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Posted on Feb 23, 2012 in Dear Diary | 42 comments

The Wand Chooses the Wizard, Mr. Potter.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you think that the totally age-inappropriate obsession that I have with Harry Potter was over and done with? Ha! Part 1 and Part 2 of my Harry Potter World recap may have come and gone, but we’ve still got Sunday to cover. In fact, Saturday’s recap wasn’t even 100% complete — I left out one extremely important piece! Well, fear not, friends. I’m about to rectify that. In fact, I should tell you right now that it’s about to get EVEN nerdier in here (you didn’t think that was possible, did you?). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

O

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Ollivander’s wand shop isn’t really a shop at all. In fact, it’s more like a show. You stand in a line (where the attendant is repeatedly telling people that this is not a line for a ride, so please don’t get in thinking you’re about to get on Dragon Challenge, haha), and eventually you’ll be ushered in with a group of 15 – 20 other people into the shop.

The Wand Chooses the Wizard

It’s cool and quiet inside, and just there, behind the counter, is the actor playing Mr. Ollivander himself. Thus, the show begins:

Mr. Ollivander

He motions to a girl dressed in school robes, standing in the front. She’s probably about 13-years-old. “You there, Gryffindor! Step forward,” he calls. She tentatively goes up to the counter, where he proceeds to inspect, measure, and generally observe her. He then offers her a wand to test out. He instructs her to use the Wingardium Leviosa spell on a box of wands resting on a shelf to the side. The shelves break and fall down. Not the wand for her! He casts a quick Reparo, then pulls a different wand for her to try.

Ollivander himself

The second wand causes a thunderstorm in the shop. Strike 2. As you might predict, it’s the third and final wand that’s juuuuust right: the music swells, the room glows, and finally a wand has chosen her. We are then dismissed into Dervish & Banges next door to purchase wands of our own (and I imagine that her parents now have to foot the bill for her wand as well, haha). Now, I knew going into things that I had about a 0.01% chance of being chosen by Ollivander for the show, especially if there were kids in my group. But somehow he must have sensed that I was a true fan (perhaps the squealing and clapping I did when we first walked in? Or maybe the incessant click-click-click of my camera throughout the entire presentation?) because before my parents and I had a chance to exit, he came up to me.

“You there,” he said. I responded with a look of shock and what must have been a truly dumbfounded grin plastered on my face. “What house are you?” he asked.

I struggled to use my words like an actual human being for a second, before stammering out, “I… haven’t been sorted yet.”

“Hmm,” he said, looking at me quizzically. “I sense a great wisdom in you. Surely one as wise as you must be Ravenclaw!”

“I certainly wouldn’t mind that!” I said, even though I’m about 90% sure that if I were to actually be sorted, I would be a Hufflepuff. Womp womp.

“I just the wand for someone with your great mind. Ask my assistant inside the shop for the hazel wand. Yes… Hazel, 11 1/2 inches, with a core of dragon heartstring. Surprisingly powerful for its size, and well-suited for wisdom such as yours.” He gives me one last appraising look before walking away, and I stumble out of the shop in a stupor.

Ollivanders

After a few minutes of TOTALLY geeking out because holy crap, that was completely awesome, and was the next best thing to being chosen for the show itself, I go right up to one of the shop assistants and ask for the hazel wand.

Hazel. 11 1/2 inches. Dragon heartstring.

I purchase it (all wands are $29.95, for your reference) and proceed to make a fool of myself for the next twenty minutes, swishing and flicking it around like the fool I am while we had our butterbeers in the Three Broomsticks.

Swish and flick!

Well, I did give it over to my mom so that she could have a little mischief too.

I solemnly swear I am up to no good
I solemnly swear I am up to no good.

And that, my friends, is hands-down the most amazing part of my Saturday.

Mischief Managed.

