Slytherin toward Hogwarts

p1020425 copyFrom the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Shortly after our arrival at Harry Potter World, as it is known among grade-schoolers, we passed through a brick wall with magical ease, and found ourselves standing in Diagon Alley, a secret part of London that only witches and wizards know. The buildings on either side of the street seemed to lean inward. At the end of the street towered Gringotts Bank, with a huge dragon atop, breathing fire.

My wife, Bridgit, and I walked behind our two girls, Libby and Josie, who at ages 9 and 11 were dressed in their finest wizarding robes. We passed Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and the entrance to Knockturn Alley. We had another destination in mind: Ollivander’s Wand Shop. Our girls were there to get their wands.

Harry Potter World was a strange place to be. Officially it’s called “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” and it’s part of the Orlando-based Universal Studio Theme Park. Actually, it is two separate parks grafted onto both “Universal Studios Florida” and “Islands of Adventure.” These two Harry Potter Worlds are placed at the far back of the adjacent parks, and connected by a “Hogwarts Express” train.

It was strange to be there because for years now — for decades, really — Harry Potter has been a constant presence in our home. Before Bridgit and I had kids, we read the books out loud to each other. Afterward, we read them to our daughters. Together we all listened to the audio books and watched the films.

Read the rest here.