The Greatest House You Ever Knew

What being Slytherin means to me.

When I first thought to write about this subject, I did what any other Slytherin would do… I Googled my prompt and thought, “I could just reword this already written essay and take full credit. No one would ever know.” Slytherins are crafty like that. Why put in any unnecessary effort when there is a way to still get the job done and get recognized for it? “Those cunning folks use any means to meet their ends.”

But then I found a few things I disagreed with on that list, as any Slytherin would. We are fairly united within our house, but when we have our own individual opinions they will not be altered.

Until now Slytherin was the only house that hadn’t written on this subject. And I thought about this and I know why. Because we don’t care if others understand us or even like us for that matter. We know we’re awesome and don’t feel the need to express it…

… unless we are being directly compared to other houses, that is. Then we get a little defensive. Because Slytherin does not equal Death Eater. Slughorn? Snape? Regulus? All Slytherins that did their part to save the Wizarding World.

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We can keep our cool in stressful situations. (That may or may not be due to causing the chaos.) As Dumbledore noted we have, “a certain disregard for the rules.”

Slytherins are self preserving. It’s not that we don’t want to help save you, we just don’t understand why anyone would risk their own neck to do it.

A Slytherin will not argue with you. They know they are right and will make their opinion known, but they will not debate. This is how you will think you’ve won or that you’ve beaten us down. In truth, we just can’t be bothered to waste any more of our time on you.

“The results validate the deed,” would be a good motto for Slytherin house. We like to win and have the determination and ambition to meet or exceed our goals, even if that means circumnavigating the rules to get there.

Many people think Slytherin are cold or heartless, but that’s only to outsiders. We are fiercely loyal, but that loyalty is earned; friendship much the same. We don’t tend to make friends quickly, taking our time to get to know someone before they can become part of our inner circle. Those that do make it to that level will enjoy our sarcasm and dark humor. One of the marks of the Slytherin is our schadenfreude, or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. (I said we weren’t all Death Eaters, I never said we weren’t all a little bit evil.)

Just don’t piss us off, because we do hold grudges.

All of these things (and more) are what it means to be a Slytherin to me.

Also, we have Merlin. :)

Slug Club Cookout!

Article by Justin Landers of Gryffindor
Photos by Terrea Riggs of Slytherin

Summer time. The temperatures are rising. The sun is out, the water is nice, and the vacation time is plentiful. So, how do you spend that time? With those who you enjoy the company of and care about of course! What better place to spend time together than a beautiful park?

That is exactly what we did on Sunday, July 13th. A group of friends, about 20 people in total, gathered at Bill Frederick Park for good food, games and fun. There was BBQ, Kabobs, cookies, cupcakes, drinks, and games. Plenty of laughs, and stories circulated about the new Diagon Alley area. Ridiculous times with “Cards against Humanity” were involved, and plenty of smiles, all while overlooking a beautiful lake!

Post-picnic a small group headed to Universal to continue to marvel in amazement at the new Diagon Alley area, and ride the new Escape from Gringotts ride.

Overall it was a phenomenal day with amazing people. All four houses were represented well, The weather could not have been better, and the company was fantastic. Special thanks to Micky Christmas Lee and Stephanie Shive for hosting and putting together the BBQ!

Goblins and Dragons and Trains..oh my!

In July of 2014, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando opened it’s bricks to the public for the very first time:

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With that being said, the Dragon made sure to keep Witches, Wizards, and Muggles at bay:

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The Goblins, however, didn’t seem to mind everyone so much (you know, as long as the gold remained untouched and unscathed):

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A word of warning: Be careful about where you turn, otherwise you may find yourself in Knockturn Alley (Luckily, Ashlynn and myself had each other’s backs ;)  )

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Just outside of the gate, The Hogwarts Express awaited on Platform 9 and 3/4 (Unbeknownst to the Muggles at Kings Cross ;) )

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New friendships were even made!

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There is so much do in Diagon Alley. My advice for anyone who is debating whether to go or not: Go..go and have the time of your life. Visit Weasley’s Wizard Weezes and get inspired, or go on over to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and try out a Butterbeer or Lavender flavored ice cream! No matter what you decide to do or how many shops you decide to visit, have the time of your life! Make new friends, be daring..and just be you =)

The Wonderful World of Harry Potter

At approximately 3:30 on Thursday July 3rd, 2014, Universal Studios Orlando soft opened their newest attraction area, Diagon Alley, to the public for the first time.

And I got to be a part of it.


