Harry Potter Theme Park–(check off list of ‘Things I Want to do While I’m Alive)

Hello and welcome to Living Your Life to the Best of Your Disability! 

 This month there are two relevant points for this post.

1. When I was a child, I hated to read. The teachers spoke to me and my parents about ‘poor comprehension.’ I had to read everything two or three times before I understood the written content. Somehow, in spite of my extra help at home and school, my comprehension level stayed in the red zone.

Throughout elementary school, my reading color code exposed; I am a poor reader. Even elementary students with poor comprehension comprehended the color coded reading levels.

 Naturally, picking up a book for enjoyment eluded my sensibilities. My parents impressed education upon us. They encouraged and promoted reading at an early age. Every week they brought us to the public library to pick out books for entertainment or for school projects. (For any younger readers of this Blog, the library and the pricy Encyclopedia Britannica were the two main research sources before the Internet) I accompanied my family each week to the public library and when Saturday rolled along, I dusted off whatever book I chose for the week, returned it and chose another book as a dust collection device.

 Eventually, I accepted my need to re-read text books for higher education. I even read non-fiction for pleasure, usually biographies or topics on Native American or indigenous cultures and spiritual practices.

 Fiction?

 Never!

 Until my beautiful niece shoved ‘Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone’ in my hands before I jetted off on a relaxing vacation. She begged me to read the book. Said she knew I’d LOVE it!

Please, please, Aunt Vikki, try reading Harry Potter.

Never underestimate the wisdom of a child. Thus began my fiction reading career. And Harry played the leading role.

I read every book, watched every film, with the same worldwide enthusiasm and fan craze. Through my niece, Harry Potter brought the magic of fiction into my life.

 When I heard Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida planned to build a Harry Potter Theme Park, I yearned to go. As the park became a reality, I needed a reality check. My dilemma-‘I don’t do theme parks.’ This brings us directly to point number two.

 

2.  As I share in this Blog’s ‘About’ page, by age 11, my body in constant pain and deformity, my specialist pediatrician told my mother there was nothing more the medical community could do to treat my chronic illness. He told her to expect me in a wheelchair full-time within one year. He added ‘the best anyone could hope for was that she would be able to manage life in a wheelchair.’

Never underestimate the fear of a child. I hadn’t fully understood the depth his words bound me. From that day, decades ago, I believed if I sat in a wheelchair or used an assistive device, my life would cease to exist in any positive way. This is how I had interpreted his third person words.

Granted, our family completed many trips to theme parks; Hershey Park, Busch Gardens, and Six Flags Great Adventure. Only once, at fourteen years old, did I utilize the park wheelchair after protesting, crying and surrendering to my brother’s kind, supportive words. Never underestimate the wisdom of an adolescent.

At sixteen, I embarked on a roller-coaster and sustained a mild injury, tissue damage. The theme park journey ended there, on the Runaway Train. I never claimed to miss theme parks. In general, the experience(s) left me in pain for days. Of course, I had refused to use a wheelchair or assistive device.

On a family cruise just four years ago, my overwhelming curiosity to explore the entire ship the moment we stepped foot on board overrode any common sense. The result, I placed myself in the situation of being forced to use the wheelchair for three of five days. FYI-Cruise ships are huge!

So, as word spread about the progress toward Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Studios, inner-conflict spread within me. My mantra, ‘I don’t do theme parks’ clung by a cord. I still had time to stand by my words. The park remained incomplete and waiting for Universal Studios to adjust the kinks from JK Rowling’s enchanted land added to the timetable.

Could be years!

I placed the far into the future extravaganza onto my ‘Things I Want to do While I’m Alive’ list.

Ha! Perfect conflict resolution.

I relaxed in the safety satisfaction delivers.

Time flew.

The park opened and after a few years, ran like a charm. When we booked a separate vacation, my sister and I listened on speakerphone to the hotel representative rattle on about receiving a three day, two night special low rate for Universal Studios and Harry Potter Theme Park.

Time’s up-sorta.

We booked the trip, re-booked the trip and finally booked the trip during the last possible promotional week.

Before the excursion, I had time to comtemplate. I realized writing the ‘About’ page for ‘living life to the best of your disability’ helped bring to light the childhood fear of spending my life in a wheelchair.

Whether a child, adolescent, adult or senior citizen, the image, the thought or the potential reality of living in a wheelchair is powerful. For example, what is going through your mind right now as you process this sentence? How are you feeling? That’s normal.

My underlying fear, placed in my own mind decades ago surfaced. I released my mantra. Thank goodness! What a treasure to discover, another opportunity to change my mind, change fear into fun; to live my life to the best of my disability.

Time is definitely up!

March, 2013, I proudly rented a scooter each day and we had the best time! I proudly proclaim I went on a virtual ride, the first ride in decades. Highly recommend fun;

with and/or without wheelchairs and/or assistive devices.

Never underestimate the magical power of Harry Potter.

 

***As any upstanding Potter Fan –No spoilers! All pictures included below are universal 😉

 

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