Celebrate 20 Years of Prisoner of Azkaban with New LEGO Sets


It has been 20 years (!!!) since Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban was first published. Now Potter fans can relive magical moments like riding the Knight Bus, saving Buckbeack and mastering the Patronus Charm!

There are endless magical possibilities of imaginative play for children and fans of Harry Potter to discover with the latest LEGO Harry Potter sets! All three sets are for ages 7 and up.

75945 Expecto Patronum – £19.99 (UK) & $19.99 (US)

Fans can be transported to the magical world of wizards, witches and Dementors and mythical creatures. Young wizards will love recreating the Great Lake Forbidden Forest scene, firing the Expecto Patronum spell at the Dementors and summoning Harry’s Patronus charm! 

This set includes 4 LEGO Minifigures including Harry Potter, 2 Dementors and Sirius Black

75957 The Knight Bus™ – £34.99 (UK) & $39.99 (US)

All aboard and have the ride of your life from the most iconic moment of the movie! Catch the purple triple-decker bus, zooming around London for hours of fun. The 3-level LEGO® bus features an opening hinged side panel and a removable roof to maximize play potential. Features include the cheeky Shrunken Head and Harry’s chest, containing his wand!

The set includes 3 LEGO Minifigures and measures over 16cm in height.

75947 – Hagrid’s Hut: Buckbeak’s Rescue – £49.99 (UK) & $59.99 (US)

The magical adventures never has to end as children can explore the detailed interior of Hagrid’s hut, hide behind the pumpkin patch and rescue Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff from the Executioner’s axe.

This set includes 6 LEGO Minifigures including Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermoine Granger and Buckbeak

Filed Under: Other Potter Related, Products



A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 5.


Date:  11 July 2019

T-shirt choice: “Always” (with Deathly Hallows symbol for A).

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Open on and off most of the day, but no way were we braving that line again.

Today was our last day in the park, and the plan was to arrive at a reasonable time, and stroll through both parks to do some favorite rides, provided the lines were reasonable. We started with the Hulk coaster in Islands of Adventure and worked our way up to Hogsmeade by midday.

Happily, I was able to see both of the shows that were rained out the previous evening. The Frog Choir was as 4-person (and 2-amphibian) a cappella group that did a short set of 3 songs, two of which were familiar from the movies: “Something Wicked This Way Comes” from Prisoner of Azkaban and “Dance Like a Hippogriff,” from the Yule Ball of Goblet of Fire. The frog puppets seemed to provide a bit of back-beat. Overall, a good, although short performance.

The Triwizard Spirit Rally was next and consisted of a group of three Durmstrang and four Beauxbatons students, performing a dance routine reminiscent of the schools’ entrance in Goblet of Fire. The adits did some acrobatics and a martial arts quarterstaff routine to the movie music, without the fire-blowing. The ladies did a ballet-style dance to the Beauxbatons music (no butterflies!) and of course, both groups were attired in their movie costumes. Again, a nice performance, but very brief.

The Forbidden Journey ride claimed a 60 minute wait time, so we decided that was worth another round. It was just as good as I remember and I was glad to refresh my memory on a bit of it before blogging about it. However, the wait time was again underestimated a bit: it was more like an hour and 15 minutes.

I picked up the Marauder’s Map scarf I’d had my eye on at the gift shop, mailed my postcards, then we got the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley, so my son could visit the Magical Menagerie store. This place carries almost every creature you can think of from Harry Potter in plush form; you can buy not only Hedwigs, but Errols and Pigwidgeons. I was partial to the hippogriffs, but my son ultimately selected a stuffed niffler. Having done our second round on Escape from Gringotts the previous night, I didn’t do much else there but say hi to Stan Shunpike and toast the end of the adventure with a frozen Butterbeer.

We worked our way back through the rest of the Universal Studios park, did a few more rides, then were ready to go back to the hotel by 8 PM or so.  Part of me wanted to double back and spent the last couple of hours in the Wizarding World, but common sense, and an early morning flight prevailed.

I’ll be back tomorrow for some closing thoughts.

Weekly Round-Up: Katherine Waterston and Jude Law in an HBO Mystery Series, Upcoming Appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Emmy Predictions and More!


There really is never a dull moment in the Potterverse. We started out the week celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and releasing the latest episode of our YouTube series the Magical Emporium hosted by Guiness World Record Holder Victoria Maclean on rare Wizarding World collectibles. Throughout the week we shared news of a new Harry Potter Mini-Boden clothing line, an update and reminder to vote on the location of the next giant Wand Installation, and news that Harry Potter artist Jim Kay has begun work on the illustrated edition of the Order of the Phoenix. We also revealed the first wave of special guests set to appear at Leakycon Dallas next month.

This week in our Actors Round-up Katherine Waterston may join Jude Law in an upcoming HBO mystery series, a slew of appearance by Daniel Radcliffe, Emmy and early Oscar predictions for four Wizards and a Muggle, film updates for Gary Oldman, a performance by Dan Fogler at San Diego Comic Con, a director named for the Lethal White TV adaptation and more!

