Sunday, June 20, 2010

Start spreadin' the news...

This is the view from my kitchen window. I move there tomorrow.

I am freaking out.

ALSO. If you are a strapping young male who would like a free trip to NYC in exchange for some mild physical labor, please let me know. I need someone to help me move in tomorrow and I am actually desperate.


This is the story of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Opening Day. Never has a day been so epic.

So our day began at the ripe ole’ time of 5:40am because paranoid Brandon thought it was essential that we get to the park at 7 to beat the crowds (he was 100% correct). Hence Shannon being FRESH TIRED AND IRRITABLE. Also hence my crazed FB status. Also thanks to my curse of not being able to sleep in cars (which ironically I conquered in the car on the way home today…15 hour theme park days will do it for ya) I was DEF awake. We got to the home of my boy Harry around 7, parked, etc, and prepared ourselves for a day of waiting.

Well, if I’m being honest, I prepared myself for two hours of waiting followed by a day of magical bliss.


So we waited sort of in between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (IoA is where HP world is) for about half an hour with a crapton of other people. This I enjoyed immensely because it brought me back to when we waited for eight hours to see Obama at convo last fall. Mob mentality is HILARIOUS. Then they led us up to the entrance of IoA…where we waited until nine. Which definitely sucked, because in case you aren’t aware, Florida in June…pretty hot. But I got INSANELY tan yesterday so I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Since I usually choose tanness.

Meanwhile as we stood in heat-filled agony, we watched as I’d say at least 1000 people were let into the park the hour before the general public. Stupid VIP ticket holding fools. I’d liken it to being 3rd class on the Titanic…the rich are given every opportunity, while the poor hardworking folk (I’m unemployed btw) are left to DROWN.

Also we saw a girl vom. This would not be the last time we witnessed an event such as this on HP Opening day.

Then, at long last, the gates opened, the crowds cheered, and we burst forward….into another line. Surely this must have been some kind of mistake. We JUST waited in line for two hours. The park had JUST opened. How was there already another line?

Also, let it be known that HP World is in the very back of IoA. This line went from there to the ENTRANCE OF THE PARK. AT NINE AM.

So we (wrongly) assumed they just weren’t opening HP World yet and that the line would disappear once they did. So we decided to be the smart ones and ride all the tight rides since there were literally ZERO lines. College education ftw, right?


The line just kept getting longer and longer. We were confused. Also if you’re wondering how a line that already went from the back of the park to the front could possibly get LONGER, it’s because they decided to close food locations and some attractions just to use the pre-built line lanes in there to herd people around. So now this line wove in and out of every corner in the park. While walking to another ride, we accidentally cut about 1000 people (not an exaggeration) waiting in line…our bad. We thought maybe we could stick it out and focus on getting into HP World...but after waiting for about ten minutes in 96 degree weather, we decided to get out of line again and just get in line later. At this point they were saying the wait to get into HP world was six hours.

Six. Hours.

Still in our ignorant bliss, we met up with our friends we randomly (drunkenly) met on Wednesday night in Downtown Disney, who will be henceforth referred to as Emily and Jane (because those are their names). They both live in Chicago but we bonded instantly over Jane’s hometown (the infamous hburg) and Emily’s HP obsession (not unlike my own). We had planned to meet up with them early in the morning but thanks to crowd control that plan didn’t happen. Once we finally found them we decided to brave the lines, aka find a good place towards the front to try and sneak in.

This plan could not have been more poorly thought out, thanks to the aforementioned mob mentality. These Moms and Dads were INSANE. A whole bunch of other people had a similar idea to our own, but even if somehow we had been able to get past the SEVEN security officers they had monitoring the line, I’m pretty sure a riot would have broken out. When we got towards the front nothing could be heard but the crowd chanting “SEND THEM BACK! SEND THEM BACK! SEND THEM BACK!”

It was unreal.

New plan! Find another place further back in line. Jane and Emily left to go ride Spiderman while Dan, Brandon, and I tried to be crafty. Dan went off to do his own sweet talking, and Brandon and I started chatting up an middle aged woman with a lot of grapes. It was going well, she didn’t seem to notice we had not in fact been standing behind her for the past six hours…but the family behind her did. We’ll call them the Superjerk’s. Superjerk Dad tapped Brandon on the shoulder while grape lady wasn’t paying attention and asked “Are you with them?” to which Brandon obviously responded with “Yup!” quickly turning away so not to let his eyes deceive him. I started to get REAL nervous…was our cover blown? As the line moved slightly forward, Superjerk Mom tapped Grape Lady on the shoulder…our cue to GO.

