New images from the first illustrated Harry Potter book released

Today, Bloomsbury Publishing and Scholastic, Inc. released four new images from the upcoming, fully-illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, to be released in October this year.

The pictures, illustrated by artist Jim Kay, depict four of the series’ key characters, Rubeus Hagrid, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Draco Malfoy in stunning detail.

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Related: ‘Harry Potter’ to be transformed into new, fully illustrated editions by Jim Kay

The book will be published worldwide October 6, 2015, beginning the first series of fully-illustrated Harry Potter books. The books are planned to come out every year subsequently. As the press release reads, “The hardback edition will include ribbon marker, head and tail bands, illustrated endpapers and  artwork on every spread.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is currently available for pre-order on Bloomsbury’s website, featuring the following blurb:

Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay’s dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters in this deluxe full-colour illustrated hardback edition of the nation’s favourite children’s book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Brimming with rich detail and humour that perfectly complements J.K. Rowling’s timeless classic, Jim Kay’s glorious illustrations will captivate fans and new readers alike.

In addition to the new illustrated books, Bloomsbury will release a gift edition hardback of Philosopher’s Stone on February 5, coated in a “beautiful foiled cloth slipcase decorated with brand new line art by Jonny Duddle.” The book can be pre-ordered here.

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Roundup of Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley red carpet preview

King's Cross at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

King’s Cross at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Harry Potter cast and fans alike came together on Wednesday for the red carpet event to preview the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley park.

For the rest of us, though, we were tracking the event on social media and the live stream that Universal set up for the event, which was hosted by David Karger, the chief correspondent of Fandango.

The stream started with the host presenting a video focusing on the development of the park, from conception to today, with interviews from Universal executives. According to them, the park has been in the planning since the Hogsmeade park opened.

The host then interviewed the Harry Potter cast. Here are some bits from their interviews:

  • Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films, said that “the memories are flooding back.” She also stated that she thinks Harry and Ginny are a great couple and thought they’d have a happy life with their kids.
  • Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the films, said that being back at the park with fellow cast members is like a “family reunion.” She stated that having the park makes the experience more real for fans. She said that Luna’s favorite shop in the park would be the Magical Menagerie because they sell the Crumple-Horned Snorkak, which everyone denied to be real but Luna persisted on their existence. “It’s a huge win for Luna,” Lynch told The Leaky Cauldron fansite.
  • Domhall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in the two Deathly Hallows movies, spoke about his prominent role in the Escape from Gringotts ride, and said the park was “very lovely.”
  • Matthew Lewis, who famously portrayed Neville Longbottom in the films, said that he “can’t wait” to ride the Gringotts ride. When asked (via a submitted Twitter question) to name the dragon, he answered with Neville, unsurprisingly. The actor also said that it’s been great to catch up with his fellow cast mates, who he hasn’t seen in a while.
  • The Phelps twins, a.k.a. Fred and George Weasley, said that they’d never expect that the park would be as big as it is, and that it’s “amazing.” They also said that the most useful spell for their Muggle lives would be Lumos, and overall they’d like to have a Portkey, which would make for easy and quicker travel.
  • Warwick Davis, who played both Professor Flitwick and the Gringotts goblin Griphook in the films, had some very nice things to say about the fans, saying that they were the reason why Harry Potter is so successful. The theme park is for them, he said, as it allows the fans to experience what the characters did.
  • Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the films, said that the park looks very real, and even better than the set because it allows you to actually experience it, it’s not artificial.
  • Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the films, interestingly shared the inspiration of Hagrid, and said that J.K. Rowling told him the character was based off of a large, motorcycle-riding man she knew, who intimidated the people he encountered but had a kind heart. Looking back, she said that the man reminded her of Robbie Coltrane, and that’s why she imagined Coltrane for the role of Hagrid in the films.
  • Helena Bonham Carter, who portrayed Bellatrix Lestrange in the films, said that she misses the teeth she got to wear while playing Bellatrix, and actually planned on wearing them tonight but couldn’t find them (too bad!). She said that she had a fun time playing such a fearless character as Bellatrix.

In addition to the cast interviews, there were montages in between of the actors’ scenes in the movies, as well as previews of the Hogwarts Express and the interactive wands.

