Friday, 2 January 2015

Hermione Granger at Gloucester Cathedral

Three Americans and a girl from Singapore in a car traveling through Cotswolds...

It isn't the start of a bad joke, or even a good joke, it is the start of yet another adventure.

Between the end of term and Christmas, we had a week off and no one wanted to just sit at home, or in London for that matter. Our friend and classmate from Arizona, Michelle, proposed the idea that we go slay a dragon and take back the Lonely Mountain as our own!

Okay, no, she didn't propose that. She said she was going to rent a car and drive around the Cotswolds for a day trip. Through talking with the other three people willing to sign on to the journey, that day trip turned into an over night trip. The car was soon rented, the hotel booked, and I began my research on what I wanted to see in the Cotswolds.

The area of the Cotwolds is a vast, idyllic countryside slightly North and a lot West of London, from about Oxford almost to Cardiff. It is made up of many towns, all fairly small in size, with even smaller roads. It is also made up of a lot of sheep or 'ships' as pronounced with a Singaporean accent.

Being perfectly English and spanning over 8 films, trying to find all the filming locations in the Harry Potter films would be a feat. I knew they filmed all over, so it was no surprise when I discovered a somewhat iconic filming location for the films located in Gloucester. The Gloucester Cathedral is home of the beautifully ornate Hogwarts Halls, and final resting place of King Edward II. 

That was pretty much the extent of my research.

Dark and early one Monday morning, I met up with Alana and SiRui and we went to Heathrow to meet up with Michelle. We then took a bus, walked to the car rental, and were on our way. We spent all day driving from town to town, taking in the glorious image of the sunny English countryside. Many pictures were taken, many towns were driven through, and soon the sun had set at 4 pm. We didn't have to check in to our hotel yet, and not knowing what else to do, I offered my Gloucester Cathedral idea and we were off.

All three of them were delighted to discover that this was a Harry Potter film sight, and they quickly put two and two together and realized the reasoning behind my choice of wardrobe. Being half an hour until closing, we were the only ones touring the Cloisters. I would have liked to have seen them during the day, as they were lined with stain-glass windows, but night time was still as magical.

We walked around, took pictures, and enjoyed looking at the ornate ceilings. Soon we had to be on our way and after getting turned around a bit, we eventually made it to our hotel. Only it wasn't a hotel, it was a manor. It was gorgeous and had delightful room names. SiRui and I stayed in the King Arthur room while Michelle and Alana stayed in the King Charles room. 

The Manor grounds were amazing, both at night in the fog as we explored it after dinner at a local pub, and during sunrise as I did on my own. Wandering these grounds at these unusual times made me even more feel like Hermione. It was brilliant.

It was short notice, and unexpected, but it was amazing and I had a great adventure with great company.


Loki in Asgard

I had just begun work on my Loki costume when Disney announced their Rock Your Disney Side, 24 hour day at the Disney parks. This would be their third 24 hour day, and having gone to first one, I knew how tiring and crowded that day could be, but then there was the further information that this was also a day where guests could wear costumes. I was grabbed, hook, line, and sinker. 
Yes, technically, this event happened before I had even thought up this blog, but it still applies. Well, at least I think it does.

Of course, this day fell on a slightly tricky day for me. It was my last semester of university so I was busy with finishing that, and I would be living back with my parents for the summer before moving to London to further my studies. It also was the first day of Fanime, an anime convention that I always went to and I didn't want to miss too many days of it. 

Magically (Disney Magic), I was able to go along with my friend, Brittany, all as a graduation gift. So between studying for finals and packing up my apartment, I was able to mostly finish Loki, and before I knew it, we were on our way. Loki took up the entire inside of my carry on luggage so we joked about what the expressions on the TSA's faces would be if I had to open it up. I didn't have too, sadly.

We arrived the day before the 24 hour day, so we wandered around Downtown Disney before checking into our hotel. I awkwardly made a Build-A-Bear Thor 'Bear' Odinson. If you have ever seen the process of building a bear you would know what I mean by awkward. That evening was spent watching The Incredible Hulk and a marathon of X-Men movies on television while I typed away at my final script due the next night at midnight. I also finished sewing some things on my Loki costume and curled Brittany's hair for her Agent Carter costume the next day. Let the image of Loki curling Agent Peggy Carter's hair seek into your brain.
Unfortunately, I didn't finish my script until 2 in the morning. People had been queuing up to get into the park since midnight. Deciding sleep was more important, we slept for three hours before getting up and getting dressed in time to make it into the park at 6:00 when it opened. 

Head this warning: never, NEVER try to spend 24 hours in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on 3 hours of sleep. It won't end well.

Our costumes were very well received. We were thrilled every time someone recognized Brittany, as Agent Cater wasn't as mainstream as she is about to be. There was a guest dressed as Belle who instantly became Brittany's fan girl over her costume.

Found a photo of me riding the carousel taken by Kelly Michelle.
But of course, Loki's army is every where, and ever strong. There was one character host cast member that was obsessed in letting me know how much he loves my costume. A guest dressed as Snow White took a picture with me while kneeling. And someone even thought I was Tom Hiddleston at one point. Silly, I know, but at least that means compliments to my costume.

We went to our breakfast at Ariel's Grotto then finally went to the place we had been waiting to go to all day. I know it doesn't usually get this kind of visitation desire, but when you put a passage to Asgard in it and a Cap meet and greet, of course we would want to get to Innoventions as soon as it opened.
First was Thor. There was a 40 minute wait for us, so we waited, next to a guest dressed as Hawkeye, and we all took a nap while in the queue. We made it into the Bifrost room, and soon were standing before Thor.

I was ready for some witty, brotherly repartee, what I wasn't ready for was speechlessness. On a past visit, we had dubbed Thor, Mighty Mumbles, but he wasn't even mumbling. And when he did finally speak, all he talked about was how shiny my costume was. Then looking at his costume, and the throne room and how shiny it was, I pointed out that I fit right in, appropriately.

We took some photos before moving onto the Cap line, where we napped some more before I pretty much had the exact same conversation about shininess with him. Although he also did admit that the costume was a bit tight. Loki already knows this.
What was great were the photos of Brittany as Agent Carter with Captain America. So perfect.

At the end of our time in the park, with the intent of returning at 3 am but ultimately falling under a Sleeping Beauty spell instead, we visited Thor once more. This visit to Asgard was much more enjoyable and what I had been expecting.

While waiting, the cast members were hesitant about letting me back in Asgard, which caused guests to chuckle, and when the narration mentioned Loki in the Bifrost Room, the cast member directed everyone's attention to me and I innocently put my hands up. We were last to take photos with Thor so we had time this go around to make witty retorts back and forth. Thor even tried a Loki impression, and why Loki sounded like a high pitched woman in his impression I will never know. This time it also sort of felt like I wasn't a guest but like I was a character you could meet and greet.

We finished the visit with one last back and forth ending with Loki winning and a thunderous Thor laugh.

"Have fun back on Midgard."
Sly, Loki smirk. "I'll be sure to say 'hi' to Jane Foster for you."
Thor dipped his head back and let out a single, loud, "HA!"


P.S. The next day we flew back home, I dawned my Loki costume again, and I made it in time for the Fanime Mavel/Dc gathering and the Disney Extended gathering.

For a food perspective of this venture, check out my Disney Eats Blog!