“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery”

For the last 2 years I have gone to A Celebration of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios. The first year, I searched for someone to join me, when no one was interested in committing to attend I gave up and opted to go alone, which was one of the best decisions I could have made. When time came to plan for this past years Celebration, I opted to not even bother to look for someone to join me and instead chose to meet up with people from the previous year.

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I am going to take a brief rabbit trail to say that I always get a lot of questioning looks when I choose to travel solo, a lot of ‘is that a good idea,’ ‘why don’t you wait until someone can go with you,’ that sort of thing. If you are considering traveling alone, do not listen to those people. If you have never traveled alone, I urge you to do it. Be it a weekend away in another city, or a trip to the other side of the globe to climb a bridge. Take the time to go somewhere new, to do the thing you’ve dreamed about. Yes, it may be scary, your anxiety may spike, but the experience is worth it.

As a huge Harry Potter fan, and all around nerd, let me say that A Celebration of Harry Potter is one of the most amazing experiences and it’s not because of the rides (The Forbidden Journey is my favorite!) the Butterbeer (Frozen please!), the chance to meet cast members or the panels (the Mina Lima panel is a must). The thing that makes Celebration so great, is the people, the fandom, the individuals who travel across the globe to take part in this 3 day event.

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I have never been the greatest at making friends. I’ve always been the type to keep a few great friends rather than a lot of mediocre friends. The people I choose to place in my life are people I believe that will bring joy and happiness, who will support me and pour into me, and hopefully I can do the same for them. The thing about Celebration is that you cannot help but make friends. I have never been around such an inclusive group of people. They don’t see labels (beyond your house. Ravenclaw!) and accept you and any quirks you may bring. As of late, areas of nerd (or geek or whatever you choose to identify as) has seen areas of toxic fandom, where sometimes it isn’t fun to be around certain fans, with the Harry Potter fandom I have never seen any of this (and if it exists, please don’t tell me).

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Celebration brings together a group of people that have a shared love for the same thing, where perfect strangers create meet ups just to put a smile on one child’s’ face, or take time out of their day to help a stranger fix a costume. Where solo travelers can make a post about going alone and will have ten plus invites to dinner and game nights. I can’t exactly articulate exactly what Celebration is, but for me it is friendship, laughter, and magic.

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So to the Harry Potter fandom- Thank you for being one of the most accepting groups of people I have ever met. For embracing one another, no matter if you’re Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. For bringing the magic to life.

To J.K Rowling- for creating a magical world for each of us. A world that has changed lives, and brought people from all over the world together.

To the friendships I have made over the past 2 years- Thank you for joining me on the adventure. For embracing my quirkiness. For sharing in the experience and celebrating alongside me.

And for those of you I haven’t had the joy to meet yet, see you next year.

Always.

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Back to Hogwarts

Today is the day that James Sirius Potter heads to his first year of Hogwarts. In celebration here are some of my favorite Harry Potter moments in my life.

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Hagrid’s Hut

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Welcome to Hogsmeade

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-Elle

NerdTours Tuesday: Hogwarts Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a NerdTours Tuesday! But the wait was worth it, since it meant I was able to go to Hogwarts!

For every Harry Potter fan Universal in Florida is the place to go for all things Harry Potter related. Both Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventures have Harry Potter lands within the parks. In my humble opinion you should start at Universal Studios where Diagon Alley is, make sure to buy a pass to both parks so that you can board the Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure where Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located. (You can go whichever way you choose, I just think it would be cool to take the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts over to Diagon Alley would be awesome!)

From Universal Studios as you head towards Diagon Alley the first glimpse you are entering into the world of Harry Potter is 13 Grimmauld Place. (If you are with non-readers who only watched the movies you may have to explain the relevance of what this place is)

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Next Stop Diagon Alley! Where you are instantly transported into the world of Harry Potter! There is so much happening it is hard to take in all at once! Swing by Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for some ice cream! Don’t forget to check out Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Quality Quidditch Supplies!

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Don’t forget to get some Butterbeer! I really enjoyed the frozen Butterbeer! Delicious! We also were brave enough to try the Fishy Green Ale, which was interesting but I would still stick to the Butterbeer!

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Next stop Gringots! Where you will go on a wild ride trying to escape from the vaults! At every turn there is something new to see! Even standing in the line for the ride is an adventure.

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After grabbing some food, and wandering through more shops you can head over to Platform 9 3/4 and board the Hogwarts Express!

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Next stop Hogsmeade!

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From Hogsmeade you can see the village along with more shops, street vendors but most importantly you can see Hogwarts! As you head into the castle you can will see the mirror of erised, where they keep track of points and many more items as you head towards the ride. This ride is amazing and has managed to incorporate things from every book!

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After the ride we stopped at the Three Broomsticks for lunch (and more Butterbeer!)

