Picture it. It was a clear, warm day in the summer of May 2012. The crowds are starting to form at the other rides,and as I join my group in the lines, my mind wanders over to the place where I want to visit most. I look over the lake,only to see Hogwarts standing tall and proud, as if to draw me closer. I smile to myself and know that, no matter how far away I am, Hogwarts will always be there to greet me.
I ride rides such as the Hulk and Jurassic Park, but I just can’t keep my mind off the castle. Finally, I can’t wait anymore, so, dragging my friend and godson along, I wander over to the entrance of Hogsmeade. I step around the corner and am immediately greeted by the Hogwarts Express and shops. My eyes beam with excitement, and without further hesitation, I head in to Zonkos Joke Shop, all the while knowing that I am making the Weasley twins proud. The Muggles inside play with the different gadgets and gizmos, while Istand back and just admire the items that inspired Fred and George to play so many pranks and gags. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of little pink and purple fuzz balls. I gasp and pick up a pink one, knowing that I had just become the proud owner of a Pygmy Puff. All of a sudden, my noses catches wind of the greatest thing in the world..chocolate. That alone draws me over to Honeydukes, my mouth waters as I catch site of the various fudges and sweets. Picking up a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and a Chocolate Frog, I know that I just can’t resist their temptation any longer, so, I make my way to the counter and pay for my Pygmy and sweets.
Once done at the shop, I make my way towards the castle. The line is long, but I don’t mind. Patiently, I wait for an hour, and then the most amazing thing happens..I find myself within the walls of Hogwarts. The flash on my camera is put on overdrive as I take pictures left and right, and I really fangirl when I see the faces of three old friends: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I grin as Ron makes it snow and Hermione scolds him, but alas, the line keeps moving. Sighing, I follow suit, but am soon greeted by the Gryffindor common room, and the talking pictures. I give myself whiplash as I look up to see all the pictures talking, and this provides me so much entertainment that, before I know it, I hear the faithful voice of the Sorting Hat. I look up in awe, imagining the old, raggedy hat is talking directly to me. The rules are read, the flashes from cameras are seen, and now a Hufflepuff is sending me to the ride.
Excited, I follow the directions of a Slytherin walking along the moving walkway, and before I know it, Hermione is whisking me away on a magical journey. I don’t know what to expect on this ride, but it doesn’t take me long to find out. The Golden Trio, spiders, dragons, the whomping willow, and even dementors and the dark arts themselves send me through twists and turns. The ride lasts a few minutes, but, as all good things in life must, it comes to an end. Dumbledore bids me farewell, telling me I can return to Hogwarts any time.
Once off the ride, another Slytherin points me and the large group down a group of steps. I take it, and immediately find myself in the gift shop. It is overcrowded, but well worth the look around. There are shirts, stuffed animals, and anything a witch or wizard could ever want. I decide to come back later once the crowd dies down, so I head back out into the Florida heat. As I make my way back towards Hogsmeade to treat myself to a butterbeer, I hear a melodious sound. Surrounded by a small crowd is the Hogwarts choir with their frogs. I grin and make my way towards the front, calling out the House names when appropriate. The Ravenclaw who was up front looks over at me, grins, and gives a small wink, then rejoins his singing companions. I love their music so much, that I decide to come back to the next show, so I continue my journey towards the butterbeer stand. I pay my $10.50 for the butterbeer souvenir mug, and go stand off towards the side. Taking a deep breath, I take my first sip, and immediately feel something on my face..alas! my life has been completed by a butterbeer foam mustache! I giggle to myself and continue drinking. Satisfied, and with a cool butterbeer in my hands, I head back up towards Hogwarts and the choir.
The choir is gone, but knowing that they will return within a half hour, I take a look around at the souvenir stands. I find a Draco Malfoy pin and buy it without hesitation. I go back to where the choir was due to return and wait. It takes awhile, but they finally return once more. Once again, I am listening to the music and sounds of Hogwarts, and again, I am one of the pumped up ones in the crowd. After the songs are over, the fans are asked to get in line for a photo opportunity; however, the manager walks over to me and pulls me aside. “Wait here” she says, and walks off. I wait, not knowing what to expect, and after the photos are done, the choir walks back towards the school, but this time they summon me to follow them. Once backstage, they all introduce themselves. I have my Slytherin shirt and Gryffindor backpack on, so I explain that I am a little bit of each house. When asked how, I explain, and once I’m done, they all laugh. I am asked to take pictures with them, and for a brief moment, I feel like one of them, so I withdraw my wand and smile at the camera. It only takes a few minutes, but as I leave to head back to my hotel, I am full of fangirl joy. The first day at WWOHP was terrific, and I vowed to come back the next day and do it all over again..and maybe even ride a dragon or two!