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

The Original Slug Club

Happy Birthday to the Central Florida Slug Club!

August 3rd is the Central Florida Slug Club’s FOURTH birthday! On this day in 2012, a bunch of us who began talking on MyHogwarts decided to get together for butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks. Since then, we’ve grown to become a group of about 1,500 members spread out between our Facebook and Meetup.com groups that meets at least twice a month for a variety of activities include cosplay days, book club, laser tag, virtual races, community service and activism, and more! It’s been an amazing three years. I can’t wait to see what the fourth brings!

The Original Slug Club

The Original Slug Club

Slug Club at Kings Cross

The Central Florida Slug Club at Kings Cross on September 1st, 2015

S.P.E.W.’s Successful 2016 Accio Books Campaign

By Rubina Kandiah

Being part of a Harry Potter club, it is safe to say that literature is a very important aspect for most of us. From Narnia to The Shire and Hogwarts to Westoros, a lot of us have visited many different worlds through the imagination of authors. However, not everyone has the privilege or opportunity to read. According to UNICEF, “Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names” and Being to Read states that 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read. Their numbers are growing, which means there are even more of them now. This is a very unfortunate scenario, which is why I am glad to see the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) make their Accio Books campaign an annual event and that our chapter – The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. – takes part in it every year with a lot of passion.

Every year, we have been having continuously successful Accio Books campaigns. This year was our third campaign with the HPA (the HPA itself was on its 8th annual campaign), and we collected a total of 7,276 books – surpassing our goal of 5,000 books and collecting more than twice what we collected last year (3,226books)! Our first year of campaigning, we had a total of 300 books so we have certainly come an immensely long way from the beginning! We came in second place worldwide for the number of books collected (out of 250+ chapters), and with the winning chapter collecting over 38,000 books, I’d say we did a rather impressive job this year! Way to go S.P.E.W.! We also came in third place worldwide for the total number of points; points were earned by hosting events or by doing different advocacy actions like emailing, writing letters to or calling representatives to request additional funding for libraries.

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The focus this year was on diverse books – main characters being people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. – and we strived to collect as many of these as possible. The HPA chose to donate all of the books this year to Good Shepherd School in Masaka, Uganda, teaming up with a number of other organizations including Books for Africa, the Literate Earth Project, and the American Library Association. On top of that, our chapter, S.P.E.W., chose a local charter school to donate our books to – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Florida. With the high number of books that we collected, we were able to donate to all seven of their different campuses throughout Central Florida. On top of that, employees at Universal Roofing, a construction company, heard about what we were doing and offered to build libraries for the children at their Pine Hills campus. The people in charge at UCP were very impressed with our book campaign success this year and were very grateful to us for choosing them! Several thanks to S.P.E.W. prefect, Bryanna Plantier, for suggesting the school.

With the rising success we’ve been having, I can only assume that we will aim even higher for next year’s campaign. It would be nice to come in 1st place! But more importantly, I am very proud to be a part of a club that takes such pride in spreading and encouraging literacy. May the Harry Potter fandom continue to lower the growing number of illiteracy around the world, book by book.

Accio Books 2016

It’s that time of year again! The Central Florida Slug Club is proud to announce our participation in the Harry Potter Alliance’s Accio Books literacy campaign.

This year, we are collecting books from April 1st-May 18th, 2016 for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Florida. UCP of Central Florida provides tuition-free charter schools and therapy services for children with special needs. A few of their locations do not have libraries, just a few books in each of the classrooms.

Our goal this year is to collect at least 5,000 books in order to help provide books for the students and teachers as well as to promote literacy at home with the families. While the primary need is for children’s and young adult books, we are collecting books for people of all ages. Books donated that are not suited for school libraries will go home with families in need that use their services.

Current Progress CoolFundraisingIdeas.net

Want to donate? Drop books off at the following donation locations or email us at cfslugclubspew at gmail.com to schedule a large pick up.