Katherine Waterston May Be Cast in Upcoming Mystery Series with Jude Law

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Last month we covered a new HBO/Sky mystery drama in the works for Fantastic Beasts Jude Law called The Third Day. Based on this synopsis from Deadline, we sensed a few Albus Dumbledore vibes coming from the Professor’s new project,

“Law plays Sam, who after being drawn to a mysterious Island off the British Coast, is thrown into the unusual world of its secretive inhabitants. Isolated from the mainland, the rituals of the island begin to overwhelm him, and he is confronted by a trauma from his past. As the line between reality and fantasy blurs, Sam finds himself immersed in an emotional quest which puts him at odds with the islanders and begins to threaten their way of life.”

Now Deadline has it that his Wizarding World co-star Katherine Waterston will be joining him in the six-part limited series as a character named Jess that he meets on the island. We honestly haven’t even speculated on some good Beast subplots between Dumbledore and Tina, and certainly haven’t shipped them, but if you were wanting to see more of the Auror and future Headmaster together on screen, here’s your chance! Waterston’s casting hasn’t been confirmed by the networks yet, but stay tuned!

Upcoming Appearances for Daniel Radcliffe 

A former Hogwarts Triwizard Champion has a media trifecta coming up in the next few weeks. Fans will be able to see Daniel Radcliffe on an upcoming TV series, as well as hear his voice on the big screen and radio.

Next week the Boy Who Lived kicks off the 16th season of the BBC celebrity genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? As Leaky reported last month, Radcliffe will be looking into the Pensieve at the story of his great great uncle Ernie who lost his life in WWI. According to the show’s website he will also learn about an ancestor who was a successful Hatton Garden jeweller before a tragedy befell him. The Sun appears to have had early access to the episode and explained that Radcliffe’s Jewish uncle took his life in 1936 at age 42 after some allegedly anti-semitic police officers accused him of staging a robbery of his business for insurance purposes. According to The Sun an emotional Radcliffe says this in the episode about his uncle,

“Everything he had worked for and that his father had worked for, has sort of been destroyed.”

Daniel Radcliffe’s guest appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? airs on BBC One Sunday, July 22 at 9pm.

Just a few days before his TV appearance, Radcliffe will also be a guest on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show to discuss his upcoming animated feature Playmobil: The Movie based on the German toys and figurines by the same name. Radcliffe voices the character secret agent Rex Dasher who helps a brother and sister who get separated in an animated universe. Radcliffe’s interview on the Zoe Ball Show will air Wednesday, July 17 on BBC Radio 2 at 6:30a and Playmobil: The Movie opens in theaters August 9.

In addition to all of that, Radcliffe was recently spotted in New York filming his guest role in The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt Interactive Special for Netflix. Based on his recent apparations. we are really considering the possibility that The Chosen One chose to nick a Time Turner from the Harry Potter set . Mark your calendars for all of these Daniel Radcliffe appearances! We’ll report back if you miss them.

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Image credit: The Image Direct

Emma Thompson and Robert Pattinson Deemed Oscar Contenders

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Have we been telling you for the past six months that this is the year of Emma Thompson? Variety looks like they may be in agreement. According to the entertainment media staple, once July 4 has passed, it’s time to look at the Oscar contenders for the first half of the year and in their opinion, two former Wizards are on the list. Emma Thompson, Harry Potter’s Professor Trelawney, gets a Best Actress nod for her portrayal as the first woman of late night talk shows in the critically acclaimed film Late Night. Robert Pattinson, Cedric Diggory, tops their list for Best Actor for his performance in another critical darling The Lighthouse, the fantasy horror film based on a true story about two lighthouse keepers stranded for months at sea off the coast of Maine because of a raging storm. Late Night came out in theaters earlier this summer but fans won’t have a chance to see The Lighthouse until Christmas Day unless of course they were in attendance at the Cannes Film Festival. We will be cheering for these two Potter alumni throughout the coming awards season!

Variety has also shared their predictions for the upcoming Emmy nominations which include two witches and a very grumpy Muggle. Double threat Emma Thompson, Professor Trelawney, is prophesied to get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in Limited Series or Movie for her performance as Goneril, King Lear’s oldest daughter in the 2018 BBC TV movie King Lear. Also predicted to get a nom in that same category is Carmen Ejogo, Fantastic Beasts MACUSA President Seraphina Picquery, for her work in season 3 of HBO’s True Detective. Last but certainly not least in our book, Fiona Shaw, Harry’s Aunt Petunia Dursley, gets an – It would be a “Nice surprise” nod – in the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama category for her portrayal of MI6 Russian Desk Head Carolyn Martens in the award-winning BBC series Killing Eve. This year’s Emmy nomination announcement will be streamed live on the award website Tuesday, July 16 at 11:30a ET. The 71st Emmy Awards Ceremony will air Sunday, September 22 on FOX.