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Rumors had been swirling for days of soft openings. Two days in a row, I anxiously waited with other Slug Club members for even the smallest sign of a soft. Both times were to no avail. So when it finally opened on Thursday, it made all the waiting worth it! Originally, we had only planned to ride the Hogwarts Express, which had been in the throes of soft openings since Tuesday afternoon. It was just impeccable timing, and wicked good luck that Diagon Alley soft opened that day.

Heather, Lauren and I got to the gates of London just as the crowd cheered and the first guests were let in. We ran around, looking for the beginning of the line and within 15 minutes, we were through the queue and standing inside of the London front. Although I really wanted to get a few pictures in front of Grimmauld place and the fountain, we rushed towards the entrance to Diagon Alley. I figured I’d been staring at London for weeks; I needed to get out of the Muggle world!

I started to tear up at the sight of the brick wall entrance. I lost my breath once through the wall, looking ahead at Gringotts and the large dragon atop it, with the Leaky Cauldron on my left and Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes on my right. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, even more amazing than when I saw Hogsmeade for the first time. We first entered Leaky to get some grub and sitting in this iconic location from the books and movies, sipping my butterbeer and surrounded by my friends, I started crying. It was just so perfect, and beautiful, and magical.

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Universal took all of the pitfalls of Hogsmeade and turned them into serious positives in Diagon Alley. Most of the shops have queues outside so that large crowds can be better controlled. The interactive wand stations usually have a cast member present to help with spell-casting. And they introduced a whole slew of new drinks to try like the fishy-green ale (it’s quite….different), Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice (an orange and soda concoction with cinnamon sugar on the rim), Tongue Tying Lemon Squash (a very tart lemonade, that is still delicious) and several different “potions” you can mix in with bottled water. I would recommend that you try it at least once, even though it is like paying $8 for Kool-Aid, the vials are pretty neat keepsakes.

The layout of Diagon Alley also trumps Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade consists of one “road” with the Forbidden Journey in the back. It is the perfect layout for a quaint little village, but is still not the best for traffic flow in a theme park. Diagon Alley has several different pathways throughout area, and makes it feel much more like a bustling big city shopping market. It also feels more spacious and has 2 large covered areas for when it rains: Knockturn Alley and Carkitt Market.  Knockturn Alley is fully air conditioned and kept in perpetual nighttime. Carkitt Market is where they have a stage for Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees to perform, and where they have shows based on stories from the Tales of Beedle the Bard. It is also home to The Hopping Pot and Eternelle’s Elixirs.

The pictures of Diagon Alley just don’t do it justice. It is so much more in person. I noticed a lot of the designs from Mina Lima, who were present at The Celebration of Harry Potter back in January. The whole of Diagon Alley is themed just perfectly. You really are completely immersed in the Wizard world. When we left Diagon Alley to go ride the Hogwarts Express, it was a bit of a jolt to remember that we were actually inside Universal Studios.

We were able to cover most of the shops, including the long line for Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor and dinner at the Leaky Cauldron in about 5 hours. Sadly, the Gringotts ride was not up and running, and we couldn’t do walkthroughs. I bought a new interactive wand (oak) and some parchment from Scribbulus. I also splurged and got the souvenir cup of ice cream, but that will be a one-time only affair (try the Earl Grey and Lavender ice cream!). Several members, including myself, bought Hogwarts Express tickets which are printed in “gold ink.” Some items still on my wish-list are a Skiving Snackbox and the collector’s coin set at the Money Exchange.

All in all, Diagon Alley is a must-see for all avid Harry Potter fans. If you’ve seen Hogsmeade and were impressed by everything there, you’ll be completely blown away in Diagon Alley. Universal just did an incredible job and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for making the wonderful world of Harry Potter a reality.

 

It’s Real To Us: Diagon Alley Preview

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It’s been a busy and emotional week for members of the Central Florida Slug Club.  Many of our members have been apart of the much talked about #POTTERWATCH movement, patiently (and not so patiently) waiting for a chance to preview the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Since opening July 3rd in preview mode, 44 of the Slug Club members have already visited numerous times, getting familiarized with the new area and taking in all that it has to offer before the muggles invade by the thousands on grand opening day, July 8th!

The general consensus of the group is complete adoration!  We applaud the folks at Universal for staying true to the magical and cozy feeling of the Wizarding World as depicted in the book and the movies.  We were all truly moved with emotions when we first laid eyes on Diagon Alley.

