“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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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