I’m not what one would call a dedicated Disney Blogger. Daniel and I— we’re Podcasters. Speaking for myself, I don’t follow events, or news, or pretty much anything. It’s not that I am not interested. I’m just lazy.
So, knowing about events and stuff, all of the to-dos at the Disneyland Resort… That’s all Daniel and Tommy— and thank goodness for both of them.
Me? I just go to Disneyland.
Well… Today my wife, her sisters and I went to Disneyland. We just went. Why? We have Annual Passes, it was raining and we figured the crowds would be light. It was all the reason one with an Annual Pass needs, really. Not that we need one.
Crowds were light, but stuff was happening.
So MANY people were dressed for Christmas. It’s November 6th, so I’m I’m thinking that this must have been a really crappy year for a lot of people. So many are rushing to Christmas time as if cheer is a long lost cousin or something.
When we reached the hub, we came to discover that Disney was taping a part of their Christmas Day Parade for television.
That’s cool… I guess. But it bugged me, because there was NO way to approach the castle.
The circular hub with the “Partners” statue was barricaded with benches, roped off and guarded by people who couldn’t have been cast members judging by how snippy they were about keeping us out of there.
I live down the street from Studio City. My family has been part of the Universal company one way or another for most of my life, so seeing all of that taping junk all around did not impress me as much as it annoyed me, but I get it.
If there was a family from Iowa, or pretty much anywhere besides L.A. and New York it may have been a new and interesting experience. Still, now guests from out of town can’t get awesome pics with the castle, and to get to Fantasyland one had to go around rather than through the castle.
Passing through the gates of Sleeping Beauty castle into Fantasyland is a magical moment for those of us who don’t often get to visit the park. Now that wasn’t going to happen for a lot of people, which sucks.
The good news is that it was a somewhat rainy and very cold day, so there wasn’t a lot of people to disappoint.
I was there to get photos of the new Christmas décor—and the castle? That’s kind of important. That’s the shot to get, really. One could see the castle, but I don’t need pictures of a lot of recording equipment in my shots (though I did get some), and on TV I’m sure the set won’t be nearly as impressive as it was to stand in front of it, but it was quite impressive.
These two celebrities, who I have no idea who they are and can’t remember their names, were singing a Christmas Carol in front of a crowd (they were pretty good). There were lights, way up, on elevated platforms. Cameras were everywhere.
The only star I recognized was Nick Cannon. And yeah, okay, it was kinda neat to see these guys sing halfway through a song and be told to start over… three times. It WAS Christmassy, though that Christmassy feeling was kind of dampened when I heard someone mention that Nick Cannon was going to be Santa Claus in the parade.
No kid is EVER going to believe that Nick Cannon is Santa! He’s WAY too young!
But moving right along…
Something else was happening at Disneyland today—something cooler—something flying far underneath my lazy radar (on broomsticks, no less) and had I not experienced it, this thing would have come and gone and I would have never known.
As my party and I travel through the park, doing our thing, taking our pictures, eating our soup bowls, riding attractions— I see these young people wearing a Hogwarts School robe, one has a maroon and mustard striped scarf proudly proclaiming herself as a student in Gryffindor House.
I’m thinking, “Cute, but wrong theme park, guys.”
But, me being me, I snap a candid shot. I think it’s cool. Maybe I’ll use the picture on Facebook somehow, you know, make some wisecrack that Universal Orlando is like several thousand miles southeast of here.
But then I see another. And another.
I see students from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff (“The party house!”, one of them told me) hanging out together.
Then I see teachers, and Death Eaters.
There was a man who looked just like Malfoy, who was examining his Muggle flight glasses for Star Tours as if they were as foreign to him as, I don’t know, being nice, was to the actual Malfoy.
Pretty soon, I’m taking more pictures of Harry Potter enthusiasts than of the park!
For the record, I found the densest concentration of them in Tomorrowland—you know how technology amazes folks from the Wizarding World. They were probably astounded by seeing how we get stuff done without magic.
Then I saw a couple dressed like Professor Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange.
Now I know something’s up.
But what can it be?
There has to be something going on at the park today that, once again, I knew nothing about.
Later when I asked TommyPix about this, hopeful that he took some pictures for this article to supplement my own, he said he knew about it, but had forgotten it was this day. Riiight…
I suspect that I, the lazy, lucky-if-I-visit-the-park-three-times-in-a-month DisGeek, scooped the once-a-week-in-the-park DisGeek.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😉
Anyway, as the day moved on there were more, and more, and more of them filling the park. Wizards and Witches were everywhere I looked.
