Monday, June 13, 2011

Harry takes a Holiday

Where would we be without Florida? The Sunshine State is America's top vacation destination, home to NASCAR, Disney World and St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. The place where Ponce de Leon and Jack Sparrow, and millions of Americans have searched for the Fountain of Youth. Daytona Beach, Cape Canaveral, SeaWorld, the Florida Gators, the Everglades, the Keys, South Beach, Hemingway, Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffet, Crockett and Tubbs...

It would seem then, like the perfect place for the Boy Who Lived to have a theme park dedicated to himself. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter features remarkable recreations of Hogwart's Castle, the Three Broomsticks, and Hogsmeade Village. It's as if various pieces of the Harry Potter universe disappeared into a Vanishing Cabinet and were magically transported to Orlando, Florida. The attention to detail is striking. Though you might be roasting in the Florida sun, and surrounded by more muggles than you can shake a wand at, when you step past the Hogwart's Express and look up at the crooked and snow capped rooftops of Hogsmeade you do feel like you've been transported somewhere else, right down to Moaning Myrtle chatting away in the lavatories.

Jenni and I and the boys spent the better part of two days walking around Harry Potter, which is inside Universal's Islands of Adventure, clutching frozen Butterbeers and buying Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bots Every-Flavour Beans. We purchased wands and t-shirts in Dervish and Banges, sent post cards from the Owl Post to our friends back home featuring Hogsmeade postmarks, and ate breakfast and lunch at the Three Broomsticks. While there my son Jack didn't hide his disappointment upon discovering his Elder Wand didn't allow him to cast spells on his brother. We toured the castle and took the exciting and nauseating Forbidden Journey, rode the family-friendly Flight of the Hippogriff around Hagrid's Hut, but skipped the daunting Dragon Challenge.

I can say as a Harry Potter fan that the park was absolutely stunning, if a little small. There is no end to the number of attractions that could be added if JK Rowling ever needs the money. How about a ride that features the Night Bus or a roller-coaster that takes you through the Department of Mysteries. Instead of fireworks they could project the Dark Mark into the sky at the end of the day. I couldn't help but wonder while listening to all of the British accents around me why they didn't build a Harry Potter theme park somewhere in London, or Blackpool. But I suppose even Harry Potter needs a holiday once in a while.

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