Thursday, November 15, 2018

Magical Wizarding World Pics & A Little Life Rambling

Well helloooo, you. I have a pile of pretty Potter pictures here, plus a desire to sit and chat. Cool?


I should mention I've decided not to stress (or at least TRY not to) over the fact that Epbot is basically becoming a Harry Potter Christmas blog this month. This is brave, this is mildly obsessive...THIS IS ME.

 I promise after the Hufflepuff party and next month's fabulous Christmas con and then the Festival of Trees and everything I'll get back to other fandom things. Probably. [Cut to me running madly through twinkle lights yelling "I'M NEVER GOING BACK YOU CAN'T MAKE MEEEEE!!"]


Oh hey look, my favorite Alley:

I took this a few weeks ago before all the pretty garlands went up, so it's much sparklier now.

I love looking for new angles; pretty sure you could blindly point your camera in any direction in the Wizarding World and find something beautiful:

Look at that crest and plaster work. LOOK AT IT.

If you stand to the right side of the steps during Celestina's show, you can get some lovely crowd-free shots:

I can't wait to see her Holiday Spell show again. Eeeee!

Goblin armor is best armor.
(The tiny suit is the one that assembles itself when you wave your wand, so you have to time this shot just right.)

Ever notice the corbels inside the Forbidden Journey gift shop?

I need to find a place for one of these in our house. And then, you know, steal and/or make one. 

(Picturing myself standing guard while John goes at one of these with a chisel is brightening my afternoon. Just sayin'.)

I played with a lot of window reflections, with limited success:

Here's my favorite:

This is looking out from Wiseacres, through that fabulous crystal ball.

And the hardest window of all to photograph: the mandrake over in Hogsmeade:

Honestly, this is the best I've ever managed, so I'm kind of proud!

Ohh hey, big news if you're a park geek like me: have you seen the new store?

Globus Mundi is the Wizarding travel agency, complete with a window of pamphlets that are pure gold to read through:

(click to embiggen)

From my IG Story:

I got my first look inside during Dressed To The 9 3/4s last weekend. It is a TINY shop - mostly selling Hogwarts Express merch - but so well themed:

Look up to the ceiling in the entryway for a fun surprise: 

 Brooms built for 4!

A whole wall of clocks:

Obviously I am completely and unabashedly in love with this globe:
I have a mighty need, people. A MIGHTY ONE.

There was a big stir a few weeks ago when the first ever Fantastic Beasts merch finally popped up in Wizarding World:

Baby Nifflers!

And if you haven't seen the new Fantastic Beasts wands, go Google them for a treat. (They're impossible to photograph; I gave up.) So much Art Deco deliciousness, and Dumbledore's is the stuff of dreams.

And that's just the M!

Not new, I just really love this sparkly phoenix shirt:

Every time I'm in Diagon Alley I try to decide which hanging sign I want to make first. Every time I pick a different sign.

This is the current contender. Thoughts?

Speaking of signs, I think these are both new? It's impressive to me that Universal keeps adding new little tweaks - or maybe I've just never noticed them before:

If you haven't been in a while, the Cauldron Cakes look completely different now:

Much cuter than the old style, though it still bugs the purist in me that knows the Cauldron Cakes in the books were stackable, and probably so named because they were made in or on a cauldron. (Which is why our version is like this.)

::pushes up Nerd Glasses::

::to look down them at you::

Anyone tried these pumpkin pasties? They look like cherry turnovers, but I'm too cheap to buy one and see:

Over to Hogsmeade again:

This clock tower - and the owl inside - is my favorite.

A few garland shots from last weekend:

And another new window display!

Go, Universal!

Not new, but always pretty:

For my fellow Christmas geeks: there's a HUGE NEW ROOM of Hogwarts Christmas merch in the Port of Christmas shop at the entrance to Islands of Adventure. This is the only place to find all the Potter Christmas stuff, and the only shop I've found in either park that carries the House stockings and garland. So be sure to stop here to drool:

They've themed out the whole place beautifully - look at those alcoves up top! And the wrapped broom!

 There are a few new ornaments this year, these two are my favorites:

This is a heavy real metal, and super sparkly.

