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
We have a number of fun meetups coming up soon! Want to be one of the first to know about any upcoming meetups? Join our Facebook or Meetup.com groups! (You’ll need to be a member in order to RSVP to any of the events listed below.)
May 4th – Second Annual Battle of Hogwarts Laser Tag – RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.com
“It’s time to choose your side and either fight to protect Hogwarts, Harry Potter, and the future of the wizarding world as you know it, or fight to rid the wizarding world of the mudbloods and blood traitors who only serve as a disgrace to our community. You-Know-Who and his followers will storm the castle on May 4th in an event that will forever be known as “The Battle of Hogwarts.””
May 5th – S.P.E.W. Meeting – RSVP on Facebook
Interested in community service and activism? Join our S.P.E.W. group, a Harry Potter Alliance chapter! We’ll talk about our current Accio Books campaign, plan for Esther Day, and more! Make sure to join our S.P.E.W group here.
May 24th – Group Photo at MISTI-con – RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.com
For those of us attending MISTI-con in May, let’s meet up at the ball just after it begins to get a group picture! (If you’re unfamiliar with MISTI-con – it’s an amazing Harry Potter conference taking place over Memorial Day weekend this year. You can get more information at http://www.misti-con.org/)
May 30th – May Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.com
For book club meeting we will be reading the fourth book in the Harry Potter series: The Goblet of Fire. Join us at the George & Dragon for book discussion and trivia! This is the last day to turn in all the books you collected for Accio Books. Be sure to get them to us today or you are stuck with them for another year!!
June 6th – Abracadabra Ice Cream – RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.com
“Abracadabra Ice Cream Factory is one of the hottest new liquid nitrogen ice cream concepts in the country. They use liquid nitrogen to freeze your very own ice cream creation within seconds. With temperatures reaching -328 degrees below 0 they are able to flash freeze the ice cream right before your eyes. Every witch and wizard loves the quick little magic show as “Magic Clouds” flow across the counter top creating an exciting experience for everyone, including the most curmudgeonly Potions professor. Come and create your own flavor of ice cream or try one of Abracadabra’s suggestions. You are welcome to bring any (and I mean ANY) ingredients to put in your own concoction! (Slughorn’s favorite is pineapple.)” **Rescheduled from May 16th**
June 12th – Harry Potter Game Night – RSVPs are CLOSED but you can join the waiting list on Facebook!
Join us at Liam Mason’s apartment for a great big Potter bash. Liam will be providing HP Scene it, HP Clue, and Quidditch Beer Pong . The HoH’s will bring Cards Against Muggles! Feel free to bring another HP themed game if you have one.
September 1st – Train Ride to Hogwarts – RSVP on Facebook (Open to the Public!) or on Meetup.com
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment that you can purchase in Diagon Alley prior to your departure.
Term begins on September 1. Please arrive at King’s Cross station at 10:00am* to cross through Platform 9 3/4 and board the Hogwarts Express at 11:00am.
Join the Central Florida Slug Club as we travel from King’s Cross station to Hogsmeade for the start of term. School uniform is strongly encouraged but not mandatory. Once off the train we will head to Hogwarts to get a class photo. We will follow up with lunch at the Three Broomsticks.
December 5th – Portkey to Magic’s Yule Ball – RSVP on Facebook
Join us as we venture to St. Petersburg, Florida and invade our sister group’s Yule Ball. Tampa Bay’s Portkey to Magic has worked out a hotel discount for us; check the Facebook event for details. Ball tickets need to be purchased in advance – only 100 tickets will be sold!
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.
Butterbeer float. I heard this term and thought it sounded absolutely amazing. Ice cream AND butterbeer? Divine.
Then I realized you could use butterbeer ice cream and butterbeer to create the sweetest, most decadent treat in all of the Wizarding World.
This item is not an official menu item at Hogsmeade nor Diagon Alley so if you ask a team member to make you one, they probably won’t know what you’re talking about. But it doesn’t stop you from making it yourself! You will need a regular butterbeer, an order of butterbeer ice cream and an extra cup. The Fountain of Fair Fortune is the best place to get these items seeing as they sell both butterbeer and butterbeer ice cream!
The first step is to split up the butterbeer between the two cups. Since most of the butterscotch flavoring is in the foam, you will need to pass the liquid between the cups several times to ensure proper butterscotch taste. Keep in mind, the foam expands while you do this, so you will end up with 2 cups that are 2/3 of the way full. I recommend this be shared because it is quite rich and because it’s hard to eat your float while carrying around 2 cups!
The last step is to split the butterbeer ice cream between the two cups.
YUM! If you are sharing this with someone, it will cost you a little more than $4 each if you use your annual pass discount.
Ta-da! It’s very rich and very sweet but soooOoOO worth it. It would be interesting to try this with frozen butterbeer! It might be a bit harder to mix everything together but I personally prefer frozen butterbeer to regular butterbeer. If anyone tries this, let me know how it is!
Are there any special items that you have come up with at the parks that are not available on a menu? Let us know in the comments! We can start our own Wizarding World secret menu.
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!
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.
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.
Universal took all of the pitfalls of Hogsmeade and turned them into serious positives in Diagon Alley. Most of the shops have queues outside so that large crowds can be better controlled. The interactive wand stations usually have a cast member present to help with spell-casting. And they introduced a whole slew of new drinks to try like the fishy-green ale (it’s quite….different), Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice (an orange and soda concoction with cinnamon sugar on the rim), Tongue Tying Lemon Squash (a very tart lemonade, that is still delicious) and several different “potions” you can mix in with bottled water. I would recommend that you try it at least once, even though it is like paying $8 for Kool-Aid, the vials are pretty neat keepsakes.