A Full Length Trailer for Biopic Judy with Michael Gambon

It’s always a treat for Potter fans to see Michael Gambon, Professor Albus Dumbledore in the last six Harry Potter movies, on screen at the theater. In his latest film role, he plays Bernard Delfont, the Russian owner of the London nightclub Talk of the Town where Judy Garland performed in her later years as depicted in the upcoming biopic Judy starring Renee Zellwenger. Get a glimpse of Gambon below in the first full length trailer for the film, which opens in theaters September 27.

A Film Update for Gary Oldman

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Image credit: Dan Anderson/Mary Productions South

Academy Award winner and our very own Sirius Black, Gary Oldman, has a number of different film projects in the works, one of which is the upcoming thriller Mary. The film, which was recently acquired for wide distribution by RLJE Films is described this way by Deadline,

“Oldman plays David, a struggling blue-collar captain looking to make a better life for his family. Strangely drawn to an abandoned ship named Mary that is up for auction, he impulsively buys the boat, believing it will be his family’s ticket to happiness and prosperity. After they embark on their maiden journey, however, strange and frightening events begin to terrorize David and his family, causing them to turn on one another. The ship soon drifts off course, and it becomes clear they are being lured to an even greater evil waiting for them at sea.”

Is Oldman being haunted by the ghost of the Dark Lord? Doubtful, but the film sounds intriguing and as always, we can’t wait to see another of our Potter favorites back on the big screen. Mary releases in theaters and VOD this fall, October 11.

Ironically Oldman has also been cast in another film with a single M word title. Also according to Deadline he’ll star in the title role of Mank, the upcoming biopic about Herman J. Mankiewicz, the screenwriter who shared the Best Original screenplay for Citizen Kane with Orson Welles. This sounds like another memorable role for Gary Oldman. Production on Mank, a Netflix project filmed in black and white, will begin this November in Los Angeles.

Dan Fogler to Perform at SDCC After Party

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The world’s largest pop culture event, San Diego Comic Con, is less than a week away and though there’s no Wizarding World film being previewed this year, it looks like at least one No-Maj who knows a few Wizards will be on hand. Dan Fogler, Fantastic Beasts Jacob Kowalski will be performing at an SDCC after party hosted by Anime network Crunchyroll and Los Angeles based event company Xlevelent. What will Fogler be performing you ask? The Wizarding World and Walking Dead actor is also a Tony winner for his 2005 performance in the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and he also mentioned last year that he’s singing a duet with his Fantastic Beasts co-star Alison Sudol on a rumored Wizarding World Christmas album, so we assume he’ll be belting some tunes at the shindig! If you’re in San Diego next Friday, July 19, the party is scheduled from 8p-2a at the Fluxx Nightclub. Tickets are available here and a Comic Con badge is not required to attend.

Ezra Miller Talks Makeup with CR Fashion Book

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Image credit: Urban Decay

Just weeks after being named a spokesperson for edgy, cruelty-free beauty brand Urban Decay new makeup line “Pretty Different” Ezra Miller, Fantastic Beasts Credence Barebone chatted with CR Fashion Book about his affinity for makeup since childhood and how he’s utilized it to express himself into adulthood and in his career. Miller said this about it to CR Men

“Doing makeup and putting on nail polish at home with my sisters was really important to my relationship with gender expression.”[…]”I’ve been naturally physically androgynous my whole life. There are times that my family collectively recalls when people presumed we were three sisters. And then being exposed to [makeup] through productions that had overtly transformative beauty created constant engagement of imagination.”

He continued with this insight and history about the use of makeup,

“There is an incredible potential in the form of makeup to represent something that is beyond what we see at first glance,” says Miller, who doesn’t have a particular favorite product right now but appreciates anything glittery or shiny. “The oldest practices in makeup that we can observe were not necessarily about decoration or beauty per se but about representing one’s truest form.”

Congratulations again to Ezra Miller on being named one of Urban Decay’s Global Citizens.

Lethal White Gets a Director

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Lethal White, the fourth installment in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike Series, the mystery novels she’s penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is heading to the small screen and according to Deadline the series production company Bronte Film and TV have named a director to helm the next episode. Line of Duty and Crossing Lines director Susan Tully will direct the four-part series that will again star Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger are set to return as Detective Strike and his protégé Robin Ellacott. For those who haven’t had the chance to dig into book four yet, Strike and Robin are introduced to their next case by a young man with a history of mental illness named Billy, who claims to have witnessed a murder some years before. Robin is also dealing with post traumatic stress issues from the encounter in Career of Evil, which may or may not come in to play in her relationship with her boss. Filming will begin on the TV adaptation later this year and air on BBC One presumably in 2020. No word yet if the series will return to Cinemax for US fans.

