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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

I don't normally stray that far from my normal travel tips, but I figured it was time to share more of my Harry Potter geekery. You know I love the Wizarding World and have gone to Harry Potter: the Exhibition, the Warner Bros. tour in London and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I've also taken a fantastic Harry Potter walking tour of London and you may well remember my Christmas Snape (who stands guard all year in different headgear). Tomorrow is Harry Potter's birthday and I wanted to put together a fun post to commemorate it, as this September we will have caught up to the epilogue of Deathly Hallows.


Harry Potter love

This year we hope to visit the WWoHP at Universal Studios Hollywood that just opened in April. Next year we're planning a trip to Toronto where we will hit up The Lockheart, a Potter-themed bar. Every summer we throw a big party for Harry's birthday and we all dress up and act like wizard nerds and have a great time eating and drinking stuff from the books. Since we can't realistically travel to the Wizarding World, we bring that world to us. Here are some of my favorite photos of my HP travels, real or imagined:



The dragon standing guard over Diagon Alley is an awesome reminder that you are in the Wizarding World, but also of the heroic lengths the Golden Trio went to in order to save that world from You-Know-Who.


Everyone remembers the magic of the Yule Ball in Harry's fourth year. The fancy clothes and the way the Great Hall was transformed into an icy wonderland.

Don't you wish you could get your hands on some of those magical textbooks? It makes me want to channel my inner Hermione. Even if I can't do magic, because I'm a lowly muggle, I'd still love to read them.

This replica of Hogwarts was amazing and the perfect end to the WB Studio Tour. You can easily spend half the day here, so plan your trip as early in the morning as possible. And if you've already been, don't rule out a second (or third or fourth) visit, as they are always adding set pieces and they make the holidays even more special than usual.

Though I'm pretty sure the bridge was just made for the movie, because it was never mentioned in the books, I really love this photo with the Knight Bus in the background. 

My very first Harry Potter party was a small affair with a handful of people and dishes served. Everyone had a wonderful time making their own wands and duelling one another with the spells they knew.

You must have some licorice wands and pumpkin pasties. They are staples of the Wizarding World.

Our next party was so big as to be a bit scary, considering the year before. The food was devoured and the Butterbeer flowed freely and quickly. We didn't make wands this time, but we did pull some memories from the Pensieve to talk about and found our Patronuses (those are the stickers we're wearing). From left to right: That's me as Tonks, my friend Lydia as Lavender Brown, our friend Brande as Trelawney and one of Lydia's daughters as Luna.

I have my own potions storeroom, which also shares a corner with a bit of whimsy. Snape wouldn't approve, I'm sure.

While our first party was just a general Gryffindor get together at "the Burrow", the second was held in "Hogsmeade". Guests entered Platform 9 3/4 and took the Hogwarts Express to the little Wizarding village outside Hogwarts. Some students left their belongings at the station to be picked up by the castle elves.

Snape dressed up for the occasion and stood watch over the common room, though you can tell he was still unhappy about the revelry. He missed the opportunity to dig out his old "Potter Stinks" badge given to him by Draco. 

Do you remember in Sorcerer's Stone when Hagrid takes Harry into London to buy his schoolbooks, robes and such? They walked through Leadenhall Market to get there. While it's not pointed out in the movie, you'll recognize this in the background when Harry asks "Hagrid, can we get all this in London?" and Hagrid replies with "If ya know where to look."

Tonks and a Weasley
In January we attended a Hogwarts feast put on by the Portland Chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance to fight hunger. We got sorted, practiced spells, played games, ate a bunch of food and had a great time. Here we are on our way out. I love my pink hair more than my other wig (I cut it myself for a more punk rock feel).

Here I am practicing my magic with Snape. He's not all that impressed by my technique, but that seems to be his attitude about a lot of things. 


And here is a pic of the feast itself. It was quite dark, as the floating candles weren't working at the time, but there were four house tables and the Ravenclaw you see at the head of the table is also a magician. Awesome!

The loss of Alan Rickman this year was a bit devastating. I'm not going to lie. He was a brilliant Severus Snape and versatile actor that will be sorely missed. It felt even more important to me to throw a fantastic HP party. Unfortunately, we have pushed it back to August, so you won't get any pics today. 



While we were in Vegas, we made the pilgrimage to the new Harry Potter-themed coffee shop, which I enjoyed so much, that we went twice. They have some really fantastic drinks with names like Butter Brew and Black Forest Latte and amazing foods like the so, so delicious Sirius-ly Prosciutto sandwich with fig and goat cheese. (Drinks we tried out and loved: Butter Brew with espresso <a must, right?>, Sea Salt Iced Coffee, Lavender White Chocolate Mocha and the English Toffee Latte. They all have subtle flavors and bold coffee, which is totally the way I love my java.)



The tables are all stenciled with fun and magical Wizard sayings like the one above and one that rocks a fantastic quote from Alan Rickman. The decor isn't over the top, but it's enough for the geeks like me to not feel like they weren't trying. It's beautiful and tasteful and I'm already looking forward to another visit.


On my first visit, I made Eric take my pic with Hedwig and the trolley at Platform 9 3/4. On my second visit, some ladies were trying to get some photos, so I offered to get some with the two of them in the shot and did a mini shoot for them. Always willing to help out a fellow Potterhead. 

Tonight we'll be headed to the midnight release of Cursed Child at a local bookstore and tomorrow we'll be attending another HPA event that's collecting school supplies for underprivileged students that'll also give us another chance to dress up and play some games, so look for an upcoming post on those that'll include pics of both and our Potter party.

Will you be doing any Potter-related activities or travel this year? 

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