Submitted by Slug Club Ravenclaw Leashie Vee
My Kingdom Hearts ringtone sung out through the darkness like a special welcome to the new day. From under the many layers of blankets, I searched with my hand across the mattress for my phone to silence it. The cellphone’s cool surface brushed past my fingertips and groggily, I plucked it from the sheets and turned it off. “Six A.M,” the words expelled from me with a sigh. Today was the day I had been planning all week. I would sit in line for hours–in fact…the whole day if I had to just for the Harry Potter Tribute. Quickly I got out of the bed and into the cold thin air of my bedroom. I cursed under my breath at my roommate for not using the heater as I shuffled my way into the bathroom to get ready.
I already had an idea of what to wear for this joyous day: my Ravenclaw t-shirt, black jeans and, of course, a sweater underneath my t-shirt. The weather forecast predicted a very cold day ahead of me. Nevertheless, I was prepared with a bag I packed the night before with a blanket and a sheet to sit on across the cold pavement. After getting ready for the day, I managed to convince my roommate to drop me off at Citywalk. So with my large bag, and after a quick stop at a gas station for snacks, i arrived in Citywalk. To me Citywalk and the Universal Studios in general didn’t astound me because I am use to seeing it every day. I worked at Universal Studios, so the excitement of rides didn’t thrill me…but the faces of both Weasley twins tickled my mind.
I arrived both breathless and sore from carrying that infernal heavy bag at the Universal Studios gates. It was now eight A.M. The park would be opening in about an hour and I wanted to be the first one in. There were very few people around in line. As I waited, my mind drifted back to Halloween Horror Nights. I remembered waiting under the Universal Studios arch for three hours in the sun just so I could be the very first one entering on the opening of Halloween Horror Nights. I also wanted to see the zombie actors viciously try to tear apart the front Universal gates with their grunts and clawing. It was worth it in the end with the video footage I had. Finally, we were let in. I darted to the music plaza stage and found it devoid of human life. There were just endless iron barricades. I wondered to myself if it was worth it to wait an entire day when no one was here. From the corner of my eye, I found a supervisor and quickly asked him where the best place to wait in line for the Harry Potter Tribute. I wanted the closest spot to the stage as possible.
Surprised and baffled, he pointed to an empty area by Rip Rocket and told me the Event team members would start loading from there. Instantly I thanked him and rushed over to claim my spot. But as I made my journey to the other side of the Music plaza, I noticed a mother and daughter aimlessly looking around with question in their eyes. I asked them if they were here for the Harry Potter Tribute, and they both admitted so in unison. Happily, I shared my secret and had them follow me. We arrived and made camp with blankets and conversations about each other. I discovered they were from South Carolina, and both were at the grand opening of Harry Potter’s Wizarding World. I didn’t work at Universal during the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; I was actually back home in Palm Bay, Florida, looking for work. In fact, I didn’t even like Harry Potter back then. They both looked at me confused until I explained to them of my story.
I told them that over my childhood I had two very religious parents who viewed Harry Potter as the entertainment of the devil because it had witchcraft. I explained about the time at the library when I checked out Goblet of Fire and my parents instantly made me return it that same night. I even told them about how they confronted the school board over my reading list containing the Harry Potter series. I was soon brainwashed against the magical experience. My sisters both would buy the books and movies and sneak them into our house. They loved Harry Potter. But since my parents didn’t approve, I didn’t want to get involved at all. I sworn my life to despising Harry Potter because of my parents’ wishes. That was until my parents moved to Guatemala to be missionaries and left me to fend myself. I had just lost my job after their move, and I became homeless with poverty following so close behind. I have moved countless of times looking for work for almost two years until a friend invited me to move in with her in Orlando. I applied for work at Universal Studios and got the job. But it wasn’t until my coworker Kelsey invited me out to play in the parks when I was introduced to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The sight of the snow-covered buildings and the small little shops brought me into a magical realm I could only dream of. I was awestruck. It was the magic I needed to get out of the black hole I was in. I felt all of my worries and pain arise from me in surrender of the warm magic around me. I started to cry as I wandered throughout Hogsmeade to the large castle of Hogwarts ahead of me. That lit my obsession to know who this Harry Potter truly was. I rented every Harry Potter movie from the library and read the first book. I was hungry to know more as it numbed my pain.