A Second Look at Maleficent with Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton, who Potter fans know best as the Undersecretary of pink Dolores Umbridge, appeared in Disney’s 2014 Maleficent, the tale of Sleeping Beauty told from the perspective of the story’s villain. Staunton reprises her role as Knotgrass, one of the fairies who have taken on the task of raising Aurora, in the films upcoming sequel Maleficent 2. Take a look at the second trailer below for a quick glimpse at Staunton. Maleficent 2 opens in theaters October 18.

A New Musical Comedy Series from Darren Criss and Team Starkid

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Award winner Darren Criss, co-creator of Starkid Productions, the musical theater company that created the Harry Potter parody A Very Potter Musical is collaborating with Starkid co-founders Nick and Matt Lang on a new musical comedy series for short form streaming platform Quibi. According to Deadline The series, Royalties will focus on fictitious music stars played by real life celebrities and feature music written by Criss. Deadline also had this to say about the series,

“Royalties is a satirical take on the oft-untold story of songwriters behind the world’s biggest hits. It follows the ascent of a ragtag songwriting duo – Sara and Pierce (Criss) – as they navigate the strange and hilarious challenges of creating a truly great song, week after week.”

Team Starkid will be hosting their 10 Year Anniversary Homecoming Reunion Event July 25. No word yet on when Royalties will be available on Quibi. 

That’s all for this week Muggles! Tune in next week to see what magic the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Actors have conjured and check out their latest work on the stage in our Theater Round-Up. And don’t forget to see our latest Magical Emporium video on our YouTube channel!!

Feature image credit: KatherineWaterston.net



EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘Harry Potter’ Actor Christian Coulson Talks New Movie ‘Bite Me’ With Writer & Co-Star Naomi McDougall Jones

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We previously reported on the success of subversive romantic comedy Bite Me, currently on The Joyful Vampire Tour of America, and recently Leaky had the exclusive chance to interview the film’s writer and star, Naomi McDougall Jones, as well as co-star Christian Coulson, who you’ll recognise as Tom Riddle from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!

Christian Coulson plays expat IRS Agent, James, assigned to audit a vampire church.  Naomi McDougall Jones, the film’s writer and producer, stars as Sarah, part of this subculture of people identifying as vampires. As Sarah and James grow closer, the pair navigate the opinions of the outside world (and their friends, in Sarah’s case, fellow vampires), and a looming IRS ruling forcing the two to confront their feelings for each other. The film costars Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story) and Annie Golden (Orange is the New Black), and is directed by Meredith Edwards.

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The film premiered at Cinequest, and won Best Feature Film at VTXIFF, and is currently on a national tour, changing the way independent films are distributed by bringing the film — as well as a full vampire ball —  to towns across America. The tour runs until August 6, so be sure to check if they’ll be passing through your town!

During our interview (below),  Naomi discusses the inspiration behind this movie, the reasons behind the Joyful Vampire Tour and accompanying docu-series shedding light on the filmmaking process, and even exclusively shares the title of her upcoming book with us, available to pre-order on Amazon now!

Christian also explains how he became involved in the movie, his thoughts on filmmaking and the impacts of virality and fame explored in Bite Me, and we all discuss a couple of nods to Harry Potter in the movie. Naomi’s a definite Harry Potter fan, so we also discussed Hogwarts houses and Patronuses, and Christian’s time on Harry Potter. Christian also threw some shade at Hufflepuffs — before we tell him his character in Bite Me IS a Hufflepuff!

Watch the interview below (trailer can be seen at the end of the interview), and find the movie on Seed & Spark, Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

Many thanks to Naomi and Chrisitian for the interview!



A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 4.


Date: 10 July 2019

T-shirt choice:  Generic Witch Festival (for water park) and Queen City Mischief and Magic 2018 (for Wizarding World).

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Didn’t check much, open at least some in the afternoon; “at capacity” by 6 PM.

Much of today was spent cavorting with merpeople and harnassing kelpies at the Volcano Bay Water Park, the third park in our three-park package. No Wizarding World stuff there, but some Nargles apparently snatched our hotel key cards from my son’s velcroed pocket on one of the slides. This was a great park as far as water parks go; the virtual lines were much appreciated after the 3.25 hour event at Hagrid’s Motorbike yesterday.