We literally ran away to formulate another plan. We let Dan continue to try and sweet talk and decided to just suck it up, be good people, and go to the end of the line. After conversing with an assortment of employees, all who told us conflicting information, we decided to head to the beginning of the park, which was where end currently was. One group of employees told us that once we got in line we would be guaranteed to get into HP World no matter what, which we decided was good news.

Problem. When we finally found the end of the line…it was CLOSED. How do you close a line you might ask? Well you’ll never get an answer, because no one who worked at that stupid park had one for us. We did talk to a really nice lady with a headset and a sweet HP tee (so she had to be pretty official). She said that she didn’t know if the line was even going to open up again and that being in line was no guarantee of even getting in. Apparently the HP part of the park was at capacity and they would only let people in if other people left. Which is why the line was so insanely long. Also at this point they predicted the line wait time was NINE HOURS. It was noon. She told us she knew it totally sucked and that she wished there was something she could do, but that if we wanted we could go to Guest Services and refund our tickets and come back another day.

After hearing a bunch of other stories, including a special holding area to wait for the line to reopen (LIES ALL LIES), we decided we had had enough and that at the very least we were going to go yell at the people working at Guest Services for ruining our entire trip. And by we I obviously mean me. Did I mention that there was even a line for GUEST SERVICES? WHAT IS THIS, HELL?!

We made “friends” with many of the angry crowd (mob mentality returns!). Turns out a LOT of people got screwed because no one really told anyone what was going on. One lady was particularly enraged. She vented to us for at least ten minutes I’d say. At this point both Dan and Brandon were sick of standing in line, and I didn’t feel like ruining their whole day by waiting it out to see if the line would reopen, so I conceded and said we could just get refund tickets and leave.

Literally it felt like my soul was dying.

So we traded in our day passes for sweet one day park hopper passes (worth $30 more than what we paid) which never expire, and I was left to figure out how I was ever going to be able to leave Brooklyn to come back and eventually get to go. In my state of depression I asked if before we left we were allowed to go to the gift shop so that I could at least buy something HP-y (retail therapy, duh). And the lady said yes of course. So before I had the strength, I told the boys I just needed minute to sit on the floor of said gift shop to collect my thoughts.


Brandon, mid-comforting me in my incredibly pathetic state, got a text from Jane that said “Hey, we found a place in line, come find us!”

We realized that no one was monitoring us or escorting us out of the park, so realistically we could just walk back to try again, and even if it didn’t work, we still had our free tickets.

I was pessimistic, but the boys (my HP angels) convinced me it was worth it to try.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Emily, in her HP inspired cleverness, had somehow maneuvered her way into a pretty sweet place midway through the line. We joined up, and miraculously…no one seemed to mind. WE WERE IN.

Roughly three hours, two beers, and a spirit of camaraderie later, the seven previously scary security guards welcomed us as we walked through the Hogsmeade archway. The crowd cheered…literally.

Line waiting wasn’t even that bad. We saw PLENTLY of crazies, including a coked up twenty something in a wizard robe who was tempting the crowd with $60 to let him into line. His similarly coked up girlfriend tried to tempt us with her body instead. Neither worked. I got tanner than I thought possible, and Emily, Jane, and us are now kindred spirits for life.

HP World in a word was unreal. Despite the MASSES of people, everyone was just so EFFING happy. We made friends everywhere we went. In line for Butterbeer, getting postcards stamped, the bathroom, you name it. There were lines for EVERYTHING. But it was worth it. HP World has three rides, a bunch of shops, and one restaurant. The restaurant is obviously the Three Broomsticks, delicious btw. The shops include Honeydukes, Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Dervish and Banges, and Zonko’s. There’s also a bar (the Hog’s Head, which has its very own brew).

The three rides are a roller coaster based on the Triwizard Tournament, a roller coaster out of Hagrid’s Hut called Flight of the Hippogriff, and then the crowning glory…Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

This ride was UNBELIEVABLE. The line took you through the Hogwarts grounds, the greenhouses (complete with Mandrakes!), and then through the castle itself…it was INCREDIBLE. Portraits moved. Dumbledore’s office really was Dumbledore’s office. You could see the house points, the Gryffindor common room, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and then as you entered the great hall (complete with floating candles), you got on the COOLEST RIDE EVER. Quidditch, Dragons, spiders, dementors, you name it. It was the best thing ever.