Also heavy metal (but with less guitars):
Hnnnng. The other Houses are almost as lovely, too! Almost. ;)

If you haven't seen any of the Hogwarts castle projection shows, put it on your list. I finally caught the House showcase one, which is short, but breath-taking:

That's straight off my phone, no edits! I'm sure the Christmas one will start again soon, but I'd love to see them incorporate these House Pride sections into it for a little extra magic. 

Well gang, I've rambled on enough, and John is out in the garage wheezing (his cough is back, noooo) and feverishly working on our next big party build, so I better get back in there.

Just a closing thought, though, since I've been reflecting on this the past few days: 

I don't think it's a surprise to anyone here that getting older sucks sometimes. There are more things that hurt, more bills, more things to worry about - and the gnawing fear that maybe you've missed out on something, maybe it's too late.

On the flip side, the older you get, the more you realize the things that matter, and the more you learn to grab on to the happy in front of you, and not let go.

About ten years ago I developed a panic disorder literally overnight, and I've spent the last decade skidding down this path of fear, looking for diagnoses, clinging to hope, and mourning the loss of my life as I knew it.

A few years later I'd developed such a severe case of agoraphobia that I could barely get in a car, much less fly or travel, or even go to the movies.

I've been clawing my way back to my "normal" ever since, and you guys have had a front row seat to some of my victories and setbacks.

I don't have either to report today, but I do have this:


It's a little slice of "normal," you guys. Just me in a theme park line, feeling OK.

I still have a ways to go, still have a lot of battles to lose and doctors to see before I win again. But I'm going to keep looking back, and remembering, and hanging on to all the Happy I have right now, right this second. Because stuff hurts, and I'm scared and stressed too much of the time NOT to.

Also I'm gonna dive face-first into magical Christmas stuff for the next 6 weeks. If that makes you happy, too, then I hope you'll join me.

I love you guys. Be good to yourselves this season, k? 

And stay tuned for more party progress insanity. :D


  1. Once again, you have made my day a bit brighter. Thank you for this.

  2. Don't worry at all about posting lots of HP stuff -- we love it! <3 I'm planning my second ever trip to WWoHP in January and am using Epbot to get all revved up!!

  3. The pumpkin pasty is good, but small and expensive! I tried the one in California. They're just little pumpkin hand pies, and I bet you could make your own very easily with canned pie filling & pre-made crust for much cheaper. I would make them triangular and call them "A Little Slice of Normal!" Hang in there, Jen! You are amazing and wonderful. Don't ever forget that! <3

  4. The last part of your post really hit home. Last October my husband took me to Harry Potter World. He's claustrophobic and did not feel comfortable on any of the rides, but he did ride the train to Diagon Alley. In the morning when it was empty and he was ok, on the way back it was crowded and he was panicking internally on the train. (A very unhelpful fellow passenger tried to talk to him about it while sitting on the train. I gave her a stern look and her husband finally elbowed her to say Why are you talking about small spaces to a person struggling/shut up.) He rode it and got to the other side and made him happy and me. (A few years ago he struggled to travel, fly, go in elevators all of it.) Small steps and multiple milestones. It's always changing.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and victories.

    PS Harry Potter is awesome. You can talk about it all the time. :)

    1. Aw, poor hubby! The train IS a bit tight, and more uncomfortable if the car is completely full. You're right about those small steps, though; I think I've taken the train 5 times now? And every time it gets just a little easier. I have to remind myself to keep pushing through the discomfort so I don't lose the progress I've made so far.

  5. I'm currently Potter obsessed, after doing the studio tour down in London earlier this year, and I really wanna go again. So I REALLY like these posts. And have you seen the sewing pattern? It's an official Simplicity one and it means I'm making a (no longer) Halloween robe and tie set for me. Being an adult rocks, so does not paying £75 for a robe!

    1. Yay for making your own robes! Honestly I'm not a fan of the material they use for them in the parks anyway, so homemade is doubly better!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your joys and your struggles. I love your creative view of the world. And I love you for sharing your story and making me feel a little more okay. You give me hope and make the world a little brighter.

  7. Even though I'm not a Harry Potter fan, I always enjoy your posts and seeing your pictures and crafts. They're all pretty, but I think I'm also really enjoying your joy in them. Shared joy is a nice thing.

    Hang in there with your struggles. Small victories are still victories, and they add up after awhile.

