A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: London & King’s Cross

There are a few things in the world that can match the impact of Harry Potter. Let’s be real here. Real nerdy. Harry Potter transformed the imaginations of an entire generation and beyond.

So when Alston and I were doing our Orlando tour of Disney Adventures and decided to include Universal, I couldn’t deny that what I was most looking forward to was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was going to be a witch! I’d see Hogwarts! Roller coasters! Everything was going to be amazing.

I’ll be super frank here and say that I didn’t love J.K. Rowling’s writing all the time. I had issues with her style and some of the choices she made (wait, Dumbledore is gay? Why didn’t you include that in the story so LGBTQ readers could have an amazing hero that was just like them? Why announce it only after everything is done? Argh… don’t get me started), but one thing I desperately loved was the world she crafted. She really did bring magic to life.


The Universal Studios park in Orlando (there’s also a Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Los Angeles and Osaka) is like a fairy tale come true for many of the Harry Potter generation. You get to live and breath the whimsical world of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, walk in the shadow of Hogwarts, and drink Butterbeer and eat Puking Pasties.

But wait… I’m getting ahead of myself. You need to get there first!

The first thing to realize about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which shall henceforth be referred to as WWoHP because holy crap that’s a lot of words to keep typing over and over again), is that it is magical.

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Okay, you knew that.

Actually, it’s two different parks. You have Diagon Alley and London at Universal Studios Florida and then Hogsmeade and Hogwarts on Islands of Adventure. To get between the two, you take the Hogwarts Express. For realsies. You take a train.

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

From King’s Cross to be exact.

Ignoring the geographical error here and the fact Leicester Square is not directly next to King’s Cross, I have to hand it to Universal for getting the architecture of London pretty gosh darn right. Sure there’s the staple f the red telephone booth, but then again, those do still exist. What amused me most was they have the grating for the tube stop completely right. it’s the little things, people.

In fact, this part of the park, which is also home to Diagon Alley, is a mini recreation of London with important landmarks from the films. There’s 12 Grimmauld Place, home of Sirius Black and later headquarters for The Order of the Phoenix, the infamous Knight Bus from The Prisoner of Azkaban, and of course King’s Cross and the magical Platform 9 3/4.


The particular part of the park is really just an entrance to the rest of the attractions. From here you can get to both Diagon Alley and hop on the train to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Other than posing with the various landmarks there’s not much else to do, unless you’re us and get into a duel, but that’ll come later.

Getting to Hogwarts

In order to get to Hogwarts from here you need to head into King’s Cross station with your park ticket, get validated, and then wait in line. The train runs back and forth constantly so the wait is never horribly long, and in theory you could just exit Universal and go to the Islands of Adventure entrance, but what fun is that?

The good thing is that the line has plenty of things to amuse you. There’s luggage stacked everywhere, a few owls looking at you, and of course all the excited people roaming around. Alston and I were decked out in our robes and everything by this point and more than one person was snapping a pic. Alston frequently got mistaken for an employee x’D.

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Did you know that when you go to TWWoHP that you actually become magical? I mean, how else did Alston and I go through platforms 9 and 10?


It’s actually a fun mirror trick (OH GOD I RUINED THE MAGIC!). It’s just another little quirk and experience here that really adds to the atmosphere.

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.comOnce you pass through Platform 9 3/4, you see the sign for the Hogwarts Express, and it’s kinda hard not to squeal. I mean, this is iconic.

Though so is waiting in lines.

Eventually you’ll be put into chutes for your cabins when the train finally rolls up. And when it does you’ll also feel like a kid because there it is, in all it’s glory: The Hogwarts Express!

6-8 fit in a cabin and as you travel to the other park you’re treated to a little movie that shows you chugging along the Scottish countryside as well as some memorably moments from the films (the car from A Chamber of Secrets makes a particularly amusing cameo). There’s also shadows on the cabin windows of your fellow Hogwarts students passing along, including the famous trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

It should be noted that to get the full experience, ride the train BACK to Universal as well instead of exiting through Islands of Adventure. The movie is different on the return trip.


You journey comes to an end in Hogsmeade, the perpetually snowy village that’s dwarfed by Hogwarts. But we’ll get to that next time.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park in every sense of the world. It’s about the theme and the experience more than about the rides. The rides are great, but there’s not a lot of them. When you go to TWWoHP, it’s to dive into the magical world of the books and movies more than anything else. And it just goes to show how successful that aspect is by the fact you can entertain yourself in the London and King’s Cross part of the attraction, which is relatively minuscule in comparison to everything else.

