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Old 02-03-2011, 04:28 PM   #1
Eight
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Arrow Isn't 21 a Little Old For This? (4/29 - The FINALE)

If you do think 21 is a little old for generally having way too much fun at Walt Disney World, please ask contact the nearest cast member, and they'll assist you to the closest exit.

However, if you think one is never too old for Disney magic, hello and welcome aboard!

My name is Eight or Rachel, and I'll be your host on this journey. As you may have guessed, I'm 21 (now 22), and maybe just a little bit obsessed with Disney. This trip marked my 43rd trip to a Disney park, so yeah, just a little obsessed. Nothing serious or anything. Most of those trips were to Disneyland, but I've also been to Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and of course, Walt Disney World.


As you can see, I had a run in with some pirates at Disneyland last September. They backed off after I pulled out my cutlass and showed off my amazing skills.

My traveling partner on this trip was my mom. She'd probably tell you she's been to Disney too many times, but she's still willing to come with me and ride everything. While she may not get excited about going like I do, she more or less understands my love for all things Disney, and therefor only makes fun of me a bit when I get l excited over something little, or I know some minute detail about a ride, or I get emotional watching fireworks.

The plan was to fly down to Orlando on January 24th, spend the 25th and 26th at Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, spend the 27th - the morning of February 1st at Walt Disney World, and then drive to Cape Coral to visit a family friend on the 1st, and fly home the evening of the 2nd. That's mostly how it went down. Some very last minutes changes were made, but we'll get to that later.

This trip was really wonderful, I was able to do almost everything I wanted to do, and a certain childhood dream came true! I took over 1500 pictures, and I'm excited to share this trip with you.

And I think I'll stop here and keep this introduction short (mainly because I'm not sure what else to write ).

Table of Contents

January 24
Getting There Isn't Really Half the Fun


January 25
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Part 1 || Part 2
A Bit More of Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios
More Wizarding World of Harry Potter

January 26
A Childhood Dream Comes True
The Last Installment Of Universal Studios - Disney is Coming Soon, I Promise!
On Disney Property, Finally! Part 1 || Part 2

January 27
Expedition Expedition Everest Part 1 || Part 2
Beware of Buffalo Part 1 || Part 2
Indiana Jones' Less Cool Younger Sibling Part 1 || Part 2

January 28th
Downtown Disney
I'd Probably Find the Magic Kingdom More Magical if it Was Less Crowded
I actually updated?! Wait, what?

January 29th
A Possible Change of Plans
Muppetational Saturday (Because Really, That's Like All I Have Pictures Of)

January 30th
A Super Short Update, But There's an Owl! That's Cool, Right?

January 31st
One Super Mega Epcot Update Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4

February 1st and 2nd
The FINALE Part 1 || Part 2

June and December Trip Related Posts

We Interrupt This TR to Bring You Some Breaking News
Yet Another Interruption: The Who, Where, When, and Why For My June Trip
Back Home From June Trip
Teaser for June TR
Yay, News!
Update on December Trip: An Excessive Use of the Word Exciting
Back From December Trip
June Pictures Part 1 || Part 2
September/October Solo Trip Pictures
Halloween Disneyland Trip
March Disneyland Trip

Last edited by Eight; 04-29-2012 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:43 PM   #2
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They say getting there is half the fun.

But I have to disagree with that when getting there involves up at 5 AM for a five hour flight during which you have the middle seat. At least it was the middle seat in an exit row, so not only did I have more legroom, I would be one of the first ones out in case there was an emergency! Fortunately, there were no emergencies, so I just had the nice perk of extra legroom.

We arrived at the airport around 7:10, and we were able to get through security pretty fast. I was very amused when I saw one security officer walk over to another after searching someone's bag and say, "it was just a banana." Which made me very curious as to what they thought it was originally. I guess bananas are kind of gun shaped, but really. It was just a banana, guys. No need to worry.


