Two years ago today, I walked into Universal Orlando for my first day of work and never looked back. I was hired into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as an attractions attendant, and while I didn’t get my first choice attraction, I was happy to begin working as a caretaker of magical creatures at Flight of the Hippogriff, as well as a wandkeeper’s assistant at Ollivander’s.
And so began my long journey at Universal; a journey full of mean guests, nice guests, guests who didn’t speak a word of English but were still the nicest people ever, guests who spoke English and still were unnecessarily rude; a journey full of days where the heat was so unbearable I wanted to quit and find a boring job at a mall because at least it would be inside, days where it was so cold I needed to wear two layers underneath my robe because the wardrobe just wasn’t warm for even Florida winters, days where it rained so hard for so long getting wet was unavoidable; a journey full of amazing coworkers and coworkers who were not so nice, people who I never want to see again and people who became my closest friends. In my time in the Wizarding World, I’ve taken care of magical creatures, assisted wandkeepers, studied at Hogwarts, handled dragons, and welcomed muggles, students and wizards to the Hogwarts Express.
I’ve done some amazing stuff in my time at Universal. I’ve seen the biggest Harry Potter fans step into Hogsmeade, their eyes wide and unbelieving as they walk through something they never thought they would see and I’ve seen them get chosen by their wand at Ollivander’s, which usually ended with them (and me) crying. I’ve seen people being proposed to in front of the castle as the sun sets, or right after a rain storm, or in the middle of the day even, when people broke apart and clapped for them once they realized what happened. I’ve seen little kids marvel at the magic throughout the village, parents rediscovering their love for the series, and new fans be born right then and there as they took in the magic that is Harry Potter.
Not all my time has been spent in the Wizarding World, however. While at Universal, I’ve worked at various other attractions, including the Incredible Hulk, the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, Twister… Ride It Out, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, and lastly, my current attraction, Men in Black: Alien Attack.
I’ve attended team member exclusive events, like the team member preview of Diagon Alley last year, before they even opened their doors to the general public. I’ve been chosen by my wand at Ollivander’s (and again and again and again, because I can’t seem to stop needing replacements), I’ve been visited by family and friends and even made new friends at work, and I’ve visited my own friends at work. I’ve helped with proposals, helped people plan their days, given tours of the Hogwarts castle to families who were nice, had people come back to me days or weeks after the first time we met because they saw me at work, ran into friends and old acquaintances… in short, my time at Universal has been nothing but spectacular, and I look forward to what the next year will bring.
It’s been a wild ride, Universal, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Here’s to the next year full of adventures, guests, friends, and the best job in the world.