Monday, December 6, 2010

Wands at the Ready

Ollivander's Wand Shop
Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The door creaks open and the witch standing next to it ushers 20 people off the line and into Ollivander’s wandshop.  Inside, a small lantern flickers in a dark room.  Cabinets and shelves reach to the ceiling, filled with long dusty boxes each holding a wand.  Pressed into a corner, I peer through through the solemn shadows to see cupboards half opened and an old bell high up the wall.  When Mr. Ollivander looks at us from over his spectacles, everyone—even the adults—come to full attention, hoping that somehow a wand will choose one of us as its mate.

Hogwarts Castle, Harry Potter Theme Park
Harry Potter purists will grumble that the designers of the Wizarding World spliced Rowling’s magical geography in the name of commercial sensibility.  The newest section of Universal’s theme park, the Wizarding World is organized into Hogwarts and Hogsmeade with the iconic red train, idling at the gates.  The castle stands prominently against the treeline, as it should.  But Hogsmeade holds some shops that belong only in Diagon Alley though I admittedly didn’t realize at first, completely overwhelmed as I was by the feeling of stepping into one of my favorite stories.  As soon as you pass through the gates, the jolly conductor from the Hogwarts Express welcomes you.  Don’t ask him to take a picture with your muggle camera.  He has no idea what it is and managed to take a nice shot of his own nose on ours.  He’s so silly—you just want to hug him.

Hogsmeade Shops, Harry Potter Theme Park

There’s Honeydukes, Zonkos, and the Owl Post.  The Three Broomsticks is a high traffic stop for refreshments.  Seating and service is well organized; and while the menu does not include muggle sodas, you can choose between pumpkin juice, butterbeer, or my favorite, Hogshead Ale.  I got an order of fish and chips to accompany my pint and enjoyed them on the outdoor patio.

Eating in Wizarding World of Harry Potter

But it doesn’t matter what you eat or see or ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Like everyone else, you’re there for the wands. 

Inside Ollivander's Wand Shop

Inside the wandshop, Ollivander chose one little girl to be tested for a wand and the rest of us deflated, stifling our petty jealousies as she picked up a wand made of holly, causing the cupboards and draws to slap open and shut.  We laughed as she then waved one made of oak, causing the bells to chime and echo throughout the store.  Then,  she held the last, made of heather, flexible, 10 ¼ inches.  A breeze kicked up, a light switched on, and I shook my head at the cheesy cheekiness of it.  But the little girl stood where she was, quietly holding the wand that had chosen her.  A small grin pulled at her lips, the satisfied smile of a Harry Potter purist.

Early Morning, Harry Potter Theme Park

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