Magical Me

January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am (Book Reviews, Etc, Movie Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I had a very Harry Potter couple of months back in October/November. Sorry for the delay, but there was so much to get down here! Enjoy my HP shenanigans:

BTW, the awesome Hogwarts crest above is hijacked from The Harry Potter Lexicon. Where I also learned that the latin translates as: “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.” Awesome. Administrators of HP lexicon – I really like your rendition of the crest. I used it once before, but got it somewhere random. Full credit to you, now that I know. I intend no copyright infringement and will not make any money from it. If you ask it of me, I will take it down – but pretty please don’t ask it!

First on the docket: I took a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. When I watch HP movies, I can now shout, “I’ve been there!” whenever they show Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, or Ollivanders. It’s ok to be jealous. Let it out. I went with my good friend Michele and we had tons of fun; our poor feet were not pleased, but the rest of us had a fantastic time! Only in Hogsmeade can you be walking by a dude on his cell phone and catch this snippet (and only this snippet) of conversation, “… except for my stupified gnome…” Wait… what?! Ha! <– this was pretty much our reaction. There was a pause, we looked at each other to silently verify that we actually just heard that, and then just busted up. We almost peed our pants. I could be exaggerating my memory, but I think we might have grabbed on to each other to stabalize our upright status. Anyway, Potter world was so much fun. We had tickets to both Universal parks: Studios and Islands of Adventure. HP is in Islands along with Dr. Seuss, Lost Continent (like mythology area), Arabian area, Jurassic Park, Cartoon Lagoon (comic strips), and the Comic Book area. I think I will have to do a separate blog about all that. THIS. Is my Potter segment. Shop Potter. Shop Pee-Otter. What the hell? That didn’t work at all, but 10 points to whoever can tell me what movie I am referencing there.

Right, so Potter World. If you come in Suess-side from the entrance, the first thing you see is the Welcome to Hogsmeade arch with the front end of the Hogwarts express steaming as though it has just pulled into the station and you are looking up the main street of Hogsmeade and its crazy little tumbling buildings with snow-covered rooftops (which is weird in 90 degree weather, btw). Most of the shops are just decorated window-dressing, fun to peek in for Potter aficionados. I am guessing a lot of storage is behind those, but you can go into most of your favorites. Zonkos is the first one you can visit, where they actually sell extendable ears. I think Fred and George are either making lots of galleons off of that or they are going to have some kind of lawsuit. Zonkos is attached to Honeydukes. OMG CANDY. The Three Broomsticks is the big sit-down food spot in the HP area, attached on the inside to the Hog’s Head. The staff they have working there are really fun. They make Potter related jokes, like…

cash register malfunction: Argh! Stupid muggle machine! I don’t know how you guys put up with this!

receipt printer malfunction: Sorry that took so long, there are nargles in the printer again!

Train Conductor, after throroughly examining both arms of a young man with tattoo sleeves: It’s ok; no dark mark!

The specialty drinks you can get are Butterbeer draft, Butterbeer frozen, Pumpkin Juice, Pumpkin Fizz, and Hog’s Head Brew. The Butterbeer is a soda pop. It is kind of like cream soda, but instead is caramel/butterscotch flavor soda? They float this special (and copyrighted) cream on top. Draft vs frozen, is like regular Coke vs Coke Slurpee. All down to preference. I enjoyed both and you might as well try them, just to say you did. Right? Pumpkin Juice is pretty much what it sounds, tastes a little like a holiday spiced cider and the Fizz version is the same, but carbonated. Hog’s Brew is a special Scottish Ale brewed specifically for Potter World. They have Bud and a bunch of British beers – like Stella, Guinness, Strongbow – and Hog’s Brew. Awesome. Not only  can you not get these HP beverages outside of Universal, but you cannot even get them in any other part of the park. It really added to the ambiance.

The rides are great, too. Flight of the Hippogriff is the small roller coster, very gentle and no upside down bits. One thing I will say about the lines on the two big rides in Potter World is that they are almost as entertaining as the actual rides (in parts). The Dragon Challenge, formerly Dueling Dragons, is all done up as the Triwizard Tournament. I don’t want to give too much away really, but so many fun details included! The other big ride is inside Hogwarts Castle, called The Forbidden Journey. MAGICAL. As it should be, right? It combines animatronics, video, and moving ride – not a roller coaster exactly, but it is pretty great. Unless you have motion sickness issues. However, they actually offer tours of the line. TOUR OF THE LINE. Yeah. Because it is awesome. They basically have every part of Hogwarts that you want to see and a few hologram films to watch while waiting, some talking portraits, Sorting Hat, etc.