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Here are the things we absolutely love:

1.  Total immersion – Once you pass into London and beyond the brick wall entry way you are truly transported into another realm.  There were times we forgot we were actually inside Universal Studios and exiting to London was a bit of a shock.  We got the feeling that perhaps we should put away our wands or else the ‘Muggles’ (non-wizarding folk) will find out.   It became just that real for us.
2.  Butter Beer soft serve – It’s divine. We also really appreciated the variety of other ice cream flavors offered just as they were described in the book.
3.  Knockturn Alley – This area was loved by all, not just the Slytherins in the club.  It’s covered, it’s air-conditioned, and it’s just freakin’ cool to walk around in the dark.
4.  Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees – WOW! This show is amazing.  None of us were expecting it to take the direction of a jazzy/speakeasy  vibe and we were enamored after the very first show. (Soundtrack please!!!)
5.  Interactive Wands – We’re grown-ups with wands that actually work.  We couldn’t be happier!
6.  Booze on the Hogwarts Express – The train is just perfect! We appreciate being able to journey as Hogwarts alum on the Hogwarts Express with our adult beverages.  We appreciate being able to buy them in line even more!
7.  Interactive Gringott’s Goblin – Such a cool feature to have the Goblin answer your questions.
8.  Potions Elixers – It’s such fun and they really do taste good.
9.  Gringott’s Dragon – She’s just marvelous.   The roar is the absolute best.  We never tire of watching it or taking pictures of it.
10.  Architecture – The detail of every little nook and cranny didn’t go unnoticed by our group!  We are devoted fans who have seen the movies more times than anyone could count.  Nailed it!
11.  Fwooper and the kneazle in Menagerie – Kudos for really bringing the Fantastical Beasts to life.
12.  Sirius’ motor bike – Very cool and one of the elements we actually hadn’t seen any spoilers about.  It really was a surprise to most of us.
13.  Butter Beer Bar – We just want to stand inside and inhale that celestial smell all day.
14.  Sticky Toffee Pudding – This dessert at the Leaky Cauldron is amazeballs!
15.  The look and feel of the Leaky Cauldron – It’s great for large groups like ours or for a cozy meal by yourself.  It just feels right.

We loved many things, but there are a few things that the club would love to see addressed.   With the grand opening looming just hours away, we know they won’t be in place for tomorrow. Hopefully Universal will take heed to some of them in order to make for an even more enjoyable experience for their guests.

1.  More seating throughout Diagon Alley – There are a few benches and the tables in front of the Hopping Pot, but it would be nice to see more seating in the Carkitt Market area where it’s covered to enjoy the show or sip on your elixir or eat your ice cream from Florean’s.

2.  Covered seating for Hopping Pot – The bar area has a good number of tables but they are exposed to the elements.  It’s no good enjoying a beer when it’s raining on your head or when the sun is beating down on you.  We love the covered seating behind the Three Broomsticks.  Take a page out of that book and perhaps add some umbrellas.
3.  Seedy bar in Knockturn Alley – We think Knockturn alley needs a bar, perhaps serving Firewhisky or some other more naughty concoctions.  We’ve even got a name suggestion, The Spiny Serpent.
4.  Specialty diet options- Many of our club members are vegetarians, vegans,or have health related conditions. It was very difficult for some to find options  at The Leaky Cauldron that they too could enjoy.  There were a few, but not nearly enough.   It would be nice to note the gluten free menu items as well to make it esier for guests to decipher.
5.  Covered waiting area for ice cream – We just can’t see the line for Florean Fortescue’s ever being short enough to not extend outside.  It’s so good!  It’s no fun to be rained on while waiting in line.   We wish that there could be awning extended there to cover the line.
6.  Wand customization – We think it would be very cool to be able to select the core and the material for the wand and perhaps allow some sort of customization, something like Build-a-Bear.
7.  It rained for several days during the soft opening period and the slick stones of the alley did not bode well in the rain.  Even London was extra slick.  We hope Universal can sand the surfaces to help prevent some of the slip and falls we’ve already seen.  Warning sigs about the slippery conditions would also be really helpful so guests will take extra caution.
8.  Last but definitely not least, more merchandise!  We know it sounds crazy because the bulk of Diagon Alley is already comprised of stores.   However, we didn’t find the selection of merchandise in several of the stores to be that much different than what can be found in other areas of the park.

We want to give Universal even more of our money, so here’s how they can get it:

  • Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees soundtrack for purchase and posters for sale
  • More witchy merchandise in Madam Malkins, witch hats other than McGonagalls. Many things were on display that we inquired about and were told it was only for display but true fans would love to be able to purchase them.
  • The quidditch store needs more quidditch gear, i.e. quidditch robes,Holy Head Harpies t-shirt, and more house representation other than Gryffindor.   We understand Gryffindor is the most common house, but perhaps having the option to order merchandise right there on site for a different house would be a great feature to offer.
  • Star charts for sale in Wiseacres

Many members of the Slug Club are fortunate enough to live locally and have annual passes so we will continue to be frequent inhabitants of both wizarding worlds.  The last few days have truly been magical.  Now off to rest, before the big grand opening tomorrow!

