Universal Studios Orlando
Disclamer: This post will probably have a lot of Harry Potter references *fan girl face*
I first heard of the Harry Potter Books when I was in 4th grade. I was in class, and for some reason one of our assistant principals was reading "The Chamber of Secrets", which is the second Harry Potter book. I knew very minimal english at the time, and I listened intently to this book and tried with everything I had to understand it. It wasn't until a year later that I truly learned how to read english. I finally, very slowly, read my way through the first Harry Potter book. That was the first time I knew I could travel in time and space by reading a book. It opened a new universe and helped me escape the whole "immigration to the United States" thing for a while.
That is why I love this series so much. When I was 10 years old I was thrown into a world completely unknown to me. In the books, Harry is too. He was thrown into a completely new world of magic, no friends, no family ... a complete stranger to everything around him. I formed a deep connection with this story because of this little link between Harry and I.
Fast forward 16 years later, and I get an invitation to photograph both Universal and Island of Adventure, after closing, with a select handful of the most talented photographers in the area. To say I was excited, is a HUGE understatement. We had both parks completely to ourselves, and the most important part ... BOTH Harry Potter areas ... completely... EMPTY. I mean, these two areas are so well made, they transport you to the books immediately after walking in. During normal park hours, the magic is somewhat broken with the crowds and the Florida heat. So you can imagine how much I was flipping out walking around with only about 8 other people.
I have to say, it was a bit eery, specially after daylight had gone. I was mostly stumbling around in disbelief the whole time. The streets glittered from the rain earlier, the Harry Potter music from the movies was still playing in the background, the shops in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade still had the moving elements, and the dragon at Gringotts still roared, just for us. It was extremely surreal, and magical.
I can't thank Universal Studios enough for this opportunity. Walking through the empty streets of these parks was something I will remember and treasure of the rest of my life. I'll leave some more photos of this experience below for your enjoyment! Make sure you look through the #UOInstameet tag in instagram for more pictures by some really talented folks, and check out this neat little article by Universal Studios about the meet.