Friday, October 28, 2011

next stop, Madame Pomfrey's

OK, not to make this page, like, HARRY POTTER CHAT or anything like that, but do you have a kid in your life who likes Harry Potter?  Because then by all means, if you're ever in Orlando, take them to Universal Studios and go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Because oh my god you guys, HARRY POTTER.

We were in Orlando last week for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmologists, which basically gave us a great excuse to do something that we wanted to do anyway.  Universal Studios even had a night where they kept the park open for special extended hours for Academy members and their families, and while this meant that none of my outdoor pictures turned out at all (my cell phone camera does decently with low light conditions, but there are limits, after all), you'll just have to trust me that, perhaps especially at night, this place looked really magical.

The area is set up as some sort of amalgam of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and while there were a few rides and a replica of the Hogwarts Express (which puffed smoke but didn't actually go anywhere), the area basically consisted of numerous storefronts (Zonko's! Dervish and Banges!) and food vendors (Three Broomsticks, scattered Butterbeer stands) in order to move Potter-branded merchandise.  And I realize that that's sort of the cynical reality of things, and that everything was of course ridiculously overpriced and designed to prey on your love of the books or your weakness for indulging your own children--but look guys, I'm not made of stone.  Kids, hope you're in the mood to stay up late, because WE BE GETTIN' SOME CHOCOLATE FROGS AT HONEYDUKES.

The absolute best thing at Harry Potter World though (and the one thing that Cal really, really wanted to see) was Ollivander's Wand Shop.

The wand shop was set up as more of a show really, where small groups of about thirty people at a time were escorted into the store and Ollivander picks a kid out of the throng to perform what they called a "wand-pairing demonstration." The demonstration is much as was depicted in the movies--Ollivander hands various wands to the chosen, instructs him to do some kind of magical task, and the magic goes all haywire until Ollivander finally picks the correct wand, at which point a spotlight shines and aaaaaahhh! a chorus of angels sings from on high because the wand has selected the wizard, blah blah magic talk.

This bit of whimsey, of course, is followed by the cold hard reality of them shuffling you out to the storefront where you have the "option" to purchase the special, magical wand that chose you above all others. (You'll notice that I put the word option in quotes, because really, unless you're some kind of steely-willed gorgon, there is no way in hell after that little show where your kid is looking at you with the wide-eyed wonder of oh my god, this shit just got real that you're not going to buy that thing. There's just no way. In fact, if you're really determined not to shell out for a wand, do yourself a favor and don't even walk in there.  I WARNED YOU.)

I do also find it ironic that it was the annual meeting for the American Academy of Ophthalmologists that led to a night of so many kids running around pointing long tapered sticks out in each others faces, but perhaps they haven't been doing as many ruptured globe or orbital trauma repairs as usual and want to make up the shortfall before year's end. Well played, ophthalmologists. Well-played.


  1. Erika (from Wellesley)12:06 PM

    That last picture is freakin' awesome. Also, I have no children, but could picture myself walking into this place any day of the week. I mean, butterbeer? Wands? Get the heck out of here. Clearly the only magic going on is that these people figured out a way to get people to separate themselves from their money in minutes, but whatever. Consider me sold.

  2. Haha, you are HILARIOUS! Ruptured globe...

  3. Anonymous8:11 PM

    I went last year (as an M3 student), also while in Orlando for a conference. That place is pretty magical, including in it's ability to persuade you to buy tons of over-priced merchandise (but it's so nifty!). Especially loved the Hogwarts ride & the frozen butterbeer!

  4. Despite not being in medicine or having my own family, it's posts like these that I'm reminded why I like reading this blog so much!

    Also I've noticed that almost all of Mack's recent photos are of him smiling or laughing. Was the frowning thing just a phase or have you been carefully selecting your photos just to give us that illusion? =)

  5. Anonymous9:33 PM

    I am 32 without any kids yet and I want to go to Harry Potter world pretty badly. Of course, I am the dork that on trips to Ireland and England the last few years connected almost everything I saw to Harry Potter. The tour guide at Trinity College? Looks like Harry Potter. The lake with black rocks surrounding it? Reminds me of Harry Potter. The names etched in stone in the churches? Harry Potter character names.

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  7. Funny story - my family and I went to the theme park in the summer. My cousin and I, who are in our 20s no less, waited in line for Ollivander's for an hour and a half, maybe two hours. Once we finally got in to see the show, we realized we totally could've bypassed all of that scorching heat and waiting if we just went in through the side door.

    Now the wait for the tour of the Hogwarts Castle was ridiculous. Two hours, I think. But that 3D ride was the best of my life. =)

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