Submitted by Slug Club member Lauren Gay, http://www.outdoorsydiva.com

July Meetups

Summer Cookout
July 13th, 12:00PM

Welcome Witches & Wizards to this summer’s sensational barbeque! Join us as we enjoy kabobs, burgers, and perhaps even a game of volleyball or two!

The cookout is to take place at Bill Frederick Park overlooking the lake under one of the nearby pavilions. Guest’s should keep in mind that no alcohol or fireworks are allowed at the park. Parking for regular vehicles is $4 for the day (larger vehicles have a higher price which may include **per person fees) though otherwise there is no entrance fee. While we are not allowed to bring our own grills there will be quite a few grills available by the pavilions.

**Please keep in mind that this event is a potluck. Please sign up on the event page with what you would be interested in bringing so that we can better organize the event.

RSVP: Facebook or Meetup.com

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Book Club: Lev Grossman’s The Magician
July 21, 7:00PM

For the next book club meeting we will be reading NY times bestseller The Magicians by Lev Grossman!

“Quentin Coldwater is a high school senior, but he’s still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read when he was little, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, everything in his real life just seems gray and colorless. That changes when Quentin finds himself admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery.

But magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure and meaning he thought it would—until he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. The Magicians is a grand, glittering fantasy that reinterprets the grand tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling in a brilliant novel for adults.”

Come meet with us to discuss the book, enjoy great company or even just to grab a drink and hang out! The venue was a huge hit at our last book club meetup so it will be the same time and place.

RSVP: Facebook or Meetup.com

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Unofficial Meetups for the month:

Some of our members will also be gathering for the official opening of Diagon Alley! This is an unofficial meetup; the Heads of House are not coordinating the event. In order to participate, please join the Facebook group and communicate with members on the event located here.

LeakyCon is a multi-fandom convention with it’s roots in the Harry Potter fandom. It’s taking place July 30th through August 3rd at the Orange County Convention Center on International Drive. The Central Florida Slug Club and Tampa Bay’s Portkey to Magic will be having a joint meetup at some point (we’re still waiting for scheduling information from the convention organizers.) We’ll update all forums and social media sites with information as we receive it. If in doubt, check the events located on Facebook and Meetup.com for further information. The Slug Club will also be doing a photo scavenger hunt during the con. Information for that can be found on Facebook or Meetup.com as well.

King’s Cross Experience

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Written by Mark Eaimsirakul, Slug Club Slytherin

Where to start about King Cross here in London… Well, many of you may know that I am a graduate of Hogwarts and now working for the famous muggle, Frank Kincaid, but I still visit time to time to teach first years a special lesson on the History of Hogwarts. To begin, you must have a ticket (Park to Park ticket or annual pass) to even enter Kings Cross station. You can upgrade your ticket to the right of the entrance if you do not have the correct ticket. A Porter will greet you and help you into the appropriate queue after your ticket has been checked. The first part of the queue is a long stretch area with posters about London. One of the poster is for Divine Magic perfume. I remember being told that Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore stood in front of that poster once… (but it can all be just a rumor). Further up in the queue is a grab and go stand for Muggles to grab something to eat on the train. This is also the area where your luggage is kept prior to departure.

You will soon approach a staircase that will lead you to the various platforms (just ask a Porter if you need the lift). The platform is somewhat dim and loud with the sounds of trains. Now here is the tricky part: you need to to go on platform 9 3/4 but you don’t see it right? just walk through the pillar thats marked “platform 9” to get there. I suggest running into it of its your first time. Once you walk into it you will arrive to platform 9 3/4. The first thing you will see is the Hogwarts express greeting young witches and wizards on there journey. A student left some of his luggage and pet owl in the area you wait for a station master assign you a cabin.

You are able to board the Hogwarts Express once you receive a cabin assignment. Each cabin can hold up to 8. Once seated, your journey to Hogsmeade will begin with a beautiful view of London. Through the frosted glass you can see students walking around to find a cabin to sit in. Once you leave the city and enter the countryside you will pass Malfoy Manor. NOW BE CAREFUL! Dementors may try to enter your cabin so have your wand at the ready! Once you pass the countryside you will arrive to the black lake and dark forest with a great view of Hogwarts Castle. At this point its only moments till you arrive to Hogmeade Station.

Its a magical journey and I heard that Muggles are able to visit platform 9 3/4! Please come visit King Cross and the magical Hogwarts Express. Maybe you may run into me there ;)