What It's Like to Go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as a Florida Resident

I have now been to this park a whopping 16 times. Here's how it goes.
  1. You drive into Universal Studios. You see the Hogwarts castle looming in the distance. Tourists in cars next to you are cheering. All you want to focus on is fucking parking, ideally as close to the escalators as possible.
  2. You start walking into the park. Just kidding. You have to walk through the parking garage, through all the other levels of parking, cross over into Universal Studios, walk through City Walk, climb a mountain, hike a trail, swim the English Channel, go through 20,000 turnstiles, and THEN you're finally at entrance to Islands of Adventure.
    Congratulations ✋
  3. You start going through all the "islands" of the park. Nice, awesome, the Spider-Man ride has a wait time of a snappy 90 minutes! You keep going.
  4. Comic book Island. Kids, water-rides, decent grub at the café
  5. Jurassic Park island. Sure is pretty.
  6. Oh no. You start to see it. The painted on snow atop the Hogsmeade buildings. No. No. NO. Fuck
  7. And then--out of nowhere, a possible harbinger of the misery that is now your weekend, WHAM.
  8. An overzealous tourist has knocked into you with their selfie stick.
  9. Inside, you can smell the distinct stench that emanates from closely-packed human bodies. Flesh, and sweat, and endorphins.
  10. In the distance you can hear the woman hired to play Celestina Warbeck in what looks like a 2006 prom dress singing Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love, eyes twitching as the Florida humidity wrings her dry of her bodily fluids. She thinks she's going to pass out on the tired pregnant woman in the front row- but no. She got through her set. It's done.
  11. You continue walking towards the castle and you see the Beauxbatons students have just completed their show. 18,000 mind-numbed fans fall into line for a chance to take their picture with these four nondescript blonde women in blue JC Penney skirts.
  12. You get to the castle and there's a two hour wait. Pretty empty today, you say. You get your ass in line.
  13. Around you, the environment changes constantly. Mandrakes scream. Electronic screens in the moving portraits repeat "what're yeh lookin at? Move alon' now!" a dozen times until you're convinced there was never a time in your life when you weren't standing in this line.
  14. Tired, sweaty visitors from Ohio sip on their $16 Butterbeer and take a Snapchat picture every time they remember they're supposed to be having the time of their lives!
    Their stories are currently 900 seconds long.
  15. Now someone has forgotten their wife or kid or broomstick or their fucking manners and is going backwards through the line, forcing you into closer proximity with the Ohioans. Your arms rub against each other and make a sickly elastic sound as you peel your sweaty skin off of theirs. Above you, animatronic Peeves laughs.
  16. At the hour and 20 minute mark, you begin to feel philosophical. Why am I here? Why did I need to spend $135 on this ticket? Who am I taking these pictures for? Why do I need to relive my childhood fantasies in order to feel less shitty about being an adult? What am I accomplishing as a barista? Why can't my dad and I have a normal relationship?
  17. You're jolted out of your musings by the kid who just threw up in the line behind you. Someone's aunt knowingly comments that eating an entire Chocolate Frog would make anyone throw up. Pfft, AMATEUR, I think, and smirk at the distressed parents of the four-year-old.
  18. Finally you get to the holographic projections of Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Great Hall who are busy explaining this unraveling of the canon plot to you as they set up the backstory for the ride you are about to embark on.
  19. Okay.
  20. It's your turn now.
  21. Probably nobody with a mishap of their adult diaper sat in the seat assigned to you, so you go ahead and sit down.
  22. Beautiful, brilliant Hermione's face fills your screen and the ride begins.
  23. .
  24. .
  25. .
  26. Hedwig's Theme plays as the ride brings you back to the entrance, and you wipe your tears of joy and wonder and magic and glee away. Your heart is still thrilled and pounding as the nineteen-year-old worker unbuckles your seat belt and escorts you off the ride.
  27. Damn, that was amazing.
  28. You step outside, still awash with post-Pottergasm bliss, and find that the temperature in Florida has risen to 200 degrees, humidity is now at 400%, and the devil cackles. We hope you enjoy the remainder of your visit at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure!