At well past the age where one would receive their Hogwarts letter, I'm starting to think it's just not going to happen. I mean, I'm still holding out for some kind of graduate school, but things aren't looking great.
In case things don't work out, I've been mapping out some places where Muggles can go to live out some of the Harry Potter magic. We might not be able to cast any real spells or ride a broomstick, but we might be able to get close enough at these locations to fool ourselves for a second or two!
1. Alnwick Castle - Northumberland, England
You might recognize this castle as one of the main exterior locations for the first two Harry Potter films. This location will be extra special for those of you who want to take a flying lesson with Madame Hooch!
Speaking of Quidditch...
2. The Quidditch World Cup - Rock Hill, South Carolina
To get the full scope of what makes this event so awesome, I recommend checking out the recent documentary Mudbloods. This "real" version of Quidditch is no joke. It is the perfect combination between fantasy and contact sports, and a place for fans of the series to convene and show their support for their respective teams. The upcoming Quidditch World Cup, at least in the US, will take place on April 11-12, 2015 in South Carolina.
3. Warner Bros. Studio Tour - London
The famed Leavesden Studios is on the bucket list of HP fans across the globe. This studio is where they filmed much of the series for over a decade. Visitors will get to tour the sets of the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, Number 4 Privet Drive, and the Knight Bus, amongst other fun wizardly activities.
4. Harry Potter England Tours - London
In this tour, there's a one-day option, and a two-day option, both of which take you to many of the off-site locations where the movies filmed. Why you would dedicate only one day to this activity when you could spend two is beyond me. Some of these locations include: Godric's Hollow, Professor Snape’s potion room, and Professor Quirrell taught his Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. Now if I could spend just a minute in Snape's classroom, I bet I could whip up a pretty fierce Felix Felicis in no time!
5. Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Orlando, Florida
If you really want to immerse yourself in an interactive Harry Potter experience, going to the Universal Studio's Wizarding World of Harry Potter might be exactly what you need. Sure, there are lines and everything is expensive, but I imagine it's totally worth it! Now that the Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade sections of the park are both open, visitors can shop at stores like Dervish and Banges, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Honeydukes, Zonko's, and more between riding the rides.
6. Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Osaka, Japan
This is pretty similar to the park in Florida and includes, but it also has its own Black Lake and it's in freakin' Japan! In the wise words of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, "I want to go to there."
7. Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station - London
This one is kind of a no brainer. However, if you actually try running into this one, you're more likely to get a black eye than end up on the Hogwarts Express (I still think it's worth a try). Even though this might not be the hidden door into a more magical world, visitors can still pose for some fun pictures and visit the Harry Potter store on their way out. According to some other sources, the real place to visit is between platforms 4 and 5, because that's where the scenes were really filmed. Maybe that's really why no one has been getting through!
8. Harry Potter Exhibition - Touring
If you're unable to make it to any of these places, maybe it's best to wait for Harry Potter to come to you. This traveling exhibition displays an up-close look at the hard work that went into creating the props, sets, and designs used in the Harry Potter movies. All of the pieces are displayed in "elaborate settings inspired by locations from Hogwarts...including the Gryffindor common room, Hagrid’s hut and the Great Hall." The Exhibition is currently in Cologne, Germany, but who knows? Your city could be next!
9. The Czocha College of Wizardry - Poland
We've already written pretty extensively on this magical adult getaway. Basically you get to live in a castle in Poland and partake in one of the most immersive Harry Potter themed LARP event. Students have the choice of becoming Aurors, Curse Breakers, Healers, Magizoologists, or an Unspeakable during their time at the College. Sadly, tickets have sold out for the upcoming session. But hey, there's always next year!
10. Whimsic Alley - Los Angeles, CA
This isn't a "street" strictly for people of the the Harry Potter persuasion. It also includes shops suited for Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and other fandoms! For West Coast locals, like myself, who can't make it all the way to Florida for the Universal experience, this is the place to be. We hopefully will only have to wait a few more years before their Hollywood park is open, but until then, Whimsic Alley will be my go-to spot for all my wizarding needs.
After finishing this article I feel a strange mix between inspired, because I know that these awesome parks, tours, and groups exist, but an intense sense of sadness knowing that I've never been to any of them. If you have visited any of these locations, please let me know about your experience in the comments section so that I can live vicariously through you!