Further information:

Accio Books 2016 Donation Locations – a full list of our current donation locations (updated March 31st, 2016)

Accio Books 2016 Facebook Event – Invite your friends! Spread the word!

UCP of Central Florida – Learn more about the organization you are helping.

The Harry Potter Alliance  – The Harry Potter Alliance is an international non-profit organization that turns fans into heroes. Visit their website for more information.

 

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
New Year's Resolutions

Need Help with Your New Year’s Resolutions? Join the Slug Club!

It’s that time of year again when people start thinking about new beginnings. Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions or goals for 2016? If so, joining and being active with the Central Florida Slug Club might actually help you accomplish your goals! How so? Here are some example goals:

  1. Make Friends and/or Get Out of the House More. Making friends as an adult is hard. In school, you always saw the same people in class each year and always had that one thing in common. But as an adult, you don’t necessarily have that. With the Slug Club though, you already know that every single person at our meetups has at least one thing in common – we all love the Harry Potter series. It makes it easier to get conversations started. Even if you don’t say a word during your first meetup or two, keep coming! The more you see the same people, the easier it gets to open up and start talking with new people.
  2. Read More. We have a book club in our group! Book club meets every other month and alternates between re-reading the Harry Potter series (with some members reading it for the first time!) and reading a new book as selected by members.
  3. Learn a New Skill/Try Something New – I guarantee that at some point in the year, you will learn something new at a Slug Club meeting. We’ve had a variety of activities such as knitting your own house scarf, laser tag, cosplay days, and Quidditch pong.
  4. Volunteer. Want to help others and get more involved in your community? We have a subgroup within the Slug Club called S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Everyone’s Welfare) that does community service and activism projects. They’re also a member of the Harry Potter Alliance, an international nonprofit that uses the positive energy of fandom to create social change.12243380_1247831591910240_892006089286919503_n
  5. Get organized. …yeah, okay, we might not be able to help you out much with this, though come find me at a meetup and I will be happy to discuss at length the pros and cons of various planners I’ve tried over the years.
  6. Improve your writing skills. Both our newsletter and blog are always looking for submissions! Write something and send it our way! Also, participate in our book club! Reading the writings of fellow authors helps improve your skills… plus you’ll learn a lot from the discussions about what other readers enjoy and get recommendations on other books to read.
  7. Improve your health. Okay, so our pizza nights probably aren’t the best for this (though they do have vegan and gluten-free options!) But for those who are looking to get more physically active, a number of our members are also in the Hogwarts Running Club. Start a post in our Facebook discussion group and get a group together!
  8. Travel more. There’s at least one Harry Potter convention each year. They are a great way to indulge your nerdy side while giving you an excuse to travel to a location you might not have necessarily visited on your own. (Trust me, I know. New Hampshire wasn’t on my top list of travel locations until I started attending MISTI-con. Now I can’t wait until my next trip up there… and at least 20 Slug Club members are attending next time!)Slug Club and Portkey to Magic at MISTI-con Ball

Have we convinced you? Join our Meetup.com and/or Facebook groups in order to find out about upcoming meetups.

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!

Accio Books 2015

S.P.E.W.’s Accio Books 2015 Drive Would Make Hermione Proud

A couple of weeks ago we delivered the books we collected this year, thus completing our second year participating in The Harry Potter Alliance‘s Accio Books campaign. Last year, we collected over 300 books and were so proud. It was only our first year doing it plus we started with less than half of the campaign left. We expected maybe 100 books.

This year, Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. group was a little more ambitious. When the HPA asked us to set a collection goal, we went for 1,500 books – almost five times what we collected in the previous year. Our team went all out, setting up book collection boxes at their jobs and in local libraries, pestering their friends and family, and partnering with other local groups such as Orlando Nerd Nite and Tampa Bay’s Portkey to Magic. (It really helped that the organization we were working with was one that many of our members were passionate about helping: Impower FL, a mental health and child well-being organization that serves five counties in Central Florida.) Our total this year? Read More

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

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!