MuggleCast 273 Transcript
[Show music begins]
Andrew: Because we always return for the big news, this is MuggleCast Episode 273 for August 5, 2014.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: This week’s episode of MuggleCast is brought to you by Audible.com. Audible is the leading provider of audiobooks with more than 150,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 273. Micah, Eric, and I are back! Hey, boys.
Eric: We’re back, babies.
Micah: We are.
Andrew: You guys are back from Orlando. I’m back from absolutely nothing.
Eric: San Diego Comic-Con, right?
Andrew: Comic-Con if you count two weeks… yeah. That was two weeks ago. That was so two weeks ago.
Micah: And you were in Orlando too, though, not that long ago, weren’t you?
Andrew: Yeah, in June. In June. So I, too, am back from Orlando in June.
Andrew: But… well, we wanted to do a new episode because of course, Diagon Alley has opened up in Universal, Orlando, J.K Rowling dropped an interesting short story on Pottermore, we just passed the Deathly Hallows seventh anniversary, J.K Rowling released a new book, Fantastic Beasts now has a release date… there’s tons of stuff to talk about, so we’re going to catch up on all the good news. Our last episode, I believe, was in March or April?
Andrew: And it was right after we learned that Fantastic Beasts is going to be three movies. Three movies – we decided that was podcast-worthy.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: So here we are.
Micah: Not four. Not yet.
Andrew: Yes, they have not split movie three into two parts yet. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] Oh, geez.
Micah: But don’t worry, there’s a good possibility it could happen.
Andrew: I think it’s impossible this time…
Micah: Well, there’s no book.
Andrew: … because they’re not working off of a… right.
Micah: Well, we shouldn’t say that. There’s no story that they’re working off of, at least that’s been published and then can be monetized in a very high-rate like Potter was; like The Hunger Games are going to be and various other series that have been released over the course of the last several years and will continue to be released. That’s the hip new thing, right? Split the last book…
Micah: … into two movies.
Andrew: Yeah. That…
Micah: Because why not?
Andrew: If J.K. Rowling wants to be relevant with Fantastic Beasts, she has to split the final movie in two.
Eric: [laughs] Otherwise…
Andrew: I guess it is kind of possible since Warner Bros. decided to… they had two movies for The Hobbit and then they were like, “Well, let’s do a third. Why not?”
Andrew: [laughs] So… no, I think… I feel like part of the agreement with J.K. Rowling was three movies. Surely she set some sort of rule with them, like: “Okay, I’ll do this, but three movies tops.”
Andrew: I don’t think they could…
Eric: And isn’t it unclear what capacity she’ll serve in the second two movies? Like, she is writing the first.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean I hope she writes the next two.
Micah: Well, I’m sure she’ll write more.
Andrew: Yeah, I guess.
Andrew: I mean, she’s always got a lot of stuff to do.
News: J.K. Rowling Writes New Piece by Rita Skeeter and Other Updates in Pottermore
Andrew: So anyway, let’s start with… before we get to Fantastic Beasts, let’s start with Pottermore. J.K. Rowling wrote a new story, like I said, following… so it was written as Rita Skeeter because she was reporting from the Quidditch World Cup, where Harry, Ron, Hermione… who else was there?
Micah: Dumbledore’s Army, right?
Andrew: Neville… right, the theme was Dumbledore’s Army had arrived to watch the Quidditch World Cup. And everybody loved this.
Andrew: This new short story. Because it was written in the voice of Rita Skeeter that we’ve missed so much. Rita wrote things like Ron’s hair is thinning…
Andrew: … Harry’s hair is turning a little grey, Harry has a new scar – that piqued people’s interest – Voldemort…
Eric: That was the most exciting thing, I think – the scar – because she calls attention to it.
Andrew: The new scar?
Eric: She’s like, “What could this be? Is there some sort of worldly peril that we don’t know about?” That’s really the biggest thing, I think, for people, is like, “Is Harry off on another adventure?”
Andrew: Right. She wrote:
“Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem?”
Eric: And think, J.K. Rowling wrote this. She’s just teasing us. She’s just taunting. This is the thing.
Micah: I think it’s cool that she can just jump right back into these characters and… granted, we don’t know how long it probably took her…
Micah: … to write something like this, but I would assume it could even be something that she had had in her back pocket for a little while. Clearly she wrote this specifically for Pottermore, but I just like the fact that we’re able to just jump right back into the world as if…
Eric: As if we never left?
Micah: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: Well, it is also like set present… it’s set presently. It’s set during the present time, so the Quidditch World Cup is meant to be going on right now… or when the article was published. So it’s kind of like…
Andrew: It is.
Eric: It is catching up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in a way that we hadn’t really ever seen yet, so far. Like, J.K. Rowling said what they end up doing, and I think that little other bits have trickled out, but this was like a news report about what they’re doing now. And for that reason, it’s cool too.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean it’s the first time that we’ve seen modern day Harry, really. Although, I think this takes place… see, so people read that quote, “Oh, is the boy wizard involved…” or, “Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries?” Everybody thought, “Oh! So maybe this means that something is up.” But then I guess people did the math and I think this technically takes place before the Deathly Hallows epilogue, so that didn’t really add up because if all was well at the end of the epilogue…
Andrew: … then…
Eric: Yeah. I wonder if she’ll retcon that or something, like give him a few extra scars.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: The epilogue… she’ll have to go back and re-edit it. You’re right, though. That’s very important. I think it’s like 2017 or something, is the epilogue. Ish. Like 19 years later, right? From 1997.
Eric: Something like that. So… because I know there is this group on Facebook where they’re like, “Go to King’s Cross, and meet Harry and his family.”
Andrew: [laughs] Oh, yeah.
Eric: So there’s totally going to be…
Micah: They’re not going to be there.
Eric: If there’s not going to be a con…
Eric: Dude! There has to be a convention.
Micah: There will be cardboard cutouts or something.
Eric: They have to get Dan Radcliffe and Emma Watson and Rupert to attend. Probably their first convention.
Micah: Yes, I’m sure they will not be busy anyway at that time.
Micah: But what was interesting…
Andrew: Dan will show up in his Spider-Man suit because he’ll just be coming out of Comic-Con.
Micah: Oh yeah, that’s right.
Micah: But what was interesting to me about this was that they are viewed as such celebrities. And again, this is coming from the perspective of somebody like Rita Skeeter who is all about the gossip and the tabloids, but I don’t know. There was something that just didn’t sit right with me that they would be viewed in this kind of light, that they had this kind of clout among the wizarding community. Because I wouldn’t think that any of them really would have wanted that, would have sort of embraced that, to be “Oh, the great Dumbledore’s Army has shown up at the Quidditch World Cup.”
Eric: I’m surprised at first, too, at how public the “Dumbledore’s Army” little phrase was; the fact that these people are known for joining this subversive group, kind of anti-government group in school. But ultimately, I think it’s because they were right in the end and it had to be known in the years following year seven with all that crap that was printed against every single one of them and Undesirable Number One. Word just spread that they were, in fact… Harry was right all along and Dumbledore was too. And so I think the celebrity was really brewed out of that: the fact that they did in fact save the world and Voldemort was in fact back, that plenty of people died fighting him or as a result of him, and I think that’s where it comes from. The word just had to get out and kind of an unfortunate side effect was their fame, which is now detailed scathingly by Rita Skeeter.
Micah: Yeah. And one of the other things, too, is that I think this is the first time we’ve actually gone forward in Pottermore; where we’ve gotten information that, as you guys mentioned, is current. Everything that’s come before it, at least from what I remember, has all been backstory.
Micah: Or more descriptions about different characters or potions or creatures, what have you.
Andrew: Well… so all this Quidditch stuff that… she’s been releasing a bunch of Quidditch stuff because all throughout the month of July was the Quidditch World Cup… or sorry, maybe the month of June. I can’t remember. But leading up to this, there was a bunch of Quidditch reports penned by Ginny Weasley, the Daily Prophet correspondent, and those were in modern… present day too, but it’s not as interesting as this because this specifically references the trio and it is written by Rita Skeeter. So…
Andrew: … this is kind of like the coolest thing.
Eric: Just one other comment I want to bring in… I did forget about the Ginny things. Thanks for reminding me because I do want to go back and read those.
Eric: But J.K. Rowling… when this particular article came out with Rita Skeeter too, like every news story… or sorry, every news site picked up on it. And it was all the main ones too, like CNN and BBC and stuff, were talking about this new article, and I remember one of the critics that was interviewed – maybe even over on HuffPost or something – said, “As a fellow writer of J.K. Rowling’s, I would love… who wouldn’t love to write 1,500 words – which is not a lot at all – and garner this worldwide attention, as it was?”
Eric: It’s only 1,500 words. It is short, if you think about it. You think about how short it is and compare it relatively to the hype that is just surrounding this piece and how every single one of us was just dying to read it. It just shows that she still has a mega amount of power.
Andrew: She’s still got it!
Micah: She’s still got it.
Andrew: Well, it’s also tempting for sites to write up this type of material because they can make a headline. I think E! Online did a headline, or somebody. It was like, “Harry Potter is Back!”
Andrew: I’m just like, “Oh God. No. Stop.”
Micah: Not really.
Andrew: [laughs] But yeah, Eric, that’s a great point. I mean everybody jumped on this story.
Micah: Yeah, and I did myself. I immediately went to go and read it where normally I wouldn’t have if there was just more new information that had been put out on Pottermore. It’s one of those things. “Oh, I’ll get around to it when I have the chance,” but if you’re talking about something that’s new as it relates to the trio, I think that that immediately is going to spark interest. And one thing that actually did come up… as you mentioned at the top of the show, we were in Orlando for LeakyCon. One of the panels, the discussion was about should J.K. Rowling continue to release more information like this. Is it worthwhile?
Micah: Okay, well…
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: … we now have Andrew’s answer and contribution.
Eric: Honestly, I think everybody who went to that panel, none of them said no. None of them said no. There was an argument that was running simultaneously about whether or not the stuff she writes can be considered canon, or if it’s part of extended canon, or if it’s just crap that she writes to write, but all of us want to keep reading it.
Andrew: No, it’s canon.
