Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Forbidden Journey - and butterbeer

Hogsmeade, Orlando, Florida - overcast, hot, temps high 80s

Wow, what a time!! Can hardly believe it's time to leave the Wizarding World and head to the land of muggles. Had just a blast. Up every morning at 5:30 to grab the water taxi with Linda and Bethany. Breakfast again at the Three Broomsticks. Bethany decided she really did want to go on the ride through Hogwarts - Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

We consulted and decided not to go right after breakfast - for reasons I'm sure you can understand.

So we went for a long walk and we strayed further, over to the Universal Studios section - went on the Shrek ride. 4 d (whatever that is) - fun and funny. Had to wear those glasses, but wow, what an effect. And when the dragon sneezed water from the chair in front gets sprayed on us. Hilarious.

Then wandered back to Hogsmeade and the castle. 75 minute wait for the ride. Now, all of us were pretty apprehensive. We don't like heights, which as why we'd hesitated so long. Indeed, at the entrance, Linda and I sort of stared at each other. Which one of us would go with Bethany? finally, I decided I'd go - and gave the bags etc to Linda. Bethany and I got into line...and 30 seconds later Linda arrived. She'd decided she wanted to share the experience.

But we had to put the bags in I took them and suggested Linda and Bethany go on, and I'd get the bags and purses into a locker and perhaps join them later if I could. But the locker room as a madhouse! No lockers to be had - pandemonium. finally I got lucky and found myself standing behind a family who were emptying their locker. So I shoved (stuffed) our stuff in...and got into line.

It is so clever what the Universal people do. Like at Disney world. The line keeps moving at a good pace...and it snakes all over the place. through the hogwarts biology lab, through the corridors, through dumbledore's study and Gryffindor's common room. And all along there're holograms of the characters, talking to each other, and to us. Keeping us entertained. They even have the talking, moving, portraits. Brilliant.

The time went by like a flash. then, up ahead, I saw Bethany and Linda...they waved me over. Now, I'm not keen on people cutting into line - nor am I hugely keen on one person saving a spot then 20 coming to join them. Though I can understand that. But I was bashful to move ahead of others and join Linda and Bethany. but I overcame that - excused myself, smiling, and explaining. Few people seemed bothered.

In no time were were at the ride. It's a stylized bench - with four seats and a high back. Bethany was in the first seat, then linda, then me, and a man joined us on the last seat. A rigid harness (can't think of the word) came down and locked us into place. And off we went.

Now, I've been (in younger and braver days) on all sorts of roller-coasters, but nothing came anywhere close to this!! it was the most extraordinary physical experience of my life - with the sole exception of when I parachuted. But this was a very close second.

It was amazing! It's actually, for the most part, a simulator. the bench tilts and twists and turns and goes up and down - but most of the action is on huge, all enveloping screens. Imax. We took off and swooped and swirled and followed Harry on his broomstick over forests and down cliff faces and along rivers, and breakneck speed. Then up and around and down. Meeting dragons and spiders and Dementors along the way. Then into the great hall.

The ride apparently lasts 4 minutes, but it sure felt longer. Only at the very end - the last 40 seconds probably - did I get to feel motion sick. They warn us - but I was so concentrating on my fear of heights I forgot about that beforehand. But then the ride ended and I was fine.

But thank God we didn't go after breakfast, or with a tummy filled with pumpkin juice (which is delicious, by the way) or butterbeer - also delicious.

What an exhilarating experince! Once off we hugged each other, and held trembling hands and could barely speak for excitement. At the ride - but as Linda so rightly said - at having done it! Overcome fears, and done it. And SO worth it. it always feels great not to give into fear. But this was more than that - it was, kore than anything really, the most amazing ride!

Linda and Bethany decided to go back this morning, but I need to catch a flight out, so declined. But I'd definitely do it again, one day. Michael would LOVE it!

We had dinner together last night - our goodbye sad to be leaving Linda and Bethany - but how wonderful to be invited to celebrate Bethany's 16th birthday. Oh, and the hotel - Loews Royal Pacific - heard it was her birthday and sent her a card signed by a bunch of them! isn't that kind???

You can see a photo above of Linda and Bethany with their butterbeers - and hogwarts in the background. And then Bethany with a butterbeer moustache.

Back home. Tired - but feeling wonderful. And, frankly, so looking forward to falling into Michael's arms. The best ride of all.


Shelagh said...

Oh my gosh, Louise. You are an amazing lady!! You PARACHUTED!!! Wow! Good for you. Glad you are back in Muggles land, and thank you for bringing us along on your trip. Fantastic vicarious experience and probably the only way I would do it!

Mary said...

Thank you for taking us along with you through your words. I felt like I was really there (and an now thinking seriously about someday making it a reality). Glad you all had such a great time.

Linda Gray said...

That sounds like an amazing, rejuvenating "girls' weekend!" When you described how you felt getting off the ride, I could feel it. (And it made me visualize that scene in First Wives Club where Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler go screeching down the side of a building in a window-washer rig, then are beyond thrilled when they land and get off, alive.)