This was not our plane, but it's Alaska's Disneyland plane! How cute, right? I don't know if you can see it, but it says, "We're Going to Disneyland". I've seen this plane before, and I've always wanted to ride it, but alas, despite flying from Seattle to California many, many times, it's never been my plane.


This was our plane. Very plain.

The flight was long. And boring. And long. And I had the middle seat between two business men. I mostly just read and watched some TV shows I had downloaded.




In case you've forgotten, this is what the inside of an airplane looks like.

Finally, after a long, boring flight, we landed in Orlando!






We took the mini-monorail, got our luggage, got our rental, and we were off!

To Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Studios. We checked in (club level!), and I took the obligatory room photos.

















We were both starving, having only had a bagel on the plane, so we headed down to Islands Dining Room. I had the burger, which was pretty good, but not rave worthy. Despite being very nearly empty, the service was extremely slow. I was really annoyed about that at the time because I was so hungry.



One of the employees there, I'm guessing he was a manager or something like that, was walking around, so he stopped by our table to talk to us. We told him it was our first night there, and we were headed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first thing in the morning. He gave us a few tips, like how it would it be faster to walk to Islands of Adventure in the morning, rather than taking the boat. I was happy to learn there was a walking path, since we had been there in 2004, and I could only remember taking the boat. If I can, I'll walk over taking a boat or a shuttle or tram any day.

So after dinner, we walked the path to Islands of Adventure to see how long it would take us in the morning.








Detailing in the lobby of the hotel.

After we returned to the hotel, we checked out the lounge.




Some of the only food photos you'll get on this report.



I'd like to say that we stayed up late and explored City Walk or something, but the truth is, I was exhausted after getting up at 5 AM. I think I went to bed around 9, and I fell asleep almost instantly. Besides, I had to get to bed early since we'd be having another very early morning at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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The next morning we woke nice and early at 6:30, because I wanted to be at the park by 8. Since we were staying at a Universal Studios resort, we would be able to get in to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour before everyone else. And let me tell you, I was psyched!

I was so ready for it. Not only am I a Disney geek, I am also a Harry Potter geek. I've been a fan of the books since I was 10, I was one of those kids who desperately wanted to get their owl, I've been to all the book release parties since the fourth book (though I've only been to a midnight movie release once, and have no desire to do so again), and I've probably read each book about five times, maybe more. My copy of the fourth book has sections of pages falling out because I've read it so many times.

I'm also the sort of person who hates getting spoiled for anything. I purposely refused to read anything about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or look at any pictures. I wanted it all to be a complete surprise when I walked in. I had gleaned a few bits of information over the past six months since it opened, but it was mostly minor details. I had no clue what Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was, other than it was a ride, and it might involve animatronics and Dementors.

We walked to Islands of Adventure and arrived just after 8, and it was pretty empty, which surprised me. I had expected a lot more people to show up for opening, but I was not so secretly pleased at how few people there were.






We walked through Seuss Landing and the Lost Continent.

And finally...






We saw this!








If you'll allow me to express my excitement in all caps for a minute, IT WAS SO COOL!

I walked in and I just felt giddy with excitement. It was perfect. This was what I had dreamed about as a kid (and well, as a teenager, and as an adult. I still want my owl, guys.) and I was walking through it. It was amazing.





I'm pretty sure I just walked around in complete awe, exclaiming "this is so cool!!" repeatedly.






Our first stop was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and as I said, I had no clue what to expect. But I'm pretty sure if I had had expectations, they would have been blown away. It was awesome! I'm so glad I didn't spoil myself for the ride.

I got off the ride, and I remember all I could do was grin and say "that was amazing!" over and over. I was so thrilled.

So, of course, we had to ride it again. It was especially great since there was no line.

This time around, I went through the queue a lot more slowly to appreciate all the details. And take pictures.





















Continued in the next post...

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Old 02-04-2011, 04:04 PM   #4
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The ride was just as great the second time.

Our next stop was Ollivander's. I loved it, though I must admit that I was a little disappointed I didn't get picked to be fitted.




