The host also interviewed Universal executive who worked on the live shows and aspects of the park. He said that they’ve been working on the live shows for two years, and spoke about four specific live action pieces of the parks. In the London area, visitors will encounter the Knight Bus and its infamous driver, Shan Shupike, along with live “street buskers”, who will be playing a variety of music year round, just like actual street performers. When the visitors enter Diagon Alley, they’ll be able to experience two other live shows including a puppet performance of two stories from J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, which was featured in Deathly Hallows – Part One, and a live performance of Celestina Warbeck songs, a personal favorite of Molly Weasley’s. Find out more about these entertainment and interactive experiences here.

After all the interviews were done, Shan Shupike appeared to introduce other Universal and Warner Bros. executives. They then turned it over to Robbie Coltrane, who finally opened the park, touching the Diagon Alley bricks with a pink umbrella,  just as Hagrid did in the first Harry Potter film. Oh, nostalgia!

Cameras then followed the stars and fans into the park, when the live stream was brought to a close. However, the party is just starting, and lots of visitors are sharing their experience on Twitter and Instagram. Keep up with the event under the hashtag #DiagonAlleyPreview, where you’ll find pictures and tweets from people at the park.

The red carpet event was the first live stream broadcast of three during the Diagon Alley preview week. Check back tomorrow for a full roundup of the Phelps Twins ride on the Hogwarts express, and then on Friday for a report on Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton’s preview of the park with Alan Gilmore, the park and films’ art director.

Related: Diagon Alley to open July 8

In the meantime, torture yourself with the tweets and Instagram’s of those who are at the event now. Have fun!

A Visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – London

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Recently I (the webmaster, Dan) went to London for vacation. Of course this vacation wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour!

It was my first time going to the Studios and I was just awe-struck. It is amazing. The sets are just like I imagined, and are just as they appear in the films. Everything about it is impressive; the grand entrance with character stills; the courtyard filled with outdoor sets; and even the gigantic gift shop. Here’s a guided review of the tour…

THROUGH THE TOUR:

After 17 Underground stops, 4 overground stations, and one ride on a double decker bus, we arrived. In all its glory, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour — London was unveiled before our eyes as we exited the bus. We we’re anxious to collect our tickets and enter the building.

Once inside, we were exposed to a vass lobby, with character stills posted on the walls. We got in line and waited to enter the set. In the queue area, there is the Cupboard Under the Stairs, and quotes from J.K. Rowling telling how Harry Potter came to be. Her insight was interesting, and just made me more excited for what was in store.

We then entered another waiting room. While in here, a quick video was played about the Harry Potter films. (Basically just the preview of the following film, just to get the blood flowing and the tears jerking — it did both.) After this was done, we entered a cinema-like theater, to watch another short film about the making of the Harry Potter films, led by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. At the end of the video, the screen opened up and the Great Hall set was unveiled to the audience. (By this time, I had goosebumps all over my body, and butterflies of excitement in my stomach.)

The Great Hall set is the first of many we encountered along the way. After an introduction by one of the Studio workers, we made our way through the main room, which included sets for the Gryffindor Common Room, Snape’s Potion chamber, the Burrow and Hagrid’s Hut. From the later films, there was Umbridge’s Office and the Ministry of Magic sets – and they did not disappoint!

In a separate room, the Diagon Alley set was laid out with Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Gringotts Bank and Ollivanders. It’s life size, basically, so when you walk through it, on the cobbled road, you get the feeling that you’re walking through the real Diagon Alley, or a winding street in London. It was just really awesome, in the true sense of the word.

Sets weren’t the only things on display. They had exhibits dedicated to the Hair & Makeup Department and a wall filled with the Hogwarts portraits. There were props from the movies, like Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Hagrid’s Motorbike. Costumes and manequins were everywhere, showing off the clothing from the films, including the dress that Hermione wore to the Yule Ball, Harry’s dress robes from the first film, and some of Dumbledore’s robes. They also had a “Circle of Wands” an incased set of wands that were  displayed in the way that it made a circle (see above in the gallery). It featured the wands of Lord Voldemort and Fred and George. It was very cool.

Before leaving Building J, a display case showed off all the painstakingly intricate works of Mina Lima, the graphic design team that worked on the Harry Potter films. These pieces included Harry’s Hogwarts letters, candy boxes from Honeydukes, and Rita Skeeter’s The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. This part was nothing short of extraordinary.

