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!

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September 1, 2018: A Journey Back to School

By Alexis Peralta

Central Florida Slug Club All Aboard the Hogwarts Express Event

Going back to Hogwarts is always an exciting time, but this year Kings Cross was really a sight to see! I’m amazed the wizarding world didn’t end up in the muggle papers because we were coming in droves all dressed up and ready for the train! Usually students dress in civvies and wait to robe right before arriving at Hogwarts, but today was a special celebration.

For such an occasion, professors from years past were in attendance; including Gilderoy Lockhart, Mad-Eye Moody, and even to most students and staffs disgruntlement, Dolores Umbridge. Of course Dumbledore came to show his support, he even magically seemed to be in different robes throughout the morning, changing as fast as you could spot him. Gryffindors, who always need their ego stroked, had ample support from their Head of House Professor McGonagall and even the Fat Lady was seen strolling through portraits nearby. Rita Skeeter was present, of course, to report on the possible break of The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy (she let me borrow her Quick-Quotes Quill for this article though!).

Central Florida Slug Club All Aboard the Hogwarts Express Event

Houses took group pictures before boarding the train, and I have NEVER seen so many students entering Kings Cross at the same time! There were at least 44 Gryffindor, 38 Hufflepuff, 49 Ravenclaw, and 46 Slytherin (plus 2 because of course Logan and I missed the picture off dueling in Diagon Alley-don’t tell Snape). Finally, after class pictures, the floating yellow flag beacon was raised and we all followed it drifting into the station. The muggle attendants were definitely surprised by the group entering all together (looking quite mad I bet), but they smiled, let us scan our ticket, and we passed through.

I love King’s Cross. There is always this beauty in the rush of the travelers, the excitement of the students walking by, the old brick on the wall that’s seen so many wizards and muggles alike rush past. Nearing platform 9 ¾ you could feel the heightened anxiety of first years! It was so funny watching two of them in front of us run head first into the column! Way to not bring attention to yourselves first-years, scoff. Logan and I casually leaned against and fell through effortlessly, emerging on the other side where we truly belong!

Central Florida Slug Club All Aboard the Hogwarts Express Meetup

It was a spectacular view! Hundreds of students, parents, and professors all in queue for the train. For the event, the trolley lady made a special appearance and was already on the platform offering sweets and treats before the train arrived (I waited until on board to honor tradition and get my favorite, a Pumpkin Pasty!) Eleven O’clock came nearer and we all hurried to our positions to load up. Then we could see it rolling in, the Hogwarts Express, it always takes my breath away. Call me a sap but I always get goosebumps when I see it coming, knowing that it brings the joy of another school year.

We got on the train, found a compartment that only had 4 other people in it (lucky!) and settled in for the ride. Something was truly extra special this year, the camaraderie seemed so genuine and everyone was happy to be returning to their second home: Hogwarts.

Central Florida Slug Club All Aboard the Hogwarts Express Meetup

By Alexis Peralta

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!

 

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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.

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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!

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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Book Club Meetup – Chamber of Secrets

Words by Terrea Riggs. Pictures by Terrea Riggs and Alyssa Hancock.

Nothing beats the feeling of being welcomed home. I haven’t been away, I just never get over walking into an event late and being greeted warmly by my wizard friends (and this time the bartender, too!). So even though I had to work at my muggle job at 1am on Tuesday, my trek out to the George and Dragon Pub for book club on Monday night was well worth it. And what better way to set the mood for your meetup at a British pub than for it to rain the entire time you’re there?

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Our book this time was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As much as I enjoy new reads, I am equally excited about our group’s re-read of the series that has brought us all together. There were lots of thoughtful questions and plenty of debate (at least from this table).

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As if somehow sensing which book we were discussing this month, my wand broke in half at the meetup, doing its best imitation of Ron Weasley’s during the crash into the Whomping Willow! I hope that Ollivander can repair it next time I am in Diagon Alley.

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Slytherin house was not as well represented in attendance as I had hoped, but Alyssa and I made up for it by wearing our robes and best better-than-you expressions. Where did all these Gryffindors and Ravenclaws come from, anyway?!

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At one point in the night I had truly questioned whether I was in Orlando or not. The rain pelted down the entire time we were at the pub and I even started hearing more British accents than normal. Had I unknowingly apparated to London?

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Perhaps not.

We then broke into smaller groups to compete in trivia from the book for extra house points! While they all did their best at trying, Alyssa and I were the most ambitious and secured the SlytherWIN for the night.

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After that we celebrated with drinks, even inviting Dobby to join us.

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Once again it was a fun night and I can’t wait to do it all again in November with a new book!

