Going Home, 2018

Written By: Jennifer L. Weber

Photos By: Maggie Wang & Melissa P.

Sept 1st, 2018

Back to school is a rush of buying supplies, getting uniforms in check, and making sure that you bought the correct copy of Advanced Potions. (The old editions are numbered differently and may have a wonky spell or two in them.) Once your supplies are all in check, you get the distinct joy of running trolley-first into a wall and to be greeted on the other side by the sight of friends, new and old, and a magnificent scarlet train with golden letters spelling Hogwarts Express.

Central Florida Slug Club Sept 1st 2018

That’s right, September 1st was the official back to school day for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And leading the pack onto platform 9 ¾’s was none other than the best of the best, The Central Florida Slug Club!

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With robes, wands, and flags at the ready, members of the Slug Club (dressed as Students and Professors) flooded Kings Cross station at Universal Studios Orlando and boarded the train to go home to Hogwarts. All could be heard joyously singing the Hogwarts school song while taking time to pose for all the first year photographs and emotional reunions of friends and housemates. Along the way prefects, head boys and girls, and professors picked up new students and after a brief chat concluded that the Slug Club was the place for them.

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Wandering the line you could see delightful Dumbledores, elegant McGonagalls, and sneering Umbridges, all a testament to the talent and dedication of Central Florida’s largest Harry Potter Fan Club. Special thanks to the coordinators of this extraordinary event! Thank you for helping us all return home to Hogwarts for another exciting year. I look forward to seeing everyone again at Dressed to the 9 ¾’s in November!


A Positive Start to the New Year

It’s that time of year again, when we want to get the warm fuzzies from the holiday season and the promise of a new year but outside stressors may be affecting our good cheer – crowds at the stores, family drama, that awful customer who procrastinated their project and now puts a rush on you when you’d rather daydream of candy canes or relaxing afternoons at home…

Over the summer, the Harry Potter Alliance released their Positive Fandom campaign, a list of community guidelines to help make fandom a safe, inclusive, and welcome space for all fans. At GeekyCon 2015, they passed out postcards with these points and a list of tasks that attendees could complete in order to work their way towards a more positive fandom (and one of the coveted ribbon badges.) Each task was relatively easy to complete, but really left us thinking afterwards about how we can apply these to our daily lives.

The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. team took inspiration from these guidelines, discussed how these affected us, how could use these reminders particularly through the holidays and new year, and came up with a list of four points where we could use improvement: Kindness, Community, Education, and Self-Care.  During this month-long project, we are asking members of our group and the community to talk about what these mean to them, what they are doing to improve as individuals on each point, and post it on social media with #positivecfslugclub. Keep an eye on Slug Club social media (particularly our Twitter and Tumblr!) for member submissions and ideas on what YOU can do throughout the month! We’re dedicating a week to each point; expect to see a new one up each Sunday through early January. 


Care of Magical Creatures Lesson (as told from a homework-hating Ravenclaw)

IMG_2135Guest post by Ravenclaw prefect Elizabeth Buckeye

On Sunday March 8th, it was once again that wonderful time for the Slug Club to get together. It was time for a Care of Magical Creatures field trip! Both current and alumni students of Hogwarts and its brother school were invited for the practical lesson. No one is too old to benefit from a reminder in proper creature care.

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Getting Back to Hogwarts

Words by Terrea Riggs. Pictures by Melissa Penatzer and Terrea Riggs. Video by Melissa Penatzer.

An account of events on September 1st.

Start of term is no joke. It required lots of preparation that I easily dismissed until long after I should have been in bed on August 31st. Then, super panic mode was activated! Where is my uniform? I have to get up how early?! Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. Crap, I’m late! WHERE IS MY UNIFORM?!


Luckily, I have the most awesome Hufflepuff in the world as a best friend. We determined my uniform’s hiding place and quickly located it. (FIND!) And by quickly, I mean we were only running an hour late. Guess we won’t be getting to King’s Cross as early as we had hoped…


We then flew our enchanted car in an easterly direction whilst listening to some of our favorite wrock tunes. There was an attempt at listening to “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts,” but we had a lot of magical interference (known to muggles as “buffering”) and had to give it up. Instead, we listened to The Whomping Willows and Draco and the Malfoys (both of which are more awesome, anyway).


Upon arriving in London, we decided to grab pumpkin flavored coffees instead of pumpkin pasties then headed towards King’s Cross.