At the time my theory was that there was some kind of Harry Potter event happening—something you had to be part of some inner-circle or blog community to know (like us DisGeeks). I credit this to the fact that the threat of rain and the cold temperature (and football) kept most pass holders at home.
But these Harry Potter guys? Nothing was going to keep them from having their day in the park, so Wizards were starting to outnumber Muggles at some point.
And the outfits got crazier and crazier.
I never expected something like this, and this kept me in the park much longer than I usually stay, just to see all of the different costumes. and while I must say most of them were pretty much the same deal—robe, tie, scarf—some with wands, some without—there were some outfits that were over-the-top and others that were simply insane.
I’m loving this so much, that I stopped getting on rides! My wife and two sisters in-law were leaving me outside to have their fun— but my bottom line is I’ve been on all of these rides a zillion times.
This Harry Potter business, I’ve never seen before and I have to people-watch. Not just how the Hogwart’s kids and the Death Eaters were dressed, but how Muggles were reacting to their presence.
Most of us were delighted, some mildly amused but, believe it or not, jerks come to Disneyland too.
On one occasion, a group of these Potter players walked past me and my party, and some bald, goateed, cretin said, loud enough to be heard by everybody including the wizards, that the Harry Potter fans were nerds, losers, pathetic. They don’t have lives and they shouldn’t have been let in the park.
That guy should have gone to Six Flags. Disneyland is for dreamers, not haters.
From what I observed, I can say with great confidence that they all have lives, and life is good.
It became my mission to get to the bottom of this. I must figure out what’s going on.
But I’m shy, and wizards are secretive to say the least (or so I thought). I listen in on conversations, I ask other Muggles, I even asked a Cast Member. No one knew.
I really am not the type to approach people at random. I usually look for a reason to talk to someone I don’t know (unless it’s a CM).
So I step to a group of witches (that’s what female Hogwart’s students are called in the Wizarding World, so take it easy), wanting to know what the situation here is. My reason was, I had to get their pictures for this Disney blog. Pretty clever, don’t you think?
So I ask to take their picture. They all enthusiastically agree, on the condition that I take all of their pictures, with all of their cameras.
Now, any one who listens to the Podcast knows how much I hate being approached by people to take pictures. Unless you’re a giant-sized jerk you must say yes. It’s the only thing to do, and with all of the photo equipment I carry around with me, I am often the guy to ask .
But I’m asking them and I’m no hypocrite. I was also starving for info about what was going on here, right? And it’s probably not a good idea to get on the wrong side of a bunch of witches. So I did as they commanded with great pleasure. I took two shots with my camera and two shots with each of theirs.
Look at how many of them are there and do the math. Yeah, I was there awhile, but it was worth it! My wife had to poke me on the shoulder, rather hard, to get me to stop talking to them as I remember it. 🙂
And can you imagine that all I had to do to find out the deal here was to walk up to them and ask, “what’s going on here?”
These lovely Hogwart’s kids, each of them very gracious and energetic, laid out the whole deal for me:
They told me that today was “The 5th annual (unofficial) Harry Potter Day” (http://potteratthepark.blogspot.com/).
This event draws Harry Potter fans from all over the place.
Now I was receiving a lot of information in a flood of words, so if I got some details wrong, I hope they forgive me, and better yet, correct me.
Along with the Hogwarts cosplay, there is a scavenger hunt, where the winning team wins “The House Cup” (which these ladies insisted they were going to win).
There are other activities, which I have no idea what they are, as I think they are announced at some meeting which I didn’t attend, seeing as I’m a Muggle.
But mostly it’s a place to meet up, make friends and share their love of Harry Potter. What’s cooler than that?
Anyway, once I got these girls to strike a pose for me, and experienced how nice they all are, I had no trouble approching other groups.
People reading this blog… some of us don’t have ready and easy access to the DLR. A lot of us go all the time. Some of us go once a week, and more.
Events like this, especially when it sneaks up on us like it did to me, takes a rather ordinary, average, and I daresay humdrum visit to the park, and makes it far more delightful and interesting than it would have been otherwise.
Had I known about this event, I would have marked it on my calendar. I LOVE stumbling across something like this at the resort. I love to see people embrace their fandom for a movie, or series of books, T.V. shows and show their love for it.
If anybody has a problem with people in costumes at Disneyland…<shrug> I don’t know. Whatever.
To see them, disregarding the temperature, unintimidated by the threat of a rainstorm, having their day, by hook or by crook, warmed my heart on a cold day.
You can get more information about Harry Potter day at: http://potteratthepark.blogspot.com/, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @HarryPotterDay.
