Grindylows & Celestina Warbeck: A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 4.

Date: 10 July 2019

T-shirt choice:  Generic Witch Festival (for water park) and Queen City Mischief and Magic 2018 (for Wizarding World).

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Didn’t check much, open at least some in the afternoon; “at capacity” by 6 PM.

Much of today was spent cavorting with merpeople and harnassing kelpies at the Volcano Bay Water Park, the third park in our three-park package. No Wizarding World stuff there, but some Nargles apparently snatched our hotel key cards from my son’s velcroed pocket on one of the slides. This was a great park as far as water parks go; the virtual lines were much appreciated after the 3.25 hour event at Hagrid’s Motorbike yesterday.

Having started bright and early, we were finished with the water park by 4 and headed back to the hotel for showers and dinner. Afterwards, we elected to go back to the theme parks for the evening hours, when the park is much cooler and the lines much shorter. I was most interested in going back to the Wizarding World, specifically to see the shows and do some shopping. My daughter went with me; my son and husband were more interested in doing some of the rides they had not yet been on, and re-visiting a few favorites. You can read more about that experience after the jump. [Read more…]

Motorbiking Misadventures: A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 3.

Date:  9 July 2019.

T-shirt choice: Hand-painted Virginia is for Wizards Ravenclaw/Erudite hybrid.

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Open, with “brief” delays.

This was our Wizarding World-focused day.  Our hotel offers early admission to the Harry Potter sections of the park, so we decided to take advantage of being able to visit prior to the general public. Our plan was to start at Hogsmeade, which we hadn’t explored in detail the previous day, but, turns out, the early admissions offer only applied to Diagon Alley. This is not what the brochure advertised, so I suspect this restriction is a response to the crowd control measures necessitated by the popularity of Hagrid’s Motorbike Ride.

So, with my son’s new wand tucked safely into our Generic Magic Festival tote (thanks, Lana!) we headed there around 7:30 to try out some more spells. We spent an hour or so puttering around Diagon Alley with the spell map, trying out all the official ones and the “secret” unmarked ones that I had found on the internet. As we had heard, some are easier than others, and learning to use the wand takes some practice, as you can see in this video of my first attempts at spell-casting.

Within an hour or so there was a huge crowd forming in the line to King’s Cross Station and word spread that Hagrid’s Motorbike Ride was open. With high hopes that yesterday’s closure had resulted in the removal of all the nargles, we hopped in the line, got aboard the train (this time seeing the magic brick wall where people appear to vanish—we missed that on day 1) and joined the crowd heading to Hogsmeade, to assess the situation.  Did we make it to the oh-so-hyped adventure?  Tune in after the jump. Spoilers for rides ahead. [Read more…]

Sampling Fortescue’s: A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 2

Date: 8 July 2019

T-shirt choice:  Roanoke Potterfest 2017.

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Closed all day.

Much of today was spent on non-Potter attractions:  specifically the thrill rides of Universal’s Islands of Adventure park. Even if we had wanted to take on the Hagrid ride, we couldn’t; it was closed all day. Islands of Adventure has a host of exciting rides; some of our favorite were the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, and the King Kong 3D ride, However, we also took a bit of a break from all the adrenaline rushes and enjoyed a few rides in Dr. Suess land.

Towards the end of the day, my kids decided they wanted to cross back over to the Universal Studios park for the Men in Black ride that we had skipped the day before. Turns out, the best way to get there was to go to Hogsmeade and take the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley. So, to my delight, we took another stroll through Hogsmeade, peeked into Honeydukes, and took in a few of the sights before catching the train. It was also an excuse to stop at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, for treats that were as good as I remember. We enjoyed delicious ice cream (hard pack recommended over soft serve) in a variety of British-inspired flavors (or should that be, “flavours?”) like Earl Grey and Lavender, Clotted Cream and Sticky Toffee Pudding. There was also Butterbeer ice cream, of course. We were so eager to eat it that I forgot to get a picture.

More Pottering… a lot more…on Day 3.

Escaping Gringotts: A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 1.

Date: 7 July 2019

T-shirt choice:  2017 Queen City Mischief and Magic.

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Open briefly.

After an early morning flight (on American Eagle, which made the Ravenclaw in me smile) from Charlottesville, we arrived in Orlando by mid-morning. We caught an Uber to our hotel, the on-site Cabana Bay, a giant Universal property that takes its retro 50’s and 60’s theme to heart, right down to the Alberto V05 shampoo in the bathroom.  Happily, our room was available early, and we were able to eat a quick lunch and hop the hotel shuttle over the Universal Studios Park by early afternoon.

We are here to see the whole park, not just the Harry Potter attractions, so we spent the early part of the day doing other rides. Universal’s specialty is the virtual reality thrill ride: experiences where you get the illusion of entering a scene, sometimes with the aid of 3D glasses. We enjoyed several experiences like this, including Shrek, Despicable Me, the Simpsons and Transformers.  But, we eventually made it over to the Diagon Alley Entrance and crossed through the brick wall to the Wizarding World.  More after the jump! Spoilers for the Escape from Gringott’s ride. [Read more…]

Literary Alchemy and the Mythic Context ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ Episode 25

 

From the MuggleNet podcast page:

In this episode, Katy and John do a deep dive into the symbolism and transformative power of J.K. Rowling’s work. First, John describes the concept of literary alchemy and how literature can effect an alchemical transformation on readers. Then, special guest Evan Willis (University of Dallas) explains how Renaissance alchemical symbolism intertwines with classical myth in Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike. From the Orestes myth to Castor and Pollux and Leda and the swan, we learn about the well of myths Rowling draws from in her literary creations. Willis particularly directs us to the importance of a Hermes/Mercury figure to serve as the invisible force behind the uniting of opposites. Who is this mysterious figure in Harry Potter and in the Strike books? Listen to find out the surprising answers!

Does literary alchemy work on us the same way when we’re watching films? We tackle this issue in light of the classical references in the Fantastic Beastsmovies. We also try to predict the next developments in Strike and Fantastic Beasts based on our understanding of the deep mythic context in both series. We’ll help you sort out the stories of Leta and Theseus, Dumbledore and Grindelwald, Cormoran and Robin, and Shanker and Rokeby and anticipate where they might be headed.