Tips & Tricks for Universal Orlando’s A Celebration of Harry Potter

It’s January, and you know what that means!? The fourth annual A Celebration of Harry Potter (aCoHP) is just around the corner! So pack your bags, clean your robes, plan your cosplays, and make sure your trunks are Niffler free because aCoHP starts on Friday, January 27.

After four years of celebrating Harry Potter, we cannot wait to see what Universal Orlando and Warner Brothers have in store for this year’s event. While we wait patiently, why not share some tips with some new members of the Central Florida Slug Club.

  1. Get there early on Friday. If you don’t happen to work on Friday or just so happen to get off early, I highly suggest getting to Universal Orlando as soon as the park opens.
  2. Go to the Expo first. Although the Harry Potter™ Expo is open all weekend for the Celebration, I recommend going there first to do everything it has to offer. Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days for the Expo. Plus, you’ll really want to see the panels those days.
  3. Stop by MinaLima. In the Harry Potter™ Expo, you’ll find a bunch of fantastic things to see at the MinaLima booth. From creating The Quibbler to The New York Ghost, MinaLima helped make the wizarding world a reality with their graphic design skills and visual graphic style. Niky Sama suggested getting their “collectible pin as soon as possible.” It’s cute and free! Plus, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are an absolute pleasure to meet.
  4. If you want it, buy it. If you see something in the Expo you really like, buy it. They could run out of that very same item the second you walk away. Especially, the special event items. So don’t hesitate. I know from first-hand experience. I waited too long to buy a keychain one year and it sold out.
  5. Buy a portable charger. You’ll thank me for this. Trust me. I bought a charger from amazon for $20. It was the best idea I ever had. You just have to remember to charge it every night! Bryanna Plantier gave this very same advice. She said, “A good one is better, but a $4 stick will work too! It [The Celebration of Harry Potter] can have long days.”
  6. You don’t have to buy a package. You can buy a day pass or use your annual pass to do everything. You name it, panels, discussions, etc. A Slug Club member said, “If you live locally, don’t have to get the package. You get to do the same thing without it.” However, this year I’ll be a package holder.
  7. Get in line 30 minutes early. Now if you were to ask Universal Orlando (UO) Team Members, they’d tell you not to get in line early. I’ll say that I’ve gotten to the line 30 minutes before and seen a small line. I find getting in line 30 minutes before beneficial, and I’ve gotten to see all the panels. *Warning* If a UO team member tells you not to start a line, don’t start a line. Remember to be respectful.
  8. Plan what you want to do to before the celebration starts. Know what you’re dying to see after they release the schedule. It saves time, and you can plan how you’re going to get there. Last year, Universal used two stages, the Music Plaza Stage and the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater.
  9. Remember to have fun. Be silly, dress in your school robes, show your house pride or cosplay. I asked Meg Stump what her favorite part of the aCoHP is. She replied, “The fans. Easily. No one judges you because you’re all doing the same ridiculous things.” Stump also added she “had the most fun with friends she’d met through the Slug Club or through Potter Watch.” So just remember to be yourself and have fun during this year’s A Celebration of Harry Potter!

Bonus Tip: Turn on Tweet and Facebook notifications for Universal Orlando. You never know what magically things can happen during the celebration.

 

For more information regarding A Celebration of Harry Potter, feel free to visit Universal Orlando Resort’s official website.

 

A Celebration of Harry Potter over the years:

 

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Slug Club members get sorted

Celebration of Harry Potter Social Media Meetup 2016

By Megan Stump

 

Harry Potter Celebration is one of my favorite times of year, and this year was no exception.  In 2015 I was invited to the Social Media meet-up by a friend. I didn’t think anything could top that. I was able to meet James and Oliver Phelps, talk with MinaLima and Alan Gilmore about Diagon Alley, and ride Escape from Gringotts basically by ourselves.  It was a fantastic time, and Celebration was basically a dream.

 

Then about a month ago, Universal announced another Social Media meet-up. I entered on the first go, and in a few days I was notified that I won.  Immediately I decided on bringing my friend Ann Marie since Celebration is kind of our “thing”.  I had no idea what to expect and, even with a second email, all I knew is that we were going to be in Universal for almost five hours with a lunch break.

