Abby’s Pre-Orlando Adventure

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Its nearly time…….

If you watch our bi-weekly Facebook Lives you’re bound to know that i’m due to go on a ‘Super Fam’ trip and in particular, how excited I am about it! Well it’s time and i’m finally leaving tomorrow to embark on what is sure to be the best trip EVER.

If you follow our Facebook or Instagram accounts you’ll be seeing loads of videos and photos from yours truly over the next week including all things Disney, Universal and SeaWorld. Before I start packing (yes I know I’ve left it very last minute) I thought I would give you guys a run-down of what my trip is going to involve.

Soooo.. I arrive in Orlando at 5pm -ish on Sunday and by 9.30pm i’ll be at Universals Halloween Horror Nights!! Nothing like throwing us in at the deep end aye?! I’m absolutely terrified but also mega, mega excited for this (I do feel sorry for the people who are going to have to keep picking me up off the floor in the houses though) The house i’m most excited for is SAW: The Games of Jigsaw, SAW hasn’t featured at HHN for 8 years now and i’m pretty eager to see what’s going to be involved this time around.

For the first few days i’m going to be staying at Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort which I’ve heard is very nice indeed. 😛 On my first full day i’ll be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley, Hogsmede Village and Universal Studios. I’m absolutely buzzing to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – I’ve heard so many amazing things about it and I just can’t wait to see it all for myself and i’m especially excited for  Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™.

On to the next day.. On this day I will be visiting Volcano Bay in the morning and Universals Islands of Adventure in the afternoon, woooo!!! I can’t wait to ride Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster and teeny bit scared to do Ko’okiri Body Plunge™ I feel like this is going to be a fantastic morning and I can’t wait to get loads of snaps of the Volcano! For Islands of Adventure I’ve been warned not to wear white tops or any denim and this is because i’m bound to get ABSOLUTELY SOAKED on the water rides.. Hopefully it’s a warm day (oh I forgot to mention, the weather forecast for next week is BEAUTIFUL.) Oh i’m also very eager to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster We have a surprise evening with Universal on this day and i’m super excited to see what this is going to be, of course, i’ll keep you updated!

Day 4 is the day i’m most excited about… anyone who knows me will understand why. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to swim with a dolphin and now i’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to do it YAY!!! If you haven’t guessed already, i’ll be visiting Discovery Cove in the morning. I’m not going to lie there will probably be some tears buy hey, who cares it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity! After Discovery Cove i’ll be travelling over to Busch Gardens where I cannot wait to ride all the big coasters and ALL of the pressure is on me to ride Falcons Fury.. i’ve got this!

On day 5 i’ll be visiting SeaWorld in the Morning , Aquatica in the afternoon and back to SeaWorld for the evening! 😉 Very excited to ride Manta and Mako at SeaWorld as everyone in the offices always raves about how good they are. Especially excited to be lucky enough to ride them in the dark also! Psyching myself up for Ihu’s breakaway falls at Aquatica!

I’ll be staying over night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, ready for day 6.. On day 6 i’ll be visiting EPCOT in the morning and Animal Kingdom in the afternoon. Can’t wait to visit all of the different countries at EPCOT and i’m so buzzing for Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom, the reviews i’ve read about Avatar – Flight of Passage have all been great so I cannot wait to experience it for myself too.

On the 7th Day i’ll be off to Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, I am really looking forward to seeing Cinderella’s Castle, meeting all of the characters and getting to experience the iconic rides and attractions such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I also hope I get to watch Happily Ever After, could possibly shed a tear or two here as well!

On my last day I get to go SHOPPING at the Orlando International Premium Outlets and the Florida Mall, I’ve got all my pennies saved up for this I’m just hoping i’ll have enough room in my suitcase!! After that it’s home time 🙁 🙁

Only 1 more sleep to go and i’ll finally be off!! If you would like to follow my action packed week make sure you keep checking our Facebook and Instagram as i’ll be trying to post as much and as often as possible.

See you all soon!!

Smiles Included,

Abby

 

Universal Confirm A Celebration Of Harry Potter For 2018

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Universal love’s Harry Potter, we love Harry Potter and most importantly you love Harry Potter. So it make perfect sense for Universal to confirm that “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be returning next year.

