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Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Summer of #CHBPotter

We've reached the end of our CHBPotter journey, and though we're definitely feeling the sadness, it's been a fun and educational journey. Michelle and I are blogging one last time this summer to discuss our Wizarding World trip and to say farewell to the Boy Who Lived.

First, we'll tell you all about what it was like to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

V: Walking into Diagon Alley for the first time, I felt exactly like Harry in Sorcerer's Stone. There was so much to see, and I wished I had more eyes...my head was swiveling in every direction trying to take it all in. There wasn't a single time I walked down Diagon Alley that I didn't see something amazing that I hadn't noticed the last time I'd looked. Universal did an AMAZING job of creating this immersive experience. Except for the heat, you could really believe you're in Rowling's Diagon Alley. There were people everywhere pointing, laughing, and waving wands to cast their spells (Universal has created interactive wands to use in the parks). My favorite part of the experience (aside from, you know, the entire thing) was seeing Celestina Warbeck in concert. Hearing these magical (and very jazzy) tunes being sung in Diagon Alley by this background character that never gets any notice...that made my entire trip. My other favorite part was the Ollivander's experience. In case you're unfamiliar with the way things are done, Ollivander's Wand Shop allows in a certain number of people per "show," and from that group, the wandmaker picks one person to actually undergo the experience of being chosen by a wand. I've been picked before, but I definitely wanted to try it again so I could have video of the experience. No surprise, I got picked again. The woman playing the wandmaker was fantastic and incredibly believavbe. Not that my first experience was bad, but this one blew it away. I performed Accio to bring a ladder closer (resulting in crashing wand boxes), Lumos to light up the room (and I accidentally made it storm), and then I finally was chosen by my perfect wand. It's a very magical experience, and it draws you in. Michelle, I know you said in the podcast that your favorite moment happened in King's Cross. Was there anything else that stood out to you?

M: Yeah, the King's Cross employee instructing me not to run through a brick wall was pretty great, but really just seeing it all. Or if I'm really honest it was the snacks. From Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice to Chocolate Frogs and Cauldron Cakes...I've wanted to taste these things for sixteen years! I bought ALL the candy in Honeydukes. It was thrilling to be able to be a part of that world for a while. I also really loved the details. Universal went to great lengths with even the small details; this really helps to keep the crowds from overwhelming the experience. Sure sometimes when you look around all you see is a sea of people, but look there are Hermione's dress robes or check out that Crumple-Horned Snorkack - it pulls you right back in to the Wizarding World experience.
Another way of continuing the Harry Potter experience that I only first undertook this summer is Pottermore. I'm still working my way through Sorcerer's Stone, but Pottermore really is totally worth the time it takes to move through it. J.K. Rowling has written tons of addition content for the site that really expands upon the world of the seven HP books. This summer in particular has seen a glut of new information. There's a story about Dumbledore's Army meeting up at the Quidditch World Cup, a story about the life of Celestina Warbeck, and much much more. Anytime I have a spare few moments at my computer I run through a few "Moments" on Pottermore. Definitely recommended for those who've been on the fence about it.

V: Absolutely! Pottermore is great for those fans of the books who wish they could just know more about these characters and places and this whole world! I particularly loved the backstories on both Lupin and McGonagall, and I think those things add so much to their characters and the way you read them. Also, the Celestina Warbeck recorded version of "You Stole My Cauldron" is possibly my new favorite thing, next to frozen Butterbeer.
It's been a heck of a summer for us here at CHB. Reading and discussing the Harry Potter series again and topping it all off with a trip to the Wizarding World has, for me at least, really brought back all my memories of midnight release parties, dressing up, and fan theories and speculation. To me, one of the most magical things about Harry Potter is that it brings people together. No matter who you are, where you're from, your beliefs, likes, or anything at all, if you love Harry Potter, we have common ground and a firm foundation on which to build a friendship. This is the reason that I believe Harry Potter will never disappear and the fandom will never end: we have made too many connections to and through this series of books, and those links are much too strong to be broken by time or distance. The bonds that fans make may have their roots in Harry Potter, but they extend to much more than that, and I think that's absolutely fantastic. And it keeps going. Every new person who picks up the books has the chance to share in these links and these lessons. The magic of Harry Potter lies in the way that it helps us connect to others, be more empathetic, and ultimately, it helps to make us better people.

And on that resonating note, CHBPotter comes to a close. We hope you've enjoyed the books, our discussion and thoughts, and we hope you've learned something along the way, just as we have. We know that Harry Potter isn't for everyone, but to deny the power of Harry Potter is in part to deny the power that literature and stories hold in our lives. Stories are important and they matter. They help us see and realize things about our lives and world that we might not otherwise notice. They help us learn to be better people through empathy and the idea that everyone has their own unique story to tell. To all who have followed along, we thank you for your thoughts and support. And to those who are just now discovering the magic of Harry Potter, we hope you enjoy the journey. CHBPotter has been a magnificent experience for us, and we hope you've enjoyed the ride. To sign off, I'll quote Lee Jordan's ending to Potterwatch, which seems fitting: "Keep each other safe: Keep faith. Goodnight."

P.S. check out our final Potter podcast, Beat Back Those Bludgers Boys, and Chuck That Podcast Here! You can listen in you browser by clicking here or go straight to itunes.

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