 

Social Media Meetup Selfie

 

We showed up to the front of Universal at 7:30AM to get our credentials and managed to be the first ones there. I figured there was going to be a long line like some of the Disney meet-ups, but no one else was around.  We came back around 8AM and met up with Meg and Kara from Slug Club, as well as some other friends that we knew were going to be there.  At 8:25 we were brought into the park through a special entrance with the Universal Orlando Resort (UOR) social media team and two VIP tour guides. It was then we were told that we were going to be taken through the day of a Hogwarts student. Off we went towards the Expo entrance.

 

When we arrived, we were told we were going to be sorted into our Hogwarts house. If you’ve never done or seen the Sorting Hat ceremony, a Universal team member brings you up and asks you some questions about yourself. If you have a specific house you feel tied to, they will ask you that as well. If you don’t, you usually end up with either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. After we were all sorted, we took the opportunity of no one else around to take a crazy selfie with the Sorting hat and its attendant!

 

  Slug Club members get sorted

 

The tour guides took us to the London Waterfront where we talked about Grimmauld Place and then about the entrance to Leaky Cauldron and why we end up going through the brick wall to the side of Leaky (purely capacity issues). We then walked into Diagon where we were taken over to the backside of Ollivander’s and divided into two groups to go through the wand experience. Meg was with us and ended up being chosen! Usually at the end of the wand ceremony, the assistant tells you about your “options” but this day we were just walked through the shop with the chosen students getting to keep their wands. I admit I was kind of bummed at first, but it wasn’t for long.

 

They took us straight into Madame Malkin’s where we were told we were there to be fitted for our robes. I couldn’t believe it but we were all handed robes based on the houses we were sorted into at the beginning.  Each of us was also given a wand based on our houses. Gryffindors received Ginny Weasley’s wand, Ravenclaw received Luna Lovegood’s, Slytherin were given Severus Snape’s and Hufflepuff… Fleur Delacour…? We still haven’t figured out why that was the wand for the ‘Puffs, but hey…free wand! The “students’ that had been chosen were given the wand that had chosen them in Ollivander’s. I’m pretty sure I’m still in shock from this. At this point I did the standard Megan thing and burst into tears. One of the UOR social media team members gave me a hug that was greatly needed. At this point, the day wasn’t even half over and it had been the best meetup I had ever been to.

 

Lunch took place at the Leaky Cauldron of course. Each of us received a Gilly Water, an entrée and any beverage that was non-alcoholic. I could have tried any dish, but I stuck with good old fish and chips and my favorite Wizarding World drink – the Lemon Squash.  (Yes I love it more than butterbeer. It’s more refreshing and I can drink it without getting on a sugar high!)

 

 Waiting for the Hogwarts Express

 

After lunch, we were taken over to Islands of Adventure by way of the Hogwarts Express. Our group had our own car and had an exciting moment when the Dementors showed up.  I’m fairly certain the cars on each side of us could hear us screaming.  We were clearly having way too much fun. When we got over to Hogsmeade station, we thought we would be heading over to Hogwarts but they brought us to the front of the park.  Near Confisco’s and the Crescent Moon Bakery is a little gate that is the entrance to the Navigator’s Club.  It usually takes a special event to get up there and, if you watched the webcasts that the cast recorded that weekend, that’s where they were filming! We went upstairs and were given a wand master class by Paul Harris who was the wand choreographer for the movies. He kept telling us to cast WITH VENOM to the point our friend Felipe sent his camera’s lens case flying with all the venom he could muster.

 

We were asked for a group photo with Paul Harris and, as we were all scattering, Matt Lewis, Evanna Lynch and Rupert Grint came into the room!  We were all in shock, but I decided to open my big mouth and reminded Matt that we had had a conversation during Potterwatch in summer 2014. They all had us get together for a photo. I was lucky enough to be standing right behind Rupert and Paul.  After the photo was over, I asked Rupert if I could get a selfie before they left, and quickly snapped it before the stars were whisked away.  It happened so fast! I was the only one to get any photos or anything. I could barely walk down the stairs I was shaking so hard, but managed to make it without falling.

