A few days ago, I introduced you all to the ultimate cosplayers from The Celebration of Harry Potter Weekend at Universal Orlando Studios, and I am excited to say that it is time to give you the personal tour from within The Wizarding World itself! This article will be part one of two of your personal tour through the Potter world during the annual Celebration of Harry Potter, so make sure to check back into Moviepilot later this weekend for Part 2! Now let's get started!
Let's take a stroll through London, shall we?
Our journey begins on the streets of London town itself! Remember that traffic switches direction in the UK, though, so be careful where you're walking! You can enjoy many of the city's iconic sights like the King's Cross station, where you can easily hitch a ride anywhere across the UK, and the Piccadilly Circus' Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.
You can even find a telephone booth or two. These easy access phones are handy in case you need to call someone in a hurry, but they also serve as a quick way down to the Ministry of Magic! Just punch in "M-A-G-I-C" and you should be on your way! Be wary, though. This booth seems to always be out of order due to the weather.
In addition to King's Cross, you can always rely on the Knight Bus to get you to any location, whether magical or not. This massive triple decker bus can squeeze by any obstacle you need to get past, and Dre Head will provide you with lovely company as well! Although, he can be somewhat sarcastic at times...
Make sure to sneak a quick peak inside the Knight Bus and give Dre Head a quick hello! He is incredibly social for a shrunken head.
Let's give a quick hello to the Order of the Phoenix!
Before heading into Diagon Alley for a day of school shopping, we decided to stop by 12 Grimmauld Place to say a quick hello to the Order while we were still in London. Kreacher wasn't too happy to see us though. He kept poking his head out of the window and giving us bad looks!
Our visit to 12 Grimmauld Place was, unfortunately, cut short by a surprise appearance by Bellatrix Lestrange! Being untrained in the magical arts, we decided to hurry along to Diagon Alley rather than stick around...
"Welcome, Harry...to Diagon Alley!"
We finally made it to Diagon Alley! Time for some school supplies shopping for the upcoming year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! But of course, it looks like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are stirring up trouble again since there's a giant fire-breathing dragon sitting atop Gringott's Bank, and judging from his tattered wings and the chain wrapped around his neck, it doesn't look like he was ever supposed to be let out! I think I'll withdraw money from my vault later in the day instead...
Check out that roar! Definitely don't want to mess with this dragon. He may be fiercer than the Hungarian Horntail!
Okay, time to start on that supplies list! First up, we need a wand, and where better to purchase a quality wand than at Ollivander's Wand Shop! Ollivander's features hundreds of wand designs with a plethora of cores, from phoenix feather to dragon heartstring. There's always the perfect wand for every witch and wizard that steps into Ollivander's! However, keep in mind that the wand chooses the wizard!
Peter the Pygmy Puff and I loved browsing through Ollivander's vast collection!
The wall's seem to go on for miles! There really is a wand for every witch and wizard!
Look at the amazing detail! These are but a few of the incredible wand designs you may be lucky enough to be chosen by at Ollivander's!
Wand? Check! Next, we need some proper robes...
Any self respecting wizard knows that Madame Malkin's will have the latest and greatest wizarding garb around! This trendy shop sells magical outfits for all occasions, from school uniforms to formal gowns. I even spotted Hermione's Yule Ball Gown and Auror (and eventual Minister of Magic) Kingsley Shacklebot's robes!
Don't have enough galleons for your robes? Not to worry! You can easily head next door to send a monetary S.O.S. to your parents by owl!
You also have the option of going to Gringott's Quick Service Money Exchange station. With the help of the head goblin, you can quickly withdraw galleons from your account or exchange any muggle cash you may have into usable wizarding bills. Be careful when approaching the head goblin though, he can get a bit sassy if you ask a stupid question...
We have all of the necessities now, so let's go have some fun!
The school supplies list has been completed, and it's time to go on a fun little shopping spree! Although Diagon Alley is teeming with stores filled with all sorts of magical gizmos and gadgets, there is one shop that every jokester witch or wizard loves: Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
Co-owned by the Weasley twins, Fred and George, this wizarding joke shop always features the latest and greatest in magical gags! The shop offers popular joke toys like Skiving Snackboxes, Extendable Ears, Fanged Flyer, Screaming Yo-Yo, and my personal favorite, Umbridge on Unicycle.