I’ll be keeping an eye on them, and maybe next year, I’ll bust out a wand and join the fun. What would you say about a six-foot-two, 200 pound House Elf wearing nothing but a pillow case?
Paul, glad you enjoyed the company of all the wizards and witches hanging out at Disneyland. We love to share with others what we are up to so next time don’t be so shy, we may even invite you to sit a spell 😉 I agree that Disneyland is for dreamers not haters so thank you for seeing past the cloaks, wands, hair and even the warts and taking the time to write such a beautiful post about a bunch of dreamers who were so inspired by the books of J.K. Rowling they created a day at a magical place where we can all come together and participate in a day of enchantment (even if it is technically on the wrong coast). For all of the haters, there is something out there that you love to do that we may see as odd,or silly so when you are sitting at your Monster Truck Rally having the time of your life, just remember… to each his own and take pleasure in seeing the smile on someone’s face when they are doing something that truly makes them happy regardless of our own opinions or thoughts. A HUGE thanks goes out to the Inquisitorial Squad for putting together an event that just gets better every year!!
Alister Moody says
It’s nice to see People come into the fold of our group of awesome Potter fans. We all have fun every year and always welcome new comers. This is a great blog and I know the teachers and the chancellor of Yensids appreciate the press.
I wonder what was on the scavenger hunt list. It was pretty funny to see Malfoy on Star Tours. And whoever was Luna was right on – looked exactly like her!!
Ashlie Gott says
We had to figure out a murder that happened. So we had to trek throughout the whole park looking for our Instructors and once we did, we gave the password and they gave us 2 questions. The first question that was answered correctly was rewarded with a clue and the second, much harder question was rewarded with a coin that was worth points. It was super fun, and they change it up every year, so if you are interested, you should definitely participate next year!
This was fun to read. My friends & I didn’t partake in the scavenger hunt but we had a a great time wearing out House scarves, and chatting with other fans that we met throughout the day. It was also fun to answer the many questions from people who were also wondering what was going on. Most of them said they wished they had known and that they, too, were enjoying seeing all the people in costumes & just having a good time.
Disneyland IS for Dreamers – in fact I was saying something similar last night to a friend. 🙂
Paul J. Hale says
Thanks for the feedback. I’ve seen a lot of unofficial events from Goths to Khandi Kids, and the Harry Potter Day participants have been by far the most open, enthusiastic and gracious. It was a pleasure to see. I hope to see you all next year. 😀 ~Paul
Jessica Eldridge says
I am excited for next year and I want to see a 6 foot 2 house elf next year because that would be amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ashlie Gott says
I am the third girl on the left from the first group picture u took! And I remember you cause, you know, we practically threw our cameras at you, haha. SO GLAD that you enjoyed seeing everybody in all their Potter garb! And thanks for saying all those nice things! It was definitely one of the most fun days I’ve had at the park and OF COURSE i’m going back next year. Maybe now you can mark Nov. 6th on your calendar!
Marie Todd says
Thanks for the nice article – if you can either get into the park wearing a pillowcase, or change into it once you get in, you’re more than welcome to be a house elf. 🙂 (We were cautioned about robes/wands, etc. because of the Park rules, however we haven’t had any problems so far).
A lot of the cast members are Harry Potter fans too, so they’re helpful when they can be. Last year we had to search for certain places in the Park (top of Sleeping Beauty Castle, etc.) – the clues were small pictures of bits of the place. We asked quite a few cast members for help and everyone was very helpful.
This year, since we were just looking for the Staff of Yensid’s, we didn’t bother the cast members as much. I noticed that the Golden Horseshoe cast were mentioning basilisks and Butterbeer in their show – very topical!
Hope to see you next year, costume or not.
Unofficial HP Disney Day occurs the 1st Sunday of November every year.
Jessica Eldridge says
OMG I had an amazing day and I am totally going next year. I am the tall girl in the middle in the first group picture!!! I was so suprised when my friends told me we were on this blog and very excited. 🙂 Thank you for taking our picture and putting us in your blog. I hope to see you next year for Potter Day. 🙂
Sheila S. says
What a wonderful insight from an outsider. It was fantastic to see families dressed up together and participating in a literary experience like Harry Potter Day. One of the best parts of the day was being able to walk through the park where, usually, everyone is a stranger, and have people smile at you, or call out to you because they related to you due to your Harry Potter affiliation. It brought people together in such an uplifting way.
Loch Monarch says
I was there, it was so much fun. I went around calling everyone who dressed as a Gryffendork, a muggle lover. The only thing I regret was that I REALLY wanted a pic with Draco and I missed my chance. Oh well, it was a blast and I am totally going again next year.