Today Universal have confirmed that the event will take place on the 26th January through to the 28th. Here’s what they had to say;

Be a part of this magical 3-day event presented by Warner Bros. and Universal Orlando Resort™. Enjoy film talent Q&A sessions, special panels, demonstrations and new surprises.
As part of the event, you can also explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ and Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Florida™. It’s an unforgettable experience where the magic of Harry Potter™ continues, and it’s only at Universal Orlando Resort.

More information will be released and we’ll keep you advised about who will appearing as soon as we know more.

Smiles included…

Jamie

Is This The New Coaster Replacing Dragon Challenge?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

The news that Dragon Challenges last day would be the 4th September was met with similar feeling as when we announced that Jaws would be closing. The much loved coaster will be making way for a brand new Potter attraction but not much more information has been  released, so we’re working off crumbs.

One potential large crumb came to my attention last night when coaster specialist Dynamic Attractions tweeted this…

Now its not the article that’s the interesting part because like all of us we know nothing Jon Snow. Its the comments section that’s interesting…

Hmm an SFX Coaster, what is this strange device you speak of;

Dynamic Attractions bill the SFX Coaster as The World’s most exhilarating dark ride and state;

Combining a high thrill coaster with new track technologies, high definition storytelling visuals and state-of-the art audio effects. This attraction is filled with ‘firsts’ that will attract theme park enthusiasts from around the globe.

Dynamic Attractions did confirm that “someone” in Orlando had purchased an SFX coaster at IAAPA which does help fuel this rumour.

At first glance it does appear to have similarities to Escape from Gringotts but we’re thinking that this attraction may well have an indoor and outdoor part to it.

Universal are promising a “new generation thrill ride” so we’ll keep you posted when we learn more…

Smiles included…

Jamie

Top Secrets at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We poked our noses in at Universal Studios yesterday so now it’s time to pop next door and nose a little bit more.

We’ll start off in Marvel Super Hero Island where there are red phones dotted around that you can pick up and listen to various options on how to report different crimes.

All the buildings have been designed with all of the Marvel characters. The artist Adam Kubert has secretly signed his first name into each painting with the exception of Storm from X-Men.

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Some of the Marvel characters ride into the park on quad bikes at the top of the hour but quickly disperse to get ready for their character meet and greets.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster has lots of games to keep you entertained throughout the queue on a busy day but don’t forget to listen out for the roar as you shoot out of the slingshot launch tunnel!

Doctor Dooms Fearfall has prints of his victims, the Fantastic Four, on the floor! There’s also a little cubby hole underneath the Osborn Industries sign. If you stand there and listen carefully, you will hear two thugs planning their next stunt!

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Just across the road at Captain America’s Diner, you will see Thor’s hammer stuck in the glass and if you head inside, Thor will be over the other side, mid-throw.

Time for some Jurassic Park now and if you look carefully just outside the exit of Jurassic Park River Adventure, on the shelf there is a Barbosol shaving cream tin which represents the tin that contains the dino embryos in the film.

We’re gonna jump across back to by the entrance now into Seuss Landing where it all looks a bit different and crazier than the rest of the park! There are no straight lines and all of the buildings are unorthodox.

As you enter into the area, you will see McElligot’s Pool on the right hand side. One of the fish in the pool is special and if you toss a coin into it’s mouth, you’ll see what happens next..

“Young man, young man, you’re sort of a fool. You’ll never catch fish in McElligot’s pool”

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Moving swiftly over the The Lost Continent, you will find a mystic fountain which you can talk to. He will tell you jokes and riddles, but you won’t want to get the riddles wrong…!

Let’s go over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter now but this time we’re in Hogsmeade! Ladies, if you’re wanting a toilet break, now is the time to go. If you listen carefully you will be able to hear Moaning Myrtle!

Olivander’s is the place to be if you want to become a wizard with your very own wand and if you’re lucky, the wand may even choose you! You can then head off to some of the spell locations dotted around the area and cast some of your own spells!

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Just outside of Olivander’s is the Owl Post station where you can post a letter of your own to anywhere in the world with the official Hogsmeade stamp before heading back to Diagon Alley on the Hogwart’s Express. Don’t forget, the journey is a completely different experience this way!

