Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort
If July 15th -- the release date for the eighth (and final) Harry Potter movie -- can’t come soon enough for you or your kids, there’s plenty of Hogwarts-esque magic to be found here in the Muggle world.
• Harry Potter: The Exhibition, a collection of costumes, accessories and sets from the movies, just opened in New York’s Discovery Times Square -- its final stop before heading back to England for permanent display. Visitors can sit in Hagrid’s chair, check out Harry’s wand and glasses, and try their hand at replanting screaming Mandrakes as part of the exhibit. (While you're in town, catch Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, starring in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.)
• Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter lets you play witch or wizard for the day, enjoying butterbeers and Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, or explore Hogwarts on the wild Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.
• Muggle kids can start their own magical instruction at a variety of themed summer camps. The Girl Scouts of Virginia offer a week-long overnight wizarding camp, where students take classes in Defense Against the Dark Arts (archery/martial arts) and Potion Making (chemistry), while the Putnam Museum in Iowa offers a day camp that looks at the science behind the magic (and lets you play Quidditch too). Magic for Muggles in New Jersey offers four separate weeks of day camp, where students are sorted into houses, make their own wands and compete for the house cup. Many other school districts, museums and universities offer Harry Potter themed programs, so check your local listings.
• Want a more musical bent to your magical obsession? Two Harry Potter themed bands, Harry and the Potters and the Whomping Willows are heading out for spring and summer tours -- so watch for them at a venue near you.
• If you’re heading to the UK to check out sights from the movies, numerous tours abound, from bus tours of locations around London to multi-day tours that take you all around the country. But you may want to wait to pack your bags until 2012, when Warner Brothers opens a unique studio tour, allowing you an inside look at the sets where most of the movie was filmed.