Wizardfest is coming to Australia and we now all have a reason (do we need one?) to pull out the ol’ dress robes and costumes to party with fellow fans and muggles.
The May event is being held in Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide with other major cities to follow later on this year.
With Butterbeer, Fire Whiskey and a new drink especially for Wizardfest called the Potent Potion flowing, along with music and prizes for best dressed, it is a fun night out organised by a team of fans aptly named Peeves’ Gang. There is even a chance to pre-purchase souvenir glasses to take home on the night.
I went to the first event last year and was like a kid in a candy store Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
Since I read the announcement in 2009 that there was to be a theme park devoted to recreating the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was beyond excited. After waiting in line for each of the books release – I started late as I only discovered the Harry Potter books just before Book 3 was released in 1999 – it was on my bucket list to see the world I had come to love in the books come to life.
I would read reviews and watch celebrities like Ellen visit the WWOHP and lap it up. And four years later, in 2013 I finally got the chance to go Universal Studios Orlando to see it for myself.
It was the middle of Summer and so rehydrating is a must.
All the stores in WWOHP are true to the books. When I asked one of the Wizard shop assistants at Olivanders about shipping stuff back home, she pulled out a Book of Spells and flipped to the Shipping Spells section. Also JK Rowling made sure that all the drinks sold in this part of Universal were authentic to the Wizarding World – so no soft drinks like Coke. Only Butterbeer, water, Pumpkin Juice, traditional lemonade and craft beer at the Three Broomsticks.
Let me say up front that I am the first to admit that I am a Harry Potter (HP) fan. The books captured my attention a little later than the hordes of 10yr olds who were glued to the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione from book one. I remember seeing the queues of people of all ages lined up at bookstores prior to the release of the fourth book in 2000 and decided to see what the fuss was all about. I was hooked. In 2009 I shrieked with delight on the news of a HP theme park opening as part of Universal Studios Orlando and immediately put it on my bucket list.
Four years later I finally got there! The first thing that struck me was the power of the brand. There is a certain magic (pardon the pun) behind the marketing of Harry Potter and I have narrowed it down to five simple rules.
1. Pottermore site sets the bar high for interactive children’s websites
First of all there is the security. As this site is mainly targeting children, usernames are generic and automatically generated so no user can be identified by their real name.
Rediscovering the books. JK Rowling has ensure that the user journeys through the site as if they are with the main characters experiencing what they experience.
Extra notes by JK Rowling add a freshness to the experience as you read the authors comments and thoughts behind certain scenes in the books.
Finding hidden items – as you move through each chapter through the site, you can collect secret or missing items and put them in your ‘trunk’ which you can use later to put together potions or battle other online users in a duel.
2. Brand consistency
The merchandise, movies and all related props closely adhere to the original plot. Even in the theme park, staff are all in character, most with English accents and you are not able to buy soft drink as that is not part of the HP world.
3. Emotional involvement
Fans of the books are totally immersed in the characters world, conventions are held annually, fan fiction rivals that of Star Wars and Star Trek both long-established brands, and there is even a range of Wizard Rock Groups.
4. Bringing the brand to life as a theme park
The HP universe that JK Rowling built incorporates clothing such as robes, scarves, t-shirts and general wizarding garb along with an array of items from the books and movies such as wands, lollies, chocolate and the usual merchandising options.