Sometime early tomorrow morning, we will be starting our 10 hour trek to Florida to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade AND Diagon Alley). I’m not driving so I don’t control the departure time, but if I had it my way we’d leave at 3am. This will be our first “real” family vacation in 6 years. You know – the whole family/whole week type of vacation all of our friends do every summer. Nope. Not us. Instead we spend our vacation money on long weekend trips surrounding races several times a year, so it takes us a little longer to save up for something extravagant like what we’re doing this week. Wesley doesn’t even remember the last vacation we took, so this feels like a first for him!

The in-laws are housesitting/dogsitting and being on call in case our house needs to be shown. It will crack me up if it’s shown while we’re gone since it has only shown once in the last 30 days.

We are staying at the on-site hotel – the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and it has a pool with a water slide AND a lazy river. This was perfect for us because we are not typically amusement park people so we knew we’d need to stay somewhere that the kids would find entertaining so we could come back for down time often over the next 7 days.

We have breakfast scheduled at the 3 Broomsticks Sunday and the Leaky Cauldron Wednesday.


I’ll be posting pictures all week but I’m also going to use Snapchat some. Why? Because an iPhone has two microphones and the main one on mine is dead. I can’t do videos with sound or facetime or speakerphone. BUT – for some reason – Snapchat uses the OTHER microphone (as does the “voice memo” tool) so I can actually record audio with Snapchat. Those blips will be lost to the universe after 24 hours, but that is probably a good thing since it will a whole lot of me acting like a fool.

GET SNAPCHAT! Find me! I’m MissZoot, obviously. Let’s send all of the teenagers away from Snapchat like we did Facebook!

I’ve got my 9 3/4 luggage tag on my suitcase packed with shirts from The Colorful Gleek and Karen Hallion. Wesley is using E’s old Harry Potter suitcase that is probably 15 years old and our stuffed owls are all making the trip. I’d like to pretend like this is for the kids, and it is, but we all know it’s mostly for me. Or at least me and E. Harry Potter was something we enjoyed together the entire span of his lifetime. He doesn’t remember a time before Harry Potter because I discovered it when he was 4. He remembers all of the midnight book releases and movie releases and this is basically going to be us geeking out together for 7 days.

In preparation, let’s relive some of our favorite Harry Potter moments.

Sears Portrait Studio, the Glory Days.

Yes. We went to Sears and had our pictures made like this. WHAT?

First Movie Release
First Movie Release

They didn’t do a midnight showing in Huntsville for the first movie, but I did let E skip school so we could go see the first showing the day it opened. And then my brother came into town and we saw it again that night.

Book 5 Midnight Release

My friend in this photo and I stayed up ALL NIGHT reading book 5 because I had a wedding shower the next day and we knew if we didn’t finish it before the shower we’d be awful trying to put it down and be social. I was still a smoker back then so we sat by the pool the next day and read and smoked until the shower. It was actually a pretty glorious day.

Second Movie? I believe?
Second Movie? I believe?

Our friends came in for the second movie release (I think that’s what this was) and let me tell you – everyone should have grown friends that are as fanatical about things as they are. Our friends moved to the Pacific Northwest eventually, but they were still very much a part of our Harry Potter history!

My  30th Birthday Party!
My 30th Birthday Party!

My friends threw me a surprise 30th birthday party before the midnight release of Book 6. We all wore matching shirts and I was pregnant with Nikki but I made it through the late night and finished the book the next day, sobbing my eyes and my heart out thinking that there was just no way I could have a child in a world without Dumbledore.

Final Book Release
Final Book Release

The final book release – where I met Hagrid. It was pretty awesome. But also awful because that meant the books were all over.

Certifications from the Party
Certifications from the Party

I had a Harry Potter party before the first part of the final movie release and it was phenomenal. I worked for days getting everything ready, with Moaning Myrtle signs in the bathroom and Horcruxes hidden around the house. It was pretty awesome.

Bellatrix and E

And then I went to the movie dressed as Bellatrix but didn’t make it through the movie since I had been up all night prepping for the party and I was too old to do two all nighters in a row.

Not Pictured: Nikki reading the first three books so far and Wes is (hopefully) going to start the first one soon. Donnie has read them all too, in case you’re worried we’re leaving him out. He’s just not quite as in love with it all as I am.

I hope to post recaps every day, mainly because I want to document this trip forever as I’m just SO DAMN EXCITED. I want to savor every moment because it will be another 6 years before we can afford to do this again.

21 thoughts on “#ZootGoesToHogwarts”

  1. I am SO excited for you. I may have to figure out this snapshot thing…

  2. It is not often that someone gets to immerse themselves in a world that they’ve lived from afar for so long. I am SO ECSTATIC FOR YOU!

  3. I can’t wait to see the pictures and hear about it! I’m so excited for you!

  4. THIS IS GREAT! I remember almost everyone of these moments, that’s how long I’ve been reading your website. (and HP obviously)
    I hope your trip is everything you expect from it and more!

  5. I am so excited for you! I can’t wait to see pictures of this whole adventure!

  6. Wait a minute – this post is missing something! I was scrolling through the pictures waiting for it, and it never came up! Didn’t you and E go back and get your picture taken again in the style of the first one, and it was hilarious and awesome? Or am I totally hallucinating that? Regardless, have a fabulous time. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m SO excited for you and E!!! Take a picture of Snape for me <3

  8. I am so excited for you too! I was more excited than my son when we went and I actually got a little teary when we entered Hogsmeade. Be sure you listen carefully when you are in the bathrooms and look up on the walls when you are in Three Broomsticks.

  9. I’m looking forward to reading your recaps. I hope you have a great time.

  10. We did! But when we did it someone joked they should put it on Awkward Family Photos and now I’m super paranoid someone will do that πŸ™‚

  11. That’s too bad but I understand. Fortunately I am kind of weird and I remembered that it was featured on offbeat families, so I went and searched for it there and got my fix of adorable zoot family photos that way. πŸ™‚

  12. So excited for you! Have an awesome trip and enjoy every moment. I’ll ask my 14 year old son to help me with Snapchat so I can follow your adventures at Hogwarts. πŸ™‚

  13. k, i just made myself a note to go download snapchat.

    i’m still not sure if that’s wise or not…i’m hoping my excitement FOR you and living vicariously THROUGH you will be enough to overcome my COMPLETE & UTTER jealousy OF YOU for the next 7 days! if you come “home” to the hotel and find me outside your door? you’ll know which emotions won out! πŸ™‚

    SO HAPPY FOR YOU! and E! and the rest of the fam, too. πŸ™‚


  14. This made me realize how long I’ve been reading your blog! I don’t run, have never read a HP book or watched the movies, but I still love your blog and hope you have an amazing vacation.

    I have been on the HP ride at WDW, which was awesome.

  15. I know you’ll have an amazing time! I’m looking forward to future posts! Enjoy!

  16. I downloaded snapchat JUST to add you- I don’t want to miss any of the action. While you are at Univeral, might I recommend the Despicable Me, Spider-Man & Transformers rides? Lots of fun. Also, if you don’t mind thrill rides, The Hulk & Doctor Doom. Bring lots of water- it is hot & everything in the park is overpriced. Speaking of overpriced, there is a Mediterranean restaurant over by that area which is wonderful. Oh, the Dr Seuss area is also way cool. Have a great time & enjoy a butter beer for me.

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