Hogwarts and Syfy: Adventures in Orlando, Part 2

So after all of that bowling fun, as mentioned in my previous post, I had to be up at 8 a.m. for breakfast, which was at a different hotel. So I had to figure out how to get to said hotel (it turns out, I just needed a shuttle bus from my hotel to CityWalk where I caught another bus to the press tour hotel). The breakfast offerings were many, but I was still stuffed from the previous night, so I settled for orange juice, coffee and a yogurt parfait.

We set up and prepared for a day of panels highlighting some of Syfy’s shows. The panels began with two of the executives talking about the future of Syfy’s programming, and I was most impressed with a statement about how they planned to put the “sci-fi” back in Syfy. That’s something fans of the network want to hear. They seem committed to that, especially with new offerings like AscensionKilljoys and Childhood’s End.

The first series panel of the day was for 12 Monkeys, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous about the show because I’m a fan of the movie, but after seeing the trailer and hearing the co-executive producer talk about how he’s a big fan of the movie, I feel a little better. The trailer sort of blew my mind. I think this show is going to be wonderful and it’s time travel, so no complaints from me. We had time to meet Amanda Schull and Aaron Stanford, who star on the series, too. I managed to snap a photo with Amanda.

(Btw, I apologize for all the weird shadows in the photos. The lighting was certainly less than ideal.)

With Amanda Schull of 12 Monkeys

You can read my write-up of the 12 Monkeys  panel here at T-Lounge.

The next panel was for Helix with Kyra Zagorsky (who plays Dr. Walker on the series) and executive producer Stephen Maeda. There are going to be a lot of changes in season 2, and they both talked a bit about that. I’ll be covering the panel in full here, so stay tuned.

I grabbed a selfie with Kyra after telling her how much I loved her dress.

With Kyra Zagorksy from Helix

Again, the weird shadows attack!

We took a short bathroom break, but I patiently waited it out with more coffee, because next up was the Killjoys panel. And that included Aaron Ashmore, who I adored in Warehouse 13. A friend asked me if he was as sweet and adorable as she hoped he would be, and I got to answer “yes!” By the way, Killjoys sounds like it’s going to be a fun dramatic series and it’s probably going to scratch the itch that Browncoats have had since the cancellation of Firefly. I’ll be covering that panel soon here on this site, too.

Did I mention that the producers of Killjoys, Michelle Lovretta and Emily Andras, are also responsible for Lost Girl and Orphan Black. I took a photo with them and Aaron. Again, OMG, he’s so sweet.

With Aaron Ashmore and the producers of Killjoys

I’m not sure where this double chin comes from, because I swear I don’t have one, but I’m going to blame it on the bad lighting and angle and stuff. 😛 I also look way too happy to be standing next to Aaron… oh, wait, I was. Hello, I’m a fangirl…

I’ll admit that I wasn’t overly excited about The Town of the Living Dead panel until I heard Tina Teeter speak about her passion for the movie they’re making in the reality show based on their making of that movie. I also realized that these are like people I know, very genuine, very small town, what you see is what you get. I’m glad their story is getting the Syfy treatment, because it’s actually a very good one. I’ll be posting that on this site, too.

Obviously, I took a photo with the moviemakers and producer of the Syfy series.

With Town of the Living Dead

Then we had lunch. But it wasn’t just any lunch. We had lunch with McKenzie Westmore from Face Off. Because that’s the way we roll. I don’t watch the series, but I respect the Westmore family very much. However, McKenzie gave us a good scoop on the new season, which will have Rick Baker in an episode. I didn’t get a photo with her, though, because I was too busy stuffing my face. Syfy fed us VERY well.

After lunch, it was time for the Ascension panel. It was great seeing our bowling buddies again. I swear the idea of this show gives me goosebumps, so hearing more about it just made me so ready for the premiere to be here already. Seriously, this is going to be the next Battlestar Galactica. I’m calling it right now.

