After Lit Day, LeakyCon officially began with its opening ceremonies. We originally weren’t planning to go because we wanted to book it to the park, however thank Wizard God we did because it was chock full of some amazing performances. The Potter Puppet Pals performed a short skit (our first time seeing them LIVE. We’ve been quoting that shit since high school. It was surreal!), Hank Green sang “Accio Deathly Hallows,” StarKid performed “Granger Danger,” and Harry and the Potters finished off with “The Weapon.” The entire ballroom was decked out castle style with suits of armor, house banners, torches, and even an “enchanted” ceiling.
When the event ended people walked or hopped on the ferry for an after-hours event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (BRILLIANTLY named “Open at the Close”). The best part was when they kicked all the muggles out when the park closed, and 1,000 con attendees g0t to enjoy the park until 1:30AM.
The thing about entering the park is… What a feeling you get. They did a really good job of making it so that you can’t see anything but Hogsmeade once you’re inside, and Hogwarts up ahead, of course. You’re pulled in. Down to the details it’s all movie-based, but just being there you feel like you’ve stepped into something amazing.
We made a valiant effort to count Hufflepuffs and Snapes, but by the end of the night we had only 4 Snapes and too many Hufflepuffs. Seriously, why does everyone want to be a Hufflepuff these days? Is Hufflepuff cool now or something? (Who has two thumbs and is a Hufflepuff? I’m a Hufflepuff.)
Because it has the longest line and is the best ride, we immediately went on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and were taught things like, Ravenclaw needs to STEP UP ITS GAME (Kelly and Cassie-wa would like to point out there is NO FREAKING WAY Hufflepuffs are beating us), and the ride actually has a discernible plot! Well – at least we did our best to discern it.
ZE PLOT (if you are curious): You first start to learn about it in the rooms before the ride where various paintings of the Founders discuss that afternoon’s quidditch match (and that Hagrid has lost a dragon! Oh no!), Harry, Ron and Hermione invite us to come watch the game, and some other paintings demonstrate the use of making non-flying objects fly. When we get on the ride, Hermione tosses some magic fairy dust on us so that our seats fly! Harry says, “You did it! Follow me!” And we take off after Daniel Radcliffe on his broom to the quidditch game. (Where we loudly cheered for Slytherin!) But then it all goes wrong when dementors attack, followed by a dragon attack, then acromantulas, and then somehow we end up in the Chamber of Secrets before finally finding Harry again and returning to safety where everyone cheers at our return. And I guess somewhere along the way Gryffindor won the quidditch match. Surprise! It combines the twists and turns of a roller coaster with less adrenaline, the sensation of flying, and the added bonus of giant animatronic puppets. It’s definitely an amazing ride. Stephanie would say the best ride EVER as someone who doesn’t always particularly like rides, and definitely doesn’t like the movies. Making the queue part of the plot was a brilliant idea, as you start to feel like part of the magic long before you’re strapped into the ride. Plus it keeps the muggles happy, as the queue is usually over an hour long.
We were completely blown away that in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, Harry, Ron, and Hermione had a whole little scene about how they were sneaking out of PROFESSOR BINNS’ CLASS! They even mentioned that sometimes he comes to the class THROUGH THE CHALKBOARD. Did someone involved with the movies actually read the books??
After the ride we waited in YET ANOTHER line to eat (LineCon Forever!), which we needed because we didn’t have time for dinner with Lit Day running so long. We were served soda bread (Tom Riddle “diary” free), bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and strawberry/peanut butter ice-cream (which was super weird and tasted like a bad caramel apple). They obviously went for food that is served throughout the series; sadly, it was not the most delicious fare. Next year, we are putting in a formal request for pumpkin pasties, roast turkey, and spotted dick (the most unappetizing named desert ever). But at least we got fed!
This left the rest of the night for exploring since the only other two rides, Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dragon Challenge, are pretty tame roller coasters (which Stephanie would still be too scared to ride!). One crowded but interesting stop was the Owl Post, where we spotted John Green and David Levithan! You run into the darndest people at Hogsmeade.
Our wallets were lightened considerably by Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, the store connected to the Forbidden Journey. It’s filled with the most merchandise, the majority of which is based on the houses. The Ravenclaws, already embarrassed by their low house points, were further humiliated by the house colors and crest. We could probably spend a whole post ranting about the problems with Ravenclaw merchandise, but basically Warner Bros. seems to have left a sleepy intern in charge of the Ravenclaw robes in the movie, and consequently Rowena’s house is represented by a Raven and the colors blue and silver rather than her REAL symbol, an eagle, and the colors blue and bronze. I’m sorry, but this is INEXCUSABLE. And it makes buying Ravenclaw stuff fairly impossible, so JOKE’S ON THEM… ::cries::
Despite their flagrant disregard for the books, the store has some very cool items. Kelly purchased a beautiful frame that is a miniature Mirror of Erised. Though it presents a dilemma – what do you put in a mirror where you’re supposed to see everything you desire?? There was also Dervish and Banges (where a Monster Book of Monsters tries to eat your face off!) and Zonko’s, where Cassie-wa bought a pink pygmy puff named Alan Rickman and Cassie-la bought a purple pygmy puff named Spartacus. But you don’t actually buy pygmy puffs, you ADOPT them, on which we were corrected rather smartly by a Zonko’s employee. And when you reach the check-out counter the cashier holds your pygmy puff up in the air and announces its name to everyone, prompting cheers from all over the shop (the shop which should have actually been the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes where pygmy puffs can actually be adopted).
And just like the books, it seemed that almost every girl in the shop just had to have a pygmy puff. Like they do in Twilight.
During some of these adventures, Stephanie also managed to wander off several times and take self pics with Joey Richter, Joe Moses, and Hank Green! (Note Stephanie’s “I’m standing next to Hank Green!!!” face in this picture.)
While Kelly and Stephanie went on Forbidden Journey a second time (because it’s THAT awesome and they wanted to get a better hold on the plot), the Cassies visited Buckbeak, who sits on a nest and moves around and is terrifying and adorable, and went to the Dragon Challenge to check on the SIGN SITUATION.
Last year the ride was decorated with signs for Fleur, Krum, and Harry (who was labeled as the TRUE Hogwarts champion, which made the whole thing that much worse) but there were NO signs for Cedric. Cassie-wa wrote a letter (THEY TOTALLY READ THAT LETTER–but not really) and what do we see when we get there but THREE signs supporting Cedric! One of them, sadly, had a target on it. A little depressing considering his outcome in the series. Poor Cedric, he can never win.
Finally, we ended our night with drinks at the Three Broomsticks/the Hog’s Head. We sat at a table tucked away under mullioned windows, comparing our purchases while drinking Hog’s Head brew. We spied Hank Green across the room, and wizard rockers kept passing by with drinks in hand. It just felt *real.* Yes, the Wizarding World is a huge money-making attraction owned by a corporation. But being there with your best friends and all the other LeakyCon attendees, it felt as close as one could get to Hogwarts. In short, it was pure magic.
At this point, we had been up for over 20 hours. We had spent the day hearing our favorite authors speak, getting swept up in the madness of the opening ceremonies, and running around in a physical manifestation of a world we’d inhabited in our minds for 12 years. We were dead tired, and it was starting to show in our lagging steps as we crossed under the gates. Despite our sheer exhaustion, it was hard to leave Hogwarts behind.