Upcoming Meetups

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.)

April 29th – “Kill the Spare” Bowling Meetup – RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.com
Come join us at Kings Bowling on I-Drive for our second “Kill the Spare” Bowling Meet-up!

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. MeetingRSVP 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 CreamRSVP 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 HogwartsRSVP 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!

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.


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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.

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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.

 

The Walls Came Down!

Rumor was that the walls were coming down Sunday night and they were correct!

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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.

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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!

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Not sure if the benches around the fountain are a great idea, may block people trying to get photos.

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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.

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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!

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Over at Hogsmeade the walls are also down!

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Is that a school carriage? I think it is!

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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.

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This is the window that is wrapped up this week! I think Lockhart is getting a makeover!

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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!

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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!

 

 

Is It Done Yet?!

Not much to update about this week. They have put up the second dragon wing but it’s to far to get a good picture of. There are lots online. The scaffolding and netting is still up. Hopefully they will take that down this week. Here are a couple shots.

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A ladder lol!

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The wall is out so far on this side we assume they are either working on the stone wall in front of the trees or the flooring?

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The wall in between the building and the trees now has bricks on it , before it was just cement.

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Sorry, we didn’t have time to go to Hogsmeade but I will get you an update next weekend and as soon as there is a soft opening!!

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Don’t Stop Believin’!

So my weekday night time visit started out great when I headed to Hogsmeade and peeked around the space in the wall and saw that there were people in costume back there! Plus there were some polo shirt and dress pants wearing types that were coming out of the temporary worker door at the entrance to Hogsmeade.

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So I decided to stay out there and watch the activity going on since I was a lonely girl waiting for my theme park partner to get through rush hour traffic. Then someone left the door open for a full minute!! Of course people flocked and we saw a large crowd of people heading into or out of the station! We would have taken a midnight train going anywhere but alas we saw no muggles getting pulled into the station. We decided that they all looked young and maybe were just trainees?

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I got a shot to the right but it was just trees : (. Here is one you can see the uniforms a little better. I also noticed looking through this opening that there is a glass window to the left that says tickets. We headed to the Dragon Challenge and were able to see the train in the station with people waiting to board the train! It was so good and there was no wait so we decided to go just one more time.

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Inside Hogsmeade, the fireworks window I told you that was moving last time was not moving this time so maybe they were just testing it out to work out bugs for the interactive rfid wands. What? Don’t believe that they are getting the windows ready for the interactive experiences? Check out the cauldron below, it was moving! It leaned forward to show a pixie inside. I also think they may add a little water to this as you can see a spout under the pixie on top. Maybe they were doing another test day to make sure it works okay for a length of time?

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Still don’t believe me?! Well this window is all covered up which may mean they are redoing it to make it interactive!

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And guess what? Sherman Lemon the snowman was back in his original position! Maybe other items will move too, that tower of tea cups and spoons that stir? Hey that plate is no longer on the chair! I wonder how long that has been gone I just noticed it. And is it just me or is the spoon inside the creamer dish standing straight up? It used to lean against it and there used to be a sugar dish with two spoons to the right of it but I don’t see it in this picture, but maybe it is just the angle?

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We headed over to Diagon Alley and in perfect time to see the train backing into the station! It was so awesome seeing the London facade at night! The clock had a glow to it and we were really excited to see the King’s Cross sign lit up!

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There were so many lights, you could see all the details in the window so much better.

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Street lights by the water were not on and either were the lights inside the Knight bus.

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The fountain was running! And I heard again that Kreacher was in the window, but I didn’t see him. We also thought we heard Potter music while we were there. We have a friend that took video while standing on a bench and all of the construction equipment was gone, so that is a good sign completion wise!

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I definitely suggest going at night for everyone that wants a thrill before Diagon Alley opens. There were no lines especially an hour before the park closes and plus the sun is not out so that is always a positive in Florida during summer! Sorry I was using my phone as a camera : (

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First’-years! First’-years over here!

Okay so while you won’t be able to have Hagrid take you on a boat to get your first glimpse of Hogwarts (they are totally missing the boat on that ride, by the way, I mean why not!) you can walk through Hogsmeade station into Hogsmeade!

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So they took down the walls across from Hogsmeade Station and pushed back the wall in front of it to reveal the trees and some stone work. There is a gap in the temporary wall and the trees where I got this photo! Looks like they have the fencing to put up still.

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They even took the wall down in the back area where I sneak and climb to get photos!

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I love the new sign out front of the station. And there is a fire hydrant?