Somehow, we managed to arrive early to meet up with fellow Slug Club members. Had Jess brought her time turner and somehow used it without my knowing? o.O


We, as a group, then entered the station and prepared to get on platform 9 3/4.


Some danced, some ran, some tried not to spill their hard ciders as they boozed their way through. Being a 7th year has its perks. 😉

To avoid being grouped with any muggles that had somehow managed to load onto the platform, we were told to stick to our tickets and queued to the side to wait for the Hogwarts Express at 11. I’m still not sure where the other trains went, but as they had muggles on them I didn’t really care; We were waiting to go to Hogwarts! 


While we waited we decided to take our yearbook pictures early. House pictures, pictures by year, pictures with our tickets, pictures with our drinks. (We like pictures, ok?) Then, we sang the Hogwarts school song, each to their own tune and rhythm. It was a beautiful mess.

Shortly after it was time to go! We boarded the train at precisely 11am! The porters were wonderful about making sure all students were grouped together and that we would arrive at Hogwarts on schedule. None of us wanted to miss anything! Our journey to Hogsmeade was enjoyable; Many more pictures were taken and we even caught a glimpse of a few of our favorite wizards while looking out the window.


We arrived at Hogsmeade where we decided lunch at The Three Broomsticks was a fabulous idea (with a quick pop into the Hog’s Head on the way)! One can only eat so many sweets on the train before needing an actual meal.

Then, we proceeded to the castle, taking a few more group shots on the way.


We even ran into some students from Durmstrang and Beaubatons! Were they lost? Last time they showed up it was for the Triwizard Tournament!


Finally, our hike up to the castle by foot was complete (where were those blasted carriages?!). We asked to be shown to our dormitories, having somehow missed the feast at the Great Hall.


We dropped off our trunks and debated getting a nap in… At least that’s what we told the professors and prefects, anyway. 😉


Pfffft. We were already ready to sneak out of the dorms and get up to no good. Our large group dispersed in many ways. A few of us even rode back to London to get some forgotten shopping done!


Before any good shopping trip starts in Diagon Alley, you simply must go to Gringotts. While we were all visiting our vaults a break in occurred and we somehow got mixed up in the mess. They even had a bloody dragon loose and running around! I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I bet that no good Potter had something to do with it. This has his name all over it.


We found lots of new goodies in Diagon Alley and spent way too many galleons. After getting the last few things on my school list, I was very happy to find and purchase new Hollyhead Harpies items to wear at school and with which to decorate my dormitory. We grabbed butterbeers and ice creams at the Fountain of Fair Fortune, but in finding a place to enjoy them found ourselves in Knockturn Alley. Except when we almost lost a Hufflepuff to a dark wizard, a good time was had by all.


Having tired from the events of the day, we decided to grab a pint at the Leaky Cauldron and call it a day.


What a great start to what is sure to be an amazing year! Happy start of term, everyone!

All Aboard!

Ah, the end of August vastly approaches. For Muggles, that means the beginning of another boring school year filled with subjects such as Math, English, Gym, and much more. However, for witches and wizards, the end of August can’t come fast enough. September 1st is so much more then the beginning of another month; it is the beginning of another grand year at Hogwarts (I can already hear the Hogwarts choir now)

 Time to get on board the Hogwarts Express, where your friends and the snack cart await! (Just don’t let a house-elf shut down the barrier of Platform 9 and 3/4)


 Once you arrive at Hogwarts, you will be directed to the Great Hall, where the Sorting Ceremony will commence. For those who have been to Hogwarts previous years, just don’t laugh too hard at the nervous faces as the Sorting Hat is placed upon the first years’ heads!


 Once you have been sorted, you will be lead up to your Dormitories by your house Prefects. Once you get a night of rest, your classes shall commence. Just don’t blow anything up on your first day, some students are notorious for that! 😉


 No matter what obstacles you may face this year, remember to make friends. Heck, even expand your horizons and get to know people in other the other three houses!


What does it mean to be a Hufflepuff?

By Slug Club member Arjun Govindan of Hufflepuff

Being willing to give the most and get the least. Work hard and honest and put your heart into everything you do. Where others may seek a greater glory, power, or wisdom; simply do whats right to do whats right, always.

Do what you do for love, in whatever form it manifests itself in. Be unafraid of toil, sweat and tears. Be unrelenting in what you do; dedicate your whole being into it. Never give up, even when all the odds are stacked against you.

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.