So there we have it, some of Universal Islands of Adventure’s secrets. What else have you found on your travels?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top Secrets at Universal Studios

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Most of the parks have their own little secrets which lots of people may know about. If you don’t know about them, I’ll fill you in, but remember…it’s a secret!!

Let’s start off with Universal Studios:

To enter into either of the Universal parks you have to go through CityWalk anyway, once you’re in, head over to Blue Man Group and you will see a little single entrance with barely any queue with staff members there to scan your ticket to head straight into Universal Studios.

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Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has real banana trees grown outside..why? Because minions love bananas of course!

Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It allows you to choose your own song from the list each time you ride, but did you know you can play a secret song?! Simply hold down the logo for 10 seconds and enter in any 3 digit code for your secret song to begin!

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Over at the Revenge of the Mummy, there is a hidden statue of King Kong just inside, paying tribute to the original attraction. So he never actually left, he was just hiding!

Let’s shoot down some of the parade path over to Men In Black: Alien Attack. If you get there on a busy day and end up queuing, try jiggling some of the handles on the laboratories…

If it’s a quiet day, ask a team member for a tour of the ground floor of the immigration room. They may or may not be kind enough to do this with you! 😉

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It’s time for the bit you’ve all been looking forward to, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Here at Universal Studios you’re in Diagon Alley representing London. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot Kreacher the house elf peeping out over Diagon Alley.

Traditional red telephone boxes through Diagon Alley have their own little magic trick. You can go in and dial 62442 (MAGIC) and be transferred through to the Ministry of Magic!

If you look closely you might also notice there’s a few references to Jaws throughout Diagon Alley such as the the record shop has a record in the window titled ‘Here’s to swimming with bow legged women’. There’s also telescopes made of jaws and a set of jaws inside the window of the apothecary shop.

If you’re looking to experience Harry Potter and the Escape to Gringott’s then you will get to see all of the goblins hard at work. If you get the chance, talk to Griphook the head goblin and ask him questions. Maybe even ask him about the dragon! 😉

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Now that you’ve escaped the safest place on Earth, why not take a trip on the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade?!

There’s lots to look out as you walk through the queue area but don’t miss platform 9 3/4 because you can actually walk through the wall!!

So there’s some of the secrets that I know of! Do you have any that haven’t been mentioned?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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More Details About Universal’s A Celebration of Harry Potter Are Out

Hey Thrill Seekers,

A celebration of Harry Potter is becoming a big deal for Universal now in its fourth year the event is going from strength to strength. This years event will take place from the 27th Jan until the 29th.

Below is this year schedule;

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2017

Harry Potter™ Expo
9am – 5pm | Soundstage 33 and 21
Movie in the Park
10am – 12:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
Movie in the Park
1:30pm – 4pm | Music Plaza Stage
Opening Night Event
7:15pm – 8:15pm | Music Plaza Stage

SATURDAY, JANUARY 28, 2017

Harry Potter™ Expo
9am – 3:30pm | Soundstage 33 and 21
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang
10am – 10:30am | Music Plaza Stage
WB Studio Tour London – Discover the secrets behind Creature Effects with Nick
Dudman & Warwick Davis
10am – 10:30am | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Trivia
11am -11:30am | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Kids)
11:30am – 12pm | Music Plaza Stage
MinaLima: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter™ Films with MinaLima
11:30am – 12pm | Music Plaza Stage
Harry Potter™ Trivia
1:30pm – 2pm | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (All Levels)
2pm – 2:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
Stories From The Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World
3pm – 3:30pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Film Talent Q&A
4pm – 4:45pm | Music Plaza Stage
An Interview with Mary GrandPrĂŠ
4:15pm – 4:45pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
House Rally Meet-Up (Costume Contest)
5:30pm – 6pm | Music Plaza Stage
Evening Tribute
6:45pm – 7:45pm  | Music Plaza Stage

SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2017

Harry Potter™ Expo
9am – 5pm | Soundstage 33 and 21
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang
10am – 10:30am | Music Plaza Stage
MinaLima: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter™ Films with MinaLima
10am – 10:30am | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Trivia
11am -11:30am | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Kids)
11:30am – 12pm | Music Plaza Stage
Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (All Levels)
2pm – 2:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
Stories From The Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World
2:30pm – 3pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Trivia
3pm – 3:30pm | Music Plaza Stage
WB Studio Tour London – Discover the secrets behind Creature Effects with Nick Dudman & Warwick Davis
4pm – 4:30pm | Toon Lagoon™ Amphitheatre
Harry Potter™ Film Talent Q&A
5:30pm – 6:15pm | Music Plaza Stage