The layout of Diagon Alley also trumps Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade consists of one “road” with the Forbidden Journey in the back. It is the perfect layout for a quaint little village, but is still not the best for traffic flow in a theme park. Diagon Alley has several different pathways throughout area, and makes it feel much more like a bustling big city shopping market. It also feels more spacious and has 2 large covered areas for when it rains: Knockturn Alley and Carkitt Market. Knockturn Alley is fully air conditioned and kept in perpetual nighttime. Carkitt Market is where they have a stage for Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees to perform, and where they have shows based on stories from the Tales of Beedle the Bard. It is also home to The Hopping Pot and Eternelle’s Elixirs.
The pictures of Diagon Alley just don’t do it justice. It is so much more in person. I noticed a lot of the designs from Mina Lima, who were present at The Celebration of Harry Potter back in January. The whole of Diagon Alley is themed just perfectly. You really are completely immersed in the Wizard world. When we left Diagon Alley to go ride the Hogwarts Express, it was a bit of a jolt to remember that we were actually inside Universal Studios.
We were able to cover most of the shops, including the long line for Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor and dinner at the Leaky Cauldron in about 5 hours. Sadly, the Gringotts ride was not up and running, and we couldn’t do walkthroughs. I bought a new interactive wand (oak) and some parchment from Scribbulus. I also splurged and got the souvenir cup of ice cream, but that will be a one-time only affair (try the Earl Grey and Lavender ice cream!). Several members, including myself, bought Hogwarts Express tickets which are printed in “gold ink.” Some items still on my wish-list are a Skiving Snackbox and the collector’s coin set at the Money Exchange.
All in all, Diagon Alley is a must-see for all avid Harry Potter fans. If you’ve seen Hogsmeade and were impressed by everything there, you’ll be completely blown away in Diagon Alley. Universal just did an incredible job and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for making the wonderful world of Harry Potter a reality.
It’s 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.
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:
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
Written by Mark Eaimsirakul, Slug Club Slytherin
Where to start about King Cross here in London… Well, many of you may know that I am a graduate of Hogwarts and now working for the famous muggle, Frank Kincaid, but I still visit time to time to teach first years a special lesson on the History of Hogwarts. To begin, you must have a ticket (Park to Park ticket or annual pass) to even enter Kings Cross station. You can upgrade your ticket to the right of the entrance if you do not have the correct ticket. A Porter will greet you and help you into the appropriate queue after your ticket has been checked. The first part of the queue is a long stretch area with posters about London. One of the poster is for Divine Magic perfume. I remember being told that Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore stood in front of that poster once… (but it can all be just a rumor). Further up in the queue is a grab and go stand for Muggles to grab something to eat on the train. This is also the area where your luggage is kept prior to departure.
You will soon approach a staircase that will lead you to the various platforms (just ask a Porter if you need the lift). The platform is somewhat dim and loud with the sounds of trains. Now here is the tricky part: you need to to go on platform 9 3/4 but you don’t see it right? just walk through the pillar thats marked “platform 9” to get there. I suggest running into it of its your first time. Once you walk into it you will arrive to platform 9 3/4. The first thing you will see is the Hogwarts express greeting young witches and wizards on there journey. A student left some of his luggage and pet owl in the area you wait for a station master assign you a cabin.
You are able to board the Hogwarts Express once you receive a cabin assignment. Each cabin can hold up to 8. Once seated, your journey to Hogsmeade will begin with a beautiful view of London. Through the frosted glass you can see students walking around to find a cabin to sit in. Once you leave the city and enter the countryside you will pass Malfoy Manor. NOW BE CAREFUL! Dementors may try to enter your cabin so have your wand at the ready! Once you pass the countryside you will arrive to the black lake and dark forest with a great view of Hogwarts Castle. At this point its only moments till you arrive to Hogmeade Station.
Its a magical journey and I heard that Muggles are able to visit platform 9 3/4! Please come visit King Cross and the magical Hogwarts Express. Maybe you may run into me there 😉
Rumor was that the walls were coming down Sunday night and they were correct!
You can see in the store windows and into Kings Cross and what looked like a lot of railings to wait in line! All the staff standing outside were very nice and offered to take pictures.
There is a space to stand in the bus to take pictures!! It is blocked so you can’t actually walk in but it is still a nice plus!
Not sure if the benches around the fountain are a great idea, may block people trying to get photos.
Grimmauld Place, the fencing around the porch is brown and rusted looking so it stands out from the others! If I remember correctly the doors had different knockers. Kreacher also pokes his head out of the window.
Is that a brick wall, as in THE brick wall into Diagon Alley lit up by sunlight?! I don’t know for sure but I think so!
Over at Hogsmeade the walls are also down!
Is that a school carriage? I think it is!
This was the window that was wrapped up last week, I honestly can’t notice the changes off of memory alone. The only thing that stuck out was that it used to have labels saying what the plant was and I didn’t see those. Comment if you know what has changed.
This is the window that is wrapped up this week! I think Lockhart is getting a makeover!
Sherman Lemon the snowman moved again! I got an update from our HoH today that said she saw the snowman moving! Doing cute figure eights and twirling!! Our prediction was correct, wahoo!
I also found out today that the dragon is unwrapped and saw a picture on twitter of it breathing fire. There are lots of rumors going around that they will announce the opening date during the media event. There are also rumors of the park actually opening on the 20th the last day of the media event. But I also heard rumors of the 21st as well so we will have to wait and see. Either way, if you have a annual pass get to the parks soft openings and actual openings could happen any time!