So You Want to Attend a Harry Potter Convention: Choosing Your Convention

“So you want to attend a Harry Potter convention?” is our new series to help out first-time Harry Potter convention attendees. We will break down each individual con, provide tips on how to budget, how to prepare, and how to make it a successful con experience.

You’ve been a fan of the books for years and have always been jealous of the pictures floating around the internet of everyone with their amazing con experiences. Or maybe you’re a new fan that missed all of the excitement of midnight book releases and movie premieres. Whatever your reasons, it is time for you to attend your first Harry Potter convention. What next?

Part 1 – Choosing Your Convention

First, pick which convention you prefer to attend. Each convention has a unique style and pros and cons. Your friend may enjoy one con that you hated, while you adored another con that your friend found mediocre. That is totally okay. Each experience is different and valid. As you go through the list, really think about what YOU are looking for in your first con experience. 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?!

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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…

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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).

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

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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

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

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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! 

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

LeakyCon 2014 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Ever since I first participated in a photo scavenger hunt at Phoenix Rising (a Harry Potter conference in New Orleans in 2007), I have fallen in love with them. It’s not participating in them so much for me (though that’s always fun), but hearing the stories that come from them – hilarious tales of shenanigans, strangers working together to accomplish a goal with no reward for themselves, and seeing the creativity that comes out in each and every picture.

As a group, the Central Florida Slug Club has run two photo scavenger hunts to date: one during the Quidditch World Cup, and the second just recently during LeakyCon 2014. We’ll make a list of prompts for members (with the requirement that at least one team member be in each picture because, let’s face it, pictures are way more interesting when you know someone in it.) They surprise us each time with these amazing photo responses.   Read More

All aboard the Hogwarts Express!

As you all know, the Hogwarts Express pulls away from Platform 9 3/4s at exactly 11:00 a.m. on September 1st. Now, most of us are alumni at this point (as we are reminded every four months when the owls arrive with requests for donations to the school), but that doesn’t mean we’re any less excited for the start of the new term! This year we decided to get together and grab some pictures at our local train station and the adjacent park, some in our favorite robes and others in their old Hogwarts uniforms. A great time was had by all – we studied, dueled, listened to a lecture on Herbology, climbed a tree, made friends with a squirrel named Peter, and even found some Hogwarts alumnae that may join our group!


Traveling from place to place is always more fun when you have a large group of wizards trying to discreetly navigate muggle areas of the city. I think (I hope!) we managed to make it through without unintentionally violating the International Statute of Secrecy.

While taking the pictures in the park, we had that awful reminder that we are, in fact, NOT in the United Kingdom. While other areas of the Northern Hemisphere are settling into autumn, here it was… well, Florida. It was Florida. An hour outside in robes is really the max that anyone can handle. (This was fun, but we promise the next cosplay day will be in a “winter” month.)

Once we were done in the park, the cosplay group went to Fiddler’s Green, a fantastic Irish pub in Winter Park. It’s not quite the same as grabbing food in Hogsmeade, but the brunch was amazing and service was fantastic! There were a fair amount of muggles there, but they proved to be friendly and open-minded towards the wizards invading their territory. (Anyone who took Muggle Studies in school knows the key to acceptance in the muggle world is copious amounts of liquor… both for them and us.)

At the pub we played some Pottergories (congratulations to Angelica of Hufflepuff and Adam of Slytherin on their victories!) Every time we play that game, I’m always struck by the creativity and memory of some of our members! People kept thinking of answers that I probably never would have come up with if I had twice the amount of time they did.

All in all though, our first cosplay day was a success! Thank you to all who attended, whether it was for the cosplay day, the brunch, or both! We’ll see you all on Wednesday at the Mellow Mushroom in Winter Park for Harry Potter trivia night! (In the meantime, check the Facebook group for more pictures from our cosplay adventures!)

House Cup Award Ceremony (2012-2013)

Slytherin

This past Saturday was our first House Cup Award Ceremony, held at the Penatzer Castle. We wanted to wish Slytherin House a big congratulations for being the first winners of the CFSC House Cup! I believe the House Cup will reside with their Head of House, Heather Murphy.

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September 1st starts off the 2013-2014 term and a clean slate for all Houses. The HoHs and myself met up a few months ago to have a planning meeting and we decided to change up the House points system. More information will come of that soon when we decide to go public with it.

We are also starting a new program called Auror Training. Meet-ups will count toward categories (i.e. Tracking, Concealment and Disguise…) and once you have completed your punch card, you are officially a CFSC Auror!

We hope to see everyone on September 1st in Winter Park to celebrate the start of term with a fun cosplay day!