Monday, July 14, 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Other Adventures

Current Mood: Sleepy
Current Jams: Harry Potter Theme-John Williams
(Yup, got that on my ipod).

Hello beautiful people! How has everyone been since I last dropped in? I know it's been a while since we've chatted because the last time we were together it was Spring; seasons have literally changed in the time I've been ignoring you. I also know it's been quite some time since I've posted because like an alarm clock, my family has persistently, and definitely not annoyingly, notified me every day that I haven't blogged in a while. 

I could take this opportunity to fill you in on what's been going on in my world between then and now, BUT I'd so much rather share the magic that was my recent trip to Disney and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In the interest of catching up on my highly packed DVR, I'll take you through the trip via a photo diary of sorts, with some anecdotes thrown in. And of course, some over sharing, because what's a Florida Disney trip in the blistering heat of July without a few tales of chub rub and body odor? Only one of those things really happened…the first day. I present...

The Eray Rays Do Disney:
Basically the point of the trip was tri-fold: 1) to celebrate my parents' simultaneous retirement (I'm literally the only employed schmo in my house at present) 2) a send off for my sister and her husband before they move to North Carolina and 3) my family and I are insanely huge dorks and have been dying to get to Harry Potter world since the day they Alohamora-ed those gates. For you muggles, that means since they opened that part of the park.

As is the case with every Errera adventure, we begin with a crisis, this one being that we almost missed our flight…while we were sitting waiting for it at the airport. Yes folks, apparently it's not enough to sit at A gate, evidently you have to sit at YOUR FLIGHT's gate. Of course, there was a mad dash through the airport a la Home Alone, and we were the last fools to board. Don't worry, we paid our penance enduring the several judgmental looks of the other more punctual passengers.  

We begin our trip on Monday at Hollywood Studios, where I almost fainted waiting on the line for Tower of Terror. My caffeine to water intake ratio was highly askew, and let's just say the elevator wasn't the only thing that almost dropped on the ride.

There was also the viewing of a brief Beauty and the Beast performance that day (not brief enough), and it seems that Belle could do with a little more reading, because for some reason she was unable to read all the signs pointing to the fact that her prince had his eyes all over Gaston. 

Day 2 was Epcot, and though it rained at one point, the Errera's took it in stride: 

Some little girl kept calling us "Poncho People", which was not entirely unwelcome.

Other Highlights:
The time we missed Kate:

Dining with the residents of Pride Rock at the Animal Kingdom Lodge:

We also ate with this animal:

The one and only Magic Kingdom:

Punished at Magic Kingdom:

Animal Kingdom, can you spot the human?

Our Italian themed hotel, Portefino Bay:

A Whole Lotta Things at Universal Studios:

At long last, entering the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter, beginning with the Knight Bus:

Quadruple Nerd Alert:

12 Grimmauld Place:

Followed by Diagon Alley:

Weasley's Wizard Wheezes:

Gringott's Bank:


Flourish & Blotts: 

Borgin & Burkes:

Knockturn Alley:

The Leaky Cauldron:

King's Cross Station:

Platform 9 3/4:

The Hogwarts Express:

The village of Hogsmeade

And of course, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:

Permission granted for those who don't give a shit about Harry Potter to skip this:
In the interest of full disclosure, I totally geeked the fuck out. I mean, they thought of everything. They had a hologram to make it look like you were walking through the wall to get on platform 9 3/4, dementors on the Hogwarts Express, butter beer, chocolate frogs, a demonstration of Mr. Ollivander helping the wand choose the wizard, Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms, a fire-breathing dragon atop Gringotts Bank that exhaled a mini inferno every 15 minutes, and that's just Diagon Alley!  There was a ride in Hogwarts which required you to walk through the castle and allowed you to experience the dungeons, the herbology greenhouses, the Mirror of Erised, talking portraits, the Fat Lady, Dumbledore's office, and ended with holograms of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, appearing from under the invisibility cloak to talk to the audience. Crazy stuff!

Non-wizards keep reading here:
Regrettably, our first day at Universal ended when we checked into the hotel and got stuck with Brad, the all too enthusiastic and chatty Porter, who informed us about everything from the history of the hotel to its GPS coordinates, while simultaneously inquiring about every detail of our day, all in one breath. Which after a long day at the park, made us feel like this:

Fortuitously for us, the Diagon Alley section of the park only opened 3 days before we went. Therefore like any obsessive family, we woke up at 6 am on Saturday morning to skip the previous 7 hour long wait for the new ride, Escape to Gringotts. We entered the park at 6:30 am (I wouldn't even get up that early for my wedding day, that's how insane serious we are about Harry Potter), snuck on the single riders line and hopped on the ride in a mere 20 minutes. And it was worth every minute of sleep I lost.

The trip was amazing and, of course, magical. It was not, however, without it's obstacles; we bookended the trip with ridiculous misadventures. On our way home, the trunk of our rental car broke; cut to my sister and I holding the trunk shut with plastic stretchy tape all the way to the airport. 

Holding on for dear life:

And even though I had a mini heart attack with each bump of the road and pop of the trunk, it was a wonderful trip and I'm so grateful to my parents for taking us for one last ride on the, as they say, "gravy train." 

You are beautiful. (Almost as beautiful as Neville Longbottom)