Yesterday, my family and I returned from a four day trip to Orlando – three days at Universal Studies theme park and one at Disney's Epcot. It was an excellent time; the weather cooperated (for the most part), no one got sick (at least not until we got back home), and I’m extremely happy to report I rode the Harry Potter ride three times.
You have no idea how surprising that last bit is.
You see, I’m a huge chicken when it comes to rides. I hate the dropping sensation that comes with rollercoasters, or log flumes, or even fast elevators. Just absolutely hate it. The stuff of nightmares. So when I read reviews of the ride that mentioned there was at least one sharp drop, I was sure I was going to have to pass.
On our first day at Universal, we made a bee line to the Hogwarts area. Hogsmeade was nicely done, although seeing fake snow on the roof of the buildings seemed weird in 80 degree weather. We tried butterbeer, which I was told was JKK Rowling's own concoction (or at least had her seal of approval). Conclusion: not too bad. We checked out the merchandise in the gift shops, but unfortunately all the things I was interested in purchasing were the props used to make the shops look more authentic. Too bad. Then we headed to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.
I waited in line with the family, since the queue takes you through a nice tour of Hogwarts, but I left before it was time for the ride itself. After they finished the ride, my wife and daughter worked very hard to convince me that there really wasn’t much of a drop and that I would love the experience. Had it been any other ride, I probably wouldn’t listened, but... it's A HARRY POTTER ride. Who was I kidding? I love the world of Harry Potter, I wish I had been able to attend Hogwarts when I was a student, and I'm writing a book based around Hogwarts. How could I not take the chance? I might regret it forever.
So I rode the Harry Potter ride.
And it was wonderful.
For those of you who haven’t been on the ride, there are several times where it convinces you that you're diving toward the ground at breakneck speeds, but the effect is almost all due to the video you see in front of you (or actually below you, since you are facing straight down when this happens). You don’t physically drop all that much; but your mind tells you that you're accelerating downward. Close your eyes and the effect vanishes. Amazingly, it was the drops that I looked forward to the most on subsequent rides. (BTW, I did not close my eyes.)
I should take the time to point out that, although the ride is okay for chickens like me, if you are prone to motion sickness, I suggest you stay away from this ride. You are bounced all over the place and even though I don't consider myself prone to motion sickness, after riding it twice in a row, my head strongly suggested that I not try it again for a while.
As I expected, being surrounded by Harry Potter paraphernalia has motivated me to work even harder on my Hogwarts book. Not that I needed any additional motivation. I was, however, reminded that the movies and the books don't always match. And since I've made the decision to base my book on Rowling's books, and not the movies, I'm going to have to work hard to ensure I don't get them mixed up when writing.
Now it's time to recover from the vacation.