Infinitus Day 1 (Thursday) - Thursday felt like one of the longest days of my life. We had to get up early and head over to the hotel so Lauren and Matt could get to the Final Battle rehearsal (Eia and I were so glad we'd dropped out - not because we wouldn't have loved to help our friends, but because having that added stress on tour would have just been too, too much) and the rest of us parked the cars and hung out at the Royal Pacific hotel (where Infinitus was taking place) and met up with a bunch of our other friends who were just arriving at the conference.
Most of the wizard rock was happening on Thursday, which was a little weird, but allowed all the bands to set up their merch in the concert room and get that part of the trip out of the way in one day. The "Classics" night show started at 4, and the "Pub Night" show was at 10, so we spent the majority of the day listening to wizard rock, hanging out at the merch table, signing things and finding time to make a quick run to Citywalk for Panda Express. At the very end of the show, Jason called us all up onstage for "California Dorks" and then Luke and I closed the show with "Don't Unplug Me", which I thought was really awesome. I know some people have a problem with music that's not wizard rock being played at a Harry Potter event, but I am really flattered so many people are embracing our other projects and like hearing what we're doing. :)
Infinitus Day 2 (Friday) - I'm not going to lie, this Harry Potter conference was probably the least Harry Pottery of any conference I have ever been to for me. The biggest problem was that so many people came to this event that we were all spread out between the three major Universal resort hotels. There were these sweet water taxis to take between the hotels and Citywalk, but it just took so much time to wait for them, so it was not very easy to just "run over to the hotel" for different programming. So I missed a lot of it. I spent a good portion of Friday at the Portofino hotel with Eia and with Ryan Seiler's girlfriend Julie, which was so, so nice after as much time as I've spent on the road and rushed from show to show. We ordered fancy drinks and chips and salsa ordered to our lawn chairs by the pool, and we swam, and got a bit of sun. In fact, I am currently more tan than I have ever been in my entire life, with a wicked sunburn right on my forehead/hairline area. But I don't care, it was so worth it! (I even put sunscreen in my hair to try to protect my scalp, but it burnt anyway. Rude.)
Eventually the boys came and met us as the pool, and we took a few trips down the water slide with Tyler Nicholas, Ryan, Luke, and Jason. When we just couldn't handle being out in the sun anymore, we headed back to Citywalk for lunch and then it was time for THE HARRY POTTER THEME PARK. Our passes were good starting at 2pm, so we headed into Islands of Adventure, walked straight through the Dr. Seuss and ancient mythology parts of the park, and found ourselves at Hogsmeade.
I honestly hadn't allowed myself to think about the theme park too much. I heard all the announcement years ago, yes, but I never looked at pictures or watched the behind the scenes specials or anything because I wanted to be surprised. Also, I was still kind of in shock that it exists at all, so I kind of pretended it wasn't real up until the moment I walked in.
And let me tell you, that was overwhelming. I know I sound like a huge dork right now, but Harry Potter has had such a huge part in the last 8 years of my life. From fanfiction (which I was very, very into) to wizard rock to even my involvement on YouTube, these books and this fandom has literally shaped me into the person I am today. I wouldn't play guitar, I wouldn't be touring, I wouldn't be on YouTube if it weren't for Harry Potter. So when I walked into that park and saw the Hogwarts Express pumping steam into the air, and saw Zonko's Joke shop bustling with people, and the shady wooden door of the Hogshead, and house banners waving in the breeze, and Hogwarts looming up above me - I won't deny it. I started crying. It was a short amount of crying, like a minute tops, but there were real tears in my eyes.
We only had a short amount of time in the park before we had to get back to the hotel to see the Final Battle (Lena's HP musical she's been working on all year, since I didn't clarify before) so all we had time to do was ride Hogwarts Forbidden Journey, which is the best ride in the park. Eia and I were with Monica and Chellie (the Short Sisters on YouTube) and the four of us spent SO MUCH TIME together in that line. Not only was the line outrageously long, but there were some maintenance issues so it was completely stopped for about 20 minutes. And Florida is HOT. But when we got inside, it was completely worth it. The first part of the ride is just walking through Hogwarts. You see the founders arguing with each other in their portraits on the wall, you walk through Dumbledore's office, you get scolded by the Fat Lady, and Ron makes it snow on you in line. So good.
I don't want to spoil the actual ride for anyone, but when we first got in the cars, I was holding hands with Eia and Monica, and none of us had ANY idea what to expect. The ride was amazing, and actually pretty scary (which surprised me - I was expecting something like the Disneyland storybook rides but it wasn't like that at all). It was completely worth the wait and so, so awesome.
We got back in time for the Final Battle and it was nice seeing our friends in the musical, since again I didn't really know what to expect. Fred was awesome as Ron, Andrew Slack had his Dumbledore accent down so perfectly it was scary, and Melissa Anelli stole the show as Neville's grandmother.
Then we rushed back because while we had tickets to the HP theme park in the afternoon, the evening was when we had the park actually to ourselves. First they put us in this big room which was kind of stupid - I understand they needed to clean up the park for us, but then spent an hour and a half of the time we had thought we paid for to be in the park watching promotional stuff about the park that we'd all already seen before. So that was kind of bad planning on their part. But then we finally finally got to go in, and it was SO AWESOME being in there without the rest of the general public.
They had tables of free food right in Hogsmeade and a DJ was set up playing music (which was honestly a little strange, since I doubt they listen to the Top 40 at the real Hogsmeade). But just walking around with all my wizard rock friends, eating pumpkin pasties, dancing to music with Hogwarts lit up at night, deciding whether we liked butterbeer better frozen or on tap - I think it's pretty easy to imagine how that felt.
Everything about this place was so magical. I know this park was built for everybody in the world, but being there with hundreds of other Harry Potter fandom people; seeing people you know sipping butterbeer and waiting in line at Dervish and Bang's… for one night, it felt like this park was built just for us. Even with all the problems that night, it was a completely surreal and wonderful experience.
We didn't have much time in the park honestly, since they were kicking us out at 2am, so we rode the Forbidden Journey again, skipped the Hippogryff ride because it looked like it was for younger kids, and then hit up the Dueling Dragons ride. It was a pretty sweet roller coaster where there are two tracks (the Hungarian Horntail and the Chinese Fireball) and they are intertwined with each other (with one reallt scary part where they look like they're going to collide). I was pretty impressed with that ride too, except the part where I was wearing flats and they made me hold them in my hands for the entire ride. Weird.
That night I was so exhausted from the long day of pretending I lived in Harry's World that I skipped whatever hotel party was going on back at the Portofino and fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow. I think Eia and I both fell asleep that night with some Jay and SIlent Bob movie blasting on the TV in our hotel room.
Chipotle burritos: 14
Random road sign right now: Live Oak, 2 miles. (I hope this just is a sign for a tree, not an entire town called Live Oak.)
15 hours ago