We spent quite a bit of time walking around the shops and admiring all the details of Hogsmeade.


We had to try the Butterbeer. I got the cold, while my mom tried the frozen, but we both agreed that we liked the cold Butterbeer better.



After we finished our Butterbeers, we went on Dragon Challenge on the Chinese Fireball side. I'm usually a big fan of roller coasters, but this one was a bit of a head-banger, and I had a headache by the time the ride ended. I think I'm getting old.

By that time, it was about 9, and you could tell the park had opened to everyone because there was suddenly a swarm of people coming in. We took that as our cue to leave, but we'd definitely be going again tomorrow morning. And maybe that afternoon, if we felt like it wasn't too crowded.





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Old 02-04-2011, 10:18 PM   #5
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Oh, My Goodness.... I want to go to Harry Potters Wizarding World as well!!!
We just got back from Dis from Dec. 27th to Jan 1st.
We stayed at Pop and only did Dis. But after looking at your photos we will have to go back to do harry potter. me and and (adult kids) have read all the books and love the movies!!

Looks like you had a great time! Is the butterbeer alcoholic or not?

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Old 02-05-2011, 01:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purpleblanket View Post
Oh, My Goodness.... I want to go to Harry Potters Wizarding World as well!!!
We just got back from Dis from Dec. 27th to Jan 1st.
We stayed at Pop and only did Dis. But after looking at your photos we will have to go back to do harry potter. me and and (adult kids) have read all the books and love the movies!!

Looks like you had a great time! Is the butterbeer alcoholic or not?

Debbie
Hey, thanks for reading!
I think you'll definitely have to go back and do Harry Potter sometime. If you're a fan, you'll love it. The attention to detail in that place is fantastic!

The Butterbeer is non-alcholic, and very good, but very, very sweet. Though the frozen kind seemed a less sweet than than the cold.

How were the crowds in Disney World when you went? I've always wanted to go around then, but I think it would just be too crowded for me.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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(I apologize for such a short update. I'm a bit busy today, but I wanted to get an update in.)

Since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was starting to get busier, we continued on toward the Jurassic Park area.

This part of the part was not so populated.



Except by dinosaurs.



I was ambushed by a T-Rex, but luckily I made it out unscathed.

We were walking through Jurassic Park when we saw the Pteranodon Flyers. "Look," I said, "that looks like a nice, relaxing ride."

But no.

Apparently you have to be accompanied by a child under 56 inches. Seriously? But it looked so relaxing, swinging above the treetops. I fail to understand why you have to be accompanied by a child, unless it's a weight issue. And if that's the case, well, Universal Studios, you fail at designing rides. Except Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. That was pretty awesome.

This picture pretty much sums up my feelings about that non-ride.



Anyway.

We carried on through Toon Lagoon, but declined to ride anything since getting soaked at 9 in the morning on a cool day was just not something I was up for.


It was pretty empty, so I guess a lot of other people felt the same way.



Alright then, what could we ride that didn't require us to steal a small child to pass off as our own and didn't involve me getting wet?


This will do!

I am not a Spiderman fan at all, but this ride is really fun. I especially enjoy the part where it feels as though you're falling straight down, even though you know logically that you can't be. It's a great effect.



We decided to save the Incredible Hulk Coaster for later, as I was still feeling headache-y from the Dragon Challenge. By that time, it was around 10:40, and we had done pretty much everything we wanted to do in that park, save for going back to Harry Potter. So, we headed out of Islands of Adventure and had an early lunch at Panda Express at City Walk.

Universal Studios was up next. And there was one ride I really, really wanted to do at Universal Studios. Like, so much so that if I didn't have the chance to ride it, I might have cried. Might have. I would have been pretty upset, anyway.

It was our first destination, and I was excited to see if it was still as awesome as I remembered it to be.

But you'll have to wait and find out what that ride is next time. I have quite a few things I need to get done today, and sadly, writing this TR is not one of them. I know, it should be, right?

(And I promise, for those of you who are reading (assuming there are people who are reading...), we'll get to the Walt Disney World stuff sometime... uh... in the near future. It's coming, I swear. It just might take a little while at the rate I go. But until then, I hope you can enjoy the Universal Studios portion.)
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:57 AM   #9
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Alright, so there was one ride at Universal Studios that I just had to ride.

But first we had to walk through Hollywood to get there.









After a short walk through Tinseltown, we arrived at what promised to be an exciting adventure.

Through nostalgia.


Does this image give it away?




Yes! E.T. Adventure!

When I was a little kid, about 4, my parents took me to Universal Studios in Hollywood, and this was my favorite ride. I made my parents take me on it over and over. It's kind of funny, as I don't recall loving any of the Disneyland rides like that, but man, I remember that E.T. Adventure was just the best thing ever. Although I hated the part at the beginning with the police. I had to close my eyes, and it probably wasn't until I went in 7th grade that I kept my eyes open all the way through.

Sadly, they have since closed E.T. Adventure in Universal Studios Hollywood and replaced it with the Mummy ride.

So I hadn't been on E.T. Adventure since I came to Orlando when I was 14.

And let me tell you.

Nothing has changed.

And I love it.

It even smells the same! Seriously, this ride has a very distinct smell, kind of like chlorine, that I remember from my childhood.

I still think it's a great ride, to be honest. Sure, it's little outdated, but uh... it's fun. I mean, who doesn't like the sensation of flying over cities? And you can't tell me you wouldn't want to spend a day on E.T.'s planet. It looks so fun and cheerful. And we can't forget the part at the end where an E.T. says your name in a weirdly computerized, yet oddly appropriate voice. This is a fantastic ride, and I shall mourn the day it closes in Orlando, because as much as I love this ride, I feel like it'll happen someday. I'll be crossing my fingers that someday does not come soon though.

After that serious nostalgia trip, we made our way to another ride involving aliens, although in this one, the aliens aren't quite so friendly. I really like Men in Black: Alien Attack, even if the aliens are no where near as cute as the ones in E.T. Adventure. I mean, come on, there's an E.T. playing drums in E.T. Adventure! And one climbing up vines! How cute is that?

But anyway.

One thing I've neglected to mention so far was that we did have an Express Pass, since we were staying on property. This allowed us unlimited use of the Express ride line by showing our hotel keys. It was great, but almost unnecessary, since most of the lines that day were under 20 minutes, usually around 10. But still, I'll take getting to walk on most rides over waiting 10 minutes any day. Um.. I really hate lines...

We used our Express Pass, skipped the 10 minute line, and boarded our vehicle to shoot some aliens. I beat my mom, but you know, I still don't quite know where I'm supposed to be aiming. I should look that up for the next time I go, huh? Which probably won't be for a while, but you never know.

We then watched the Animal Actors show which was, I don't know, kind of cute.

I tried taking some pictures, but they didn't really turn out.







We walked around the rest of the park, since our next destination was on the other side.













As you can see, it wasn't terribly crowded, although there were a ton of Brazilian tour groups. I've heard stories that they can be obnoxious, but we never encountered them being annoying. I guess there was one time in Epcot when they started chanting as they walked in to The Land, but it didn't last long thankfully.

Carrying on.

We then went on Revenge of the Mummy twice in a row. It was probably my second favorite ride, after Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Or third favorite if you factor in E.T. Adventure, which I do not, because that's in a class of its own in my mind.

When I came to Universal Studios when I was 14, Revenge of the Mummy was scheduled to open in 2 months, but they were doing test runs of it. We were walking by the building when we were approached and asked if we'd like to ride it. Of course! Not all of the effects were working, but the one thing my mom and I remember is that during the part where your car gets turned around, a fireball was blasted above your car.

