Books and movies appeal to people of all ages. Every generation has a series that defined their childhood. For me, it was Harry Potter. I started reading it at nine and got the seventh book as a tenth birthday present two days after it was released. My series of books, and later movies, have travelled with me through every move across the world. I’ve been raised to believe in the power of magic and creativity. When she was old enough, I introduced my sister to the books and she became my steady Potter companion.
This year, as a sixteenth birthday surprise for her, my parents planned a trip to Universal Studios to visit Harry Potter world. It was right in the middle of the school year but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit the recreation of a place I’ve seen a million times over in every Harry Potter movie. So, I skipped one day of classes (thankfully our trip fell on Good Friday) and went home to take the 10 hour road trip down to Orlando. We walked until we got blisters, screamed so much on the rollercoasters that my throat is still sore, but it was worth every minute.
Both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade have been meticulously reconstructed. I know the details of those sets like the back of my hand from years of watching the movies. It was perfect. From the fake snow on the roofs to the cobblestone pathways, talking pictures to goblins in Gringotts, every detail was researched immaculately. To make the whole scene even better, there were children and adults proudly donning the robes of their houses and walking down the street, waving their wands at the interactive displays and watching in wonder as the lanterns lit up or the fountains spewed water. The entire scene looked like it was straight out of a movie.
The icing on the cake was the “Forbidden Journey” ride. The ride had us sit in groups of four and took us on a journey through the Quidditch fields and into the Forbidden Forest through TV screens all around us that were such good quality it was difficult to not feel your stomach drop even though you knew it was just a simulation. The exhilaration of soaring through the skies with Harry and encountering (and outsmarting) dementors and other magical creatures while getting to see the grounds of Hogwarts was everything my 11-year-old self had ever hoped for.
The trip showed me that while we might grow up and our interests may change, we’re all still children at heart. The things we derived joy from in our childhood can still make us happy, we just have to slow down and let it.