  8. Thank you Jen! Christmas on Epbot is part of my Christmas tradition, and I am SOOOOO excited about all you are doing this year.
    Getting older IS hard sometimes, but I've let go of the idea that there will be an arrival in this lifetime. At this point I'm just trying to enjoy the ride as much as possible and take care of those around me along the way... and I have some spectacular hopes for "the next great adventure."

  9. Thank you, Jen! I love all of your Xmas posts. :) When do the Xmas decorations go up at Universal? A friend of mine are now thinking we want to make the trip next year... :)

    1. Most of them are up now! Not sure what the official first date is, but it's gotta be very soon.

  10. I know I shouldn't say this out loud, but, I'm not a Harry Potter fan. I read this blog for you.
    I also kinda wish I had the online friends and following you do.

    1. I think that's totally ok to say out loud! I love Disney & HP, and I can follow some Star Wars because of my son and husband's interest, but a lot of other stuff on Epbot is unfamiliar to me or not an interest of mine...but like you, I love to read about Jen & John's adventures and I appreciate their appreciation of those things.
      I'm glad you felt ok sharing your feelings!

    2. I'm way more flattered if you're here for me versus my fandoms, so of course that's cool to say out loud!

      And fwiw, ten years ago I had almost no geeky friends, much less online ones. It's why I turned to blogging: to be me and find people like me. I have an amazing community here now, and I know I'm lucky to have this, but it took time and reaching out. Today it's a lot easier to find folks online, but it still means taking that risk, writing a post, and reaching out. You might try joining some fan pages of things you like, or of course FOE is an amazing group. Put yourself out there a little; you might be surprised how many people are waiting for you to make the first move.

  11. 1) I think Harry Potter Christmas for the next 6 weeks sounds just fine. ;)

    2) Dear Jen and Friends of Epbot, I am searching for Harry Potter themed dog art. (Preferably something with all four houses, I think, as I don't know the recipient's self-identified house. I can find out, though!) If the dog was vaguely Labrador-shaped, I would be ecstatic. Any recommendations??

    1. I thought surely Christie Cox had some, as she's done Dogtor Who and Star Trek pups,but I couldn't find any on her FB biz page and her Etsy shop's on vacation for Thanksgiving. Don't know if she'll be taking any commissions after TG, but she does beautiful work. I have 3 commissions from her.

  12. Pssst! I'm not a Potter fan, either -- I've seen most of the movies, so I would know what my friends are talking about -- but your photos are so beautiful, and your captions so entrancing, I want to be a fan. So I'll just be an Epbot fan. And a Cake Wrecks fan. and a Jen fan, if that's OK. :)

    1. Awwww, you. ::mwah::

      Also, DEEP DARK CONFESSION: I've only ever seen the first 3 Potter movies, plus Fantastic Beasts. I do like the books, of course, and love the characters, but more than anything I love the *world* Rowling created. I think it's why I cherish Universal so much, being immersed in that atmosphere - and also why I try to decorate our house with some of that aesthetic.

      Plus I'm married to the world's biggest Potter fan, so that helps. :D

    2. I'm not a fan either, but I work at a library, so I know about it. I almost didn't watch Fantastic Beasts because it was Harry Potter related, but I did for the beasts.
      Harry Potter's too big for me to want to be a fan. I feel I'd be a fan if it wasn't so popular. Not the best reason, but...
      And I'll always be a Jen and Epbot fan. I started reading CakeWrecks and even bought the holiday book for the library. When Epbot came about, I started reading it and dropped CakeWrecks, I'm more of a Jen fan than Cake Wrecks, and I love seeing everyone coming together over common interests even when they don't know people in real life.

  13. I'm a huuuuuuuuuge fan of Christmas, a big fan of Harry Potter, and most of all a even bigger fan of John and Jen. I love all you posts, whether it's about geeky stuff, Christmas or kitties, or the personal struggles and wins. I especially care for the posts about introverts and social anxiety. I don't have many friends, but I'm working on getting there. You give me a lot of encouragement and hope to someday throw my own geeky Christmas party <3.

    But I'll definitely look forward to the next 6 weeks of Christmas awesomeness! I'm right there with you! :D

  14. Your blog is the BEST place to be during the holiday season. The party, the wreath/ tree tour, the sparkly pics of the Wizarding world- I look forward to them all year. Far from being tired of all of this, I'm sure I speak for more folks than just me when I say, "More! (pretty please)"!

