Thursday, August 27, 2015

Travelogue: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios with Author Eric Price, Giveaway

Travelogue Series
Hello and welcome to the Summer Travelogue series on the J.Q. Rose blog. You're in for a treat today as fantasy author Eric Price gives us the opportunity to step into the fantasy world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, you'll be as thrilled as Eric who is truly a fan.

Eric is giving away a copy of his YA fantasy, Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud. Just leave a comment to enter the drawing. Winner will be chosen after 6 pm EDT Sunday, August 30.

Winner of the 2014 Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel.

Eric also treats us to an excerpt from his book, soon to be released. Enjoy the sneak peak and find out about Eric Price.

Now, sit back in your arm chair as we fly away to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

A Visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley
By Eric Price
I tend to avoid the super popular “thing” of the hour. Be it music, movies, TV shows, or books, I don’t jump on them right away. If they stand the test of time, at least on a small scale, then I’ll check them out. Likewise, when the Harry Potter books started filling every bookshelf, I paid them little attention.
On the day the 2002 World Cup started, I went to a bookstore looking for something to do at halftime and between games. It was played in Korea and Japan that year, so the games didn’t start until around 1:00 am my time. I had adjusted my work and sleep schedules so I could watch the games live, but I needed something to keep me awake during down times. The first three Harry Potter books were out in paperback, and the seller had them in a box set.
I doubt I read any the first night, since they’d have only played one match, but I blew through the first book the next night. It was one of those times when you realize, while it’s happening, your life has just changed. I finished the two remaining books in paperback and the fourth book, which was only available hardcover, that summer. In the coming years I finished the series, anxiously awaiting each new release like the rest of the crazed fans. (Though admittedly, I never waited in line at a bookstore for a midnight release—not my thing.) I’ve reread the series countless times, and currently I’m working through it with my oldest son.
And that brings us to the present, or at least the very recent past, and our family trip to Orlando, Florida, which included a trip to Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Due to time and money restraints, we only went to the side with Diagon Alley. To go to the Hogsmeade side, and ride the Hogwarts Express, it would have cost an extra $200, and we would have missed out on some of the non-HP stuff we did. Not riding the Hogwarts Express was a very difficult sacrifice.
So here it is, a photographic journey into my favorite fictional world.
On our way to Diagon Alley, we passed by 12 Grimmauld Place. If you look closely, you can see Kreacher in a window.
If I'd have known we could have taken the Night Bus to get here, I'd have done that instead of driving for three days.
Nerd Alert!: One of the reasons I didn't go to Hogsmeade first is because I wanted to have my first exposure to the Wizarding World similar to Harry's--passing through the wall into Diagon Alley.
Here's a closer picture of Gringotts Bank. This really impressed me. I couldn't see it at all from outside of Diagon Alley (as if it's magically hidden from the muggle world), but when I passed through the door, it's impossible to overlook. The ride was awesome too. It's not exactly an intense roller coaster, but it tells a story, and it has amazing 3D visuals. The idea comes from the 7th book, so you may not want to ride it if you haven't read the full series. 
I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone, but here's one of the creative aspects from the ride...and this is just something you see while waiting in line--yeah, he moves and speaks.
Pictured above is my very first Butterbeer. Not what I expected, but still good. I had one cold and one hot. They were different, but both good. I didn't try frozen, but I've had several people tell me frozen is their favorite. Maybe next time.
Apparently I didn't take a picture of the Leaky Cauldron, but we had lunch there. The menu consisted of traditional British dishes. I had the Fish and Chips, and I highly recommend it. If you're not extremely hungry, one order could easily be split between two people (I brought my A-Game and ate the whole thing.)
The rain started, and our day in Diagon Alley ended. Back through the brick wall we headed.
Oh wait, before leaving the Wizarding World, I did waste some money on one souvenir. I may have been able to resist the urge to ride on the Hogwarts Express, but I left with the wand of my favorite character. I'm trying to think of a clever way to display it, but for now it's on my bookshelf sitting on top of my Harry Potter books...including the box set that started it all. 
Photos courtesy of Eric Price.
Here's an excerpt from The Squire and the Slave Master, Book Two in the Saga of the Wizards.
Opening the door, she paused to size up the tall, well-built man who stood outside the yard gate. His hair had grown out since she had last seen him, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a week. He wore gloves, but she knew underneath, the palm of the right one looked black and charred.

She sprinted and threw herself into his arms. “Owen! How are you?” She pulled away to look at him. “What’s this on your face? Dirt?”

“Yeah, it’s dirt. I thought I should match you.”

Her face grew warm. How much filth must cover her? She hadn’t cared to take time to freshen herself for a messenger, but she would have had she known his identity. It must have something to do with their time apart—they used to spend almost every day together—but as the official heir to the throne, each time she saw him, he somehow looked different in her eyes. More noble. More royal.

He smiled and wiped at a smudge on her cheek. “Did I hear you say something about getting married?”