Soundstage 21
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter™
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Pottermore

Soundstage 33
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter™
MinaLima
Stories from Harry Potter™: The Exhibition
Scholastic
Universal Parks and Resorts™

Where will you head?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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What’s Next For The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

To say Universal’s partnership with JK Rowling has been successful would be a massive understatement! Many people put the rise of Universal solely in the Wizards robes and the evidence is pretty hard to ignore with attendances rising since its introduction. So it only makes sense that Universal will look to expand this area.

Back in 2015 Jamie wrote a piece about what he’d like to see introduced to the Wizarding World and the majority of this article still stands. So I’ll try to steer away from the same answers apart from the Ministry of Magic, this rumour doesn’t seem to want to go away…

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Ministry of Magic

As some of  you may already know, if you head inside one of the famous red telephone boxes and dial MAGIC (62442) you’ll be answered with a message stating ‘the ministry of magic is not open’ on that day which to me, is a little clue that maybe one day it will be…

There has been loads and loads of rumours surrounding “phase 3” and the Ministry of Magic – the largest rumour being that Fear Factor Live is going to be demolished to make way for London.. and the centre of the British magical community’s government. To place it here would mean it would be an expansion of Diagon Alley and not a third Wizarding World attraction. Universal don’t do things by halves though and I would still expect new rides, shops and food places if this were to happen.

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I’ve had a little think about what sort of attraction could appear along with the Ministry of Magic and I think it would be something along the lines of battles within the Ministry of Magic, fighting off dementors , watching a duel between Professor Dumbledore and Lord Voldermort or as Jamie mentioned in his previous blog – more interactive wand opportunities and maybe even classes for young Wizard and Witches.

All of the talk and hype about this potentially happening will hopefully give Universal a push to maybe confirming the rumours to be true? 😉

New Universal Park?

Now, I bet if we ran a poll to ask what you would want a new Universal park to be based on, I would be very confident in saying a Harry Potter themed park would be top of that list.

As you probably already know, Universal have purchased a whole load of land – around 450 acres which is approx 25 minutes away from the current Universal parks. If a new Harry Potter land was placed here I reckon the majority of Universal guests wouldn’t mind making the journey down I-Drive to the new park if it’s as good as the others!!

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The question on everyone’s lips is if it’s going to be a Harry Potter park then what would it be based on? I think Ministry of Magic is out the picture and Hogwarts Castle and Diagon Alley have already been done. Maybe, just maybe they might not stay in the ‘United Kingdom’…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them… The film is set in 1920’s New York where wizards are being hunted by descendants of the Salem Witch Trial perpetrators and a range of magical and rare exotic beasts have been let loose. The Fantastic Beasts concept is definitely a great one and a rumoured two additional films could lead to tons of content and ideas for a new park. I – Drive could act as the Atlantic Ocean from U.K to U.S.A and maybe wont make the journey from park to park feel as boring. :-p

It doesn’t look as though anything will be open until the 2020’s though so I guess it’s another waiting game.

Dragon Challenge

There has been some speculation regarding the Dragon Challenge ride being replaced so I have taken it upon myself to do a bit of thinking (I know!) as to what it could be replaced with.

My favourite idea is Azkaban being incorporated into an attraction.. A prison that’s supposed to be impossible to escape from on a solitary island in the North Sea and guarded by dementors – How cool would being able to breach Azkaban’s walls be, especially for Halloween events!  – Maybe a 3D ride where you can drive around the prison, maybe even use the interactive wand concept. Although this could lead to a pretty scary ride for the younger ones and as Dragon Challenge was a thrilling roller-coaster maybe it could be making way for a all new, improved coaster.

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Another idea is that it could be replaced with a Triwizard Tournamant ride.. Dragon Challenge was said to ‘honour the first task of the Triwizard Tournament so if they’re wanting to stay within that theme then any type of ride could become of  the Triwizard theme – the possibilities are pretty much endless. Here are some ideas; a race through the maze (from the third task), a ride through the forest to look at the dragons, a black lake based ride or maybe even something based on the other schools arriving to the tournament in their own magical ways.. Beaxbatons – in a carriage pulled by Abraxan horses and Durmstrang on a magical ship.