Between the two buildings of the complex was a courtyard filled with the outdoor sets from the Potter films. Stored in the courtyard is the triple-decker Knight Bus, Privet Drive, the grave of Tom Riddle Sr., Godric’s Hollow, the chess pieces from the first film, and more — all of which are perfect photo-ops. In the courtyard there is also a place to eat, featuring the Wizarding World’s most famous drink, Butterbeer! It was the first time since I visited the theme park in Orlando in 2010 that I got to taste it, and it’s just as delicious and refreshing as it is in Florida.

We then continued on to building K, where the main focus was on design, whether it be costume design, set design. They had manequins of Dumbledore and Katie Bell, the house elves — a blood-stained Dobby included 😦 — and the 7 foot tall mock up of Hagrid. They had small models of the sets, such as a miniature version of Dumbledore’s office, and Hogsmeade village.

The concept art was also shown, and let me tell you that they are beautiful. It’s as if you stepped into an art museum. The art not only looks like an actual painting, but the design aspect of it makes it very realistic. If you’re ever there, take a moment to breathe it all in. It really blows your mind.

After the design exhibit, one is taken into another room. In this room, in all its glory, is a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts, a.k.a. Heaven on earth. This model was used in the films for the exterior shots of the castle. If you think a 1:24 scale seems small, it’s not. The castle is huge, taking up a rather large room. And its not just the castle that is unbelievable. It’s the courtyards, the miniature trees, the tiny stairs, the cathedral windows, the shingles that took 8 hours to apply. If you do not already appreciate all the work that was put into the films, this will make you appreciate it. The amount of detail put into it is astonishing. It is as if you’re looking at a 15th century Abbey, or a courtyard in Oxford. It is absolutely, hands down, across the board breathtaking. I will always remember it.

Now, you’re probably thinking, what could top that?! Well, the tour was not yet over and we still had one more room to explore — the wand room. A replica of Ollivanders, the wand room has thousands of wands, with individual boxes for everyone involved with the making of the Harry Potter films. Everyone from J.K. Rowling to Nicoletta Mani (you know, the actress dubbed “miscellaneous crew” on IMDB… even I had to look that one up) has a wand dedicated to them. Then, to top the whole tour off, was a single quote in the center: “The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” What a way to top of the tour!

Like any attraction, we exited through the gift shop. But this wasn’t just any gift shop. This was freaking the Harry Potter Emporium. Every merchandise item you could think of was on sale: ornaments, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans, the books, the movies, plush Hedwigs, and so much more. I might have bought a few confectionaries…

But of course, once you’ve gone through the buyer’s line, it’s all over. Nevertheless, it was the experience of a lifetime! The memories will live on!

Have you been to you the studio tour? What did you think of it? If you haven’t we recommend it.  It would be a terrific experience to any Harry Potter fan – young/old, movie/book — anyone.

Pottermore to release ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ this Thursday

Book 3, Chapter 6, Moment 3Over the past few weeks, Pottermore has been teasing a major announcement. Today they made that big announcement.

In an Insider post, Pottermore broke the news that the first chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban would be released this Thursday, December 20.

This means that if you have completed both books on Pottermore, you can explore the third book Thursday. However, Pottermore explained that in order to do progress to the third book, users must collect all the items on the second-year shopping list.

In addition to this announcement, Pottermore shared a Moment from the book that users’ voted for last week, which you can check out above.

In this Moment, Harry, Hermione, Ron and their classmates attend Hagrid’s first Care of Magical Creatures class and encounter the impressive Hippogriffs in their paddock.

Once the new chapters go live on Thursday, we’ll be journeying through them and giving our review.

What are you most looking forward to in Prisoner of Azkaban?

The message in the tea leaves is becoming clearer…

The tea leaves that have been swirling on Pottermore since last week are starting to take shape and the message they convey is becoming clearer. Look at the image above and on the sidebar – Can you decipher the message?

Find out more December 20

If you can’t decipher the message, the Insider announced today that these tea leaves represent something more – more Potter, that is.

“The teacups show the shapes of three different creatures – a Hippogriff, a large dog and a rat,” the Insider post reads. “Each creature represents a different Moment from the first chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, coming very soon to Pottermore.com.

In addition to confirming the release, the Insider has invited users to vote on which Moment they would like to see ahead of the release.  Here are your choices:

Large dog – Magnolia Crescent

Hippogriff – Hagrid’s First Lesson

Rat – The Magical Menagerie

You can vote on the Moment right here. The poll will close Sunday, December 16, with the winner being announced Monday, December 17.

In the meantime, speculate in the comments what the creatures could represent. When do you think Pottermore will release the chapters?