    1. Yeppers! "Your blog is the BEST place to be" sums it up rather nicely. Its always a happy, smiley part of my week regardless of the topic.

  15. I hope poor John feels better soon! If he hasn't been already, please drag him to a doctor. A lingering, reoccurring cough after a cold CAN be treated.

    Being Jewish, I get a little overwhelmed with all the Christmas coverage, but I do love Harry Potter and I enjoy hearing about all the little (and big) projects that you and John undertake. Thanks for the updates!

  16. For John's cough try mushing a banana and mixing it with 2.5 cups of hot water and a spoonful of honey. I had a cough that was hanging on for weeks and my husband found this. I keep it in the fridge and warm up a cup of the mix if I start up coughing. I was amazed how much it does work.

  17. Glad to hear you are having less episodes. I love the owl corbels. There is large plastic owl to repeal animals from garden that would be a great to cover with plaster (so John is not arrested). Thanks for posting the picture somehow I missed them. Off to amazon so I can copy them. Rodgers Garden has a great video on YouTube about making mandrakes if you need any help. Thank for all of your creative ideas.

  18. Since your first mention of this year's party I have been eagerly awaiting your posts! Do not stress over the "Harry Potter Christmas blog". I, for one, would be sorely disappointed if I didn't get to see your build projects. Please, please, please, keep them coming!

  19. In regards to the owl corbel, I have no doubt in my mind that you could easily make one of these. Get two of the plastic garden owl decoys, make a shelf out of pink foamboard (maybe with a wooden shelf/box inside if you want it weight-bearing), and paint it with grey Drylok to give it all a great stony texture. Then work your aging/drybrushing magic, and VOILA! I have faith in you! You can do the thing! ....after all the other things :)

  20. Ditto the others saying that I'm not a Potter fan, but I love seeing your posts about it because your joy and enthusiasm come through the screen and make me happy vicariously. Plus, I love seeing the DIY process no matter what you're making/setting up.

    A thought about window reflections: have you tried/considered taking a pop-up light reflector or anything portable that could block the reflections with you to the parks? Yesterday for National Bundt Day I even had my husband stand in front of the window to block the reflection on the sauce on the cake. :-)

  21. We were at the Wizarding World today for the first time. It is amazing! Thanks to your posts, I knew some things to look for. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and look for more!
    We also found the house stockings and ornaments at the big trading post store next sortbof neat me the park entrance- but not at the Christmas shop.

  22. I'll probably never make it to the park, so I always adore your photos of the scenery and theming. So very cool!
    And yay for being able to wait in line. I had my first really bad panic attack freakout in the line for Body Wars at EPCOT, so I can empathize.

  23. Love Cakewrecks, Epbot, and Harry Potter! I had wanted to see the Wizarding World since it opened and finally made it last year. It was amazing! It far exceeded my expectations. I was so excited to see everything and to ride the Gringotts ride I felt like I was 12 years old. I'm 46. I think I am more into fandom stuff now than I ever was as a teen or young adult, so thanks for giving us older people a place to geek out and permission to enjoy our obsessions no matter what our age.

  24. Your “THIS IS ME” comment at the very beginning meant that I just viewed all of Diagon Alley with the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman playing in my head. A very beautiful (and confusing) clash of fandoms! We’ve only been to Disneyworld once and never to Universal, so I am trying to find an excuse to go to and experience this firsthand!

  25. Yay for being able to stand in line like that!!!!

  26. These are awesome! As to the reflections, get a circular polarizing filter. Must be circular, not the other kind. When you spin the filter, the reflections go away! You can get crystal clear or nearly crystal clear photos right through windows, it's great!

  27. When you make the owl bracket, just get a pair of Owl bookends( ) and paint them to look like stone.. or metal... etc

  28. I love HP and your park photos are the best! I’ve been lucky to visit several times and these posts remind me of the joy. When my 23 yo daughter rode the Hogwarts Express for the first time (her sister and I had ridden before on a different visit), she greeted the other people in the compartment, “We’re sharing this compartment so by the time we get to Hogwarts we will be friends for life, right?”


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