we wanted to check out the rest of the park, so we decided to do this towards the end of the day. With an hour left before closing, we headed back. We were getting restless after only about ten minutes though because we really had no idea what we were standing in line for. We decided to skip it and I sadly accepted I would not get my wand this trip. Since we still had a few shops to check out, we went into one and realized Ollivander's was on the other side and we could enter that way. After asking an employee, I found out that the line is for a group of about 6-10 people taken into a room, and only one guest gets chosen for their wand. Once that's over, they are ushered into the shop and buy their wand there.

I felt like I was okay with missing out on that experience this first time, and had someone help me find my new wand. I asked about it, and the wands can be chosen by qualities or by birthday. I went with the birthday and got a Vine wand. Character wands are available and can be picked between interactive and non-interactive.

Interactive wands can be used for "spells" in several locations in Hogsmeade. Because of our time constraint though, I didn't get an opportunity to do this but saw people waving their wands a couple times so I got the idea and it seems fun.

& lots of shops!

I got to walk through all the shops, which include Zonko's Joke Shop, Honeydukes (where I got Bertie Botts Every Flavor Jellybeans and a Chocolate Frog -- and got Salazar Slytherin!), Dervish and Bange, Gladrags Wizardwear, Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods and the Owl Post. The only thing I missed out on was eating at The Three Broomsticks, but I'll make sure to check that out next time.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly amazing, and if you get the opportunity to go, I definitely recommend it. I cannot wait to go back and spend the entire day there, since there are a few things I missed out on. It really is a great experience for Harry Potter fans of all ages.