 

 Megan with Rupert Grint

 

They took us over to Hogwarts and we rode Forbidden Journey for our last bit of the event.  Afterwards, we were taken to the Three Broomsticks and given a Chocolate Frog to combat the sad feeling the Dementors left us with during the ride as well as a souvenir stein filled with cold butterbeer.  Before our last picture in front of Hogwarts, we were given a 1-day 2 park ticket and VIP express passes for the rest of the day.
For as many Disney and Universal blog meetups I have attended, this one was truly the most amazing.  I still can’t believe that we were given this opportunity. I was so glad that I was able to share it with people who absolutely loved Harry Potter as much as I do! I can’t thank the Universal Social Media team enough for this event. I’m happy that I wasn’t the only Slug Club member who got to experience this!

 

Butterbeer

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2015: Felix Felicis

For the second year in a row, I attended A Celebration of Harry Potter 2015 at Universal Orlando with the Central Florida Slug Club, the largest active adult Harry Potter fan club in the Southeastern United States, and one of the largest in the country.  While last year was memorable, this year was epic!  Everything went right for me.  It was unreal.  I don’t know who slipped Felix Felicis potion into my morning orange juice, but God bless them.   Luck was on my side.  Here are my luckiest moments of this magical weekend. Continue Reading…

Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter Celebration Social Media Meet-Up

Wow. Say that five times fast! (Celebration Social Media Meet-Up, Celebration Social Media M…)

I’ve had many people ask me how I was chosen for such an event. Universal Orlando posted on their blog this contest, which required you to tweet them with, “I wish to enter my vault! #HPCelebration.” Having the worst luck in the world when it comes to contests, I sent my tweet, but wasn’t holding my breath for anything. I didn’t notice there were additional ways to enter through Facebook and Instagram until it was waaaaay too late. But guess what?! I was one of the few selected and was told I could bring a guest with me! Slytherin HoH Heather was happy to join in, thus making this a pureblood privilege event.

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A Celebration of Harry Potter Recap

Universal Orlando hosted its second annual Harry Potter Celebration over the weekend. We heard announcements over the summer that they were bringing the Celebration back, and were now offering a special annual passholder vacation package. Every passholder I know wouldn’t be caught dead purchasing a vacation package that included tickets to the theme parks, since we already get unlimited entry for the year, so when I saw that they were offering less expensive packages for those who already have theme park tickets, I knew I wanted to purchase one. The packages went on sale in August and sold out the first day, but I got one.

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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 signs 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, HolyHead 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

Harry Potter Weekend

Submitted by Slug Club Ravenclaw Leashie Vee

My Kingdom Hearts ringtone sung out through the darkness like a special welcome to the new day. From under the many layers of blankets, I searched with my hand across the mattress for my phone to silence it. The cellphone’s cool surface brushed past my fingertips and groggily, I plucked it from the sheets and turned it off. “Six A.M,” the words expelled from me with a sigh. Today was the day I had been planning all week. I would sit in line for hours–in fact…the whole day if I had to just for the Harry Potter Tribute. Quickly I got out of the bed and into the cold thin air of my bedroom. I cursed under my breath at my roommate for not using the heater as I shuffled my way into the bathroom to get ready.

 I already had an idea of what to wear for this joyous day: my Ravenclaw t-shirt, black jeans and, of course, a sweater underneath my t-shirt. The weather forecast predicted a very cold day ahead of me. Nevertheless, I was prepared with a bag I packed the night before with a blanket and a sheet to sit on across the cold pavement. After getting ready for the day, I managed to convince my roommate to drop me off at Citywalk. So with my large bag, and after a quick stop at a gas station for snacks, i arrived in Citywalk. To me Citywalk and the Universal Studios in general didn’t astound me because I am use to seeing it every day. I worked at Universal Studios, so the excitement of rides didn’t thrill me…but the faces of both Weasley twins tickled my mind.

I arrived both breathless and sore from carrying that infernal heavy bag at the Universal Studios gates. It was now eight A.M. The park would be opening in about an hour and I wanted to be the first one in. There were very few people around in line. As I waited, my mind drifted back to Halloween Horror Nights. I remembered waiting under the Universal Studios arch for three hours in the sun just so I could be the very first one entering on the opening of Halloween Horror Nights. I also wanted to see the zombie actors viciously try to tear apart the front Universal gates with their grunts and clawing. It was worth it in the end with the video footage I had. Finally, we were let in. I darted to the music plaza stage and found it devoid of human life. There were just endless iron barricades. I wondered to myself if it was worth it to wait an entire day when no one was here. From the corner of my eye, I found a supervisor and quickly asked him where the best place to wait in line for the Harry Potter Tribute. I wanted the closest spot to the stage as possible.