The store also sells pygmy puffs, genetically altered creatures designed by the Weasley twins. These little fur balls are miniature Puffskeins and come in solely pink and purple. These cuddly creatures make great pets, love to snack on boogers, and enjoy being thrown around.
Despite never finishing school, the Weasley twins seem to have a natural knack for creativity and business. They probably get it from their mother Molly Weasley, considering the fact that I found her Self-Knitting Needles in the window of one of the stores!
"Skulking around Knockturn Alley? Dodgy place..."
Unfortunately, during our exploits, we quickly got lost in the crowd and ended up in Knockturn Alley. If you ever end up here, make sure to find your way out quickly. It seems to exist under eternal darkness and attracts the worst kinds of magical folk.
Nevertheless, I let curiosity get the better of me and decided to take a quick look into Borgin and Burkes. Bad idea! This store houses the darkest of magical artifacts and even contains a vanishing cabinet, which I have heard the Death Eaters have been attempting to use as entry into Hogwarts. Also, for some reason you can hear a bird chirping inside the cabinet...that can't be good!
Let's give a warm welcome to Celestina Warbeck!
Thankfully, we eventually found our way out of Knockturn Alley and happened upon one of the most famous witches of the wizarding world: Celestina Warbeck! This Singing Sorceress, who is Molly Weasley's favorite singer, is known for belting out hits such as "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" and "You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me." As a half-blood, the songstress was born to a muggle mother and wizard father and attended the world renown Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a Gryffindor.
Check out Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees below!
A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love
You Stole My Cauldron But You Can't Have My Heart
What a perfect way to finish off such an incredible day in Diagon Alley! Now, before I sign off, I want to introduce you to three of the geniuses who brought the Wizarding World to life in the films and now at Universal Studios Orlando!
During our visit to Universal Studios Orlando, MinaLima, the artistic minds behind the props, posters, signs, and graphic elements in both the Potter films as well as the theme parks, decided to pay fans a visit at Celebration of Harry Potter. Miraphora Mina started a partnership with the film saga since the very first movie, while Eduardo Lima joined the prop team during production of Prisoner of Askaban. These two spent the next nine years collaborating on thousands of ionic Potter props and designs, like the Askaban wanted posters, Marauder's Map, The Daily Prophet, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans!
Once the final film premiered, the pair simply could not turn their backs on the magical world they created together and decided to form a permanent partnership together, which they dubbed MinaLima. The duo continue to work closely with the Harry Potter franchise and have contributed their talents to bringing Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Studios to life! Almost everything you see in the park, from the wizarding advertisements to the packaging for Weasley's Wizard Wheezies, originated from the minds of MinaLima.
Let's give these two a round of applause for making our dreams into a reality, and I'm sure that Potter fans everywhere look forward to seeing their artwork on the silver screen once more in Rowling's upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!
The final person I would like to introduce you to is Alan Gilmore. He seems like a pretty low key, chill guy right? Well, I can assure you that this sweet Irishman is much more than what originally meets the eye. This, ladies and gentleman, is the man responsible for transferring Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley from page and film to real life. Not only has Alan worked as art director for several of the set designs for the films, but he also heads the team responsible for designing and building both parks at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and now Hollywood.
According to Alan, the most difficult part of building the two parks was figuring out a design that would be 360 degrees believable and interactive. In film, you have the luxury of building a small piece of the set and possibly adding in the rest with computer graphics. However, in the parks, guests expect a fully immersive experience, which Alan and his team were determined to produce.
He stated that his background in architecture and his film oriented mind is what allowed him to create this living, breathing space for Potter fans to enjoy. His only regret thus far has been having to leave out the Ministry of Magic from the parks. Don't fret, though! He made it clear that it has never been eliminated from the realm of possibility!
Alan indicated that he has been contacted about Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them but insisted on keeping the details to a minimum. Nevertheless, it's good to know that the same creative geniuses that brought us the original Potter franchise will likely be producing this fresh batch of magical films as well!