a-celebration-ofharry-potterjanuary-27-29-2

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:

 

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
Intrahouse Rivalry?

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express for the 2015-16 School Year!

Another September 1st has come and gone. As you may know, September 1st is the day that young witches and wizards throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland gather at Kings Cross in London to hop on board the Hogwarts Express for the new school year. While many of us are well beyond our Hogwarts years, every year on September 1st we still don our Hogwarts uniforms, gather at Platform 9 3/4s at 11am, sing the school song, and think fondly back to our school days.

Slug Club at Kings Cross

Slug Club members outside of Kings Cross on September 1st, 2015

September 1st is always a magical day. We see old friends again…   Seeing Old Friends Again

And make some new ones…

Lauren and Carla Magical Law Enforcement Squad

Rehash old rivalries…

Intrahouse Rivalry?

And rekindle those old school romances.

Hogwarts Romance

Eventually, we made our way back to Hogwarts for old times’ sakes.

11244712_10152972354256851_9121824802121956112_n

In the famous words of Albus Dumbledore: “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! […] I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you.”

Now time for the feast!

Cornfundo!

Wait, you’re doing it wrong!

Gringotts

Potterwatch 2014: One Year Later

by Megan Stump

Several years ago there was a rumor that more Harry Potter was coming to Universal Studios Florida. I had fallen in love with Hogsmeade immediately after seeing the tip of Hogwarts from across the lagoon in IoA, so needless to say, I was very excited. We learned about some fun details at the Harry Potter Celebration. Finally June 9, 2014 the construction walls came down. Read More

Social Media meetup

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.

Read More

Red Carpet at Celebration of Harry Potter

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.

10155921_10103836803686502_4028916730065310978_n

Read More

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?!

image

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…

image

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).

image
image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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! 

image

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.

image

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.
image

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

image

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

image

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.

image

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

image

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!

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

image

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

Daily Prophet office

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:

10304966_10152584614454017_3596049210471485705_n

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

10402621_10204328543360046_4725933839421364484_n

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

10311021_10152584639944017_8952613350172787789_n

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 😉  )

10443548_10204331660597975_3701070988177248726_n

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

10418470_10204332720744478_2138204546928811772_n

 

New friendships were even made!

1559832_10152582864039017_769118936223841565_n10289854_10204331631837256_3749376573361673130_n

10478132_10204339326229611_5930227904939981018_n10409719_10204331644077562_1541789628825095413_n

 

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.


1910115_10153068957953912_6512005152752331614_n

 

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.

DSCN1781

 

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.

 

20140707-230642-83202888.jpg

It’s Real To Us: Diagon Alley Preview

20140707-230550-83150592.jpg

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.

20140707-230934-83374678.jpg

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