Surprised and baffled, he pointed to an empty area by Rip Rocket and told me the Event team members would start loading from there. Instantly I thanked him and rushed over to claim my spot. But as I made my journey to the other side of the Music plaza, I noticed a mother and daughter aimlessly looking around with question in their eyes. I asked them if they were here for the Harry Potter Tribute, and they both admitted so in unison. Happily, I shared my secret and had them follow me. We arrived and made camp with blankets and conversations about each other. I discovered they were from South Carolina, and both were at the grand opening of Harry Potter’s Wizarding World. I didn’t work at Universal during the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; I was actually back home in Palm Bay, Florida, looking for work. In fact, I didn’t even like Harry Potter back then. They both looked at me confused until I explained to them of my story.

I told them that over my childhood I had two very religious parents who viewed Harry Potter as the entertainment of the devil because it had witchcraft. I explained about the time at the library when I checked out Goblet of Fire and my parents instantly made me return it that same night. I even told them about how they confronted the school board over my reading list containing the Harry Potter series. I was soon brainwashed against the magical experience. My sisters both would buy the books and movies and sneak them into our house. They loved Harry Potter. But since my parents didn’t approve, I didn’t want to get involved at all. I sworn my life to despising Harry Potter because of my parents’ wishes. That was until my parents moved to Guatemala to be missionaries and left me to fend myself. I had just lost my job after their move, and I became homeless with poverty following so close behind. I have moved countless of times looking for work for almost two years until a friend invited me to move in with her in Orlando. I applied for work at Universal Studios and got the job. But it wasn’t until my coworker Kelsey invited me out to play in the parks when I was introduced to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The sight of the snow-covered buildings and the small little shops brought me into a magical realm I could only dream of. I was awestruck. It was the magic I needed to get out of the black hole I was in. I felt all of my worries and pain arise from me in surrender of the warm magic around me. I started to cry as I wandered throughout Hogsmeade to the large castle of Hogwarts ahead of me. That lit my obsession to know who this Harry Potter truly was. I rented every Harry Potter movie from the library and read the first book. I was hungry to know more as it numbed my pain.

They both smiled at me and told me it was an inspiring story. Jackie, a spunky woman with a cheerful disposition from Nova Scotia, Canada, soon joined us. She showed us her awesome Harry Potter tattoos. My favorite one was on her forearm; it read “Mudblood” like a cut etched into her skin. I recalled seeing this type of tattoo in the “Order of the Phoenix” movie from the evil quill Hogwarts’ students were made to use as a punishment. We all made camp together on our blankets, just chatting the morning away in the frigid cold air. Soon a few people from Brazil joined us who taught me some Portuguese phrases. One girl from Brazil became a close friend of mine for the day. Her name was Marcella. She was a Slytherin and wore a green Slytherin branded jacket and headband to prove it. She had the new bounded copy of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” in her hand. She told me about her country taxed everything unfairly and about how she purchased most of her Harry Potter merchandise from the United States so she could have them without high costs or the chance of it being stolen in the mail. I felt blessed at that moment to have lived in the United States without that type of problem.

By the end of the day around six, people gathered around us in small camps, but we kept our spot closest to the stage behind the Special Guest package area. I noticed around me that a lot of people had scarfs to represent their Hogwarts’ houses. I wanted one. I always knew that deep down I was a Ravenclaw even though I did not take the Pottermore test. I sacrificed some grocery money and bought one. I was one happy Ravenclaw to be able to represent with more than a t-shirt.

It was now time for the tribute, and we were excited as the lights lit up the stage. Jackie and I both had tweeted the Harry Potter celebrities throughout the day and requested a shout out for dedication. We both looked at each other with high hopes. The host welcomed Kazu Kibuishi, the creator of the new book covers of the Harry Potter series. I was astounded from his miraculous story about surviving his coma and leaning how to walk and draw again after. It was truly inspiring. Then just before my eyes, one after another a celebrity from Harry Potter graced the stage. Matthew Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps, Evanna Lynch, Devon Murray, and Mark Williams all took their seats in front of the audience. I could feel my heart racing in shock that the Weasley Twins were not even twenty feet away from me! They were interviewed by the host with a sea of questions that no one could resist laughing at when a witty answer was given. By the end of the tribute, the host shared with us the DiagonAlley blueprints and secrets. I was excited to see that the interior of the train would  look exact from the movie! In closing to the interviews, James Phelps called out to the crows “I just got a message on Twitter. I know there have been people here since 6 AM, and I wanted to thank you all for being supportive and coming out for us.” My heart stopped…James Phelps got our tweet and gave us a shout out. It was a moment of bliss for all of us as we cheered. The Harry Potter tribute came to an end but it began an amazing weekend ahead.