Eric: Yeah, of course. I would agree, I would agree, I would agree, but others would not. But…
Micah: There were a few people who wanted her to completely stop writing, and I think we should reference that it was the Alohomora! panel that was talking about this.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Micah: But just… I’m all well and fine with her continuing to write and to put out this information. I think, again, I would prefer to have an encyclopedia where everything is in one place that I can go and read, as opposed to Pottermore being this still-somewhat-difficult-to-navigate online experience. But there’s a part of me too, though, when you go and you read something about Harry and his hair turning a little gray, it’s a little weird. Do you really want to go that far? Do you really want to go to the point where he’s going to be sitting in an old age home somewhere in Godric’s Hollow?
Eric: I don’t know about old age home. Isn’t there… didn’t we do a joke once where we were talking about ourselves…
Micah: But he’s in his thirties! He’s in his thirties. His hair is graying already? Really?
Eric: … with hair graying? He’s had a lot more stress in his life than most people.
Andrew: Yes, that’s absolutely right, and I want to continue with this discussion in a moment, but first, it is time to remind everybody that today’s episode is brought to you by Audible.com. Audible is the Internet’s leading provider of audiobooks with more than 150,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including audio versions of many New York Times Bestsellers. For listeners of MuggleCast, Audible is offering you a free audiobook to give you a chance to try out their great service, which I always love during the summer because you get to go outside more often and maybe you’re walking around, maybe you’re laying on the beach or by the lake, by any body of water, and you just want to close your eyes and relax, and maybe a good way to do that is to be accompanied by an audiobook. The book I’m going to recommend this week is a… it’s not going to be a surprise. It’s The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling, a.k.a. Robert Galbraith. You can get the book for absolutely free. We’re going to talk about it later in the show, but it is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. If you haven’t read The Silkworm, then read The Cuckoo’s Calling. You can get that for free from Audible. This deal will get you one book free. Just go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast to sign up for your free 30-day trial membership. Grab The Cuckoo’s Calling, grab The Silkworm, grab The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. All of her post-Potter books are available on Audible. Again, AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. We thank Audible for their support of the show.
Here’s the other thing about this whole Rita Skeeter story. We can barely believe it. I mean, we couldn’t even…
Andrew: We can… because it’s Rita Skeeter. You can’t trust a gossip columnist. I mean, how do we know they even showed up at the Quidditch World Cup? Well, Andrew, it’s all fiction anyway, who cares? Well, that’s a good point, but still! I mean, this fiction…
Micah: Did you just answer yourself?
Andrew: Yes, I did! Because I know that’s what some people are thinking. This is…
Eric: The news has finally gotten to him. There’s so much going on in the world that Andrew has split himself into two people so as to better cover all the news in the fandoms.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: And he answers his own questions now, Micah. We don’t need to be on this podcast.
Micah: Yeah, we’re going to go.
Andrew: [laughs] No, look. It’s a… I just… I was thinking about this on the day it happened. I mean, everybody is getting so excited about a story by Rita Skeeter, who is very well known for making stuff up. So even though we can look at the story and be like, “Oh, Harry, he has some gray hairs already, Ron’s hair is thinning, Harry has a new scar,” can we actually believe these things? We don’t know.
Eric: Yeah, she throws shade on everybody and that includes – I did want to bring this up – Neville Longbottom and his wife, Hannah Abbott, and she actually says that they’re alcoholics, that they drink a little bit more than they should, considering they both work at Hogwarts and teach or shepherd our children. It’s a bit ridiculous, really, when you think of all the stuff that she says: you look more closely at it. It’s… you can sense… it’s kind of brilliant because you can sense she’s just bitter about the whole situation. I’m surprised that she still has a job, but that’s just, I guess, freedom of the press for you. But yeah, I think that… especially what she said about Neville and Hannah was just like, “Wow, she’s reaching to dig at everyone here.”
Eric: It wasn’t entirely comfortable to read. It was very enjoyable but you just wonder, “Man, where does she get off here? This is just… this is ridiculous,” and I think that anybody who is overly on Harry’s side would easily see through all of her random digs.
Andrew: So some people were hoping for J.K. Rowling to do something for the seventh anniversary of Deathly Hallows. Maybe a nice little tweet, maybe something on Facebook, maybe a book announcement, maybe something…
Andrew: I mean, seven… we all know that the number seven is so important in the Harry Potter series, so it kind of seemed appropriate for something to happen on the seventh anniversary of Deathly Hallows being published. But nothing really did happen, although Pottermore, they did release the final Goblet of Fire chapters and that means that now we all have to look forward to Order of the Phoenix – which is personally my favorite book – but I wanted to say that with this update on Pottermore, the Rita Skeeter book that was teased in this Daily Prophet article we’ve been talking about, called Dumbledore’s Army: The Dark Side of the… how do you pronounce that? Demob?
Andrew: I’m looking at the title really small right now, [laughs] so I can’t…
Eric: Yeah, I couldn’t read… honestly, the picture is not that good. It’s script, so it’s hard to…
Andrew: Yeah. So they added it to the Pottermore virtual store in Diagon Alley, but you can’t open it or anything. You just buy it and the cover is there and that’s it. So I was kind of disappointed. I was hoping we’d be able to at least open up the book and read a chapter or something. That would have been cool.
Andrew: But nothing like that, so…
Andrew: By the way, in those Goblet of Fire chapters, she did say that… she did talk about owls and how she was uneducated about snowy owls when she started writing the books, and she wrote about how wizards handled magical illnesses. She wrote about the Great Lake and a couple of other things. So…
Micah: How did she not know that owls do not eat bacon?
Eric: Well, Hedwig’s got to do something when she lands and delivers the mail. I don’t know. You can’t know everything about what you write, can you? [laughs]
Micah: No, but I think, again, something like that where she said she wasn’t as educated… I’m interested to know what listeners think. Would you even want to know about that? I mean, part of the magic of the series is that who would ever even research the fact that an owl, the type of…
Micah: … Hedwig, is actually diurnal. So…
Micah: … she flies during the day.
Eric: Well, she says…
Micah: But we know she doesn’t because she flies at night all the time in the series.
Eric: She says that people did write to her. If your books are this widely read, there are people…
Micah: All right. People, let me explain something. If you have a problem with… [laughs] you know what? It’s not even worth talking about.
Micah: Go ahead.
Eric: People wrote to her, dude. I’m just saying. She’s just correcting an error. She’s just admitting that she was wrong. And it’s not over anything controversial. It is small.
Micah: But again, it goes back to what I was saying before, though. Do you… the writer admitting mistakes – do you want to know that she made these types of mistakes in the series? Is it going to somehow change your perspective on your going through the series again, should… when you reread it? Are you going to be thinking in the back of your mind, “Damn it, Hedwig, get rid of the damn bacon,” or…”
Eric: [laughs] That’s not realistic.
Micah: … “Stop hooting because you’re a mute bird”?
Eric: I think there’s something to be said for going through…
Andrew: It’s just fun behind-the-scenes info.
Eric: Yeah, it’s just meant to be like a tidbit thing.
Micah: I guess.
Eric: Like, “Oh, hey, by the way.”
Andrew: I thought it was interesting.
Micah: I’m just playing devil’s advocate.
Eric: I don’t know what your issue is.
Eric: I think it’s cool.
News: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith is Released Worldwide
Andrew: So I thought before we talk about J.K. Rowling’s… the other Potter news, we could talk about something J.K. Rowling did publish this summer and that is The Silkworm, her second book in the Cormoran Strike series. The first book, of course, was called The Cuckoo’s Calling. We all remember how she released the book under a pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, last year. It was very exciting because the book was sitting on bookstore shelves for a while. We didn’t know it and then the news leaked and… anyway, now the second book is published, also by Robert Galbraith. She’s sticking with that pseudonym, which I think is a cool thing. Have you guys read it?
Andrew: Oh, great. Did you too, Eric?
Eric: I did not.
Andrew: Oh, okay.
Micah: Have you read the first one?
Eric: I have not finished reading the first one.
Andrew: They’re really good. I really…
Micah: Is this a Casual Vacancy trend?
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: I think it’s just J.K. Rowling post-Potter trend for me. But I absolutely do…
Eric: I do want to read them. Everybody says it’s awesome.
Micah: I will say… the first one, right? The Cuckoo’s Calling, I thought that it was much improved upon in The Silkworm.
Micah: Because there was just something about the way that the reveal of the killer took place in The Silkworm that I thought was much better than what happened towards the end of Cuckoo’s Calling. I thought… it didn’t pack as much of a punch. I’m not trying to downplay it and say you shouldn’t go and read it, because I think you should because I think one of the things that Rowling continues to do so well that we’ve come to know her for is develop her characters, and I think that Cormoran Strike continues to become this figure, this kind of interesting sleuth that we will follow throughout an entire series now. So I think it’s definitely worth the read.
Eric: There’s no good reason why I haven’t read it yet. I will admit that a hundred percent. There is no good reason. I feel ashamed coming on to this podcast. When I saw that was in the document, I considered resigning. So it’s just… I’m embarrassed, but I didn’t read it yet and I will sometime.
Andrew: Well, I agree with Micah. It was very… I thought it was a step up over The Cuckoo’s Calling. It just… when I read her books, I’m just continually reminded of the great level of detail that she writes with. It’s just such a pleasure to read her words and I like how this one played out over the course of the book. I loved the ending just like with the first book. It’s kind of like an action-packed ending. It feels like she saves these – quote, unquote – big action scenes for the very end. You don’t really see them throughout the rest of the book, which is okay because it’s still an interesting story. I love the overarching plot lines that are coming through the series on a whole. She has… this whole plot line with Robin and her husband is very… well, not husband. That may have been a spoiler. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter.
Eric: Oh, damn.
Andrew: But that whole thing. Robin and her man, that whole thing is interesting.
Micah: They’re engaged, right? They’re getting married.
Andrew: Yeah. Cormoran’s life, in general, outside of… yeah. Cormoran’s work outside of his life… outside of his work is interesting. So a bunch of interesting plot lines and, again, it’s just such a pleasure to read her writing. This book is a little shorter than the first one. I noticed that immediately upon picking it up. This one focuses on journalism and the literature world, which was interesting to read because you can’t help but feel like J.K. Rowling inserted some of her own personal experiences or ideas of the literature world into this book.
