Discover the Magic Behind Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes Toys
If you’ve ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, you’ll surely have been amazed by the amount of detail in every shop window, attraction, or magical statue.
The Universal Orlando blog has recently shared a rare insight into the behind-the-scenes story of the toys created for Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
It took two years before the Diagon Alley store was opened to plan and create the products you’ll find inside due to the challenges in creating real-life magic. Maria Kazaros, who works as the senior buyer for Universal Orlando Resort’s merchandise team, tasked herself and her team with bringing the novelty jokes and pranks inspired by those of Fred and George Weasley to life.
One of the hardest parts in the beginning was just, how do you bring things to life from Harry’s world? We spent many months watching the movies, reading the books, brainstorming, doing work sessions. And we brought in some of the fans to see what they liked. Those fans care and they know what they want, so that helped us all in figuring out what the merchandise in [t]he Wizarding World of Harry Potter would be.
A challenge Kazaros and her team faced is figuring out how you would take something you would see in the films or read in the books and turn it into an operational toy.
One thing that I do is, I rely on my product partners who are experts in the industry and know how toys can go from nothing to something. I ask a lot of questions or just come to them and say, ‘I want to make this, can I?’ And then we’ll sort of reengineer it and I get to create my vision, so to speak.
Walking through Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, you would find it hard not to be amazed. From the Extendable Ears, which are a highly detailed replica of the pair used in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, to the Skiving Snackboxes, created by Fred and George so students would be able to skip lessons, you’ll find yourself seeing movie replicas on every shelf.
The Diagon Alley shop also features interactive items such as the toilet-in-the-front-window flushing at the flick of your interactive wand and the surprises you can see if you were to look up at the ceiling. The shop is truly packed to the ceiling with Weasleys-inspired items and tie-ins to the movies.
Kazaros, who has been with the company since 1999, goes on to explain how she enjoys working with toys because it allows her to be a problem-solver.
It’s challenging to take something non-magical, like a pen, and make it magical, or something that is magical, like The Monster Book of Monsters, and make it something real for people to interact with.
When developing merchandise for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one of Kazaros’s top priorities is to ensure everything she and her team create feels authentic and is a step up from what people expect from an everyday toy. With Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, she aims to capture a unique form of chaos.
When you think of that scene in the movie, everything is moving. Dolores Umbridge on the unicycle moves in their store and moves in ours. So that’s one we actually created and brought to life from the movies.
In the special behind-the-scenes chat, Kazaros also goes on to say how she still watches the Harry Potter films today because there’s so much you can catch from them that you haven’t seen.
Last month, we reported the temporary closure of Universal Orlando Resort due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Have you got a favorite piece of merchandise from when you visited Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes at Universal Studios Florida? Or maybe you have a favorite piece of merchandise from another Wizarding World attraction? We’d love to see them! Show them off by tagging us on Instagram @mugglenet.