Seven Real-Life “Potter” Experiences
Our beloved series turned its last page nearly nine years ago. The final film would be starting kindergarten this year. For the last five years, an entire fandom has been left with nothing but fond memories of midnight release parties and endless debates on what was going to happen next. Was Snape actually on Team Voldy? Could Neville be the real Chosen One? What were the last few Horcruxes—I still want to go back to the person who argued for three hours that Harry could never be a Horcrux and do my “I told you so” dance! So many times where Potterheads came together, like the incredible fandom we are, and shared in the most magical moments Harry Potter had to offer—and now it’s over. It’s been over for a while.
So now what? Is that it? It’s finished?
Well, thanks to sites like MuggleNet, Pottermore, and even plain ol’ Facebook and Tumblr, we’ve been able to get our Harry Potter fixes whenever we wanted. Is it the same as before when we’d camp outside the movie theaters on premiere night or cracked the spine on the newest book? No. Sadly, it’s not. However, JKR has never ceased to indulge us with juicy new tidbits or incite fresh debates for us to sink our teeth into. Even better, we now have The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts to rekindle those warm and fuzzy feelings. Until that time, though, what are we to do with our lives? Well, I am glad you asked! Here are seven real-life Harry Potter experiences to make the wait just a little more bearable.
Romance in the Great Hall.
Last month, WB Studios announced they were opening up the Great Hall once again. This time, we Muggles (or you Muggles, anyway. Pfft.) get to cozy up with a romantic dinner for two. Starting off the evening with a love potion cocktail—they are serving stronger stuff than butterbeer, so wizards 18 and older only—couples can get a three-course meal, after-hours studio tour (who hasn’t wanted to smooch in the dungeon corridors?), dessert, and coffee before picking up your very own wand. Just the thing to make some magic at home. *waggles brows*
As of January 13, you can start ordering your tickets for the most magically romantic dinner of your life—No, really. I need this, Hubs. Prices start at £495.50 per couple ($712.25 for our No-Maj participants).
Forget romance. Give us potions!
For those of us who want something more authentic than a cupid-and-roses type of night—even us married witches can hold a bitter grudge against Valentine’s Day—there is always COWLARP. No, its not a bunch of people grazing in a field shouting “Mooooooo!” at one another (but how fun would that be? C’mon! Cow-tipping, y’all!). It’s the College of Wizardry Live Action Role Play brought to us by our friends at Rollespilsfabrikken. For US$345, you gain access to the breathtaking Czocha Castle. Over the span of four magical days, you can feel what Harry and friends felt, live how they lived, and learn what they learned. All the classes, balls, and Quidditch without the Basilisk, Death Eaters, and pervy Myrtle peeking in on you during your bath.
Speaking of Quidditch…
Some of us are more athletic types (not me, unless there is such a thing as Olympic-level web surfing) and get a thrill out of beating our peers in demonstrative shows of rugged sportiness. Others just like the thought of knocking the crud out of people. Luckily, our favorite Harry Potter sports spectacle has flown out of the books and onto real-life Quidditch pitches across the globe, brought to us by the International Quidditch Association.
That’s right; there are official, honest-to-Merlin teams. Three hundred of them to be exact. Organizations like US Quidditch and QuidditchUK wrangle some of the most adrenaline-pumping, Bludger-beating, Snitch-snatching fun you can have with your feet on the ground. Sorry, folks, we haven’t figured out how to get broomsticks to really fly… yet.
The boy, the myth, the theme park!
You didn’t think we could get through this list without mentioning the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, did you? Not only do we have Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, but Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood will also have a piece of the steak-and-kidney pie. So many chances to walk among the shops and classrooms, how could you possibly pass it up?
If standing around in line doesn’t tickle your fancy, you could always hit up one of the many Harry Potter-themed conventions and… stand around in more lines. This way, though, you have a slightly better chance at rubbing elbows with the characters you loved so much! Why not try LeakyCon, MuggleNet Live!, or MISTI-con? Surround yourself with like-minded people and who knows, maybe make some new friends as you let your geek out.
Study the students of Hogwarts.
All right, so maybe you aren’t the traveling sort. Maybe you don’t like thousands of people bumping into you every minute or perhaps you have responsibilities you can’t wander away from—like a job or school. While I can’t really help you with the job part (apart from this tip: Bosses really don’t like you waving a pencil at them and screaming Expecto Patronum), what if I told you there were some amazing courses taught by very intelligent and credible individuals that centered largely around Harry Potter?
So you might not learn the differences between monkshood and wolfsbane, but you can study the saga’s impact on both literature and our everyday lives. So much better than biology and *shudder* math. Our very own Keith Hawk has been so kind as to provide a list of courses offered at a variety of colleges. If you prefer independent study, MuggleNet Academia has some very spell-binding lectures for you to listen in on. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. (Don’t forget to check out my personal favorite: “Lightsabers and Wands.”)
Can’t afford tickets or tuition? How about some free experiences?
So there is a secret community of fans that geek out just a smidge harder. You know the type from high school, the ones who are just a little more out there than the “normal” geek, who gather around a table in their parents’ basements and craft wild adventures from their imaginations. Some have progressed from tabletop roleplay to MMOs like World of Warcraft and such. Well, even Harry Potter has it’s own version of this, and I, I’m completely unashamed to say, am one of them. I am an online Harry Potter roleplayer.
Online roleplay (or RP) is a lot like Dungeons and Dragons, but instead of rolling dice for attacks and defense, we focus more on interacting with fellow “players” to write stories based in the worlds we love so much. We create characters based on the rules of JK’s wizarding universe and tell their stories. Hey, I know it’s a little weird, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it! You’d be surprised at the large number of people who lead these secret lives. Out of most HP roleplay sites I have visited (and in the course of ten years, that’s a lot!), the two that stuck out most for me are Hogwarts School Online and Hogwarts Online. Both of these have been around for over seven years (Hogwarts Online for over a decade, which is a serious accomplishment for RP sites) and have provided a fully immersive environment for the HP fans that are looking for a free place to interact in the wizarding world. Don’t just take my word for it, though; look around and find the site that’s right for you.
Other bits and bobs to Potter-fy your ordinary life.
I get it—you love Harry Potter, but you have an image to maintain and can’t go all fangirl on it for fear of your family trying to commit you. We’ve all been there. You can still stick a little Potter in your life without donning Quidditch robes and parading around your neighborhood on a broom. Maybe you’re like me and met your husband because of Harry Potter. How about showcasing tiny pieces of your shared obsession at your wedding? You can still have a classy Harry Potter wedding! If you have a kid getting ready to turn 11 and they like Harry Potter (but not nearly as much as you, of course), then what could be better than a Hogwarts birthday bash? From jewelry, to home decor, to traveling to where they filmed scenes from the movies, there are plenty of ways to celebrate your love of all things Potter without making your peers question your sanity. I mean, I personally snicker when random people inquire me about my Dark Mark tattoo, but that’s just me.
It’s easier than ever to infuse a little Potter magic into our lives. With the books and movies all but finished—unless you are able to make it to London for the Cursed Child, or are okay with waiting for Fantastic Beasts—we have to take matters into our own hands. Thankfully, the experiences listed above are not beyond our reach.
Which real-life Potter experience would you be anxious to enjoy? Do you know of anything happening in or around your area that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!