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Over on the Diagon Alley side, there was not to much new stuff this weekend. Well, the Dragon of course but I don’t have a good enough camera to get a photo at that distance. You can see it from the Transformers area and Central Park. It is partially covered but I saw on Twitter they added the wings this morning. They are running the train with steam and whistle and everything!

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Looks like they are adding a layer of paint to the wall to age it and I saw they have most of the lighting done so I am going to try and go over there at night next time to get photos of that.

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They also added benches to the front of the fence now all they need to do is take it down!!!Image

I don’t think the King’s Cross sign was on the metal overhang before but can’t remember for sure lol.

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Are you ready? I know I am!

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No really, why isn’t this a ride!!!! Are they that dumb, do they not know us fans at all!

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Diagon Alley Lion Heads

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Went to Universal on Sunday and they are adding a lot of finishing touches and details! They put up the lions on the outlying wall and are starting to paint them.

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But I can’t figure out why they didn’t paint them and then hang them? I was curious how they would paint the ones over the water and saw on Twitter they are using a boat and the painter has to wear a life vest. That doesn’t sound like fun!

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They added details in the windows like stacked books and lamps. They also added the clock in King’s Cross!

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They pushed back the wall again, which is exciting!  They added steps in some places and raised the temporary fence so we can’t jump up to take pics anymore.

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You can also tell that were they pushed the fence back is where this new permanent fencing was put up, so basically they could take down the temporary fence anytime and still block off the area.

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The lights went up on the columns and I think all the lights were on in the London facade area.

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The sign is up!!!

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Well, this is my usual spot to see the Hogsmeade Station progress but it looks like they added a fence and lots of trees. But it’s okay because that means they are almost done!!

I will probably skip going next weekend as it will be a holiday and don’t want to deal with the crowds!

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One Lonely Gryffindor Snowman

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I worry about our snowman all alone on his cake, waiting for the day that his cake gets finished. We shall name him Sherman Lemon! Then today when I went to visit Sherman, he had moved!! Then I realized the top of the cake was kind of shiny and plastic looking. Could this be part of the interactive wands as well? Maybe he skates around on his little cake tossing his snowballs? Why else would his cake look so empty? We will see! Oh, and who put a plate on that chair behind the cake?

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So I told you about the fountain topper being on last time and here is the promised photo! I saw on Twitter that the fountain was running yesterday but unfortunately it was not running when we were there today.  : (

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The main new thing I saw was the strung lights hanging between the lamp posts. I can’t wait to see this at night!

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My Gryffindor counterpart today did some major jumping while video taping to get you this great over the fence view! GO GO GRYFFINDOR!

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Over at Hogsmeade Station, they added railings and lights on the building.

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This is across from Hogsmeade Station outside Hogsmeade by the new wall covering behind the scenes. What is that giant rock?

They seem to have new merchandise every week which is odd since they will have so much new stuff when the park opens but maybe it’s just a normal getting ready for summer thing?

 

 

 

Construction Update Time!

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I’m a little behind on my post, these pictures are from Sunday. Sorry! But look they added these beautiful light posts!

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Close up!

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They added the fountain as well! It’s the same fountain as Piccadilly Circus. Since I took this picture on Sunday they have added the topper, I will try and get an updated photo this weekend!

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And over on the other side here is the latest photo of Hogsmeade station.

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Looks like they are getting ready to add the sign. It is going to look so amazing!!

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Here is the wall across from Hogsmeade station which I heard is going to stay and be covered in greenery.

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There is a new fireworks themed window in Hogsmeade. Could it already be rigged for the interactive wands?

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There is room around the base of the fireworks so they could move a little. They also had fireworks on the walls that looked like they could spin and the guy’s eyes looked like they could move. What do you guys think?

 

Honeydukes Expansion is Open!

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So many jars of candy!! It definitely helps to make the store easier to move around without making it seem too large. I hope they add some more details to it though, right now is a lot of green. I think they will add some gold wording to the walls like the original side of Honeydukes has.

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Madam Puddifoot’s cake got the addition of a Gryffindor snowman, he looks a little lonely. Maybe there will be a snowman for each house? Doubtful but a girl can hope.

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They added some trees and light posts to the Hogsmeade train station area. There was also a tall, temporary wall across from this where the gaming area used to be. Not sure what that was hiding.

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it’s hard to tell in this photo but there are two different shades of white on the Wyndham Theatre, so maybe it’s the final coat?

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Not much difference from last weekend but lots of painting being done still.

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They just keep adding more trees back here!

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