Eric: I felt that way about Cuckoo’s Calling, too, because it was a celebrity that had died and I thought, “Well, she’s clearly talking about paparazzi and stuff in there,” just in the beginning that I read, but it seems like she’s done that again…
Eric: … with having the… isn’t the victim an author now?
Andrew: Yes, yes.
Eric: Okay, cool.
Andrew: I wrote on the MuggleCast Facebook page… I was asking people to write in with some questions for today’s show, and Katie wrote in asking:
“What are your thoughts on the theme of the definition of literature and the nature of publishing in The Silkworm?”
Micah, did you have any thoughts on this?
Micah: [laughs] I love how you just threw that to me.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: But I would just echo what you already said. I think there are probably some very strong personal experiences that were included. If not experiences, maybe just even personal feelings of having seen others go through just the struggles, I think, of what it takes to publish a piece of literature, and I think that that was definitely front and center, and the whole plot kind of ties into that. And I think that probably moving forward, we’ll get less character development and probably a little bit more action because I think that now in these first two books, the characters of Robin and Cormoran have really been solidly established. I’m sure there’s more we’ll continue to learn about both of them, but I feel like… especially in this book. I felt like we got a lot of insight into Robin and her background and her family and her relationship with her fiancé, but also with Cormoran, and it’s interesting to see how that relationship continues to grow. Without giving anything away, I think that it’s going to be interesting to see how that kind of develops along with whatever the next case may be. And I thought the other thing that was really cool about this particular book was seeing Robin sort of become more of the detective.
Micah: Really kind of coming into her own, and you find out really why she wanted the job in the first place was to pursue this career path. So, is she going to kind of become this Watson to Cormoran’s Sherlock Holmes?
Andrew: Yeah. That’s another arc that is going to play out beautifully, I think, and J.K. Rowling did make one appearance to promote The Silkworm. She was dressed in a suit and tie, which I thought was great.
Andrew: Some people were, I think jokingly, thinking that she may wear a mustache because crime and whatever, [laughs] but she did wear a suit and tie, which was kind of cool. And she revealed that she has many books planned. More than seven of these books are coming.
Andrew: So this is a big series. If you’re a J.K. Rowling fan and you like mysteries or whodunits, definitely start reading them because there’s going to be many of them and you’re going to keep hearing about these. [laughs] So…
Micah: And just going back to the question that you had from Facebook, I think there’s going to be people who are really going to jump into the detail of what happens in this book, specifically as it relates to the murder, and I’m sure there’s a ton of literary tie-ins and analogies that can be made. So I’m personally not well-versed enough to even try and do that, but I just think also that there’s a lot of just… Andrew, you can jump in here too. I just thought that some of the things that happened was not traditional J.K. Rowling. [laughs] It was…
Micah: In terms of the graphic nature of it, and some of the… just the weird stuff.
Micah: I won’t say the other S word.
Micah: But it was weird. It was really weird.
Andrew: It is weird because you read this and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is the woman who wrote Harry Potter! She can’t think these thoughts!” [laughs]
Micah: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: She’s not allowed to. [laughs] Steph… we’ll wrap this up. I know everybody doesn’t read these, so… Steph also pointed out that there were a couple of Potter nuggets in The Silkworm. First of all, Emma Watson was specifically referenced in The Silkworm, which was cool. I believe she was on a magazine cover. And she also said… Steph also said:
“… the fact that Robin’s train (which she almost misses) leaves at 11 o’clock, from St. Pancras (which was Jo’s inspiration for King’s Cross).”
That’s a bit reaching for straws, I think, because this book… this series is set in London anyway. But anyway, there was…
Micah: You know how we tell the next time though, Andrew?
Micah: If Robin, walking down the street, happens to come across an owl eating bacon on the sidewalk.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: That doesn’t happen in real life. She has said that.
Andrew: This is set in the real world. She can’t do that. It’s going to take me out of the book. Anyway…
Eric: You know what, though? Speaking of being set in the real world, Lucien Collins, again on Facebook, actually mentioned something really cool. So there is a mention of Emma Watson in the book, but also, it’s kind of… not an error, but it’s a paradox in a way because if Emma Watson exists as a celebrity, it’s because of Potter. So if Emma Watson exists, then Potter probably exists, and the person who wrote Potter is Jo, and Jo… then The Silkworm exists. So it’s kind of like…
Eric: It’s like following that train of logic. She mentions Emma Watson, which we all get it because Emma is popular now, but she’s famous for playing Hermione in Harry Potter.
Micah: So yeah, the Potter series could just as easily be mentioned. Is that what you’re saying?
Micah: J.K. Rowling herself could be mentioned.
Micah: That’d be weird.
Andrew: J.K. Rowling could write about herself being murdered. [laughs]
Eric: Wow. That’s true, I guess, right? Solve your own…
Andrew: Well, this is a whodunit series.
Eric: She wouldn’t be the first. Well, Stephen King did it in, I believe, The Dark Tower. He had…
Eric: … himself kind of actually in his car accident, which he had years and years and years ago.
Andrew: Oh, interesting.
Eric: He later wrote about his car accident and had people time travel and go back in time and try and stop it. So, as far as what I understand…
Micah: He’s just a sick dude. I’m sorry.
Micah: Ever since we saw him at Harry, Carrie, and Garp…
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: Harry, Carrie, and Garp?
Micah: … and he was talking about pies filled with human flesh. I mean…
Eric: Oh, it was awesome, dude! No, they weren’t human flesh. I really didn’t think that… that was John Irving who said that, so you got that in your head.
Micah: Oh, was it John Irving?
Eric: No, I don’t think it was John Irving. [laughs]
Micah: It was Stephen King.
Eric: It was the cherry pie…
Eric: … because it was from The Stand or The Body.
Micah: It wasn’t cherries.
Eric: Well, I don’t know. Look… so yeah, this little breaking of the… I guess Potter can exist because this book is being written by Robert Galbraith, right?
Eric: Is that the counterpoint to this?
Micah: That’s right.
Eric: So in that world, J.K. Rowling is not Robert Galbraith, and so Robert Galbraith is able to write about J.K. Rowling. Like you said, Andrew, she could even make an appearance in the book.
Andrew: But Robert Galbraith isn’t real in real life.
Andrew: So… this is all so confusing. Let’s just move on.
News: David Legeno Passes Away at Age 50
Andrew: We have a little sad news to report. Harry Potter actor David Legeno died at the age of 50. In July, he was found in California’s Death Valley after he reportedly went on a hiking trip through Death Valley, and I guess he was by himself. He was found in a remote wash just west of Zabriskie Point. I don’t know where that is, but anyway, it was a shame. He obviously died young. He was only 50 years old. He was Fenrir Greyback…
Andrew: … in the Harry Potter films. So…
Andrew: … rest in peace, Mr. Legeno.
Eric: Indeed. It serves to show that…
Andrew: Sorry that happened.
Eric: … the elements, nature, very dangerous, just very dangerous. You should probably always have a buddy, but you can never be too safe when you’re out hiking and all of that, especially with heat conditions being what they are in Death Valley.
Andrew: Yeah, California’s Death Valley I think is one of the hottest places in the United States. So…
Micah: Just sad. Yeah, any time you get news like that because, obviously, we’ve… it’s still very much a community, I think, and we’ve seen, unfortunately, a couple of these – a couple of actors in the Potter series pass away since filming has wrapped, but to hear about it just… is sad. In a general sense, it’s sad. Potter aside. So…
News: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Series Updates
Andrew: So anyway, turning to lighter subjects now. We’re going to talk about Fantastic Beasts…
Andrew: … and then Diagon Alley. First of all, Fantastic Beasts, we now know has a release date. It will be released November 18, 2016. So this is actually earlier than I was expecting. I was thinking 2017 at the very earliest just because it seems like we don’t know much right now and I guess… it still is really far away. [laughs] It’s still over two years away.
Andrew: But it’s kind of worth noting that Warner Bros. is going to take over this Hunger Games slot. This is the release date that the Hunger Games has, starting with Catching Fire and then Mockingjay – Part 1 and then Mockingjay – Part 2 in 2015. So then the following year, that Thanksgiving box office weekend, that’s going to go to Fantastic Beasts. So…
Eric: It’s actually also the very same weekend that Potter opened on in 2001.
Eric: The dates are two days off because of the way the years work with dates, but it’s that same weekend and it was November 16, 2001. Chamber of Secrets was November 15, 2002, and Goblet of Fire was November 20 or something, but it’s that same exact weekend. It’s… if you count the weeks, it’s like week 40-ish something. Anyway, every year… or no, 48-ish. So yeah, it’s that same week. It’s just box office wise, studio wise, that’s a great week because you have opening weekend. It isn’t during Thanksgiving, but then the success of the film goes into Thanksgiving and you have kids off from school going to see it and then the movie is still… if it’s successful, it’s still in theaters over the Christmas break.
Eric: As you’re saying, Andrew, it’s perfect for young adult, it’s perfect for everybody, I think, to still… it’s a great position to be in theaters during both of those holidays.
Micah: I don’t really know as much in terms of the filmmaking process. You said you had anticipated possibly 2017. I guess hoping that something would be released in 2015 is way too soon, right?
Andrew: Well, we could see a teaser trailer by November 2015 with Mockingjay – Part 2 maybe. Because Mockingjay – Part 2 is going to be huge, so that would be a good place to promote it. But I’m just going to go and predict right now that Fantastic Beasts – Part 2 and Fantastic Beasts – Part 3 are going to be released November 2017 and November 2018 because that’s what Warner Bros. has been doing with The Hobbit. They release the three films a year apart from one another.
Andrew: December 2012, December 2013, and this upcoming December 2014.
Eric: Yeah, exactly. And with all the high production times on these films, you can film these with a couple of months break in between filming and be working on more than one film at a time, essentially.
Micah: No, I think that makes the most sense too, because with something like Harry Potter specifically – going back to that film series – you had something where if there was a two-year gap, it was okay. But I feel like with something like Fantastic Beasts, you’re going to want to kind of keep it within that one-year time frame. I think if you let it go for too long, it’s just not going to have the same effect.