Especially because… who knows… you may just end up in a duel!

A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be a multi-part series, so make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media to know when the next part is published!

| London & King’s Cross | Diagon Alley | Hogsmeade | Hogwarts & The Forbidden Journey |

A Muggle's Guide To The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is part of the Disney Adventures collaboration between The Nerdventurists and  Alston Stephanus of Alston Stephanus Accessories. Check him out on Instagram & his company!

Photos by Noriko Sugiura.

Between the Sheets: Hotel Maui Dongdaemun - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Between the Sheets: Hotel Maui Dongdaemun

Sometimes life gets to be too much. Whether it’s work or social circles or just the day-to-day grind that is slowly making you mad, once in awhile you simply need to get away from it all. But maybe you don’t want to go far, maybe you just need a mini break in the city where you call home. I was in need of one of those, majorly, I had just quit my job here in Seoul, and my mind was going beserk trying ot think of everything I needed to do; I needed somewhere quiet and cozy to just cancel out the world.

So when I was invited to spend a few days at Hotel Maui, I lept at the chance. It was exactly what I needed.

Between the Sheets: Hotel Maui Dongdaemun hotel review - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Located in the quiet blue collared working neighborhood of Dongdaemun, Hotel Maui is a surprising budget oasis if you need to get away from the crowds of one of the busiest cities on earth. It’s nestled between Dongmyo and Sinseol-dong subway stations not far from the lovely Cheonggyecheon Stream, a perfect place to be if you want to be towards the center of the city but also away from the madness.

Hotel Maui has only just had its grand opening, and it’s clear that the owner and staff want to make the place as welcoming as possible. I was greeted by the owner herself when I came in, a bit wet from the rain and looking more or less bedraggled. She immediately let me know where everything was, what was in the area, and invited me to a pajeon and makgeolli party the hotel was having that evening.

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Mogo: A Vegetarian Meal Service in Seoul - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Mogo: A Vegetarian Meal Kit Service in Seoul!

I haven’t griped too much about the difficulties of being a veggie in South Korea, because I feel like it’d be kind of obnoxious of me to do so. Korea’s diet is heavily meat based. It’s in their cultural makeup here as well as a huge part of their social world. Of course it’s going to be difficult.

So while I may complain about surprise SPAM and cheese every now and again, I try not to let it get me down. However, whenever a new vegan or vegetarian heavy restaurant opens I get super excited. So least to say, when I saw there was a new vegetarian meal kit service in Seoul… I may have flipped out.

Introducing Mogo!

Mogo: A Vegetarian Meal Service in Seoul - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Ranging from W7,500 – 9,500, these meal kits can feed 2-3 people and are chock full of protein, nutrients, and deliciousness! Right now there’s only four kits to choose from, but they all look super tasty! You can grab spaghetti with quinoa, bulgogi lentils, Korean pancakes, and Texas style chili. Everything is vegetarian and I believe these four are also all vegan!

The team behind Mogo is incredibly helpful in answering all questions and are really looking for feedback, so make sure you go and try out one today: the shipping is free is you get three or more!

I got to try out the Cincinatti Spaghetti and the Bulgogi Lentils are waiting for me patiently. Everything about the packaging is adorable and convenient.

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Musical Theater in Korea - Dorian Gray: A New Musical - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Musical Theater in Korea: Dorian Gray (Starring Kim Junsu and Park Eun Tae)

Living in a foreign country has its host of difficulties, especially when you don’t know the language. However, I truly believe that music is international and you don’t necessarily need to comprehend every individual word to understand the feeling or meaning behind a song.

That’s why I wasn’t too worried when I traveled out to the Seongnam Arts Center to see a new musical that had been produced back in September. It was Dorian Gray. I knew the story, so figured I would be able to follow the plot well enough. Mostly I was looking forward to how the story would be translated into a musical, listen to some pretty voices, and of course to see my favorite singer Kim Junsu in the starring role (who I went to see in my first KPOP concert back in June).

This post will contain plot spoilers for The Picture of Dorian Gray and also the musical version. The story is over 100 years old but well… just saying.

Musical Theater in Korea - Dorian Gray: A New Musical - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

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Haunted Disney World - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Haunted Disney World

So it’s not only Disneyland in California that’s haunted… Disney World has quite the fair share of ghostly occurrences itself! What, with five parks, there is a treasure trove of creepy stories, scary specters, and heebie jeebies abound! Tis the season for a good ghost story or two, so here’s a handful from our time at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

You may notice some of the rides here are ALSO haunted at Disneyland… I wonder why that is… MWAHAHAHHAA. It’s time for another edition of Disney Adventures!

