Florida | 2016

This story starts back in 2010 when Universal Studios in Orlando announced that they were building a Harry Potter themed part of the park. I was 15 and desperate to go and I really mean desperate.

Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life for as long as I have been alive, I read the books very young and connected to the story like I never had with any other story before. Throughout school I found friends who shared this same passion for Harry Potter and all it stood for. We would passionately discuss fan theories and spent days binge watching the movies back to back whilst drinking homemade butterbeer. For the final goodbye to our childhood, a group of us dressed up as characters to attend the midnight screening of the final movie instalment. When I say I love Harry Potter, I bloody mean it.

Anyway, as it does life continued and got in the way, so this dream of going fell to the back burner but burn away it did. I convinced myself that by the time I was 18 I would be able to afford to go but naturally this didn't happen, oh naive teenage me. I reasoned it wasn't going anywhere anytime soon and if I was going to do it, I couldn't do it half hearted; Harry deserved better than that.

Fast forward to July and there I stand, age 21, in diagon alley with one of my best friends in the entire world; slightly dehydrated from the sticky heat, turning in a slow circle trying to imprint what I was seeing onto my brain forever. This trip to America was neither of our firsts to the sunshine state, nor the first to Orlando but it was the first to Universal and we had never been to the magical land of Harry Potter before.

We spent two weeks in Florida where we split our time between running around Disney and Universal, cramming in 16 hour days to make sure we didn't miss one thing as we begrudgingly got the shuttle bus back to our hotel each night. The only time we weren't charging around a park was when we took a two day trip to Jacksonville in north Florida to see the band 5 Seconds of Summer perform at an arena. This was a much needed break we didn't even realise we needed to recharge our batteries and allowed us to see the 'real' Florida. It wasn't a relaxing holiday by any means, we barely got to swim in the hotel pool and each night we passed out in bed ready to be up at the crack of dawn for another jam packed day but we reasoned we would sleep at home. Going on holiday with friends is truly one of life's greatest treasures and I wouldn't have done this trip any other way.

I came back from that holiday with burnt shoulders but a lifetime of memories...and far too many photos.

One of the most underrated parts of a holiday is the view from the plane window.

There's a reason why its the happiest place on earth.

I think this is the only photo of me on my own the entire trip? Nice.

The man. The myth. The magic maker.

Our favourite ride at Disney that we rode 5 times in a row. It's best to do it a night, trust us.

Walking through fake New York almost made up for not being in the real thing.

My childhood in one sign.

A fake mountain in Disney's Animal Kingdom which mad me feel far away from a theme park.

Parks are better at night.

The sign...at 7am.

Queue excited screaming that rivalled the little kids around us.

As we walked through the gates a member of staff said, "welcome home, to Hogwarts" and I legitimately teared up.

Snow topped roofs!! In 30 degree heat!!

Fun little anecdote, a man chased us around Knockturn Alley just for the hell of it and it's details like that which make it so damn magical. 

The brick wall that welcomes you to Diagon Alley.

The dragon breathed fire every 10 minutes or so!

The details man, the details. 

If I could have moved in to Hogsmead I would have.

To finish our trip, a cheeky little show from the 5 Seconds of Summer boys which finished my #5tour quite nicely.

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