Now, if you’re still able to hang on with me, we can flash forward to Sunday and get the rest of this beast done. Sunday, my mom stayed back at the hotel and my dad and I made good on our intention to actually see the non-Harry Potter parts of the park, haha. We started off in Marvel world, where I was exceedingly grateful that I hopped on the Hulk coaster right before leaving the night before, while the wait time was low. Still one of the best roller coasters I have EVER been on! We then worked our way through the Toon Lagoon (stopping to get thoroughly soaked on the Popeye water ride, hehe), although we didn’t go on any other water rides since there was a little bit of on-and-off rain and potential thunderstorms that threatened to shut them down. We did stop for a little while in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center (always so much fun for me, despite the PTSD that movie gave me, haha) and eventually made our way back around to Hogsmeade.

Hogsmeade

Here, we got in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff ride (the wait was about 45 minutes – I definitely noticed a significant drop in sheer volume of people at the park from Saturday to Sunday, even though it was a holiday weekend!) and is themed like a Care of Magical Creatures class taught by Hagrid.

Hagrid's Hut

Since this is more of a kid’s roller coaster (no loop-de-loops or anything fancy), my dad was happy to accompany me on this one (Hulk coaster — not so much, haha). The ride itself is only, what, 45-seconds long? But it was fun, of course, and you get to bow to a mechanical Buckbeak as it starts, which I loved.

Buckbeak

After the ride, we revisited the Three Broomsticks to fuel up with another butterbeer (this time in souvenir mugs, OF COURSE) before braving the various shops. They were just as delicious the second time around, and doubly as fun in plastic flagons, haha.

Butter me up! Take a sip... Butterbeer!

Riding on my frozen butterbeer-induced sugar rush, I then proceeded to spend all my money on ridiculous memorabilia. So. Frackin’. Worth it.

Cauldron Cake 2 Cauldron Cake

The most immediate thing I walked away with was a cauldron cake from Honeydukes that didn’t even make it out of the park. My dad and I devoured this little mousse-filled chocolate cupcake with relish — I can’t wait to try to recreate them! I also forced him to take pictures of me with my new pet Pygmy Puff.

Pygmy Puff

His name is Stanley.

Hey, Arnold!

And that pretty much marked the end of our theme park adventures! We made it back to the hotel in time to grab a late dinner with my mom (SUSHI!) and prepared ourselves for the trip back. I had to get a little bit creative with the packing since, in addition to my own souvenirs, I was also transporting wands back to Ben & Taylor. Aside from the wand, butterbeer mug, and Stanley, the rest of my own spoils included…

Spoils of Harry Potter World

Candy from Honeydukes, a Gryffindor t-shirt, a chocolate wand for Sean, U-No-Poo candies (bahahahaha), postcards…

Stationary

… a leather case containing cards and envelopes…

Honeyduke's Swag

… a chocolate frog, a package of Fizzing Whizbees (which I got to eat half of before Daxter dug them out of my suitcase and ate them… which led to an entirely new level of freakout given his health history… but I digress!), and a box of Bernie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. And then there’s the piece de resistance of my new Harry Potter-inspired collection:

Timeturner

A Timeturner of my very own. Suck on that, Hermione. Yes, I know it’s a lot. I deposited quite a few Galleons into Universal’s pockets this weekend. I would like to point out, however, that when I made a joke about how much money I was spending on what is essentially just CANDY to the guy at the register in Honeydukes, he said that I shouldn’t feel bad because he has literally rung up thousands of dollars worth of merchandise for just one person before. So, really, I think you should all be impressed with my restraint. ;)

So. There you have it. How do I even sum up what really was the trip of a lifetime for me? Aw, to hell with it. I am just going to embrace the cheesy sap that I am, and say that it really was magical. I don’t expect all (heck, any!) of you to understand it, but it was just amazing for me. It was the culmination of my childhood (I was more or less the same age as the characters in the books as each one came out, so I literally grew up with Harry Potter) come to life. I loved every minute of it, and I simply cannot WAIT to go back.