Andrew: Now we can all kind of start speculating about what this means for… when we’re going to hear about a director, when we’re going to learn about the casting, and all that. We unfortunately…
Eric: Yeah, I’d love to hear…
Andrew: … haven’t learned much.
Andrew: Go ahead.
Eric: No, I’d love to hear about it as soon as possible. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah. I’m really, really curious. I think it’s going to be like… I always imagined… we talked about this at length on previous episodes, but I want to see it be like Newt Scamander is like an Indiana Jones type of character and in the past, going through Muggle New York during the Roaring Twenties. There’s no… I’m sold on the premise, so any bit of detail that gets added to this project is going to serve to excite me…
Eric: … for the project. But no idea when we’ll get that stuff. I mean… do you think it’s unreasonable, Andrew? I wanted to ask you this since you were just at San Diego Comic-Con. It seems like everybody is making their big announcements or having big things going on there. Do you see Harry Potter – or sorry, Fantastic Beasts – having a panel at San Diego Comic-Con to promote the movie the way that all these other films are doing?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, Harry Potter did it. I don’t know if it was Deathly Hallows – Part 1 or Part 2, but Tom Felton showed up to premiere… it was Part 2. Tom Felton showed up to premiere a trailer and then I know we had an interview opportunity with him. So yeah, this is definitely the place to do it and I think they will at some point. The question is will it be 2015 or 2016?
Andrew: They could announce something at Comic-Con 2015 because they’re talking about Batman vs. Superman now and that doesn’t come out until 2016.
Eric: Oh, yeah.
Micah: Yeah. Like you said, I think maybe do a trailer next year and then the following year, you do a panel before the movie comes out.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, it depends on when they’re going to be filming, so…
Eric: Right, right. Because they won’t have that much content.
Andrew: Yeah. Speaking of filming, we do know they are going to be using Leavesden Studios. That is where they filmed all eight Harry Potter movies. It currently hosts a making of Harry Potter studio tour and David Yates, funnily enough, is actually filming there right now. He’s working on a movie… oh, he’s filming Tarzan there right now.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: So I wouldn’t be…
Micah: David Heyman?
Andrew: No, David Yates.
Andrew: David Yates.
Micah: Oh, David Yates is [directing] Tarzan. That’s interesting.
Andrew: Yeah, he is Tarzan.
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Andrew: So I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s working in the production offices or consulting on the Fantastic Beasts production offices. They’ve got to be working on this to some extent there now, with concept art or something. I don’t know.
Micah: Yeah. Somebody sneak in. Somebody who lives over in the UK…
Eric: I really want to know that.
Micah: … please go to the studio tour under the strict premise of finding out information for us.
Eric: Oh, God.
Micah: But I think it’s awesome though, that they’re using Leavesden Studios. I think there’s a familiarity with it, especially if there’s a potential for certain actors to come back at some point. We’ve got to imagine as we move further on into the series here of Fantastic Beasts that there’s going to be some sort of overlap, right?
Eric: Yeah, not necessarily a straightforward overlap – actors returning to their exact roles – unless they choose to do a flash-forward, because this is set in the past.
Micah: Right, but eventually the past meets up…
Eric: Yeah, eventually.
Micah: … with the present.
Eric: Though they could also have somebody like… say Evanna Lynch does Luna’s great-great grandmother. She portrays… they make her up to look a little different but it’s still her. That would be cool, like Back to the Future style.
Andrew: The only other thing that we know right now is that Alfonso Cuaron is not directing Fantastic Beasts.
Eric: Andrew, I’m sorry. I was all for this, man. I was.
Eric: I had your back on this, man. I was blown away when you first suggested it; I thought it was the best thing ever. And I hate Prisoner of Azkaban, as you know, but at the same time I really was willing to give him a second chance on this.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, a lot of people were excited and a lot of people hated this idea. This was reported by Deadline initially… or no, sorry, the former… she was let go of Deadline, Nikki Finke. She reported that Alfonso Cuaron was offered the directing role, but then in an interview with Digital Spy, Alfonso said:
“It was a very beautiful experience for me [directing ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’]. I have a lot of love for that universe and I tremendously admire J.K. Rowling, but today, for the present, projects based around lots of visual effects don’t attract me. I’m coming out of a five-year process of doing visual effects and now I sort of want to clean my palate of that a little bit.”
Of course, he’s referring to Gravity, which he did with Warner Bros. and Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts producer David Heyman. So Alfonso appears to be out, even though I personally think that would have been a great idea.
Micah: Yeah. We talked about it, I think – I don’t know if it was the last episode or two episodes ago – about how he would probably be a great fit for something like this. But it’s obviously his decision, so…
Eric: Gosh, now I can’t get my mind off of David Yates, now that you connected the dots there with him working on Tarzan.
Eric: I cannot stop thinking about him. Of course he’s there! Of course he’s approving stuff for the film.
Eric: Or giving it a onceover.
Andrew: But I don’t think he’s going to… I don’t think there’s any chance he’s going to direct, though. By the way, I think it is true that Warner Bros. offered Alfonso the gig. Reports that came out after that initial report seemed to suggest that Alfonso… Warner Bros. basically said to Alfonso, “Whatever you want, you can have. If you want Fantastic Beasts, you can have it,” blah, blah, blah. Because Gravity was so successful for Warner Bros., he was just in a great point in his relationship with Warner Bros. where they said, “If you want Fantastic Beasts or any other movie, you can have it here at our studio.”
Andrew: But of course, he came up with this reasoning: he’s been in digital effects for a while; he doesn’t want to go back into it. So that’s probably the truth. He was offered but he was like, “I’m done staring at CGI all day.”
Andrew: For now.
Micah: You mean they’re not real?
Eric: Space is real.
Andrew: And I guess as we transition…
Eric: [unintelligible] is real, Micah.
News: Fantastic Beasts Movie Preview at Diagon Alley
Andrew: As we transition into Diagon Alley news, we should mention a story that’s kind of a little further down in the doc. In an interview with USA Today, Diagon Alley art director Alan Gilmore said that the creatures in one of the shops at Diagon Alley, Magical Menagerie, are, quote, “the first time that the beasts have been visualized.” He said, “It will give visitors a peek at the next wave of Harry Potter.” So maybe these photos… these beasts that you see in the Magical Menagerie shop are early renderings for creatures in the Fantastic Beasts movie. Maybe.
Eric: I love this article. It’s really bold to think that they’re sneaking these characters right under Harry Potter fans’ noses. It’s kind of like a San Diego Comic-Con preview, but everybody expects it there. So instead it’s like, “Well here’s this world of Harry Potter and we’re just going to put stuff in the upper levels that you can’t get to but you can look up and see, and it’s going to be these creatures that we’re working on. There you go.” It’s like, “We need to fill this space with something. Why not be it like pre-viz creatures for this upcoming film trilogy?” or however many it’s going to be.
Andrew: Yeah. When I was there for the media stuff, when I was in this shop and I took these pictures that you see in the article, it was brought up to me by one of the people working in that particular store that they have a copy of Fantastic Beasts on hand, the J.K. Rowling book that was published years ago. They have a copy of that on hand in case they need to look up anything for customers who come in. And it’s specific to this store, so that’s another little interesting tidbit. I guess if you walk in and you say to one of the people there, “Hey, what’s that purple thing with the two unicorns?”
Andrew: They’ll open up their book and they’ll say, “Oh, this is a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.”
Andrew: “The creature that Luna Lovegood was searching for with her father.”
Eric: What’s funny is… we definitely do want to talk about everything in Diagon Alley, but speaking specifically about Magical Menagerie, I think this is located at the top of the hill right next to Gringotts. Is that right?
Andrew: You go up and then you make a left.
Eric: Yeah. So I was in here and they have a lot of stuff like plush versions of the different animals. There’s a Scabbers I think, there’s a Fluffy… there’s a fluffy Fluffy, so that was pretty cool. A three-headed dog. But the funny thing is we were travelling through Diagon Alley, it was late at night because it was part of LeakyCon’s night event inside the park, and somebody I was with – her name is Alyssa, Alyssa Jennette; she works on the MuggleNet book blog – she said… we were in Magical Menagerie for like a minute and… she went in before I did. I was walking in and she was walking out and she said, “They don’t have rat tonic.” And I thought, for all of the consumerism that exists in this Harry Potter park, that’s a missed opportunity. Like the one missed opportunity that they’re not selling the rat tonic that Hermione… or sorry, Ron tries to get for Scabbers. I thought it was a funny little…
Andrew: But what would you do with rat tonic?
Eric: It could be water for all I care. You just buy it.
Eric: It’s like you go into Magical Menagerie and you just buy rat tonic because that’s what Ron tried to do in the books.
Eric: Or he did in the books. I don’t know.
Eric: But it’s a funny memory I wanted to share.
MuggleCast 273 Transcript (continued)
Review: Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando
Andrew: So I guess we’ll start with some basic information. Diagon Alley opened in the first week of July at Universal Orlando. It’s located at Universal Studios. That is the park neighboring Islands of Adventure. Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are in two separate lands. They are connected by a working Hogwarts Express, which we will talk about a little later on. And there was the media preview, then there was the grand opening, and then there was that LeakyCon event that Eric just mentioned. So let’s start with the big thrill ride. Well… or how about let’s start about your feelings when you first enter…
Micah: Well, Andrew, we have to wait four hours if you want to talk about that.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: I knew he was going to joke about that. I knew it.
Andrew: Okay, so let’s get a fast pass for that and in the meantime…
Andrew: … let’s talk about… so you come up to Diagon Alley, it’s in the back of Universal Studios, and you’re greeted by the London waterfront. You can see Kreacher peeking out the window, the Knight Bus is there with the conductor, but I want to talk about that moment that you walk through the brick wall. You don’t really walk through, but whatever. You walk through this little tunnel and around a corner, and you have to walk… it’s interesting. You have to walk a little further once you get through the brick wall to get past this bridge that’s over top.
Andrew: And then you can see the dragon with the shops on the left and right. How was that experience for you guys?