Afterwards we bought a whole bunch of stuff at Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Items, and although I didn’t have the money, the thing I wanted most was a $70 Marauder’s Map that had REAL MOVING DOTS. Seriously so tight. I settled for some house cups and a Quidditch tee.

Also I left out the part where we saw a girl vom butterbeer ALL OVER THE PLACE…and then walk away. Probably to drink more butterbeer (which was delish by the way). No worries, I altered the authorities, who were dressed up like Hogwarts students. Wool vests in June…what else could be more fun?

Other highlights include watching a Wizard a cappella group who had singing frogs and seeing a fake me out Hermione Granger posing with children (nope…actually with adults). Then we ate some delish food at the Three Broomsticks with another random friend Jane found, Dillon. This proved to be highly entertaining, because Dillon was super tight, and we enjoyed explaining to him the ways of the adult world (18 year olds are very na├»ve). He was randomly there alone, but we made for good company.

We closed out the day by sending some Owl Post, taking some pics of the Hogwarts express, and watching a Magic Show that was essentially a live action infomercial.

After 15 hours of basically waiting in line…it was DEF time for home. My feet may never recover. It was worth it.

Also we still have those free tickets. Tickets that guarantee us another full day at Island of Adventure, whenever we choose to go. And all because we "didn’t get into HP World" like we expected. Whoops?

This might be the longest blog I’ve ever posted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More things that I've learned on vacation

10. Downtown Disney is AWESOME
11. Downtown Disney is EXPENSIVE
12. There is nowhere convenient to get off the highway to pee in Orlando
13. They do not card in DT Dis...underage paradise?
14. The world's biggest Disney store is as wonderful as it sounds
15. Class of 2010 Mickey ears are essential to a new graduate's collection of Disney paraphernalia
16. People from the 1700's had electric cellos. Also they were/are? street musicians in popular theme parks
17. Bartenders are tight. Waiters from Morocco are NOT.
18. Washington Apple shooters are not good
19. You can make friends anywhere.
20. There are actual people who were not born there who love Harrisonburg and can't wait to go back. Nothing blew my mind more than this.
21. Fun STOPS at midnight.
22. Being a security guard at a rest stop suckssss
23. Joe Scott did not actually impregnate Allison Kinney, forcing them into marriage. That was only a horrible nightmare.
24. My family is cute:

Also in my dream I was Allison's MOH but also Joe's best man? Weirded out. And yes, we met someone from HARRISONBURG in Downtown Disney last night. So crazy. She came over to our table to tell Brandon he had the best laugh ever, and then she asked us where we were from. When we said Northern VA, she was like "Oh ok, I'm from Harrisonburg."
...aka all of us were like WHAT?! Because seriously no one is from there. But she moved to Chicago after college, so she was normal. Also she's not really from HBurg (so she is normal). But she wants to move back (maybe she's not normal)?? Life.

On the ballot for today: Food (duh), more extreme tanning/pool lounging, minor league baseball game with $1 blueberry beers...classy, and mentally preparing for the glory that is tomorrow...HARRY POTTER WORLD

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things I've learned on vacation:

Greetings! I come to you LIVE from Daytona Beach, FL (for the second time this's fine)! I'm taking this brief moment to update because we're leaving in fifteen minutes to go to Downtown Disney and I'm trying to tune out Brandon who is HARASSING me to do things I'm already doing (aka, drinking my Blue Moon). LEAVE ME ALONE YOU STUPID GINGER.

Anyway, I figured I'd use this update to talk about the things I've learned so far on this vacation (which is honestly just a vacation from a larger vacation that I'm calling life after school but pre-job):

1. The Bodyguard is a work of cinematic genius.
2. ABC's new original series, Pretty Little Liars is NOT.
3. Nina rocks.
4. If you don't wear sunscreen in Florida in June, you will get a sunburn. Even if you're Italian. Luckily I realized this about an hour in. CRISIS AVERTED.
5. I am an excellent jellyfish spotter
6. Ugly people go to the beach in Daytona....unless you are Shannon, Dan, Brandon, or the REALLY hot guy we saw, in which case you are very very attractive
7. If you want to learn how to abuse your children, go to Daytona Beach. Social services would have a field day up in hurr.
8. Sharing a pitcher before you go to the beach makes the day EVEN BETTER
9. Harry Potter is always awesome

Nine things is not very many but I'm somewhat bored of this now and I think we're leaving soon. But maybe I'll continue the list later tonight. Until then...Pleasure Island and Disney pens await me. SO TIGHT.