Last weekend, I arrived home from the longest trip I’ve taken away from my kids since having Claire. It was also the first trip I have taken since college that was not related to being a photographer, an employee, a mom, or a wife. I spent 4 days just being me, enjoying the company of friends, the heat of Orlando, and the entertainment of LeakyCon. It. Was. Fabulous!
Now, I have flown many times in my life. Before this, I had been on 79 unique flights, including a couple pretty small puddle jumpers from Burlington to St Louis. I’ve only once been on a plane smaller than the one I boarded in Quincy the morning I left, though! That was my first flight ever, a little 2 person plane. This flight had 9 people plus the pilot and was one of the smoothest flights of my life! I give the pilot mad props for that!
When I got to the convention center, the registration line was LONG. Like, reallllllllly long. I saw many of my friends I was meeting up with, though, and a few minutes after I got in line, someone came down looking for people with last names P-R. About 20 minutes later, I saw this:
And then I was registered for my first official LeakyCon!
After going to a house meetup and catching up with my friends, we then headed to Universal Studios. We were some of the lucky ones that were able to buy tickets to an exclusive after-hours event called Open At The Close. Check out my awesome friends!
We did lots of fun stuff in Universal before our event officially started. I had to take this photo with Optimus Prime for my son, a big Transformers fan. (who am I kidding, I love Transformers, too!)
Then there was this EPIC photo bomb outside of the Disaster attraction!
As fun as Universal was, the biggest reason I decided to go to LeakyCon was for the Wonderful World of Harry Potter.
Diagon Alley was amazing!
We had dinner at the Leaky Cauldron, so yummy!
The dragon was incredible, but more on that later!
We stopped by #12 Grimmauld Place and saw Kreacher peeking out of the window
Then we headed to King’s Cross Station and Platform 9 3/4. We had a pretty long wait to get to the Hogwarts Express, since the park was still open. Coming back, though, we got right on, no wait at all!
I don’t have video of it, but the illusion they have set up to make it look like you are going through the wall is pretty amazing!
By the time we got to Hogsmeade, it was getting dark, and it was absolutely beautiful. While I knew we were in a theme park, and there was snow everywhere despite the fact that I was sweating like crazy, it was still pretty magical. We were in Hogsmeade when our private event started, and seeing the park so late at night, with only a small fraction of the people that are in it during the day was pretty spectacular. We had unlimited food and drinks, and my friend Sam might have attempted the 38 Butterbeer Challenge (she only made it to 6).
My first glimpse of Hogsmeade…
I knew it wasn’t real, but wow, could you imagine if it was??
We headed back to Diagon Alley after finishing our food and pretty much had the Hogsmeade Express to ourselves. We even saw the Tardis in the window on the ride back!
My beautiful friends! Please ignore our tired, sweaty grossness.
The Knight Bus was pretty cool, too!
Diagon Alley at night was my favorite place to be. And Gringotts Bank was, hands down, my favorite part of the entire park. I think it was the goblins that did it for me. They moved and spoke and looked perfectly busy yet uninterested, just like I imagine they would be in real life. I was so happy to get to experience it without the crowds and lines. Even though we didn’t get to ride the rides, it was worth it just to walk through the buildings. I didn’t go into Hogwarts, though, which is my only regret.
And the dragon. WOW. It was incredible! The detail, the sound, the fire – I stopped every single time to watch it!
I don’t know if I will ever make it back to Universal. My son has been begging me to go since I got back. I’m the kind of person that does something once and then wants to try something new. But I don’t think I’d complain if I found myself wandering these streets again.