They both smiled at me and told me it was an inspiring story. Jackie, a spunky woman with a cheerful disposition from Nova Scotia, Canada, soon joined us. She showed us her awesome Harry Potter tattoos. My favorite one was on her forearm; it read “Mudblood” like a cut etched into her skin. I recalled seeing this type of tattoo in the “Order of the Phoenix” movie from the evil quill Hogwarts’ students were made to use as a punishment. We all made camp together on our blankets, just chatting the morning away in the frigid cold air. Soon a few people from Brazil joined us who taught me some Portuguese phrases. One girl from Brazil became a close friend of mine for the day. Her name was Marcella. She was a Slytherin and wore a green Slytherin branded jacket and headband to prove it. She had the new bounded copy of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” in her hand. She told me about her country taxed everything unfairly and about how she purchased most of her Harry Potter merchandise from the United States so she could have them without high costs or the chance of it being stolen in the mail. I felt blessed at that moment to have lived in the United States without that type of problem.
By the end of the day around six, people gathered around us in small camps, but we kept our spot closest to the stage behind the Special Guest package area. I noticed around me that a lot of people had scarfs to represent their Hogwarts’ houses. I wanted one. I always knew that deep down I was a Ravenclaw even though I did not take the Pottermore test. I sacrificed some grocery money and bought one. I was one happy Ravenclaw to be able to represent with more than a t-shirt.
It was now time for the tribute, and we were excited as the lights lit up the stage. Jackie and I both had tweeted the Harry Potter celebrities throughout the day and requested a shout out for dedication. We both looked at each other with high hopes. The host welcomed Kazu Kibuishi, the creator of the new book covers of the Harry Potter series. I was astounded from his miraculous story about surviving his coma and leaning how to walk and draw again after. It was truly inspiring. Then just before my eyes, one after another a celebrity from Harry Potter graced the stage. Matthew Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps, Evanna Lynch, Devon Murray, and Mark Williams all took their seats in front of the audience. I could feel my heart racing in shock that the Weasley Twins were not even twenty feet away from me! They were interviewed by the host with a sea of questions that no one could resist laughing at when a witty answer was given. By the end of the tribute, the host shared with us the DiagonAlley blueprints and secrets. I was excited to see that the interior of the train would look exact from the movie! In closing to the interviews, James Phelps called out to the crows “I just got a message on Twitter. I know there have been people here since 6 AM, and I wanted to thank you all for being supportive and coming out for us.” My heart stopped…James Phelps got our tweet and gave us a shout out. It was a moment of bliss for all of us as we cheered. The Harry Potter tribute came to an end but it began an amazing weekend ahead.
Although I had to work Saturday, I got the privilege to go with my coworkers Kelsey and Jackie to the Wand Combat show and the Harry Potter Expo, where we were joined by my coworker Evee and my roommate. After watching countless of robed Harry Potter fans swishing their wands in combat mode in sync to Paul Harris’s wand lessons, a friend that I met after the wand show was selected on stage with a handful of others to battle Mark Williams and Paul Harris. She was dressed as Bellatrix. Once the wand show was over, I darted to the stage with my poster in hand hoping Paul Harris would sign it. He was signing everything around him as fans hungrily pushed forth their items. But to my dismay even with my poster inches from his face, he didn’t sign it. My coworker Kelsey had her poster signed though, which was enough for me. I was happy for her. We made our way then to Three Broomsticks, where I met the girl dressed like Bellatrix. She had the most amazing story about how her boyfriend proposed to her during the Harry Potter weekend.
Overall, my Harry Potter weekend was filled with meeting new people and learning more about Harry Potter. I created a Pottermore account shortly after, and became a part of the Ravenclaw house. This weekend was what I needed to learn about how to live. Even though I didn’t meet any celebrities or had any special experiences onstage, I had my own special experience with meeting new and awesome people from all around the world who share the same inspiration of Harry Potter as I do.