Mischief managed.

42 Comments

  1. Maybe its because I have been an emotional wreck these past couple of weeks, but these recaps are all making me tear up. The part about the wand shop….How amazing is that?!

    Harry Potter saved me from my middle school years and, for that, I am forever grateful to Jo Rowling.

    • It’s because you’re a girl after my own heart. :)

  2. Look at your STASH :) You definitely got yourself great souvenirs!!!
    I love seeing your excitement at HP world :) I was with a HP buff myself when I went and he was SUPER excited to go AGAIN because this time his gf was going with haha

    • Part of the joy comes from converting–I mean, sharing the experience with– others!

  3. hahah I love the Pygmy Puff!! Looks like quite a stash! I’m headed FL to go to Disney in March. So very excited, and I just have to point out that I LOVE your dress!

  4. I am so happy for you, but SO JEALOUS! We definitely have to go when they’re done expanding.

    And don’t womp womp on Hufflepuffs, man! I’m an official (pottermore.com) sorted Hufflepuff and PROUD!!

    • Ughhh, so jealz. I missed the window for a beta key for Pottermore so I’m just… waiting. WAITING, I TELL YOU.

  5. After reading the visit recap from runningoffthereeses I wanted to go to Harry Potter World—and now it is a must.
    Seriously, next summer I’m there and I’m dragging an group.
    And how amazing is the wand story? So awesome!

    • Her recap got me totally psyched, too!

  6. I am not a hardcore HP fan, but I have always wanted to try a a chocolate frog..glad you had fun!

  7. Having been there, I knew it would live up to your expectations. It was fun re-living it through you.

  8. God Bless JK!

    And don’t even THINK about blushing over your enthusiasm. Girl, I was, like, 25 when the first HP came out. I was in GRAD SCHOOL. And I made my brother send them over from England so I wouldn’t have to wait for the US editions.

    Thanks for another great post! I hope you get to go back soon!

  9. I have to admit, (and I pray you don’t banish me from ever reading your blog again), I’ve never read Harry Potter, nor have I seen any of the movies. It’s not something that particularly interests me, but I totally love watching/hearing about people geeking out over it! It kind of reminds me of how I feel about Glee. But, that being said, I have no idea what the fluffy pink thing you named Stanley is, but oh my gosh–I want.

    • Haha! No worries, you are most certainly not banished. Obviously I’m going to recommend that you read them though! They’re the best! And you’ll get the Pygmy Puff reference (it’s a little pet that gets invented later in the series, and one of the characters gets a purple one and names it Arnold, so I thought Stanley was a fitting name for my own.) :)

  10. You know, I never wanted to go before, I thought it was all so contrived and against the spirit of the books, but after these posts (which I could have read more of BTW) I am so ready to pack our bags for Orlando. I have been trying to get my 8 year old into the idea of reading the first book together. I also have to buy the first book. My first book (first edition from the UK) was “borrowed” by a “friend” who “returned” it. So.Upset.Still!

    Anywho. This reader would be happy to see all bazillion pictures you took. And I solemnly swear I am up to no good ;)

    • I honestly thought that my expectations would be too high and that it would be super lame and ruin things for me. But I am (obviously) pleased to say that it obviously did not! They clearly put a LOT of thought and detail into it, and it really shows. :)

  11. Dude, I am SO with you on the whole “magical” thing. I went to Harry Potter World in December of 2010 and it was just amazing. I felt like we were ACTUALLY in the world of the movies and I was SAD to leave. I’m glad you had such a great time and that it lived up to all of your expectations.

    And PS. “Ollivander” actually DID pick me for the show inside the shop, but I was so shocked (and still incredibly overweight and totally insecure), that I could barely manage to say “I…I…guess…so…?” when he asked me if I was ready to choose my wand. And he replied by saying, “Oh…you don’t sound very sure…” and PICKED SOMEONE ELSE. I still beat myself up for that over a year later, but the day I spent there was so incredible that it makes up for it!