Having started bright and early, we were finished with the water park by 4 and headed back to the hotel for showers and dinner. Afterwards, we elected to go back to the theme parks for the evening hours, when the park is much cooler and the lines much shorter. I was most interested in going back to the Wizarding World, specifically to see the shows and do some shopping. My daughter went with me; my son and husband were more interested in doing some of the rides they had not yet been on, and re-visiting a few favorites. You can read more about that experience after the jump. The Hogwarts Frog Choir was scheduled to perform in Hogsmeade at 6:30, followed by the Triwizard Pep Rally at 7, so we headed there first, armed with my son’s wand. Unfortunately, after only one song, they were forced to stop the outdoor show for impending weather, and a torrential downpour started soon thereafter. We initially took shelter at Honeydukes, where I bought some Peppermint Toads and Fizzing Whizbees to share with colleagues at work, then, assuming the 7 PM show was also cancelled, we decided to make a dash for the Hogwarts Express to shop there—  I had decided on a particular Hogwarts T-shirt from Madame Malkins that I had not seen elsewhere— and hope the rain cleared before Celestina Warbeck’s scheduled performance at 8:30. Unfortunately, we forgot that the nearby entrance was only for express pass riders, and had to take a circuitous route around the side of the building to enter. Even though there was no outdoor line, we were drenched by the time we got inside.

After we did our shopping (T-shirt and Ravenclaw Head Girl pin for me, a Butterbeer shirt for my daughter after she failed to find any Hufflepuff gear that appealed to her) I saw that the Gringott’s ride was down to a reasonable 35 minute wait, so, since there was a full hour before Celestina, I decided to have another run on that. My daughter,  who had felt a little queasy after the last Gringott’s escape, decided to go to the Leaky Cauldron for a lemon squash. Once I had been in the line for 20 minutes and was only at the end of the lobby, it was clear to me that it was going to be far longer than 35 minutes, so I left to re-join my daughter. That turned out to be a good move, since we were able to catch most of the “Tales of Beadle the Bard” puppet show that was showing prior to Celestina. I had not seen that on the schedule, but it was an impressive puppet version of “The Fountain of Fair Fortune.”

To my surprise, my husband and son turned up in time to catch Celestina’s performance.  Madame Warbeck, aka the “Delectable Diva” and the “Singing Sorceress” gave a cheesy but entertaining nightclub style show, with her back-up singers, the Banshees. ostensibly to raise funds for St. Mungo’s hospital. Fully immersed in her persona, complete with sequinned gown and feather boa, the singer belted out Hits such as “Hot Strong Cauldron of Love”, “Beat Back the Bludgers, Boys and Toss that Quaffle Here” (with the Banshees performing a dance with Beater Bats) and “You Stole my Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.” A muggle man was called up to dance with her during “You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me.” Though sappy, the show was well-done and quite entertaining. You can see why Mrs. Weasley loves her, and Fleur Delacour does not.

Once the brief concert was over, the Gringotts ride was allegedly down to 20 minutes, so my husband, son and I left our bags with my daughter and rode it again. Once again, the wait time was underestimated, and we emerged some 45 minutes later. My daughter was fortunate enough to view the Tale of the Three Brothers puppet show while we were in the ride. By the time we grouped up again, the park was closing, so we headed back.

Next post:  our final day!

Unboxing Hallmark’s Latest Harry Potter Collection


Leaky was lucky enough to receive a package by owl post recently from the iconic greeting card and collectible company Hallmark so we could share a bit about a few of the charming new items found in their latest Harry Potter line.

We had a taste of Christmas in July when we did our ceremonial unboxing this week. The first item we spied may have flown right out of our hands before it was completely unwrapped. Hallmark has designed what looks like an Engorgio’d replica of a Golden Snitch, minus the wings, in a very substantial ceramic coffee mug. We haven’t made a cup of tea in it yet or a warm Butterbeer since we’re currently out of Hagrid’s Rock Cakes but we have no doubt it will stay hot with its rounded top lid. The Harry Potter Golden Snitch Coffee Mug retails for $19.99.

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If you’re interested in having a reminder of Harry whenever you’re hard at work at your desk, the next item out of the box is for you! This is another item familiar to Potter fans that appears has been cast with the Engorgio charm. Harry’s glasses and scar sit atop a sturdy platform to create a magical paperweight or sign for any space. Written on the lens is the familiar Prisoner of Azkaban quote, “I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.”  Great daily inspiration for any true Potterhead. The Harry Potter Trouble Finds Me Eyeglasses Quote Sign retails for $24.99.

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The next magical object to appear was some adorable Hogwarts House socks perfect to set any House Elf free. Without a drop of Felix Felicis beforehand, the pair we opened just happened to be Hufflepuff, the House of this particular Leaky staffer. How lucky was that? The socks are a nice cotton/poly blend and aren’t too thick to fit in your trainers–you know what we mean? Hallmark’s Harry Potter Novelty Socks are machine washable and sell for $12.99/pair.

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After a quick Accio, the last thing to come from the box was a placard with one of Albus Dumbledore’s first memorable quotes embossed on it,

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” 

The sign, which is also very sturdy and made of metal, can be hung or rest against something and act as a sweet reminder of the Headmaster’s remarkable wisdom. The Harry Potter Do Not Forget To Live Metal Quote Sign retails for $19.99.

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Thank you to Hallmark for sending these magical items so that we could share them with our readers. Their collection can be found on the Hallmark.com website, as well as at participating Hallmark retailers. More new Harry Potter treasures are on the way soon from Hallmark including this year’s collection of holiday ornaments!