Micah: It was… it’s interesting because I remember that feeling when you first went to the Wizarding World and got to see Hogwarts, right? Because that really is the most iconic piece that you could possibly include in the park, and I remember walking through with a couple of people, some who were legitimately breaking down in tears. As you enter through the gates of Hogsmeade, and the train is there and the music is playing and… Diagon Alley, though, it just has such unbelievable detail, and I think… that’s not to take anything away from Hogsmeade, but I think that just the… you could really sense the time and the energy and the effort that went into creating this place. It’s almost like they looked at what they did initially and said, “We’re going to do it a hundred times better,” from that standpoint, and I think that… to just see that. As you mentioned, you walk through and then you see the dragon all the way down at the end of that corridor and on top of the bank. But I was just blown away by the rich detail, and I know that the space itself is approximately the same size as Hogsmeade, but you don’t get that feeling. This feels much more expansive. It feels like you have much more room to walk around in, and there’s just so much more to see. Even though there’s only one ride, there’s still so much more to see, and I think that that may have been what the original park was lacking. I think it had too much in terms of rides and not enough for Potter fans to kind of just sit and experience.
Eric: Well, I would agree definitely with the detail, too, as Micah said, and size wise, I think they are comparable but there’s no… I mean, that includes the size that the Dueling Dragons and the Hippogriff ride take up, so if you include that… so it is actually bigger areas where you can walk. There are more of them as a result of that. So I like this little offshoot area – they call it Carkitt Market – and I like that there’s Knockturn Alley where you can go down. But there is just a lot more stuff to see, and part of it has to do with Diagon Alley being sort of the shopper’s mecca in the wizarding world, that there are these signs on top of signs on top of signs for all the different things that you can get or all the storefronts. I mean, I was looking… it was fairly late into the evening, and I was walking by the same corridor between Carkitt Market and kind of heading towards the Leaky Cauldron where I had walked past five or six times before, and just out of the corner of my eye, I see something really gross in the window. Turns out…
Micah: It was your reflection.
Eric: Thank you, jackass.
Micah: Sorry, it was too easy.
Eric: I know, I know, I know. It was pickled eels. They were… it was this little shop selling – or storefront – advertising eels that were baked into a pie, and eels that were on a scale and they were slimy. And they weren’t moving, thank god. They were just rubber or whatever it was, but… it’s just looking in and I’m like, “This is not visually pleasing. Who would design this?” But then I’m thinking… it just sort of fleshes out the world, is all I’m trying to say. So definitely A plus plus for the details here in Diagon Alley.
Andrew: One of my favorite…
Micah: What did you think, Andrew?
Andrew: Well, one of my favorite moments was when I went in, they had this preview night event and just going in, me and my friend, we ran straight to the Gringotts attraction to do that, but then afterward, just going in and out of the shops and sort of just losing yourself in the lands because you had no idea where everything was because it’s all brand new. So just… I just loved turning the different corners and seeing things for the first time. It’s just… you felt like you… you really did feel like you were in Diagon Alley because you’re just completely 360-degree experience throughout. And you have no clue where everything is. You’re just like, “What’s this way? Let me discover for myself by just walking there.” That was one of my favorite parts about it. The level of detail, I think, is increased over Hogsmeade. Going into Hogsmeade now after Diagon Alley, it’s just… they do not seem comparable to me.
Micah: No. Which is funny because Universal is the older park and…
Andrew: [laughs] Right.
Micah: … you would expect something like Diagon Alley to be in Islands of Adventure. So…
Eric: Well, no… well, yes, but also there’s always the going home feeling of going back to Hogsmeade.
Andrew: Yeah. I…
Eric: Hogsmeade… yeah.
Micah: No, I’m not downplaying it at all. No.
Micah: Don’t get me wrong. I still think that there’s something very special about being in the Hogsmeade side of it.
Andrew: Yeah, of course.
Micah: I think especially for us. It was something that we all kind of experienced together for the first time a couple of years ago and…
Eric: Well, now you can take the train there.
Micah: Now you can take the train there. But I was just… Andrew – and both of you guys said it – the detail was amazing. I could probably go back there and spend time looking at things that I would not have even noticed on first glance and… I probably could spend more time there. I didn’t even get to enough of the different shops and other things like that that were there.
Micah: Especially at night, I think… first of all, at night it’s amazing to walk around there, but it doesn’t do much for pictures, which I was very much kind of looking forward to capturing a lot of photos the way that I did when I had gone over to Hogsmeade for the first time.
Micah: But one of the really cool things, I think – they didn’t have to do it [but] they did it anyway – was the addition of Knockturn Alley and Borgin and Burkes, and just… again, the way that they were able to set this whole thing up so that you’re completely immersed in the world. You feel like you’re really there. And it’s air conditioned!
Andrew: Yes. Knockturn Alley, the fact that it’s air conditioned and completely out of the sun I think is a response to the complaints… I mean, I don’t know… there had to be complaints about this. There’s really no shade in Hogsmeade, other than that owlery.
Andrew: I mean, people were standing out in direct sunlight waiting to get into Ollivander’s… it’s rough there; there’s no shade. Whereas with Diagon Alley, the buildings are a lot taller so there’s less direct sunlight in Diagon Alley during the day. Carkitt Market is shaded, and Knockturn Alley – complete darkness and air conditioned. If you’re there visiting with kids and you don’t want to be out in the hot sun, you can just chill in Knockturn Alley.
Andrew: It’s dark and depressing in there…
Andrew: … but at least you’re cool [laughs] and not getting sunburned.
Eric: Yeah, it’s just… I don’t know.
Andrew: And with Carkitt Market, it’s not complete darkness and it’s not air conditioned, but it is shaded. And it’s a big open area.
Eric: Well, I also wanted to say, too, in Knockturn Alley, you know they have those interactive wand challenges? Or not challenges, but those interactive wand points. This is one of the coolest things, and they’ve gone back and added some to Hogsmeade apparently, but… I didn’t get a wand, but I saw them in action multiple times across the park and in Knockturn Alley, there is a chorus of shrunken heads inside one of the windows that will sing and talk and laugh and all this other stuff when you point your wand at it. And little touches like that really pleased me. I know in Borgin and Burkes, there is, of course, a vanishing cabinet. It’s just like you’d go in there and you expect it to be there and then it is.
Eric: And then you’re just like, “Ah.” Collective sigh.
Eric: There’s this sigh of relief. And additionally, there’s… just like you were saying, on top of Magical Menagerie with all of those creatures sort of hidden up above, you get that… I mean, in Knockturn Alley and Borgin and Burkes, there’s a whole display case of things that you can’t buy. They’re just dark objects setting the scene for that store. There’s tons of T-shirts and stuff on the outer walls, but then when you first walk in, there’s this huge glass case and all you can do is look at things that are stabbed with nails and I think the Deathly Hallows are in there too.
Andrew: Borgin and Burkes is the Hot Topic of the wizarding world, I have decided.
Eric: Yes! Yeah… or Horcruxes are in there, not Deathly Hallows. But really just the level of detail, again, in these shops. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is another big one.
Eric: It’s kind of small. It’s… because the…
Eric: … second and third floors are loaded with stuff. You just can’t go up there to see it.
Andrew: So let’s talk about Escape from Gringotts. This is the main attraction there. There’s really only one ride at Diagon Alley and this is it. I mean, if you’re not counting the Hogwarts Express. Escape from Gringotts – you go through a queue themed to Gringotts Bank, of course. They have that beautiful lobby. I will say there’s one problem with this attraction, and it’s the photo-op.
Andrew: As soon as you get inside the bank through the queue, the bank lobby, with all the goblin bank tellers, you go through this area where all you do is stand in front of wood paneling and you take a picture of you and your friends, and that’s it. They take the photo for you, of course; it’s like this old-school camera. And then you get it printed at the end of the ride with a border around it, and you can also get a photo ID like your Gringotts photo badge. I thought that part was cool, but just the… this whole photo-op is just not well done. I hate to say it, but it’s true. And part of the problem is that this ride that you actually go on is basically all screens. There’s nothing real inside the ride, so there’s nothing to take a photo-op with during the ride.
Eric: Well, it’s 3D so… the issue is, I think… the reason there’s not an on-ride photograph – and this is something that was kind of like a developing conversation as we were… as you do when you’re waiting four hours in line – one of the people we were with, Amanda Walters, who I first met at the MuggleCast that we did in down under in Australia, was with us in line, and she had ridden it once before and so she was able to tell us, “Well, this is a 3D ride.” And I said, “Is there an on-ride photograph?” and she’s like, “Well, I won’t spoil you, but no, there’s not.” And so…
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Eric: … it’s 3D, but… so she meant because you do get your photo taken but it’s in line, like you were saying. With us wearing glasses, that ruins, or would ruin, any kind of on-ride photograph that they would take.
Andrew: Oh, true.
Eric: Because we’d all be wearing glasses.
Eric: So that’s my only thing with that. But I will say also, John Noe and Frankie Franco from PotterCast as well as Bre Bishop were all in line and they tried to break the record for most people in one of those Gringotts photos. [laughs] So… you have to see…
Andrew: Oh, yeah?
Eric: Yeah, go look at their… they had a group of easily 15 to 20 people…
Eric: … and they all fit into one of those shots. So I will say…
Andrew: Did they do that so they could afford the cost of the photo, which is like 30-40 dollars?
Eric: [laughs] It’s ridiculous, the cost… yeah. I mean, I hate to… this is like… what is it? Like Pottermore, where we just open up by bashing it and never let up.
Andrew: [laughs] It’s typical theme park prices.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Typical theme park prices.
Micah: I enjoyed the ride.
Eric: Oh, yeah. Well, look, the ride is great, but I did want to talk about this part in line. So you mentioned the photos, but that’s the one area in line when I felt like the line was moving too fast because as you’re walking along that corridor right after you take the photo, they have all these Daily Prophets and stuff, and it actually… we got shuffled… and there’s the offices of Griphook and Ragnok or Ragnarok or whatever that is, and a few other things. So I… the whole queue is themed, but I felt that that moment in particular, the pacing wise… you know how on Forbidden Journey you can walk all the way through Defense Against the Dark Arts if there’s no line and miss the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione come in under the invisibility cloak? It’s like that but only… you just… so there’s more detail and I would need to go back through the line to really appreciate it.