There’s just a few ideas, it really could be anything but who doesn’t love a bit of hearsay. What would you want a new ride to be?

Now none of these have been confirmed just yet, it’s just some things that we would like to see come to Universal, the interest in Harry Potter doesn’t seem to be diminishing at all and while the interest is high, Universal will do its best to give the public what they want.

Smiles Included,

Jess

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New Night-time Show Coming To The Wizarding World?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Happy New Year.. and what better way to start the year but with a good old rumour! On Christmas Eve the excellent Screamscape dropped a Potter bomb in the shape of a predicted new night-time show which they believe will take place at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The idea being very similar to the opening ceremony that took place in 2016 for Universal Hollywood’s own Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that a look here.

You’ll note the amazing music and fireworks but the standout for me is the huge improvement in adding computer graphics that are imprinted on to the  Hogwarts Castle, the brilliants lions of Gryffindor that come to life and the way they allow you to take a sneak peak into the castle itself is simply breath-taking.

As an amateur photographer the idea of capturing some of that imagery is mouth watering and I hope this is truly something Universal are looking into. A quick look at Universal’s jobs website gives me hope 🙂

universaljobObviously this doesn’t confirm anything and Universal are keeping schtum but I am considering ironing my Hufflepuff robes!

There is one thing that concerns me slightly, have you ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Its small, its designed that way on purpose to give it the real feel that JK Rowling insisted on and although it works perfectly in creating the correct ambiance it wont be so good for large crowds of people waiting to watch the show.

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But hey, these kind of conundrums are why the brains at Universal get paid the big bucks! Is a night time Wizarding World of Harry Potter show something you guys would be interested in?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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NBCUniversal Acquires Rights to J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Franchise

Hey Thrill Seekers,

nbc-uni-logoFor those of you that like to keep up on the latest developments in the theme park world there was a very interesting development yesterday that could have an impact on content within the Universal Orlando Resort theme parks.

NBCUniversal announced an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for broadcast and cable network television rights in the United States to all of the films in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise. Beginning July 1, 2018, all eight HARRY POTTER films can be seen on NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s USA Network and Syfy in a deal that also gives rights to air the films across all NBCUniversal television networks. The agreement includes exclusive basic cable rights to the new FANTASTIC BEASTS films – the first of which releases early November 2016. In addition, the partnership incorporates exclusive content and events for the Universal theme parks.

I’m sure you’re fascinated by this but what exactly does this have to do with Theme Parks I hear you cry?…

Well, In addition to the digital and broadcast tie up this deal will allow Universal Orlando to explore a range of new opportunities including fan events, movie screenings and promotional activities tied to the “Harry Potter” franchise and the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts” film series.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, along with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando Resort, have become global entertainment phenomena. They offer guests immersive, expansive environments complete with innovative attractions, shops and restaurants. The lands bring the films to life in an entirely new way and immerse guests in the adventures of Harry Potter. Universal worked closely with J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. to create the areas to ensure they are as authentic as possible.

We will keep an eye on this as it develops – we’d love to see some Fantastic Beasts content…hint, hint 🙂

Smiles Included…

Karl

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Sugarplums Sweetshop Now Open At Universal’s Diagon Alley

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I kept meaning to post about this but Star Wars kind of got in the way and then our good friend Geoff but for those of you who love a bit of Harry Potter I’m pleased to be able to share a little bit of information regarding Universal’s new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.

From today visitors can get there sugar hit by visiting Sugarplums Sweetshop, its sells everything from Chocolate Frogs to Butterbeer Fudge, there’s something every wizard can enjoy!

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Sugarplum’s has many of your favorite sweets from the wizarding world including some new treats like Butterbeer Fudge and Pumpkin Cakes.

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And you’ll definitely want to pick up some Fizzing Whizzbees, Exploding Bonbons and Pepper Imps.

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Sugarplum’s Sweetshop is located where Shutterbutton’s used to be in Carkitt Market behind Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Quality Quidditch Supplies. You can now find Shutterbutton’s next to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.

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I’m practically salivating already!!! Which sweets are you going to try first?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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