Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Harry Potter Story

I am not sure how old any of my readers are (the ones that aren't my mother or couple of friends that know about my blog), but no matter your age, you should know what, who, and how Harry Potter is.

I actually began reading books from the Harry Potter series toward the end of 6th grade (2002). The moment my mother found out that the entire series takes place in and has all to do with a magical world, she did not want me to have any part of it.  My mother did not like the thought of me reading a book that takes place in a primarily magical world, especially at such a young and impressionable age, so she asked that I not read them. I always loved reading, but I didn't have much interest in the books when they first came out in 1998, so I did not protest to my mother's wishes.

Towards the end of my 5th grade year, Mrs. H, the mother one of my good friends, began to read to our class for about 30 minutes, once a week. What book was she reading to us? Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone.

I remember listening to her read the book, knowing that my mom was not entirely thrilled with the idea of the series. I truly enjoyed hearing Mrs. H read the story, and genuinely looked forward to each time she was in our class. I literally remember being so excited when we heard that she was coming that day to continue reading. We, unfortunately, did not get through the entire book before school ended, and I guess I forgot about the series for a little while after that.

The first movie came out in 2001, that was the time when everyone in class started talking about the books and how great they were. I was in 6th grade and one day towards the end of the year, I went to the school library to see if I could yoink a copy of the first book to read. The first movie had already come and gone from the theater, but I figured I could rent it soon after if I decided I liked it.
Well, in middle school, kids still used the library for fun, and because it was such a popular series, there were no copies of the first, or even the second book, for me to take out. I was disappointed, but I saw that they had one copy left of a different book, the third installment of the series: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I remember thinking the cover looked really cool and being excited by the way the illustrations were drawn and colored. Against my mother's original wishes, I took the book and brought it home. I literally think it took me 2 weeks to get through the entire book (That was fast for a me, a 6th grader). I remember being fascinated, and at the same time frightened, by the thought of Sirius Black. I loved the relationships between Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I also think Professor Lupin was my favorite character at the time.

Once I finished reading the book, I couldn't help but to tell my mom that I read it and just how great it really was. By this time, she had loosened up at the thought of Harry Potter, so she just told me that it was fine that I read it but just be wary that it is made-up and magic is not real. I had no problem with that, I was just happy that I could read the books in front of my mother.

With the third book finished, now I had to read the first and second book! I still had not seen any of the movies yet, so I had no idea how it all started, up until what occurs at the beginning of the third book. I borrowed the first and second book from one of my friends, Hannah. (Mr.s H's daughter). After that, there was no stopping my new-found love for Harry and the entire book series. I was able to read books 3-7 entirely before their movies came out, so I did not miss too much of the Harry movie-madness at all.

Books 1-7
Since then, I have purchased each book in soft cover (6th and 7th I was able to buy as a hard cover), each book in CD-audio form, and each book in eBook form. (I also have both of the Lego Harry Potter games for the Wii, and I was one of the first members of Pottermore..)
Needless to say, I have read the series in its entirety 4 or 5 times, and I never get sick of it...never. I always look forward to breaking it open for however long I can throughout my busy days. I always pick out new things that I may not have realized in the past, and I find myself picturing the scenes, places, and characters in my mind like it is the first time reading the story.
I have had crushes on almost every actor that plays the characters in the movies, Dan, Rupert, Tom, the guy that plays Oliver Wood.....(oh yes.)  I envisioned J.K. allowing me to play Lavender Brown, so that I could date (and 'snog') Ron (Rupert) in the movie, but be with Daniel in real life. (On a good day, I have been known to pull off a mean British accent.) In a nutshell, I went through all of the classic, and wonderful, reading-Harry-Potter-as-a-teenager phases. Within the past few years, my mother has come around to the stories and movies as well. Way around; she hasn't read the books, but  now she watches the movies more often than I do.

Two weeks ago, Greg and I took a lovely, week-long vacation in Orlando Florida, to visit Disney World and Universal Studios. I did eventually get just as pumped for the Disney, but all I initially cared about in the planning of the park-going was seeing Harry Potter World. In May or June, I decided I would begin the book series again to freshen up my Harry Potter mind and be fully prepared for the amazingness that I knew HP World would be.
What with work and being a young twenty-something woman, I only got through the first two books before we left on September 7th. On the plane ride there I read the first 5 chapters of the third book, and got to chapter 7 before the official day we were going to Universal.
We waited until the last part of our day to go to Harry Potter World-which is on the Islands of Adventure side of Universal Studios. I don't know why, but I feel like I was nervous to go. Like maybe it wasn't going to live up to my incredibly high expectations or something, but as our last stop of the day, we finally approached the gates to Hogsmeade. It. Was. AMAZING. The entire Hogsmeade-half of the park is exactly what I had pictured and thought it would be. The street and the shops are perfect, the Butterbeer and the Hog's Head menu are perfect, the castle and the rides are perfect. The entire village is just exactly what I would want it to be. (the ride in the castle did make me quite a bit queasy, but the walk through the Hogwarts castle, and what I was able to look at during the ride before closing my eyes, was SO worth it.)

One of the first views I saw when entering Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL!
We decided to save our visit to the new part the of park that is on the Universal Studios for our second, and last day, of park going. We walked back to Hogsmeade and to the train station to board the Hogwarts Express "ride" back to the other side of the park, where the "London" and Diagon Alley part of HP world is. The train ride was perfect, everything and more than what I expected.
I will not spoil the excitement for any of you who have not yet visited the new, or old, parts of HP world, but the new part was even better than the old. It was all just like the movies and just like the books. I should also add that I bought the Elder Wand in Ollivanders.. I couldn't resist! Alright I said it. And I don't regret it!

I just HAD to get a mug of Butter Beer!

After riding the Hogwart's Express

Although my Disney/Universal trip was over, I still read the third book on the plane ride home, and am still now reading it whenever I get the chance. I think reading the Harry Potter book series is an escape for me. An escape to an entirely different world. A world that, through the imagination and skills of author, directors, producers, architects and park designers, I can read, watch, and be in any time I want to. (Another trip to Universal Studios may not come as easily, but it is possible...I'll have to talk to Greg...)

The Hogwart's Castle and Greg and I in front of the Hogwart's Express
I will end this post by saying a BIG FAT THANK YOU to J.K. Rowling, and each and every person involved in adapting the books and making movies and parks from them. You all have helped me continue a part of my childhood that will never leave me, no matter how old I become or where my life brings me.

Thanks for reading!
xo Dana

(I used Google images for the image from the movie and the image of the books- I do not claim to own them.)

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