A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 3.


Date:  9 July 2019.

T-shirt choice: Hand-painted Virginia is for Wizards Ravenclaw/Erudite hybrid.

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Open, with “brief” delays.

This was our Wizarding World-focused day.  Our hotel offers early admission to the Wizarding World, so we decided to take advantage of being able to visit prior to the general public. Our plan was to start at Hogsmeade, which we hadn’t explored in detail the previous day, but, turns out, the early admissions offer only applied to Diagon Alley.  This is not what the brochure advertised, so I suspect this restriction is a response to the crowd control measures necessitated by the popularity of Hagrid’s Motorbike Ride.

So, with my son’s new wand tucked safely into our Generic Magic Festival tote (thanks, Lana!) we headed there around 7:30 to try out some more spells. We spent an hour or so puttering around Diagon Alley with the spell map, trying out all the official ones and the “secret” unmarked ones that I had found on the internet. As we had heard, some are easier than others, and learning to use the wand takes some practice, as you can see in this video of my first attempts at spell-casting.

Within an hour or so there was a huge crown forming in the line to King’s Cross Station and word spread that Hagrid’s Motorbike Ride was open. With high hopes that yesterday’s closure had resulted in the removal of all the nargles, we hopped in the line, got aboard the train (this time seeing the magic brick wall where people appear to vanish—we missed that on day 1) and joined the crowd heading to Hogsmeade, to assess the situation.  Did we make it to the oh-so-hyped adventure?  Tune in after the jump. Spoilers for rides ahead.

The line extended all the way into the Lost Continent section, staff was saying it would be around a two-hour wait. We decided that if we were ever going to do this thing, this was the day, so we got into line around 9:15 and resigned ourselves to the wait. Once we actually made it into Hogsmeade and got into the actual ride queue, we had to place all lose items, including cell phones in a locker, as no loose items are permitted on the ride. So, the photos here are from other sources.

As you approach the ride, you come across a replica of Hagrid’s hut, complete with pumpkin patch, with several gourds showing signs of hippogriff claw-marks. Making your way to through that brings you to ruins of what looks like an ancient temple or castle, which Hagrid has apparently co-opted for some of his Magical Creatures care, and apparently some of his unauthorized breeding experiments.

Unfortunately, by the time we were in the hut area, there were regular recorded messages stating that the ride was experiencing a “brief delay” —  some saying things would be online again shortly, sometimes saying they were unable to say when the the ride would resume. The line kept moving forward, though, so we stuck it out.  No one in the line had any allusions that this would be a short wait, so, with the exception of a British group in front of us who displayed some rather Durseley-ish behavior at around the 90 minute mark, when rumors were flying that the ride wasn’t even scheduled to open until noon. The line kept getting shorter, as more and more people gave it up as a bad job.

Happily, shortly after the Durseleys’ tantrum, an unrecorded voice informed us things were up and running again. We were near the temple entrace by this time, and were immediately hustled ahead. Unfortunately, in their enthusiasm to hustle the long-suffering riders through as rapidly as possible, they hustled us right through the room that was supposed to show us the welcoming video that explained the premise of the ride. No one objected, though, in retrospect, I wish I had seen it. I looked up some bootleg videos online later, so I can tell you that the story is that Hagrid and Arthur Weasley are collaborating on a special…  and unauthorized…Care of Magical Creatures lesson. Arthur is duplicating the flying motorbike, and the plan is to take the students out to the Forbidden Forest to see unique creatures, including Hagrid’s prized Blast-ended Skrewts.

We proceeded through several other rooms which, like Diagon Alley, did not skimp on details. Decorations included multiple cages, a long room with shelves full of over-sized eggs (including the clue-containing one from the Triwizard Tournament, if you look closely) and Hagrid’s messy workroom with ramshackle equipment and a pair of giant-sized gloves. The main waiting room is set up to appear as if the students are on a lower level, watching shadows of Arthur and Hagrid preparing for the lesson through the ceiling slats, while eavesdropping on their conversation This is perhaps the funniest part of the experience, with duplicating and exploding motorbikes, extinguishing fires with Aguamenti, at times, disturbing various creatures. The dialogue is witty and fun of in-jokes for Potter fans: for instance, when a group of acromantulas scurry past, Hagrid admonishes them, “Those are students down there, not supper!” and Arthur remarks that he understands Ron’s fear of spiders a bit better. They also deliver safety warnings, listing not only typical muggle reasons not to ride (back trouble, pregnancy, heart conditions) but also creature-induced injury, spell damage and potion and plant poisoning. “And,” adds Arthur, “If you have even the slightest case of dragon pox or spattergroit, you should not have come out today in the first place.”