    • Oh. My. Lanta. He chose someone else?!! I would have been so sad.

      • I nearly did. I mean, first I couldn’t believe he picked me in the first place. And then, I couldn’t believe he picked someone else. One of the friends I was with was staring at me with her mouth wide open and she said, “WHAT HAPPENED?? You froze, kid!”

        • I’m pretty sure I would have just crumbled to the floor in tears had this happened to me.

        • And by “nearly did”, I meant “nearly cried”! Oy…where’s my espresso?

  12. I loved the recap! (I’m a totally Harry Potter nerd too, I’m going to the park in the summer!!) It was helpful to see all the things I should hit up and try while I’m there. Also that dress looked AWESOME on you, keep up the good work!

  13. I am planning to take my son to Florida for his sixth birthday. We will definitely have to stop by Universal it sounds like! He is too young for Harry Potter (but I love it) but he would be totally geeked out over the Marvel stuff.

  14. Gretchen, you are so cute! Thanks for sharing your adventure- I definitely feel like I was there.

  15. I CAN APPRECIATE YOUR SENTIMENTS!!!!! You say you were about the same age as the characters so you must be younger than me. I’m 27 and being the older one, I have to say that if anyone should be embarrassed (and no one should hehe), it should be ME. Reading through your posts, I notice that I missed some details in all the times I’ve been. Shame on me!!

    • Guess you’ll just have to go back again! ;)

    • Haha, the healthy living blogging has taken over! ;)

  16. This looks like the most amazing trip ever. I’m so very, very jealous but so happy you had a good time!!! <3

  17. I’ve so enjoyed reading your recaps, Gretch! I’m so glad it lived up to what you’d hoped. I’m nearly 10 years older than you (yikes, I just totally dated myself big time!)…and Harry Potter is near and dear to my heart as well. I don’t think you feel bad about your geekiness really, and if you do you shouldn’t at all!! :)

  18. I need to take my little guy at once! what a magical experiences! My son is 6 1/2 and asked me to start reading the books with (for) him! He asked me if I had the books, and I was like “AH. YEA!” (i mean duh. haha)
    I have to ask, did you ever get sorted to see what house you would be in?

  19. You’re right, I don’t understand, and won’t until I make it to the States and go myself. Aaah, I’m so jealous!

  20. Wow, it sounds like you had such a great time! I am big HP fan myself and when I visited the park I was in awe. Seeing the castle and Hogsmeade in real life is just so amazing. I think they just need to make it a whole park instead of just one of the “islands.” There are so many possibilities for rides and experiences.
    and oh my goodness you experience at Ollivanders is so cool! Lucky you! :)

  21. I completely understand you! I think I’ll probably break down sobbing when I go, just like I did after reading the last book and watching the last movie. Seriously, I cried on the subway ride home from the movie theatre…

  22. Whee. Harry Potter. I found your post thorough FannetasticFood’s blog today and wanted to comment to thank you for taking so many photos to appeal to a HP geek. I’ve noticed most bloggers post a pic or two of the rides and that’s it. As a card-carrying, *AHEM* fanfic-writing, dedicated Potter Geek (I refuse to believe there is any such thing as an age-inappropriate Potter fan), I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I live in New Zealand, so the commute to Florida is fairly considerable :), but I’m determined to get there one day!

    I have actually read your blog before and apologies for not commenting in the past! I’ve strongly identified with many of your posts on writing and body image and to be honest, it’s always a pleasure to find a blog with an author who has both a genuine sense of humour and ability to enjoy life.

    • Thank you, Laura!! It’s always nice (borderline necessary) to find a fellow Potterhead in these here parts of the interwebs. :D

      Don’t worry about making the trek over, you’ve still got a few years before they complete the Diagon Alley expansion (WITH GRINGOTTS RIDEEEEE). At which point, I will obviously be heading back (if I don’t before then, heeeee.)

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