Micah: Yeah. No, I agree. I thought we were very much rushed through there. I think… the photograph blinds you, too, so it’s a good thing you don’t go right on to the ride…
Micah: … after taking the photograph. But I was really looking forward to, yeah, taking a little bit of time to look at some of those Daily Prophets, to look at some of the offices because I think they even had some things going on there, right?
Eric: Yeah, yeah.
Micah: I’m sure they did, with all the detail that they put in in different places. I don’t know that we touched on it, but when you’re actually inside the bank for the first time with all the goblins around, and it’s such a… at least to me, looks like an exact replication of the film because you have that huge chandelier…
Micah: … above you, which I’m sure cost a pretty penny to put in there. So that’s why we’re paying 30 dollars for a photo.
Eric: Yes, all the ugly pennies were cast out.
Andrew: It’s beautiful, that whole bank entry area. It’s just gorgeous.
Micah: But yeah, the ride. We were in the front, the very, very front, so… there was one point that I thought that… [laughs] I don’t know. I didn’t know if I was going to make it.
Andrew: [laughs] Were you scared?
Eric: Oh, Jesus. Thank you for telling me this now.
Micah: Well, yeah, better I tell you that now than while we’re actually on the ride.
Eric: Yeah, and I find out…
Micah: But yeah, no, because we’re in the front and there’s this one point where it completely dips forward and you’re suspended out into space, basically. You know what I’m talking about, Andrew?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. It’s awesome. That’s the most exciting part.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Micah: Right, but what I was saying was I was concerned about the actual security…
Andrew: [laughs] You were fine.
Micah: … of making sure that I didn’t fall out.
Andrew: You’re good.
Micah: You’re glad that was… that was cool, though. I thought it was… overall, I thought it was fun, especially sitting up front. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle it, but I made it.
Andrew: Well, so I too was a little nervous about the intensity of the ride. I thought they may have wanted to make it more intense than Forbidden Journey over in Hogsmeade, and I thought Forbidden Journey was pretty intense. I’m… I don’t like coasters or anything like that, so… I don’t like coasters with loop-de-loops, I’ll say. So this ride was more family friendly than Forbidden Journey was, and I liked that about it. I thought it was a good story. You see Bellatrix and Voldemort together at one point. Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes filmed scenes for this sequence, and it was awesome.
Andrew: Seeing them together reunited again, you could say, which was fantastic. There are a couple of moments where you really do thrust forward or shake or roll, but it just wasn’t as intense as Forbidden Journey and I liked that about it. I think they purposely made this a little more family friendly.
Eric: It is a tamer ride.
Andrew: Yeah. But I just also want to say it’s… you kind of expect it to be more intense when there’s a giant dragon on top of the attraction. [laughs] So…
Micah: Yeah, and the dragon didn’t play overly prominently into the ride.
Andrew: I know.
Micah: I was expecting more to kind of be chased around by the dragon.
Eric: Well, you only get caught on its tail and escape Gringotts while on its back.
Micah: No, but I’m saying in terms of it being antagonistic.
Micah: It wasn’t like that’s what you were going in there to do battle against. It ended up being more of those stone statues and…
Eric: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, and Voldemort and Bellatrix. I was just shocked because I think… I must have missed a news story, but I realized that… I think Helena Bonham Carter and Rupert Grint had said they filmed scenes for the ride. I was not expecting to see Ralph Fiennes there. I was not expecting to see…
Andrew: I wasn’t either.
Eric: Spoiler alert. I wasn’t… oh, I’m glad.
Eric: I’m glad it’s not just me because I wasn’t expecting to see Harry and Hermione either, and I realize it’s possible that that wasn’t filmed, that it was just digitized, but it would have been… I was like, “What possible scenario will they pull out of this if only half the actors agreed to come back?”
Andrew: So the official answer is that Dan Radcliffe did not film… Dan Radcliffe and Emma Watson did not film new things for Diagon Alley, and that includes the Hogwarts Express, whereas Rupert Grint did. And if we’re done talking about Gringotts, then maybe now is a good time to talk about the Hogwarts Express. You do actually see Ron during your train ride. From…
Eric: He pokes his head up against the glass.
Andrew: Yeah. And he’s allegedly with Harry and Hermione, but Hermione does not sound anything like Emma Watson.
Andrew: And I don’t know if you guys noticed this…
Andrew: … but they need to change that voice stat. [laughs]
Eric: Absolutely. They need to do it. It is not a question of if but when.
Eric: See, we were on the train with two MuggleNet staffers, Michael Harle and John Jennette who do Audiofictions – the Audiofictions podcast – and they both… in fact, I think even I could do a better Hermione than the Hermione that they… it’s true. I’m sorry, it’s true. I hate to be brutal.
Eric: I hate to be ridiculously honest, but that Emma Watson… sorry, that Hermione is… it just takes you out of it. It really does. Plus, you don’t see her, so it’s her silhouette and then you’re like, “Well, she’s responding to Ron the way that Hermione would, but there’s no way that that’s Hermione.” So look, I don’t know how much money they offered Emma to return that she turned it down. I don’t know if she was just busy that week, but they need to rectify that. That’s the one complaint I have over the entire park.
Andrew: They need to just go to Emma again and be like, “Look, please. Ten minutes. We’ll give you ten grand…”
Andrew: “… to just say five words.” [laughs]
Eric: It makes a difference. It does.
Eric: I mean, would you agree that it makes a…
Eric: It would make a big difference!
Andrew: Yeah. But… so Hogwarts Express, there’s two… depending on which direction you’re going, there’s different things happening out your window and there’s also different things happening outside of your door, which I thought… that was a touch I wasn’t expecting and it works really well.
Andrew: Because the door, you open it to get inside of the train car, which also is very realistic, by the way. The level of detail was amazing. So for the door to shut and have stuff happening through it… I don’t know what you would call that. Fogged glass or something?
Andrew: Something like that. But it was really cool.
Eric: I liked the idea that there was stuff happening on both sides of you and it was different. It was…
Eric: Even… I think even on the way back to Diagon Alley from Hogsmeade, the twins blow up some fireworks and you can see the reflection of them in the other window to your right. So that’s cool.
Andrew: I don’t know how… I’m curious how the whole experience was for you guys in terms of how seamless it was. When I rode it, you get in, you sit down for maybe 30 seconds to a minute, then the train is rolling, and then you get there, everything that’s happening on the screen stops, the doors open, and you walk right out immediately. I was expecting some delays where you’re sitting in the train car for extra long periods of time before or after the ride…
Andrew: … but it was just seamless, and then it’s just so amazing… the first ride that I took was Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. It’s just incredible that you ride on this train and then you get off and you actually have moved. You are actually in a different part of the Universal Resort, and it kind of blew my mind.
Eric: Yeah, it is really cool, and I agree that it’s seamless. And honestly, I was having this debate before we ever saw the park. I was wondering… because again, I was talking to people who were already there and they were like, “You know, the Hogwarts Express isn’t really a ride,” and I was like, “What do you mean?”
Andrew: I would disagree.
Eric: “What do you mean the Hogwarts Express isn’t a ride?” They’re like, “Well, it gets you from Point A to Point B.” So it was like, because it’s a mode of transportation, it’s not a ride, and I was like, “I’m going to argue this.” So when I finally rode it, I was extremely pleased. Not only is the queue highly detailed… in King’s Cross, going through the platform effect is really fun to do, especially with friends. You pretty much need a buddy because somebody has to hold the camera while you run through the platform…
Eric: … to stand back in line. But all of this… I think the ride… I think the line of a ride counts just as much, and both trips from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley are different. There’s no way, in my mind, that that is not a ride, but it was kind of a dialogue I was having with people even while riding the ride. [laughs] But the fact that you can go and you can sit down and you can put your stuff up on the racks, and we took turns in the 30 seconds or so before the ride started to poke up on the racks and look for Harry concealed in an invisibility cloak.
Eric: We’re just like… that’s the response that was immediately evoked in us by how realistic these train cars were. So poo-poo on anybody who says this isn’t a ride.
Eric: The question is only where to place it in terms of, “Well, there’s only one ride in Diagon Alley.”
Andrew: Well, yeah, it’s not a thrill ride. It’s a…
Micah: It’s an experience.
Micah: I think that… it’s certainly not the equivalent of getting on the monorail in Disney and going from one park to the other. The reality is that they wanted this to be an experience for people, and the fact that you can get on the train – like you mentioned, Andrew – and it’s moving within at most a minute, right? From when you’re sitting down and your door closes, that it only takes it a couple of minutes to get to the other park. I think it’s just… it’s cool. There’s no other way to describe it. And Eric, you pointed out how there are noticeable differences both looking out the window and through the door on each of the trips, and I don’t think we’ll spoil that too much because I think for people who want to go and experience it, they should…
Micah: … get a chance to have that happen firsthand. But just being able to go and do that with friends and just experience the whole thing, and I think you also touched on the Platform 9 3/4, going through the barrier. I remember seeing, Andrew, when you posted to Instagram when you first did it a couple of weeks ago.
Andrew: Yup. I screamed.
Micah: You screamed.
Eric: Ahh! Is it painful?
Micah: I wonder how easily that is for other people to do because when we initially waited in line to get over to Hogsmeade, it was… there were still Muggles in the park, right? It wasn’t the separate event…
Micah: … for LeakyCon. So it was moving very, very quickly, to the point where I don’t think you could ever really capture something if you wanted to. It was only when we came back, right? Did we come back?
Eric: Yeah, we came back and it was kind of on our way out of King’s Cross from Hogsmeade that we got to… because there was nobody in line then. The park had closed. It’s a little unrealistic during the day to think that you could have a friend stand back in line because there’s maybe 20 to 25 feet of line ahead of you between going through the platform and… maybe that’s low, or maybe that’s high. It’s like 15 feet.
Andrew: Well, it should be said… so in order for this effect to work, your friend has to be standing, like Eric was saying, maybe 25 feet back to point the camera in a certain direction…
Andrew: … through an object so that they can capture you going through the – quote, unquote – “wall.” It’s a smoke and mirrors type of trick.