The resumed line moved painfully slow, I lost track of how many times I viewed Hagrid and Arthur’s ceiling spiel. Then, cruelly, when we were literally on the platform waiting to board the next set of motorbikes, the ride shut down again. They herded us back into the room and we saw them reboot the whole ride. Thankfully, this wait lasted only about 20 minutes. It was worth it when my husband and I got one of the coveted front seats, and I claimed the motorbike seat by virtue of my Hogwarts Professor status.

The roller coaster ride itself was phenomenal. This coaster does things that literally no other coaster in the world does, like free-fall drops and aborted climbs up hills. Of course, there is a dragon-fire acceleration. And plenty of Forbidden Forest friend to see, including Fluffy, the Ford Aguila, the Skrewt, Centaurs and finally, as you relax at the end, a unicorn and foal. The animitronics are impressive, but there is little time to take a close look, given the ride’s speed.

We emerged from the ride about 12:30, making the total wait around 3 and a quarter hours. So, was it worth it?  The consensus was, yes, given we had multiple days in the park. For a one day visit, you’d probably be better off doing three other rides in the time it took to do this one.

The Three Broomsticks was both crowded and served the same fare as the Leaky Cauldron, so we went back to the Lost Continent area for lunch at the kebob house, before returning to Hogsmeade for more rides and wanding. After lunch, we did the Flight of the Hippogriff, a much more traditional coaster whose only hat tip to Potterdom is the wicker Hippogriff head on the front car and the horse’s behind on the caboose, and then headed to the last of the major Potter rides: the Forbidden Journey.

This involves a journey to Hogwarts Castle itself, and yet another detailed set. You enter to a bit of the Gryffindor/Slytherin favoritism: the entrace hall includes statues of Godric and Salazar, but not Rowena and Helga, and the House Point hourglasses show those two houses well ahead of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. I was particularly miffed that Ravenclaw was a distant fourth and, as my son pointed out, the smartest kids should be earning the most points for correct answers in class. The queue takes you past Dumbledore’s griffin-door, into a hallway and room where you are entertained by some very funny portraits, including some bickering founder’s portraits: at least the ladies were included in this part. The Gryffindor and Sytherin portraits appeared to be channeling Dumbledore and Snape, with very similar tones and voices.  Salazar insulted both Harry Potter and the muggle visitors, replying, to Helga’s admonition that they must not appear ungracious hosts,  “Why not? Maybe they’ll leave.” Godric, however, reminded him that love, not luck, saved Harry and that all were worthy, not just the magical. Oh, yes, all the portraits are quite excited about the upcoming Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch match.

From there, you enter Dumbledore’s office, a magnificently detailed room that includes, for sharp-eyed visitors, the case with the Sword of Gryffindor in a glass case on the wall.  A videotape Dumbledore greets the visitors, and tells them they can look forward to a lecture from Professor Binns, who will condense the 1000-year history of Hogwarts into “only 2-3 hours.” and closes with his usual wisdom about choices, and a caution that, should we encounter any dragons, we should alert a staff member and run, but not necessarily in that order.

From there, we enter one of the main waiting rooms, the DADA classroom, with a Dementor lesson scribbled on the board. The Trio appear from under the Invisibility Cloak, with which they have just snuck out of class, explain that the ghost professor’s lecture will be “dead boring” and offer to sneak the visitors out to watch a Quidditch game instead. Hermione has a special charm that will get us out of the castle and down to the pitch, but we have to meet her in the Room of Requirement. From there, after meeting the Fat Lady in the connecting Hallway, we go into yet another portrait room, where we learn that Hermione has charmed some benches into flying, and they will carry us down to the game. From there, you finally get to the boarding area, where the Sorting Hat is reciting the safety rules.

For the actual ride, you load up on the benches, and then, are virtually taken out through the clock tower to the exterior grounds. The last thing you see is Hagrid standing there with a broken chain, asking if anyone has seen a dragon.

As might be predicted, you encounter the dragon— and a real-life blast of hot steam when he blows fire at you, along with acromantulas, the Whomping Willow, the Chamber of Secrets, and dementors before the journey is over. You do get to see a close up view of the Quidditch game, as Harry invites you to chase the Snitch with him, Ron goal-keeps and Draco accuses Harry of “showing off for your Muggle admirers!” before shoving him aside. Once the dangers are escaped, expecto patronumed and otherwise dispatched, you land in the great hall, with Harry congratulating you for your courage and Dumbledore assuring you you are welcome back anytime. He kindly reminds you to remember your personal belongings as you exit, “lest they be confiscated by Mr. Filch.”

All in all, another great ride that also went on my list for a return trip. Hagrid’s would be, too, except one 3 hour line is enough.

I have been avoiding buying any souvenirs so far, wanting time to choose carefully, because turning me loose in an area with multiple wizarding stores is a bit like turning Ron loose in Honeydukes with a bag full of Galleons. But, I did pick up a pack of postcards and special Wizarding World stamps, so many of my Potter Pundit friends should be receiving an owl from me soon.

More to come on Day 4!

