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Personal #3: When A Dream Becomes Reality

with 11 comments

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Albus Dumbledore

I recently ventured to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (a.k.a. HPL) in Orlando. For three years, I planned for this. For six years, I dreamed of it. After all, only fools daren’t dream of walking the halls of Hogwarts, binging on Chocolate Frogs, and conquering the Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time. So what happened when this dream finally became reality? The crushing reminder that dreams rarely translate well into real life. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fabulous time, and probably burned more calories laughing than I did circling that damn park 100 times. (Bingham was right – life is better with company.) Despite this, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed as I said my goodbyes to HPL. I think the following Before/After shots adequately illustrate my feelings. I went from captivated to crestfallen in 72 hrs. flat:


No way that's the real Hogwarts Express. There's no way!


I don't remember a fire extinguisher being in the books...

What exactly went wrong, you ask? Let me break it down for you in bulleted list fashion:

  • Too small: I get that this is only one part of the Islands of Adventure, but come on. Harry Potter – the name that produced the highest grossing film series of all time and first billionaire author was relegated to a section the size of a Wal-Mart Superstore parking lot. Epic fail.
  • Poorly placed: In order to reach the gates of Hogwarts, we were forced to experience arguably the worst part of the Islands: Seuss Landing. I became nauseous and uneasy every time I passed through this pastel-colored abomination. Seuss Landing will definitely make an appearance in my Hell. That and strangers gawking at any portion of my wedding. Both are equally offensive.
  • Hogsmeade: This all-wizarding village was the main setting for the park. Big mistake. About 15% of the HP series takes place here (if that), and it’s mainly just shops. So why did they pick it? Oh right, because it’s mainly just shops. Commercialism is King, even in HPL. After figuring that I’d probably drop at least 30 bucks in each shop, I come to find that most of them were just facades. There were only about four actual shops. With bad merchandise. Take, for instance, the Chocolate Frog that I couldn’t wait to buy at Honeydukes. It was possibly the worst chocolate I’ve ever tasted, and that includes the sketchy generic chocolate my mom would make me throw out on Halloween. Also, Zonko’s sold the jokes and tricks from the series right alongside a rubber chicken and chattering teeth…what?! Despicable.
  • Staff that denied my wizard status: I’d like to speak with the person responsible for the employee instruction manual at this place. Any time I spoke with a staff member, I was referred to as a “Muggle.” How don’t they get that the people who come to HPL are seeking recognition for their magical abilities? And why are you assuming that I’m not a wizard? My involuntary response to each worker was, “I’m not a Muggle!” coupled with a scathing glare. To make matters worse, they all spoke with American accents. The only time I heard a British accent was when the conductor of the Hogwarts Express commanded, “Say butterbeer!” I shall remain forever grateful for his enthusiasm.
  • Lack of dark arts/wizards/magic/aura: I fell in love with this series because of its dark nature, particularly in books 5-7. I expected to have Death Eaters shooting curses at me while simultaneously having my soul sucked out by a Dementor. I thought of the different spells I would use on Voldemort as we battled in the Ministry of Magic. I was even prepared to leave with a piece of my soul safely confined in a Horcrux (my Bette Boop bobblehead being the likely object of choice). Yet there was no sign of the Dark Arts, let alone of Voldemort himself. I suppose the powers that be didn’t want to scare off their core customer base of 4-16 year olds. Still, this was a huge miss.

I will say that, on the plus side, I bought two awesome t-shirts and enjoyed the Dragon Challenge coaster. Overall, though, the Wizarding World didn’t come close to my dream world. Much is to be said for fantasies staying fantasies, because your idea of a thing can only remain perfect in this form. I began this journey desperately wishing to experience the magic of HP in real life. Now I wish I never sought anything beyond what was already in the books, films and, most importantly, in my head.


11 Responses

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  1. Nice. Curious, did this post prompt anyone from the park to reach out to you?

    Do you think it should have?


    October 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    • Why no, no one did reach out to me. But I didn’t expect a response. In reading this post over again, I realize that anyone who doesn’t know me would think I am the most bitter malcontent alive. In fact, I’m simply a vocal critic who thinks the sandwich critique is a waste of time. But I can see how my tone could discredit my concerns in the eyes of a park rep.

      My friend, Tricia, who was with me on this trip, read the post the other day. Instead of being offended that I didn’t detail the wonderful bonding experience we shared, she was almost in tears from laughing so hard. See, she knows me well.


      October 27, 2010 at 6:54 pm

  2. Bitter malcontent? Not at all. Muggle, though? Absolutely. 🙂


    October 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm

  3. “Much is to be said for fantasies staying fantasies, because your idea of a thing can only remain perfect in this form. I began this journey desperately wishing to experience the magic of HP in real life. Now I wish I never sought anything beyond what was already in the books, films and, most importantly, in my head.”

    Preach it, sister! You *know* I agree.


    October 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

  4. Have you sent this to the HPL/Disney customer service unit yet? They need to know this stuff!


    November 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm

  5. After reading your take on HP land, the magic is gone for me. I have No desire to go now & I was going to take Tyler for spring break. I must have done something wrong
    raising you….who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss? Although I always hated that movie…thought it was scary..
    Love you…momma


    November 2, 2010 at 4:08 am

  6. Dreams do become real……I am living mine….and loving it everyday!

    We may not always like the outcome of our dreams because of the high expectations we put on them. The dream is still awesome, it is the expectations that change the reality of the dream. Without them there is no hope or promise to fulfill them. Keep reaching for your dreams…..


    November 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm

  7. […] success of the Harry Potter books (Shout out to Tara!) were encouraging to me for this very reason — it indicates that more adults have a taste […]

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