If you've ridden it, then you know that all that happens when your car gets turned around is that it looks like some scarab bugs are coming out of the wall. So I'm curious, did my mom and I just make this up? Did we get confused with the part near the end where the ceiling lights on fire? Or was there an fireball effect there that was taken out at some point? I just think it's interesting that my mom and I haven't discussed that ride since we rode that first time, but when we got off the ride in this trip, we were both like, "wasn't there a fireball that shot above your head when your car went backwards?"

Weird. I don't know.

Our next, and final stop in Universal Studios was the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster. My favorite part about this coaster was the lift hill, as it was pretty much straight up, so you were on your back. The rest of the coaster was not too bad, but nothing too special. Being able to choose the song you wanted to hear while riding was a nice touch though.

Alright, now that we had seen most of what we had wanted to see, it was time to head back to Islands of Adventure, and check out the crowds in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Old 02-19-2011, 07:46 PM   #10
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I apologize for the delay, I've been working on another sort of trip report (non-Disney), and I've been spending the time I would be working on this on my other project. I know this is a Disney Trip Report board, and I promise we'll get to Disney World soon. I expect there will probably two more Universal Studios related posts after this one, so hang on until then.

Having seen pretty much everything I had deemed worth seeing at Universal Studios, it was time to head back Islands of Adventure to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter again.



Onwards to Hogwarts!


I can see it!


Almost there...



Made it!


And once again, I was in complete awe of the place. It's truly fantastic.

I love the roofs.


We didn't do too much. It was fairly crowded, though I'm sure not as crowded as it is during peak times. We wanted to find a small gift or two for two of my cousins who love the books as well.



We didn't find anything that day, but I did find this Voldemort doll. A bit weird, really.

As you can see, I felt a little unsure why anyone would want one of these.

Because I'm a dork, I ended up buying a Gryffindor sweater. It was too cute, and I figured I could wear it to the premiere of the final movie. And also because I'm a dork, I had to do a mini photoshooot in Hogsmeade.









I also met the conductor of the Hogwarts Express, so I had to get a photo.


At some point we also saw the Frog Choir, though I have to admit that I was not a huge fan of them. It was like beat boxing or something, which doesn't seem to fit the area at all.


We definitely had to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey again, and it said there was only a 20 minute wait, so we got in line. Much to our surprise, there was really no line at all! It seemed odd considering how many people were walking around and in the shops, but I was more than happy to have no line.

I debated riding it once more since there was no line, but I didn't want to do it too many times and then have it not seem as special.

Walking out, we noticed the The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, and being the huge PeopleMover/TTA fan that I am, I had to ride it to compare it.












Great views of the park, but I didn't enjoy nearly as much as the PeopleMover/TTA. I think it was the annoying, rhyming narration. I never was a big Dr. Seuss fan.


After that ride, we headed back to our room. It wasn't raining on our walk back or when we went inside, but by the time we got to our room, it was downpouring. Nice timing on our part.

Since we're from Seattle, neither rain nor driving in the rain deters us from doing anything. We wanted to go the Florida Mall as there was a store there that my aunt wanted us to get something from, so after resting for a bit, we ventured out in to the rain.

Despite "oh, we're from Seattle, we can handle the rain" attitude, we ended up making it about 2/3 of the way there before we turned around. It was a torrential downpour, and not knowing the roads in Florida, my mom was worried that there was a possibility of them flooding.

Well, that, and neither of us had really wanted to get out of the car if we had made it to the mall. We probably would have been soaked in mere seconds.

We agreed that we'd stop at the mall the next day, before we checked in to Kidani Village.

When we got back, we had dinner at Jake's American Bar. Which, by the way, has pretty much the same menu as Islands Dining Room.

We went to bed fairly early again, because I was tired from waking up early, and we were getting up at 6 again to go back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Up Next: A childhood dream comes true

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Old 02-19-2011, 08:52 PM   #11
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Thanks for the update!! Again , I love your photos!!
I really need to plan a trip back to go to Harry Potter World!!

Debbie
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:05 PM   #12
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Thanks for the update!! Again , I love your photos!!
I really need to plan a trip back to go to Harry Potter World!!