 

Jim Kay Begins Drafting “Order of the Phoenix” Illustrated Edition!


Jim Kay has officially begun work on the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and that’s good news that would make even Madam Pince rejoice!

After previously announcing on his website Creepy Scrawlers Ltd. about the completion of his work on Goblet of Fire, Kay went on to inform readers that he aims to “try and make [Order of the Phoenix] a bit more ‘me’.” Promising to hopefully pursue more “expressive” visuals and a “darker direction,” Kay believes the fifth (and longest) book in the series is perhaps “a bleak story to match our bleak times.”

But never-minding that pesky dementor we like to refer to as “current events,” Kay has treated us to early glimpses of concept models for his Kreacher and Thestral illustrations on his Instagram @creepy_scrawlers. See below:

While Kay is off researching and traversing Great Dixter and Ightham Mote in the South of England, Hypable predicts that the Order of the Phoenix‘s release date “will be no earlier than Fall 2021.” This projection comes after citing how Goblet of Fire‘s release date, which is set for Oct. 8, 2019, falls two years after Prisoner of Azkaban‘s release–a skew from the previously anticipated yearly release cycle.

Goblet of Fire Jim Kay

Naturally, as the books in the series begin to grow in length and deepen in content, this means a greater responsibility for Kay and more work for him to tackle. But given Kay’s excellent track record for delivering utterly stunning artwork with the last four books, we can all afford to be patient.

So if this means Hypable is correct when they further assume “that [Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows] will be published in Fall 2023 and Fall 2025 respectively,” it’s a wait that’s worthwhile.

Goblet of Fire Jim Kay

Pre-orders for the illustrated edition of Goblet of Fire can now be placed on Bloomsbury’s official website or via Scholastic for all US-based orders. Leaky reported that a deluxe edition of the long-awaited version is available as well!

Don’t forget to also check out the illustrated editions of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Bloomsbury, Scholastic)–now available in paperback!–and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (Bloomsbury, Scholastic). Leaky shared Bloomsbury’s sneak peek of Chris Riddell’s interior art last year–take a look, and you’ll definitely want to add this one to your collection.

And keep an eye out for the illustrated edition of Quidditch Through the Ages. The companion book from award-winning illustrator Emily Gravett is set to be released in October 2020. Start building that extra set of shelves now, Potter fans!



A Hogwarts Professor Visits Universal, Day 2


Date: 8 July 2019

T-shirt choice:  Roanoke Potterfest 2017.

Status of Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure: Closed all day.

Much of today was spent on non-Potter attractions:  specifically the thrill rides of Universal’s Islands of Adventure park. Even if we had wanted to take on the Hagrid ride, we couldn’t; it was closed all day. Islands of Adventure has a host of exciting rides; some of our favorite were the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, and the King Kong 3D ride, However, we also took a bit of a break from all the adrenaline rushes and enjoyed a few rides in Dr. Suess land.

However, towards the end of the day, my kids decided they wanted to cross back over to the Universal Studios park for the Men In Black ride that we had not gotten to the day before. Turns out, the best way to get there was to go to Hogsmeade and take the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley. So, to my delight, we took another stroll through Hogsmeade, peeked into Honeydukes, and took in a few of the sights before catching the train. It was also an excuse to stop at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, for treats that were as good as I remember. Delicious ice cream (hard pack recommended over soft serve) in a variety of British inspired flavors (or should that be, “flavours?”) like Earl Grey and Lavender, Clotted Cream and Sticky Toffee Pudding.  And Butterbeer, of course. We were so eager to eat it that I forgot to get a picture.

More Pottering… a lot more…on Day 3.

Fire at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden Set


A fire broke out at Leavesden Studios yesterday, July 10th. The studios, owned by Warner Bros., are where Harry Potter, Fantasitc Beasts, James Bond, Mission Impossible and many other blockbuster films were made, and just around the corner from the Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter.

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Photo credit: Alamy

The fire service spent over 15 hours tackling the fire, after being called out at 23:29 BST on July 10th.

Thankfully, nobody was injured, and the set where the fire started was not being used at the time, however, the fire occurred on a sound stage being used for Avenue 5 – a HBO comedy by Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It). A spokesperson for Warner Bros. thanked the firefighters for “working tirelessly throughout the night” to put out the blaze.

Houses in the area were alerted to the fire after seeing smoke at the studios, and remarked on the ‘strong smell’ of smoke. The fire was reportedly significant, with flames still being tackled long through the night and 18 crews being sent out by the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire didn’t reach the Warner Bros Studio Tour — the studio complex is huge, as you might have guessed, spanning 350,00 sq ft of sound stages, and over 100 acres of back lots — so rest assured all the props from the Wizarding World are safe and sound, and anybody booked on will not be deterred by the recent fire!

Regrettably, however, Avenue 5 will likely be set back by the incident, so our thoughts go out to the cast, crew and creatives of the show!

Read more at the BBC.