In the 7th grade, I had a composition notebook full of ride and shop designs for a Harry Potter theme park. When I was 20 years old, an actual Harry Potter theme park opened: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios. Even though I was only one state away, traveling wasn’t something I could afford, and working two jobs while going to college didn’t leave time for my dream of being a teenage witch and attending Hogwarts.
Recently, while planning my honeymoon, I went out on a limb and asked my fiancé if he’d be interested in going to Orlando, Florida for our honeymoon and spending a few days at Universal. I found the best deals and presented it all to him. He said “I’d be down to do that.” And so we did.
We bought three day park-to-park passes and on days 2 and 3, we got free breakfast from the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron. I knew we would spend most of those days in what I tend to call Harry Potter-land, so the first day I avoided those parts of the park. We enjoyed all the other rides and attractions at Universal. At one point, we walked through what I knew was Muggle London, and I felt tears come to my eyes, but I didn’t want to ruin what was awaiting me in Diagon Alley.
That second day, our breakfast at the Three Broomsticks was set for 9:30. Universal opened at 9 and we have early park admission, but Island of Adventures (where the Three Broomsticks is) didn’t honor early admission. So we went to Muggle London and waited in line for the Hogwarts Express. My stomach was in knots and I couldn’t stop the tears.
My husband said “don’t cry too hard, or they’ll think something’s wrong.” So, choking back full-blown sobs, I silently cried as we basically ran through King’s Cross station to Platform 9 ¾. It was all so perfect and everything I could have imagined. We walked through a hologram brick wall, and when we turned that corner and saw the train, I was an 11-year-old witch headed to my first days of Wizarding School. The train ride was magical, as was the full town of Hogsmeade. The shops were unimaginable and the rooftops were covered with snow. It was more than I could have dreamed.
Back in London, at Diagon Alley, it was just as magical. No pictures, no stories could do it justice. It didn’t matter that I was a 25 year-old in a magical world, it only mattered that I was there. Every twist and turn took my breath away, and that doesn’t even include the rides within the two parks, though they were more than impressive.
I can’t imagine it being any better than it was (you know, unless they had more Hufflepuff items to purchase!). So don’t let age stop you from fulfilling your dreams. Who cares if you have to cry in a train station?
[Image via author]