Although I had to work Saturday, I got the privilege to go with my coworkers Kelsey and Jackie to the Wand Combat show and the Harry Potter Expo, where we were joined by my coworker Evee and my roommate. After watching countless of robed Harry Potter fans swishing their wands in combat mode in sync to Paul Harris’s wand lessons, a friend that I met after the wand show was selected on stage with a handful of others to battle Mark Williams and Paul Harris. She was dressed as Bellatrix. Once the wand show was over, I darted to the stage with my poster in hand hoping Paul Harris would sign it. He was signing everything around him as fans hungrily pushed forth their items. But to my dismay even with my poster inches from his face, he didn’t sign it. My coworker Kelsey had her poster signed though, which was enough for me. I was happy for her. We made our way then to Three Broomsticks, where I met the girl dressed like Bellatrix. She had the most amazing story about how her boyfriend proposed to her during the Harry Potter weekend.

Overall, my Harry Potter weekend was filled with meeting new people and learning more about Harry Potter. I created a Pottermore account shortly after, and became a part of the Ravenclaw house. This weekend was what I needed to learn about how to live. Even though I didn’t meet any celebrities or had any special experiences onstage, I had my own special experience with meeting new and awesome people from all around the world who share the same inspiration of Harry Potter as I do.

A Celebration of Harry Potter

What a great weekend at the Potter Celebration at Universal Studios!

Group Shot at the Front Gate

One of my friends asked me what my favorite part of the event was, and I honestly don’t know.

    • Walking into the Starbucks where it was complete CHAOS because there were around 20 of us waiting at the front entrance
    • Our huge line of robed wizards navigating our way to the Expo
    • sdlfkjasd;lfjds DUELING. I missed the actual dueling class, but the mini class inside the expo was fantastic. It was a little section where they put two people in front of mirrors with the instructor (Paul Harris, combat choreographer from some of the movies!) giving instructions via pre-recorded video and a Universal team member helping out from behind.
    • We now have a Slug Club flag that is only one million times better than the flags carried by all of the tour groups visiting (and I must say, our coordinating outfits are cooler.)
    • Warm butterbeer! It’s been over a week and I still crave it. It has the same consistency as a good hot chocolate, but with a flavor similar to the butterbeer topping. It also includes that oh-so-tasty topping we all know and love, so the combination of warm butterbeer and cool topping is just perfect as you’re drinking it. THIS is what I pictured when reading the books!
    • The stars! …okay, so I missed out on each opportunity to see them, but I lived vicariously through everyone else’s stories.
    • WE WERE IN THE POTTERMORE INSIDER. That’s us, second picture down! If you scroll even further, you’ll see a few more members of the Slug Club sporadically throughout.
    • The group pictures! (We look gorgeous, if I do say so myself.)
      Group shot 1
    • The Muggle Wall – This was our opportunity to write down what the Harry Potter series means to us, and to read what other people had to say. Reading each entry was quite touching, with a number of people writing about how the series helped them through a rough time in their lives or how fandom helped them feel like they belong for the first time.
      Muggle Wall

This was also the weekend where we learned the value of a backup plan, as first the bingo game finished way quicker than I expected, as we had way more people than expected meeting and staying with us throughout the day. We also discovered that they closed off the back of The Three Broomsticks, also known as The Slug Club’s traditional meeting spot. We kept trying to go claim our tables at various points in the day only to find that they *moved the tables out* (apparently our traditional tables aren’t good enough for the stars, as fancy couches were moved in for them to sit on. Oh well, they provide us with an amazing weekend and some fun movies over the years, I guess we can give up our meeting spot. So instead we gathered in front of the Hog’s Head, a convenient location for us to go grab more butterbeer throughout the meeting, and headed up for one last ride on Forbidden Journey before the park closed for the evening.

Group shot 2

Thank you to everyone who joined us throughout the day, whether they be club members, organizers from other groups, new members, or even just random fans from around the world that we started conversations with over our mutual love of this amazing series.