Slug Club House Points Standings – September 18th, 2014

House Points

Here are the House points as of yesterday, September 18th.

Gryffindor is off to a great start! The question is – can they hold on to it? Gryffindor started off high in the rankings last term as well but that wonderful energy did not last for long.  Hufflepuff has been quiet over the last two years, with members being more interested in having fun rather than worrying about the pressures of the House Cup Competition.

The real surprise is the current standings of Slytherin and Ravenclaw, winners of our first and second term, respectively. Historically, Slytherin did whatever was necessary to advance their position in the ranks, jumping in when the stakes were high and helping out the group leadership team in exchange for house points. Ravenclaw is our largest house and, with a high number of book club and discussion-based meetings this summer and school term, expected to be a tough competitor. Can these two Houses come back before the House Cup Competition comes to a close?

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!

How CF Slug Club Members Show Their Potter Pride

In a recent group discussion we discovered that many of the Slug Club members show their fandom love in some very unique ways.   Many of us have dedicated corners of rooms, completely transformed entire rooms into Harry Potter decor and even display our Potter love in the workplace.   Take a look at some of the very cool Harry Potter home and workplace makeovers from our über creative members.

Workplace

Bathroom

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Lauren’s Potter inspired guest bathroom

Diagon Alley brick wall shower hooks are a nice touch that non-fans may not notice.

Always a good idea to keep the u-no-poo on hand in the bathroom.

Living Room Displays

Some people set aside spaces in their living rooms to display their cool Harry Potter collectibles.   Others dedicate entire rooms creating their own person common rooms.  I’d venture to say the majority of the members of the Slug Club own the books but some of our members own multiple copies of the book series and they proudly display them.   They even collect the books in other languages.  There are creative wand displays, framed quotes, and movie stills on the walls.

Unique Finds

Some of our members have managed to collect some very rare or custom-made Harry Potter collectibles.   Angel has a beautiful hand-made broom from a broom maker in North Carolina.   She also has a beautiful Harry Potter dream catcher and some very unique custom art prints.    Diane had an amazing Hogwarts House table.   It has the Hogwarts crest and the four different house crests on each of the chairs.   Take a look below at some of the most unique Potter-tiques  you’ll ever see.

No matter where we go, where we work, or where we live, Potter fans will always find a way to show off our Potter Pride.

-Submitted by Slug Club Gryffindor, Lauren Gay

Featured members: Kiers Potter, Angel Tellgren, Bryanna Plantier, Liam Mason, Diane Lewis, Angelica Rodriguez, Lauren Gay, and Liam Mason

The Greatest House You Ever Knew

What being Slytherin means to me.

When I first thought to write about this subject, I did what any other Slytherin would do… I Googled my prompt and thought, “I could just reword this already written essay and take full credit. No one would ever know.” Slytherins are crafty like that. Why put in any unnecessary effort when there is a way to still get the job done and get recognized for it? “Those cunning folks use any means to meet their ends.”

But then I found a few things I disagreed with on that list, as any Slytherin would. We are fairly united within our house, but when we have our own individual opinions they will not be altered.

Until now Slytherin was the only house that hadn’t written on this subject. And I thought about this and I know why. Because we don’t care if others understand us or even like us for that matter. We know we’re awesome and don’t feel the need to express it…

… unless we are being directly compared to other houses, that is. Then we get a little defensive. Because Slytherin does not equal Death Eater. Slughorn? Snape? Regulus? All Slytherins that did their part to save the Wizarding World.

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We can keep our cool in stressful situations. (That may or may not be due to causing the chaos.) As Dumbledore noted we have, “a certain disregard for the rules.”

Slytherins are self preserving. It’s not that we don’t want to help save you, we just don’t understand why anyone would risk their own neck to do it.

A Slytherin will not argue with you. They know they are right and will make their opinion known, but they will not debate. This is how you will think you’ve won or that you’ve beaten us down. In truth, we just can’t be bothered to waste any more of our time on you.

“The results validate the deed,” would be a good motto for Slytherin house. We like to win and have the determination and ambition to meet or exceed our goals, even if that means circumnavigating the rules to get there.

Many people think Slytherin are cold or heartless, but that’s only to outsiders. We are fiercely loyal, but that loyalty is earned; friendship much the same. We don’t tend to make friends quickly, taking our time to get to know someone before they can become part of our inner circle. Those that do make it to that level will enjoy our sarcasm and dark humor. One of the marks of the Slytherin is our schadenfreude, or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. (I said we weren’t all Death Eaters, I never said we weren’t all a little bit evil.)

Just don’t piss us off, because we do hold grudges.

All of these things (and more) are what it means to be a Slytherin to me.

Also, we have Merlin. 🙂