Haunted Disney World - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

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Quitting Your Job Abroad - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Quitting Your Job In Korea

A few months ago I talked about how excited I was to be moving to South Korea. I was looking for a positive life change, going to a place where I could be creative and save money and travel. You may also remember I mentioned that I was kinda wary of it. I tried convincing myself it was just nerves and that it was okay to be afraid. I really should have just listened to my gut. Always listen to your gut.

14 hour work day. Cool.

A photo posted by Kristina 크리스티나 (@kmanente) on


Long story short… I hated the job. I felt I couldn’t keep up, I was told I didn’t have the right personality, I broke down a few times, I was given more responsibilities than I could possibly handle during my working hours… the list could go on and on. It wasn’t just one thing, but a series of little and big things that began to pile onto one another until I decided I just couldn’t do it.

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Weird & Wackiest Museums in South Korea - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Weird and Wacky Museums of South Korea

I’ve never seen so many museums in a single country than I have in South Korea. It’s staggering actually. There’s everything from museums on folklore to Leonardo da Vinci, Hello Kitty, and even African art.

Some of these museums get a little… different. How about one dedicated to toilet culture around the world? Or even erotica? Yup. It exists.


I wrote about some of these fantastic museums and where to find them, so you should definitely check it out!

Read more on iExplore…

Also don’t forget to check out my  Jeju Island guide on iExplore as well!

Moist Lover rubber mask review - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Moist Lover Rubber Mask Review

Sometimes you see something and have to buy it.

I’m a big fan of the skincare here in Korea. It’s well priced, has great effects, and there’s about 5,000 different things to try. One of those things I didn’t anticipate trying was something called Moist Lover. It’s one of Dr. Jart’s new rubber masks and after so many of you freaked out about it on instagram and facebook, I had to give it a try.

All the details in the vlog, including where to buy it in Korea and abroad.

Watch the video above and please subscribe!

What To Expect At Shanghai Disneyland - Disney Adventures - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

What To Expect At Shanghai Disneyland


The newest Disney park on the block is the megalith Disneyland in Shanghai. Not only is it the largest Disney park in the world at 963 acres (that’s THREE TIMES the size of Hong Kong Disneyland), it also has the tallest and biggest castle at a staggering 196 feet. It’s based off The Beast’s castle from Beauty & the Beast and even has a ride inside.

It’s been plagued by some bad press and even had to close because tourists trashed the place and the Shanghai government and tourism bureau was forced to put out a theme park etiquette guide. No joke.


Because the park is relatively new (it only opened this summer), not a lot of people know what to expect when heading there. We sure didn’t, and even though Alston and I both read our fair share of articles not being super complimentary of the park, we had more Disney Adventures to do! So we book the flights, got a whole gaggle of people together (seriously there were fourteen of us, including our lovely videographer Jeff!), and decided to get magical~

What To Expect At Shanghai Disneyland - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Shanghai Disneyland was an experience, a good one ultimately, but also a very intense one. So if you’re thinking of heading to the Happiest Place On Earth, Chinese edition, here are some tips and tricks that you are definitely going to need.

It’s time for another episode of Disney Adventures with Kristina and Alston!

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How I saved $3k going to the dentist in South Korea - A+ Dental Apgujeong - The Nerdventurists - www.thenerdventurists.com

How I Saved $3k By Going To The Dentist In South Korea

I have saved over $3,000 in Korea. No, it’s not from penny pinching and transferring money home (although I do that too), no, it’s because I went to the dentist.

Yup. The dentist.

Dental care in South Korea is cheap. It’s not insanely cheap, no, but it’s much cheaper than back home in the United States, and the standard of care here is phenomenal. The offices are clean, the procedures well done, and everything is just all around a lot more inexpensive.

I hadn’t been to the dentist in seven years. That’s right, seven years. It was too expensive in the USA, even when I was covered under insurance. It was completely impossible to even think of going when I had to leave my mother’s insurance when I came of age, so I just didn’t go. Yes, I had cavities, but I monitored them and never had any pain, so I figured everything was okay. And more or less things were.

However, I knew I needed to get a bit of work done, so when I was thinking of making the move to Korea I looked up how much dental care was there. To my surprise it was a lot cheaper than even I had been expecting, 1/3 if not lower than USA prices WITH insurance. It was a no brainer for me. I stuck it out and waited until I was settled in Seoul before heading to get my teeth fixed.

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