The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is still months away from a set opening date, but that doesn’t stop us from being excited for it. Today we were lucky enough to chat with Thierry Coup, the vice president of creative development for Universal Creative who is heading the Wizarding World project about one of the more exciting elements of the park: Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
Much like everything else about Wizarding World, Coup and the workers over at Universal are working as hard as they can to keep everything about the park as close to the books and films as possible. They teased back in September that the wand shop would be an “incredible interactive experience” where, like in the “Harry Potter” universe, the wand picks the wizard, and it seems as though they’ve succeeded.
When the guest enters the wand shop to speak with the wand keeper, he or she will be asked a series of questions to start the matching process.
“The questions that will be asked from the wand keeper to the wizard are very individual, very tailored to each person based on their birth date and other questions which will determine the kind of wood and kind of narrow down the choices of wands,” Coup shared.
From there, the wand keeper will offer the guest a series of wand options until the right match is found. Like in the “Harry Potter” story, a series of “magical mishaps” will occur before the right wand is found.
“One of [the effects could be], as you’re asked to wave the wand, may be wilting flowers. As you’re asked to water the flowers actually is the reverse effect may happen,” Coup said. “Lightening, thunder, we have a whole series of effects. We want enough variety so everyone gets a very unique, individual experience.”
It will be obvious once the proper match is found, though, Coup said. “Ultimately the right [wand] will be found — will choose the wizard — and then will have this mystical magical effect, very similar to the film where you have the light going on the desk and other things happening, whether it’s music voices and things that make it very clear that this is the right wand for you,” he said.
Even though the Ollivander’s shop is technically a shopping experience, actually buying anything in the shop is not a requirement. If a guest goes through a wand-selecting experience, they are not obligated to buy the wand that “chose” them. According to Coup, the experience is as much of a draw to the shop as buying the wands.
But even though it sounds like it should take a while to go through the process, Coup estimated the wand-choosing experience should only take two to five minutes per guest. Since the shop stays true to the books and films, Ollivander’s will be very “intimate” — meaning probably only 25 people can fit in at a time. Especially within the first few months of the park opening there will probably be a wait to get into the shop, but it seems like it would be well worth the time.
Coup also acknowledged that not all visitors will want to go through the wand-selecting process and said there are going to be other wand-purchasing options available. There are 13 Ollivander’s wand varieties created by the “Harry Potter” films’ production designer Stuart Craig and author J.K. Rowling that can be purchased, as well as 12 wands from Noble Collection and a build-a-wand area geared towards younger guests. Visitors can select items to put in the core of the wand and choose the wood to make their own unique wand. However, Coup and Universal weren’t able to recreate all the elements of the “Harry Potter” wands.
“It probably won’t be a phoenix feather,” Coup said about the different items that could go into the wands. “We’re looking for that still.”
One of the big concerns that “Harry Potter” fans had when it was first announced that the Ollivander’s shop would be in the park’s version of Hogsmeade Village (conceptual drawing pictured above) was that, in the story, Ollivander’s Wand Shop is actually in the London wizarding shopping area, Diagon Alley. Coup and the folks at Universal clarified the situation, stating that putting the Ollivander’s in Hogsmeade got Rowling’s stamp of approval.
“What we have is Ollivander’s Wand Shop, which is kind of an annex to the Diagon Alley wand shop and this wand keeper we have here at Hogsmeade Village works for Ollivander, but he’s not the Ollivander,” Coup said. “The way it was designed and fitted properly in this entire wizarding world of Harry Potter makes complete sense.”
To hear more about the shop (from “HP” stars including Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Felton and Emma Watson), press play below!
How excited are you for the theme park and wand shop now?