The Leaky Diary: Day 1

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After 5 Days, 2 trips to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, 1 FANTASTIC presentation, and countless cosplayers. It is almost hard to believe that I am back in the real world. My name is Kelsey and I got the chance of a lifetime to attend LeakyCon in Orlando Florida with Harry Potter and the Art of Spying authors Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest. This is my Leaky Diary where I explore some of my favorite parts of the experience, give some vacation advice to those interested in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and thank all of the wonderful people that made the trip a fantastic success!*

*Unlike Tom Riddle’s Diary, the goal of this blog series is not to convince you to open a secret chamber, kill a bunch of students, or do anything equally nefarious. I just want to tell my story. Still, as Arthur Weasley says, “never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

Today, I want to start with our amazing time at the LeakyCon “Open at the Close” event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. For those of you who don’t know, some of the LeakyCon attendees got the chance to stay in the park after hours to eat traditional English food, shop in all of the little stores, and ride the Hogwarts Express as often as we wanted. It. was. awesome.

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The dragon atop Gringotts periodically breathes fire. Startling at first, but awesome every time after that!

People have been talking about Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade all summer, so I’ll keep this brief. Here are my 5 favorite parts about the park:

1. It feels like you’re walking into the world of Harry Potter

The shopkeepers dress in specific uniforms and elf hats. The lines for the rides wind through Hogwarts, Gringotts, and Hagrid’s pumpkin patch. A lot of the shopkeepers will pretend they don’t know what “muggle” credit cards are like. Kudos to Universal for keeping the magic alive.

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2. The rides are totally worth the wait!

I waited in line twice for the ride through Hogwarts, partially just to see the talking portraits on the walls as you wait in line. The wait was nealry two hours for the Gringotts ride and we got there too close to the park closing to wait, but other people who rode it swore up and down they would stand in line all over again because the ride was that good.

3. Butterbeer

Now, before I went to the Wizarding World, I met a lot of people who said the Butterbeer was disappointing. I think their expectations were just a tad too high. No, it does not taste like someone found the secret to the perfect beverage. It does, however, taste cold, sweet, and gives you a nice foam mustache for pictures.

4. People go in costume.

Ever feel like other people just don’t get your passion for Harry Potter? Well, no worries at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (or at LeakyCon, for that matter). A lot of people wear their house cloaks, ties, sweaters, etc. in the park despite the broiling temperatures. You will overhear people seriously debating the benefits of a unicorn hair core versus the benefits of a phoenix feather core. Embrace it. It’s magical.

5. You’ll want to go home and read the books all over again

No, you won’t become a wizard just by walking through the cavernous hole in a brick wall and stepping into Diagon Alley. You won’t be able to fly without the benefit of some awesome roller coasters. You probably won’t spontaneously develop a British accent. However, you will remember that feeling you got the first time Harry walked into Diagon Alley with Hagrid and saw the street bustling with wizards and witches. You will look at the snow covered roofs of Hogsmeade shops and find yourself transported to Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s sense of wonder as they tasted their first Butterbeer.

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Have any of you been to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley? What were your favorite parts? What would you like to see Universal build next?

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