“The hotel we’re staying at is right next to Disney World. That’s interesting.” I told my wife calmly.
“Ummm. You know we’re going to Disney World, right?”
“Oh nice,” I replied coolly. “That should be fun. But we’re going to Harry Potter first, right?!?”
“Yes, don’t worry. We’re going to Harry Potter World.”
The brick wall that separated the muggles of London and the wizarding world was no longer in tact; it had been destroyed by Death Eaters in pursuit of the Elder Wand. For my wife and I this was a good thing. Regrettably, we had forgotten the pass code to enter Diagon Alley.
If you are completely lost at this point in your reading, count yourself as one of the unfortunate ones who’ve never fully immersed yourself into the magical realm of Harry Potter. I will excuse you this grievance… for now.
I, however, have experienced the highs and lows of such a novel commitment. And so, through my eyes, you will be burdened and blessed with the perspective of one who is truly living magically – part 2.
The scaly dragon breathed fire from atop Gringott’s bank. Although his head, tail, and body did not move, he still made the shoppers a bit more attentive as they shuffled past. I slowly took off my sunglasses and replaced them with my real glasses – black and thin with round frames. I looked through the lenses of the near exact replica of Harry Potter’s glasses, and peered out at the many stores in Diagon Alley.
To the left was The Leaky Cauldron, where food and shady deals often took place. Beyond that was Madame Malkin’s Dress Robes shop and Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. To my right were Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, joke shop extraordinaire, and The Daily Prophet, where all news fit for wizards is printed. Today was going to be a good day.
We walked through store after store amazed at the attention to detail. Everywhere we turned, our eyes were inundated with nothing but wizarding paraphernalia. They had everything, from signposts advertising ‘Local Elf Services’ to recently forged cauldrons. Our necks were constantly craned checking out the details of the second, third, and even fourth floors of each finely adorned building. It began to feel less like an attraction at a theme park and more like the real thing. We were even able to amble down the dark and eerie back streets of Knockturn Alley where dark magic was practiced, preferred, and promoted. Then, as we re-adjusted our eyes from the darkness of that alley, I saw it…
A little boy was holding a wand pointed intently at a fountain. He waved his wand in a circular pattern and then jerked the tip downwards. Instantly, water shot from the upper parts of the fountain, nearly hitting another pedestrian. It was time to go to the wand shop for me to choose my wand.
OR… for my wand to choose me.
They toured us through the back storerooms of Ollivander’s wand shop. A store clerk helped one young man to find “his wand”. Then we came out to the main storeroom, where wands filled the walls. Some were wands of famous wizards such as Neville Longbottom or Molly Weasley, but others were more obscure, having had no previous owners. I read through the descriptions of each wand and came upon a type of wood that suited my personality to a T. I turned in search of a wand made from the Reed tree, the prodigal material I knew would lead me to great things.
At this point in the story, I know there are some who would be skeptical of whether or not there is still magic in this world. While this belief saddens me, take hope, for in that very wand shop, magic was alive and real. Although there were thousands of wands scattered around the many shelves in that small brown store, wouldn’t you know that the very first box I opened, would be made from the very tree I was destined to hold. The reed wand. Magic!
Quickly leaving the store (after paying of course), I tested my wand on a nearby storefront. “Wingardium Leviosa!” I yelled, as I swished and flicked my wand. The feather in the storefront display began to rise slowly into the air. My spirits on the other hand soared instantly, and I ran on to seven or eight additional places around Diagon Alley shouting spell after spell.
I do not by any means participate or condone the use of sorcery or black magic, but on that day, I fully took advantage of Universal Studios’ new interactive wands. It was the same in the town of Hogsmeade, running from store to store casting spells. Hogsmeade was bustling. And oh, by the way, did I mention I had taken the Hogwarts Express to get there. Yes, THE Hogwarts Express.
Once again, I was astounded by the details. Even the posters in the King’s Cross Station were the same as in the movie. The train itself was an exact replica and kept the excitement going as the windows in each train car weren’t windows at all, but TV screens displaying the English countryside. Every bit was perfect.
The entire morning, and part of the afternoon, was full of wonder and magic. No matter where we walked, it seemed as though there was always something further explore. I thought it possible that we would never really have to leave this world. We could find a corner in The Three Broomsticks restaurant and nap the night away. But alas, much like every book ends, so did our adventure. So, with Hogwarts behind me, I tucked my wand into my belt and peacefully strode down the winding path out of Hogsmeade, and out of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
A few weeks later, I was standing at the window of my bedroom in Philadelphia. Out on a neighbor’s lawn I saw a small feather. I took out my wand, which had lain dormant in its box since leaving Universal Studios. I gently held it in my hand and went over the spell in my head that would make the feather float. Wingardium Leviosa. Wingardium Leviosa. Wingardium Leviosa.
I lifted the wand, pointed it towards the feather, and…