Eric: I mean, it’s heck of cool.
Eric: Who would have thought of that? It’s great, but I do think that it benefits from closer inspection. Same with the line at Gringotts or the queue, or even the park. You do need to spend some time… you’re not going to get all the details or all the opportunities just sort of by yourself or in the middle of the day.
Andrew: Yeah. And I just also want to add to this that when the train pulls into the station, it’s so cool, and just seeing it…
Eric: Well, which station? [laughs]
Andrew: Both. I mean, in one station, it has to back in, so that’s kind of lame, but the other station, when it just pulls in, it just… and even when it backs in, just seeing the train alive, actually moving. This thing is even bigger in person, I think. I don’t think any picture does it justice until you’re actually there seeing it with the smoke billowing out and whatnot. It’s so cool. And the whole backing in… in one of the stations, the Diagon Alley side, it has to back in because it only goes one direction; it’s one track. But I don’t know. It didn’t bother me. I still thought it was cool.
Eric: This was pointed out to me by either Greg or Lee from the Unofficial Universal Podcast who did a small interview with me after we went into the park, but they were like, “You know, real trains actually do back in. You don’t realize it, but trains back in all the time.”
Andrew: Oh. Well, there you go.
Andrew: So don’t complain.
Eric: It’s just the best example of having to set my expectations lower because I was like, “Man, the train is ridiculous. You back in.” Because if you’re going from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade for the first time and the train is not there yet when you get in that room…
Eric: You’re waiting for it and you’re expecting the billowing smoke, but because it pulls in backwards, all you see is the ass of the train.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: And then it comes in and then you see the smoke. But I was on the other end…
Andrew: It’s a great ass.
Eric: Yeah. I was on the other end in Hogsmeade when it pulled in… again, I got that video and the smoke and… so yeah, it’s just the thing. And then I guess it pulls out backwards when you’re over in Hogsmeade, but I didn’t see that. Look, it’s just… it’s a ride. They couldn’t possibly build… we knew they were crammed for space, and who knows what it’s going to be like in LA in that park because, Andrew, you always said that is crowded for space.
Andrew: They’re not building the train.
Eric: Oh, okay. Because they weren’t going to build…
Andrew: Yeah, no.
Eric: … a turnaround point for it, right? It’s just not…
Andrew: No, no.
Eric: You would need so much more track just to get it to always face front and that would increase wait lines and wait times, all that stuff.
Andrew: This is a classic Eric topic. [laughs]
Eric: Well, I’m done. I’ve finished my Eric topic. Thank you for letting me do that.
Andrew: No problem. Better luck with Universal Japan or something.
Eric: Oh God, there’s that too.
Andrew: Anything else? Or what else do you guys want to… I mean, we could talk about this for hours, but anything else that stuck out to you? I think… I do want to say, I think that they listened to feedback concerning how Hogsmeade worked. Like I said, adding more shade; I think some of the stores are bigger. I know there’s a queue to go into one of the stores. Ollivander’s now has a queue, an indoor queue. So I think they paid attention to feedback and responded to it in the best way possible while still maintaining the authenticity that you expect…
Andrew: … after watching the films and reading the books.
Eric: I wanted to mention there were places that I wasn’t expecting for adult beverages. Actually, the first place… we went to Gringotts, but we were debating whether or not we should try riding it because the line was four hours, and so we mulled over our thoughts whilst actually waiting in line at the Fountain of Fair Fortune, which is just a little shop where you can get a number of beverages including the Butterbeer, but also we got Dragon Scale ale. So it’s nice to… I don’t know. Not having the Hog’s Head in Diagon Alley, it’s nice to still have some opportunities for a beer just while you’re thinking and the tall glass and everything.
Andrew: Well, there were numerous places to get beer. Of course, the Leaky Cauldron restaurant, the Fountain of Fair Fortune like you mentioned, and then in Carkitt Market, there’s a third place that looks specific to beer, but then I think there’s…
Eric: Is it called the Hopping Pot or something?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. The Hopping Pot.
Eric: It has a barrel…
Andrew: But I think there’s even… mhm.
Andrew: I think there’s even one or two other areas where you can get beer too and then, of course, there’s the ice cream place where you can get the Butterbeer ice cream.
Micah: Yeah, that Butterbeer ice cream was good.
Andrew: Yeah, it was good, wasn’t it?
Eric: You had the Butterbeer ice cream? Oh, yeah.
Eric: Florean Fortescue’s.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah.
Eric: But the other thing that stood out for me, real quick, was Bill Weasley. I know we didn’t mention this when we were talking about Gringotts, but his office is the swankiest office ever for anybody. I was like… you see this couch and you’re just like, “This is like a Don Draper style, come into my office, executive, CEO of the company, I’m going to schmooze you.” It’s just the coolest scene or part of the queue for Gringotts ever. And Domhnall Gleeson, I’m only looking forward to seeing extraordinary things from him in the future; we know he’s been cast on the new Star Wars. So thrilled that he said yes to doing this.
Andrew: Some crazy press tried asking him about Star Wars at the Diagon Alley media preview. I’m like, “What? Are you nuts? Of course he’s not going to say anything at Diagon Alley.”
Eric: Well, you followed the rules. At least you didn’t, but… what did he say to this person who asked him? Who tried?
Andrew: Oh, I forget. I don’t know.
Eric: Oh, okay.
Andrew: He was like, “No, no, no, I can’t.”
Andrew: “You know I can’t say anything.” Something like that.
Andrew: It’s like, “Come on.”
Eric: … he had a big presence in Gringotts. Again, not spoiling it, but it’s really nice to see Bill Weasley again. And check out the movie About Time, which he was in. He was awesome.
Andrew: Yeah, I’ve heard good things about that. But yeah… well, actually, since we did mention Bill, like you said, Eric, a few minutes ago, Harry is in it. Dan is in it, but I think since the official answer is that he didn’t actually film anything, I think when you see Dan, it’s footage that they had shot for Deathly Hallows because it’s during a dragon sequence. So I think they very cleverly recycled footage that they had shot with Dan. And you know they shot hours of footage…
Andrew: … with Dan for Deathly Hallows with the dragon, so it makes sense that they would have a bunch of other stuff to work with that you didn’t see in the movie. But it worked really well. You watch it and you’re like, “Oh wow, he did shoot stuff for this movie. That’s cool.”
Eric: But then you hear Emma Watson or, quote, “Emma Watson” and you’re just like, “Nope, they definitely didn’t do any additional footage. Zero…”
Andrew: Did Emma talk during Gringotts? And did you notice the voice was off?
Micah: I think she did.
Eric: You know what? I… maybe once. It’s weird because Bellatrix is talking. Here’s something I forgot to mention. So with the 3D goggles or whatever, they cut off your peripheral vision because they’re just lenses up ahead, and so there’s this one scene… it’s before that big drop that Micah was talking about, or where you’re leaning forward when Bellatrix shows up on a ledge to your right, and I was looking… I was focusing ahead and I didn’t see her come out until she started talking, and then she casts the spell that causes you to fall, but I didn’t know what was happening and I had to physically turn my head and it was kind of jarring. So I don’t know. I don’t know if you had that same experience, Andrew, but…
Andrew: I can’t say I did.
Eric: … for me, the 3D did limit the kind of directions you could look in.
Andrew: Okay. I didn’t have that same thought, but I can certainly understand why you did.
Eric: Yeah. Forbidden Journey has the creatures and everything. They’re fully realized in front of you; it’s actually there. So there is a little bit of difference in terms of how they present the rides to you, but just… I guess in summary, in closing, I do like the story. I think the story is a little tighter for Gringotts that you experience.
Eric: I like the multiple parts of the queue and I think… Forbidden Journey is kind of like a hodgepodge of, “Here are all the creatures and things that you could see at Hogwarts,” versus Escape from Gringotts which seems to just want to tell one story. And so for that, I think… surprisingly, the four hours or the three hours that we were in line went quick. Do it with buddies who can monitor your hydration levels, so you don’t pass out and miss everything.
Andrew: [laughs] Oh God.
Eric: Do it with a friend. Yeah, do it with a friend.
Andrew: Oh, and here’s another tip: don’t go during the summer. [laughs]
Eric: Oh yeah, don’t go during the summer. Ever.
Andrew: Here’s the thing: for people who are listening to this and they’re considering going maybe, two things: a good time to go is not during the Orlando summer, which is May through, like, September. A good time to go would be the fall or the winter here in America. And also, I want to mention that Universal just opened up the Cabana Bay Resort. It is their cheapest resort of the several that they have on site there, and the rooms are great. Because it’s a brand new resort, everything is fresh and new, so if you do want to visit and you do want to save a little money, definitely stay at Cabana Bay because it’s very nice for the money and it’s the cheapest option if you want to stay on the Universal property. And I think you get the benefit of having early access to the park by staying on property.
Eric: Yes. Yes, room… if it’s anything like the other Universal resorts, which are the Loews Portofino Bay, the Hard Rock is there…
Eric: … and then the Royal Pacific. But I… did you stay at Cabana Bay?
Andrew: I did, and it was fantastic.
Andrew: It was just brand new. They have a gorgeous Starbucks there. The Wi-Fi works great. They have a pool.
Eric: That’s awesome.
Andrew: Yeah. They have an arcade, a gym… the music playing in the lobby rocks. It was my type of music. It was ’60s stuff. [laughs] So I would seriously highly recommend that place. Especially if you stay within the next one or two years…
Andrew: … because it is brand new, so you get the benefit of all this new furniture and…
Eric: Yeah. Ever since I saw the first concept photo of the Cabana Bay, I was like, “That is my spirit animal.” That’s right up my alley.
Eric: Again, me and you, ’50s and ’60s is such a happy time. It’s just like…
Eric: You can really relax there, so I’m very jealous. Very, very jealous.
Andrew: It’s colorful. Yeah, so I will definitely stay there if I go again. And everybody else should, too.
Eric: We didn’t check out CityWalk, Micah. That’s one thing we did not do.
Micah: No, we didn’t get a chance to go down there.