Second order of business: 30-going-on-10 Harry Potter Birthday Party. It was a fairly small group of friends and family, perfect for me. One of my friend’s brought her newborn dressed as a little Gryffindor lion with an HP scar drawn on his forehead! Another friend’s 3-year-old charmed my Gram with his good behavior and need for pots and pans to make a variety of dishes using her step stool as stove burners. Speaking of my Gram, she agreed to host and she made – MADE – me a Sorting Hat, which was awesome!! I made people wear it and take a facebook quiz to be sorted into houses. We had a bunch of Gryffindors, 3 Slytherins, 3 Ravenclaws, and 0 Hufflepuffs – apparently I am not drawn or related to any average people. I made house pins for people to wear. I did dress up in my Gryffindor robes and showed off my reed wand from Potter World. We had an amazing cake from Laurie Clarke Cakes. It was in the shape of the Sorting Hat and my Aunt Lauren was confused as to why there were two Sorting Hats, because she didn’t realize that one was a cake. Sweet! Fuguratively and literally. It was lemon meringue flavor and it made me happy about life.

Third order of business: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

*SPOILERS?* I don’t really think so. You’ve read the books, right?

HOWEVER. Continue to read at your own risk…

I went to the midnight showing, because that’s how I roll. I like to watch these movies with all of the super-fans. They are always very enthusiastic: cheering, booing, clapping, and whooping. It has become a tradition for me and it’s hard to believe that after July of next year there will be no more. HP7.1 was relatively faithful to the book. As Harry decided at the end of the previous book/film, he does not return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his 7th and final year. Instead, Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to finish what Dumbledore started: finding all of Voldemort’s horcruxes (dark magical objects that hold a piece of a soul) and destroying them so when they finally face him, he will be mortal. They don’t have much to go on and the stress takes its toll on the group. The acting abilities of the kids have grown enough to handle the dramatic or just more emotionally complex scenes that they would not have been able to tackle previously.

In addition, each book/film has grown with the children in terms of content and complexity. I bow to J. K. Rowling‘s incredible skill. With each book, she takes the writing style and storyline and grows the whole package up a little. I have read many series in my time and I don’t think I have ever seen this accomplished so successfully. Just one example of content growth is how she portrays the concept of discrimination. In the beginning, we have kids bullying each other. It happens every day and Rowling gives us plenty to think about: strong vs weak, rich vs poor, magic parents vs muggle-born. Then she puts discrimination in a Civil Rights context by showing us how magic humans treat “magical creatures of near human intelligence,” such as house elves, centaurs, giants, etc. They are treated as second class citizens because they are not human, restricted in where they can live or treated like slaves and not allowed to have wands.

In the last book/film, parallels between the Death Eaters (Voldemort’s followers) and a fascist regime (e.g. Nazi Germany) are clear as the Death Eaters take over the Ministry of Magic and implement their plan to subjugate and eventually exterminate people of non-magical descent. It is social commentary against prejudice at its worst, wrapped up in a compelling adventure. I really enjoyed this movie. I am simultaneously disappointed and understanding that they had to break the final book into two parts. Understanding because there is no way that they could have put the entire book into one film, too much action and plot to be contained in 2-3 hours; disappointed because now I have to wait 8 months, 8 MONTHS, to see the rest.

Rating: I have all the others on DVD, so…


  1. Michele said,

    Yeah, we totally grabbed onto each other to keep from falling down. I can’t believe I forgot about that – thanks for reminding me!! I’m sorry I missed your 30 going on 10 HP party, but I’m glad I got to experience HP world with you. It truly was, in a word, magical ;o)

    • pemberliegh said,

      YEAH IT WAS! That’s ok, I would’ve been very impressed if you managed to cross the country just for my little shindig. Oh hey, did you take the facebook quiz to get sorted? I could send you a pin like I made for everyone else for your collection! That post took forever. I think for the rest I’m just going to send people to your pic scrapbook and say here… take a virtual tour… enjoy!

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