“Oh no! Father loves trying my nerves. I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you here?” And how much of the conversation did you hear?
Author PhotoEric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. It is scheduled for a September 2015 release. Find him online at authorericprice.comTwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

Please leave a comment below to say hi to Eric (and me.) Your comment will enter you into the drawing to win his first award-winning novel. Thanks for visiting.

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Unknown said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip! As a fellow HP fan, I HAVE to get there one of these days :) Looking forward to your next book!

Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting me today.

Heather, this place is a must for Potter fans. In hindsight, I wish we could have done our trip differently so we could have spent more time here. But we really did well for first timers trying to cram in all we did.

Oh, and I forgot to mention in the post, we were there on July 31--Harry Potter's (and J.K. Rowling's) birthday. But they didn't have anything special going on as far as we could tell.

Unknown said...

I see the name on the wand box didn't show up very well. A free copy of Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud goes to the first person to comment with the name of the character who owns this wand.

Susan Bernhardt said...

I love the Harry Potter books and would have loved to go to Universal Studios to see all of the sights. It's great that you were able to go with your family, whom I assume are big Harry Potter fans.

This was an interesting travelogue, Eric. Thanks.

Best wishes on your upcoming novel. I already have a copy of Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud.

Susan :)

Unknown said...

Yes, Susan, I introduced my wife to Harry Potter shortly after we met (and in turn her sister's family) and my oldest son is working on it now. He's almost done with book 6. We've tried my youngest son a couple times, but he's not ready yet. He still likes a picture on every page.

Marsha said...

Hey, Eric. What a fun post! I was an elementary school assistant principal when the first Potter book came out. There was such furor about whether this was a bad book for kids because of the witches. (I live in a terribly conservative state!) So I read the first one, just so I'd be able to answer questions and allay some fears. I guess I read the first three, then I just didn't have time for more. (I think I became a principal! LOL) I'm not a huge fan of fantasy (apologies!) --especially with all the strange names and weird words--just too hard to keep up with. But I enjoyed the books I read, and I have family members and friends who swear by them and their movies.
So wonderful you got to experience this with your family. Reading it with your son is really special. Best to you with this new book. Good excerpt.

J.Q. Rose said...

Heather, thanks for stopping. I know you're a Disney fan, but I'm sure many are drawn to the Harry Potter experience at Universal.

J.Q. Rose said...

Eric, you have inspired me to read an HP book. I, like Marsha, am not a fantasy reader usually, but now I'm curious enough to try the genre because of your writing and the to-do about HP!! Happy to host you this week!

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Susan, I guess HP books are for every age. Thanks for stopping!!!

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Marsha. Glad you enjoyed HP. Even more reason for me to get a copy!! Thanks for visiting.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a very interesting read!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Marsha. I had graduated by the time the first Harry Potter book came out, so I missed out on a lot of that "no magic in schools" stuff. Plus I would have thought myself too old to read YA--I've long since disowned that belief. (As an interesting side note, one of the reasons I chose to read them is because I figured it would be light reading since I knew my brain function would be down in the middle of the night--I learned my lesson on that belief as well. These books get very deep, especially when you start rereading them.)

When I was in school, my third grade teacher read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to us. The Chronicles of Narnia are loaded with magic. Times were different then. Everyone didn't get bent out of shape about every little thing.

The sixth grade class in my town studied my book, and I'm working with a 10th grade class in Nantes, France where we looked at my book and talked about the writing process, so maybe magic is becoming accepted in schools again.

One last note, I have to say if you stopped reading HP after book three, you're missing the best stuff. It really picks up starting with book four.

Unknown said...

Thanks for checking it out, Jason.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Jason, Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

J.Q. Rose said...

Eric, there's gotta be a story behind your working with a class in France. What a wonderful experience to share your book with classes.

Unknown said...

The project with the class in France has been extremely rewarding, and I look forward to continuing to work with them this school year. I haven't said too much about it, but I have something huge planned for September. It will consume my blog for most of the month, so everyone reading this can come on over to starting September 1 and join in the fun.

Fahrenheit 452 : Autour des livres said...

Hi Eric! Thanks for sharing and making us dream! Looking forward to the release of The Slave and the Master:)

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Thanks for sharing your trip and photos. What a fun way to spend a vacation. Here's to luck and success in your writing career.

Are you wanting the name of the person who first had Harr's wand? He who should not be named...

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

And that would be...Voldemort.

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marie.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

No, Penny, I don't think I was clear. The last picture I include is of a wand. I mention it belongs to my favorite character in the series, but I don't give the character's name. I'm looking for someone to tell me to whom the pictured wand belongs.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Marie, Thanks so much for stopping in and leaving a comment.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hey Penny, I always judge a vacation on how exhausted I am when I get home. Our motto on a get-away is "you can sleep when you're dead." Sooo, the more exhausted I am, the more I know we had a great time. I think Eric's trip would leave me feeling like I got my money's worth. How fun especially with kids. Thanks for visiting.

J.Q. Rose said...

Congratulations to winners of Eric's books--Penny and Heather! Enjoy!

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