Debbie
I'm glad you like the photos. I took over 1500 pictures this trip, so you can expect quite a few more.
Definitely! I feel like I keep raving about it, but I seriously think anyone who's a Harry Potter fan will love it, and anyone who's not can at least appreciate how well done it is.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:12 PM   #13
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We woke up once again at the early (for me, at least) hour of 6. I wanted to give ourselves a little more time this morning because we had to check out and I had this crazy idea that if we were first in line for Ollivander's, I would somehow, miraculously, get chosen. Don't ask me why, but there you go.

We had breakfast in club lounge again, checked out, checked out bags at the place where they store your bags which I am totally blanking out on the word for, and we arrived at the gates of Island of Adventure at about 7:55. Since we were before 8 this morning, there were lines at the turnstiles, and we were definitely back a bit. Not to worry. I can power walk with the best of them, especially when I am determined to get somewhere, and I was determined to be the first in line at Ollivander's.

They started letting people in, and I began my power walk. My mom just kind of looked at me, and told me she'd meet me there.

I was far too focused on getting there to take any pictures, until I got to Hogsmeade, and saw that that there was no one there.

Unfortunately, it's a little blurry, but here's a view of Hogsmeade you don't see too often.



Empty.

I made it Ollivander's but alas, I was not the first person in line. There were about five people ahead of me. A few minutes later, my mom caught up, and we only had to wait a few minutes before we were ushered in.

Needless to say, I wasn't chosen, some little kid was.

"I've probably been a fan longer than they've been alive," I thought to myself.

When we got out, it had started drizzling so we hurried up to the castle for another amazing two rides on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

We were going to go back to the shops to find a present for my cousins when my mom suggested we go to Ollivander's one more time. Why not? I was here, after all, and who knows when I would get a chance to come back.

My mom and I were the second group in line, behind a father and his eight or nine year old daughter.

"Sorry, there's no way you're getting chosen," my mom whispered to me. I figured as much as well.

We had to wait a while before we were let in, but we were entertained by the one of the employees who showed us handshakes for the different houses. Soon, we entered the dark room, and Ollivander's assistant began the show.

And okay, here it comes. The whole part about the dream coming true in the title.

I was chosen.

I think it goes without saying that I was completely and utterly thrilled. I always wanted to be fitted for a wand since I was a kid reading the books, and I was the sort of kid who knew exactly what kind of wand they wanted too. Holly with phoenix feather, and not because that's the kind of wand Harry Potter had. Rather because there was a favorite character on a TV show named Holly, and I liked phoenixes better than dragons or unicorns. I remember playing around on the wand chooser game thing on the Harry Potter website trying to get that combination way back when.

It was a childhood dream come true. Even though I knew the effects that happened, having seen the show twice before, it was still, dare I say it, magical. Especially when the wand chose me, with the lights, and the music, and the wind. It was so awesome.

Even better, Ollivander's assistant informed me that my wand was made of ash with a phoenix feather. Maybe it wasn't holly, but it was still my wand.







Coming up next: The rest of our day at Universal Studios.
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:07 AM   #14
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Lucky you! getting fitted for a wand! I've always wanted to be fitted for a wand too!! ever since I started reading the books!! (And I'm not divulging my age! )

I can't wait for the last movie segment to come out! I'm already re-reading the last book to be ready for it!

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Old 02-20-2011, 01:39 PM   #15
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Lucky you! getting fitted for a wand! I've always wanted to be fitted for a wand too!! ever since I started reading the books!! (And I'm not divulging my age! )

I can't wait for the last movie segment to come out! I'm already re-reading the last book to be ready for it!

Debbie
I think it's so great that they have Ollivander's at the park, because really, who doesn't want to get fitted for a wand, regardless of age?

I'm excited for the last movie to come out too! Except I'm a little sad, with it being the last one and all. I think I'm going to try and reread all the books before it comes out, I should probably get started on that soon!
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