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Than we spent a good chunk of time wandering around Honeydukes! So much candy!

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We also found Hagrid’s hut while in line for Flight of the Hippogriff! If you pay attention you will even see Buckbeak!

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All in all the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a total blast and I wish I had been able to spend more time there! Can’t wait to go back!

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-Elle

NerdTours: Tulsa Wizard World Comic Con Edition

 

For the first time Wizard World Comic Con made an appearance in Tulsa November 7-9, 2014! And the good news? They are returning October 23-25, 2015! So this was my first Comic Con and I was only able to attend for a single day, in the future I hope to be able to enjoy the entire weekend, and perhaps head out to one of the larger cons, possibly in Dallas Austin. However, with that being said, Tulsa was able to sell out the weekend so just maybe it will grow and have more special guests involved in the future.

With this being my first comic con I had a lot of expectations, some were met, some exceeded, and some left me a little disappointed. However, it was worth the experience and I will definitely return again. You never know you may run into someone famous like R2D2!

 

 

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(P.S It may not look it, but I am dressed up as Clara Oswald)

1. One of the first things that surprised me was how many people were not dressed up, I was a little bummed, although I cheated on my costume. Hopefully, in the coming years this will change, I know I’m already planning a full costume for next year!

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2. Panels, we sat in on a few of the panels, the first one we attended was Females in Genre Fiction: Writing Strong Females and Handling Gender Stereotypes this was a panel held by a local group and was a bit of a disappointment. It was obvious that a panel was relatively new to the speakers and it felt as if you were watching a conversation at a coffee shop that you could not participate in, even though the audience was able to ask questions. This panel actually caused us to re-evaluate other panels that we attended.

 

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The Karate Kid 30th Anniversary with Ralph Macchio – this was a fun panel, Ralph talked a lot about the Outsiders because it was filmed in Tulsa, and a lot of the questions asked were about the Outsiders.

 

 

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Heroes in a Half Shell with Alan Ritchson – this was fun, Alan Ritchson is quite the character and had a good pace and interacted with the audience very well.

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Back to Hogwarts with Tom Felton by far the most popular panel, the room was packed and had people lined up against the walls, the line for questions started before Tom Felton even made it to the stage. Tom Felton was also filming a documentary about the people that attended Comic Con which was pretty awesome and will be interesting to see. One of my favorite moments also came from the panel. A little boy probably around 5 dressed as Harry Potter was asking a question, while his mom was translating the little boy started walking away and Felton responded with ‘Get back here Potter!’ You probably need to be a Harry Potter fan to appreciate it, but it was one of my favorite things of the entire con.

On a side note, I love what Tom Felton is doing with his documentary, from what I’ve read he is talking a lot about the people that attend and the culture, where many times it is ok for someone to dress up and paint themselves for a football team, but if they do the same thing for something like Star Wars it is looked down upon. Comic Con definitely has its own culture (and subcultures) and the community is so welcoming and open to everyone, even when they have different opinions on who is the best Doctor, it will be interesting to see where this documentary goes.

 

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Half hour of Power with the Green Ranger this was a blast! Jason David Frank taught a half hour karate class! Kids of all ages and parents got involved, some even in full costume were taking the class. I love that this was an option to participate in during this event!

Beyond the panels and meet and greets there were tons of booths to wander through and rows of comic book artists to meet and purchase items from. Beyond Wizard World there are tons of other cons out there, be sure to check out what is in your area because it is worth it. Hopefully someday I will be able to make it to San Diego Comic Con, and Galifrey One, a completely Doctor Who Con.

-Elle

NerdTours Edition

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I have a confession. I am a nerd. Most of my friends are aware of this fact and I am never offended by being called a nerd. I have learned to embrace my nerdiness. So I’ve decided to add a regular post specifically aimed at nerd travel. Each post will focus on a trip or place that may be defined by some as nerdy. Hence the name NerdTours.

First, what defines a nerd?

Rather than defining a nerd by stereotypes and what the world defines as a nerd. One of my favorie podcasts is Nerdist (if you haven’t listened to it, go check it out now nerdist.com) The host, Chris Hardwick defines a nerd as “what makes someone a nerd is how passionate they are about something and how they will try to understand that thing on a granular level, like, more than anyone else in the world…So I think it’s the level of which someone has a passion and focus about something that they care about, I think that’s what it is.”

Taking this to the next level, NerdTours would be taking those passions you already have and visiting the places they take place, the places that create them, the places that help to define where that focus came from. A few of the places I am going to look at come from my recent trip. Here’s a sneak peak into the future NerdTours posts.

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Doctor Who

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Torchwood

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Hay on Wye

Town of Books

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Platform 9 3/4

Stay tuned for the first NerdTour posts starting next week! If you have suggestions for places to see or places you’ve been leave them in the comments!