Photo Cred: Harry Potter Films
For the 2nd year in a row Universal Orlando held A Celebration of Harry Potter Weekend, complete with movie memorabilia, interactive activities, demonstrations, and panels with some of the actors from the films. I attended last year and it was phenomenal. However, nothing could have prepared me for what would be one of the best days ever in life.
I was attending with the Central Florida Slug Club, the largest active adult Harry Potter fan club in the Southeastern United States, and one of the largest in the country. There were about 50 in attendance for the weekend event. This was my first time in complete Gryffindor student cosplay, with robes, blouse, Gryffindor tie, sweater, and skirt. I was prepared for a full day of immersion with my fellow Potterheads — full nerd mode and loving it!
After waiting patiently in line that morning, we finally were let into the Expo to view the exhibits and activities. There were many cool things to do, but we will get into those details in part 2. After an hour and a half of exploring, the group headed out of the expo hall to take a group picture over in Diagon Alley. I was still meandering and told them I’d catch up to them. This is the one time in my life it paid off to be the straggler.
As I was exiting to catch up with my friends, I was stopped by an unassuming lady wearing a Gryffindor scarf. She asked if I had signed the Muggle Wall and I told her I would probably do it later. She said, “Well, I think you might want to stick around because there could be some surprises.” I’m thinking, who is this chick? What does she know? What kind of surprises? And then, I saw her Universal All Access badge dangling beneath her scarf. She was “somebody” and I’d be an idiot not to listen to her not-so-subtle hints.
She asked if I minded signing a waiver because there would be pictures and told me to hang around in the area. I texted my friend, don’t wait for me because I’m doing a thing, although I had no clue what that thing actually was.
After about 10 minutes, I was introduced to a group of people as the fan for the “surprise”. Ok so now I’m starting to get a little nervous. What if the surprise was getting slimed or something really embarrassing? I see the professional photographer setting up and the area around the banner had been blocked off. Ok, now I am full blown nervous.
She told me to go ahead and sign the Muggle Wall in an area right in the center at the top that had previously been covered by a poster. It’s a banner sponsored by Scholastic, the Harry Potter series publisher, where fans write what they are most thankful for from the book series. Since so many eyes were on me, I didn’t want to mess up. I was using a sharpie so there are no do-overs. I came up with my heart felt message and wrote it out very carefully. Satisfied with my work, I turned around to see now that everyone inside the expo hall was gathered around staring at me and I started to feel like a big ball of nerves.
Then, from around the corner, appear 2 tall, dark-haired slender, handsome guys walking toward me. At a distance they look like James and Oliver Phelps, the actors who play the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter films. Surely that can’t be them. I cannot be that lucky.
HOLY HOGWARTS! That IS James and Oliver freakin’ Phelps. It’s the Weasley twins!!! My mind could not absorb what I was seeing in front of me. They walked toward me beaming and I turned to putty. At my ripe old age of 30+ years old, I became a giddy, blushy, squealing, fan girl. It was all happening in slow motion, my mind trying to play catch up to what my eyes were seeing. They asked about my weekend and what rides I had done. Was I there alone or with friends? We even talked about my fishnet stockings I was wearing with my school robes. We talked about warm Butter Beer and seemingly a multitude of things in those brief moments.
Here’s a confession. My best friend and I have had a little bit of a crush on the twins since the Goblet of Fire movie. We were somewhat infatuated with their long ginger hair. (And yes they were legal at that time! Just barely, but yes legal)
I had joked around with friends before that if I ever got the chance to meet one of the twins I would tell them something cute and sassy. I would flirt with them and offer to be the mocha in their coffee. Needless to say, nothing cute or clever came out of my mouth. **face palm** I think I even told them about my Weasley twins poster in my office/common room in my house. But I didn’t scream, at least not out loud. I maintained some shred of dignity.
They signed the Muggle Wall, right next to my signature! I teased that James was way more poetic than his brother because he wrote an actual message. Oliver on the other hand was a man of few words. It was so surreal that this was really all happening. I was really standing next to my favorite characters of the series and it was THE best feeling, ever.
Sadly, I didn’t have my phone or my camera on hand. In the words of Hermione, “What an idiot!”
I should have taken it out and asked one of the staff to take pics for me. I didn’t even get a selfie for my phone!! That’s a major fail by today’s standards. And just as my moment was about to end, I remembered that I hadn’t even touched them! My hands were in my pockets because I was sooooo nervous!
I blurted out awkwardly, “Wait I didn’t ask you for a hug!” And they laughed and said “Of course!!” I got hugs from the Weasley twins and I vowed I’d never wash those robes again. I’m totally kidding…kind of. Then just like that, they were gone. The bright lights went out. My magical moment was over.
I never thought I would be one of “those girls”. I think it was the complete surprise of it all that made the moment so much more intense. If I had been standing in line and anticipated it, I don’t think I would have lost my composure. Without the chance to prepare myself, I stood no chance of being in control of those emotions. It’s a wonder I didn’t cry. I could have cried. I think I was subconsciously willing myself not to cry. THAT would have been beyond embarrassing.
That day is certainly a memory I will keep with me forever. The event coordinators were nice enough to take a few pictures with their phones but those pics aren’t very good quality because the lighting was awful. So far I’ve only managed to see one good quality picture posted anywhere on the internet. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Universal Orlando will post them so that I can have them for my memory book.
The only thing that made this experience even better? I tweeted James and Oliver Phelps to thank them for their kindness. The unthinkable happened — James wrote me back!!! This was everything.
Are you jealous? You should be! It was awesome. This year’s A Celebration of Harry Potter 2015 experience was the pinnacle of my 14 years of devoted Harry Potter fandom. Thank you Universal Orlando, Scholastic, Phelps twins, and most of all J.K. Rowling for creating this amazing universe.
Also check out my guest blog post on the Central Florida Slug Club blog. I share my most magical moments from the entire weekend!
Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™
“Adventure is a lifestyle.”