I did get a photo with the full cast. Tricia Helfer is like the most beautiful woman on the planet and even with the bad lighting, she looks stunning. I heard her talking about cats with someone else shortly after this photo was taken. How can you not love her? The rest of the cast are also amazing, and I love the enthusiasm they have for Ascension.

With the cast of Ascension

This cast makes me look good! You can read all about that panel here on T-Lounge.

The final panel of the day was for Z Nation. This was the show I didn’t watch at first, but then after catching the first episode on Amazon VOD (which was free), I binge-watched until I was caught up. The actors were positively dancing by the time they sat down because we’d all just found out that the series was picked up for a second season. So the panel was an energetic one. I covered it here for T-Lounge (we like zombies over there).

And of course, I got a photo with Mack and Murphy, y’all! Plus executive producer Karl Schaefer.

Z Nation!

But the day wasn’t over. We got a short break before the evening festivities. Get this: Syfy set up a private party for us at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios: both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. And we rode on buses to the parks with most of those actors, producers and others who did panels all day for us.

We were handed VIP badges on Hogwarts House lanyards (I went with Ravenclaw, of course, to match the Ravenclaw t-shirt I was wearing). We arrived at the park and took the back VIP entrance in, that, I kid you not, had a red carpet laid out for us. We took the Hogwarts Express (OMG, I thought I was in the movie) from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley.

If I’d been impressed with Hogsmeade the previous day, Diagon Alley BLEW MY MIND. It was so… real. Everything felt so real. Syfy had food stations all around the area, plus cocktails, but our first order of business was to ride Gringott’s, which is this part roller-coaster, part movie ride. We just walked on, because WE HAD THE PARK TO OURSELVES, and it was amazing. It was definitely one of my favorite rides.

After, we tried to take in all the details we could before we were scheduled to take the train back to Hogsmeade for dessert there. We had butterbeer ice cream (I have no words as to how good this was), and then visited Ollivanders, where my new friend, Lisa, became the chosen one, where a wand chose her. She ended up purchasing the wand, which was one of the interactive ones, which made stuff happen if you visited certain areas of the parks and did the magic spell outlined on the ground beneath it (yes, that’s some serious attention to detail right there). It was absolutely magical.

Soon, however, we took Hogwarts Express (an amazing ride in and of itself) back to Hogsmeade, where dessert stations were set up. I ate a little dessert, but at that point, it was all about the butterbeer. We hopped on Flight of the Hippogriff (there were only two of us riding it at the time) and then while others rode the castle ride (I swore never again), I walked through the castle to take in all the little Potter-isms and things.

The fun was over way too soon and we took a singing bus (because we were all singing on the way back) to the hotel with the cast of Ascension (yes, they were singing, too).

I did return to Diagon Alley the next day, but I made the mistake of not getting up early to do so, because it was PACKED with muggles. I should have known it wouldn’t be the same as having the area to ourselves, but I did snap some photos that I couldn’t get the previous night because it was dark. You can see those on my Flickr.

I had lunch (fish and chips – yum) at The Leaky Cauldron and preceded that with more ice cream: this time I mixed a scoop of clotted cream (SO good) with sticky toffee (good, too). For one final hurrah, I drank my last mug of butterbeer.

But I had a little time left, so I went to ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster. This thing goes straight up at a 90 degree angle, so how could I refuse? The ride was one of my favorite roller coaster experiences ever, right up until near the end, when it stopped. And got stuck. And I had to sit in the Florida heat for 20 minutes.

I panicked when they brought us water, but they had us extricated from the ride vehicle fairly quickly. I had to run back to the shuttle to get to the hotel, just in time for the airport shuttle that was waiting on me. Whew. Would I do it again?


It was a fun wonderful experience and I think I’ll now make time in my schedule every year for the Syfy Digital Press Tour. It’s not always in Orlando, but I bet it’s always fun. Syfy treated us very well, like VIP’s. And sometimes, that’s nice.

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