Eric: Yeah. But…
Andrew: Yeah, CityWalk… also, this summer, they opened up new restaurants there. So they know tons of people are coming back to visit. I guess one question to ask now, an overall question: is it worth going back? Let’s say you or somebody who visited Hogsmeade already and… should we recommend people go back for Diagon Alley?
Eric: Yes. Well, I think even people who had been with us for the nighttime preview ended up going back, or people who got day passes got four-day passes and they went back, even in spite of the fact that LeakyCon was still going on and plenty of stuff was happening. People went back to the park day after day after day. And these are people I talk to; these are people who I give my phone number to. I don’t think that they’re crazy, but at the same time, they were there day after day after day, and I’m thinking, “Okay, there’s something about it just being a happy place to be.” But with the level of detail…
Micah: That’s Disney.
Eric: With the level of detail raised the way that Micah and Andrew… and we’ve said that they… that it has been, it is absolutely worth visiting. There will still always be Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, but this new section is really, really good. And it’s not like you could ever get just a one-park pass at Universal anyway. The only cost-effective way to do it is to do park hoppers and multiple days. So really, there’s no reason not to see Diagon Alley. Obviously, we would request or we would suggest that you just wait until it’s a little cooler, like you said, until the lines die down a little bit more.
Eric: But everything there is worth seeing.
Andrew: And by the way, you do need a park hopper for Hogwarts Express.
Eric: Yes, they check your ticket. And isn’t it funny? I absolutely thought they were just fake and not important, so I just ran right past the people at King’s Cross that asked to see my ticket, [laughs] and they shouted after me and they’re like, “No, we actually need to see your ticket.” And I was just like, “Oh, now I get it. Okay.”
Micah: Got to obey the rules.
Eric: Yeah. Well, they’re so well-positioned because it’s like a train station. There are banners there for like, “Don’t leave your bags unattended, people.”
Eric: And I was just like… it gets you right into it, so I was just like, “Oh, screw these guys. Past the turnstiles.”
Micah: Well, I would say if you’re planning a vacation to go to Orlando and you’re looking to do a bunch of things, I would definitely make a trip over to Diagon Alley. I think it’s hard to tell people that they should go there just to go to Diagon Alley…
Micah: … if they’ve already been to the Wizarding World. I think that… and that’s just from my standpoint. But if you’re planning on being in Florida or you’re planning to take a vacation to Orlando and you’re doing Disney and you want to do Universal again and… I don’t know. Maybe you have relatives down there, so you’re there a lot. But if you can and you’re able to afford it, I would definitely recommend going to the park. There’s no question about it. If you’re a Potter fan, I feel almost like you have to go, right?
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.
Micah: There’s no question about it.
Andrew: You’re going to love Diagon Alley if you’re a Harry Potter fan, no doubt about that. And Universal recognizes this extra foot traffic they’re getting, like I mentioned. They have this affordable new hotel and they’ve got these new restaurants. Somebody on the MuggleCast Facebook asked… I lost the question. Oh, they were asking about must-do’s at Diagon Alley. Obviously, the Gringotts ride. Obviously, the Hogwarts Express. But if you have the extra money, I believe the wands… they’re kind of pricey, they’re $50, but you can do spells with them, so that is pretty fun throughout both lands. And just walk around and enjoy the shops. And I guess Butterbeer is another must-do, plus Butterbeer ice cream.
Eric: Celestina Warbeck, was she there when you were there?
Andrew: Yes, yes.
Eric: Okay, because that’s…
Andrew: Great, right?
Eric: That is a must-do. She is awesome.
Andrew: Yeah, they have this… they have a live Beedle the Bard stage show, which I didn’t see – I caught it on YouTube – and then they also have the singer that Eric mentioned, who is Molly Weasley’s favorite singer.
Eric: That’s right, she is. Well, I think just in general, the theatrical attractions are a step up above what was in Hogsmeade before.
Andrew: And shaded!
Eric: [laughs] Yes, and shaded.
Andrew: You get to stand in the shade watching them. You couldn’t do that at Hogsmeade.
Micah: I missed The Tale of the Three Brothers too. I wanted to see that, so…
Eric: Oh, that’s a shame.
Andrew: Catch it on YouTube.
Eric: Zack and I and Jeanna and everybody caught that. It was the last thing we did, though, because the last show is at 12:15. But the dragon breathing fire is quite… I know we may not have mentioned that.
Andrew: Oh, yeah.
Eric: But that is cool. You’re right, that is pretty cool.
Micah: It’s a little much for the Orlando summer, but…
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: It’s over quick.
Micah: Maybe if he breathed ice instead of fire…
Eric: Every ten… that would hurt.
Micah: Or if it was just like a fan.
Eric: That would hurt standing underneath…
Micah: No, it was like a big… they have those fans as you wait in line for the Gringotts ride.
Eric: Well, you need an Interactive Wand because there’s an umbrella just over by the restrooms there.
Andrew: Yeah, people love that.
Eric: Yeah, and you can… and it rains.
Andrew: That’s true.
Eric: If you stand on the plate and then wave your magical enchanted wand, it’ll rain around the edges of the umbrella. But the… yeah.
Andrew: There’s also a hidden spell at the Hopping Pot. Well, right outside the Hopping Pot, that merperson, if you do the spell there it activates a little water thing.
Eric: Oh, cool.
Micah: Yeah, I actually tried to get water from that, and it didn’t work.
Andrew: Oh, really?
Micah: The woman came up to me and said, “You need magic,” and I kind of looked at her. I was like, “I want to take a drink of water. What…”
Andrew: You should have been like, “Well, it may need magic, but I don’t have 50 dollars to spend on a freaking wand.”
Micah: So, hydrate me.
Eric: Aguamenti. That’s what… you just needed to say the incantation, Micah. And another thing that works is, “Do you know who I am?” That would work, too.
Eric: “Do you know who I am? I unfollowed J.K. Rowling. I’m Micah freaking Tannenbaum. That’s who I am.” You should have just led with that. But the dragon does breathe fire; I think it’s every ten minutes. It may be worth mentioning to people who do want to go.
Andrew: Well, there’s probably so much more to say about Diagon Alley, but we won’t say it on this episode. We’ll say it on Episode 275, when we’re talking about the third expansion. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] What about 274? When will that fall into the grand schedule?
Andrew: I don’t know, when the Fantastic Beasts director is announced?
Eric: Oh, okay.
Andrew: That’s probably the next big thing, unless J.K. Rowling drops an encyclopedia announcement or something, and I would imagine that’s the…
Eric: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: So that’s it. But I could foresee us starting up episodes with some regularity once all the Fantastic Beasts madness begins. It’s still a long ways away, but…
Happy 9th Anniversary
Eric: Oh, gosh. Do you know we almost didn’t talk about this? Tomorrow – August 5, right? – is the anniversary of MuggleCast.
Andrew: Oh, no kidding. Well, that clearly slipped by me.
Eric: Yeah. Nine years. Nine years. For Andrew, anyway. Micah and I came in later in the month, but the first…
Micah: Well, it still counts.
Eric: Yeah, the first…
Eric: This is our month, fellas.
Andrew: Unbelievable. I’m looking at the show notes. It says the first episode was August 7, 2005.
Eric: Oh. Same weekend, though.
Eric: Same week. [laughs]
Andrew: Yeah. Close enough.
Eric: Same week number.
Andrew: Close enough.
Eric: Well… yeah.
Andrew: The first episode was myself, Kevin, and Ben, and then Micah and Eric joined on a few episodes later. 2005. So… well, we’ll have to do an episode next year for the tenth anniversary.
Eric: That’s right. That’s right we will. So happy anniversary to MuggleCast. I will say, in closing, we did get a lot of people at LeakyCon come up and say very nice things about MuggleCast. So I want to thank everybody who came out. We didn’t do a meetup. We couldn’t get it on the schedule in time and Andrew was not there, so we could not do that. But we did hear from some of you that were listening, and we want to thank you for your support.
Andrew: That’s great.
Eric: And thank you for continuing to listen to us throughout all of this time.
Andrew: Absolutely. We will be back in the future.
Andrew: I guess, for now, we should tell everybody where we are until next time. I’m at Hypable, and we do our podcast over there, Hype, talking about general entertainment stuff, fandom stuff, including Harry Potter. So visit Hypable.com, freshly redesigned. Eric and Micah, what are you guys up to?
Micah: And @sims, right? On Twitter?
Andrew: @sims on Twitter. That’s right.
Micah: I saw that you recently received another enquiry about The Sims game.
Andrew: I am often confused with The Sims video game. The Sims 4 is coming out soon, so the confusion has only increased. [laughs]
Eric: I am totally expecting an Andrew Sims expansion pack for The Sims. I want them to be… [laughs] you should be a playable character. Although, I guess you could be if anybody… you would just make yourself as a Sim.
Micah: Well, you can find me…
Andrew: I’m always down to play.
Micah: … at @mjtbaum on Twitter. I think that’s probably one of the first times I’ve ever plugged my Twitter on this show, [laughs] but why the hell not?
Andrew: Are you like J.K. Rowling? Are you starting to use it all of a sudden?
Micah: I do use Twitter.
Micah: For the most part.
Micah: Don’t I?
Andrew: Yeah, you do. I was just kidding.
Micah: Not enough?
Andrew: I was just kidding.
Micah: Oh. I don’t follow her.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: Not yet, because she didn’t reply to you. You’re scorned.
Micah: She didn’t reply to me.
Eric: You’re scorned.
Micah: Even though it was retweeted or favorited or what have you over 100-200 times.
Eric: Yeah, we did pretty good with that.
Micah: So… but right now, working on our Game of Thrones podcast, Game of Owns, which was… did our second live show, actually, down in Orlando during LeakyCon; had a great group of people come out. And you can find us on all of the social media using “Game of Owns.” That keeps it pretty easy, right?
Eric: Yup. And I can be found on Twitter at @spielerman. Nickname never gets old…
Eric: … and I tweet over there. And I’m also a podcast host on Game of Owns and MuggleNet’s Alohomora! where we’re currently reading through Book 5, that long book that we never quite got through all of in Chapter-by-Chapter on this show. We’re doing it over there, and I think we’re going to make it in another year or so. [laughs] So it’s a weekly show, definitely check them out… yeah. And thanks to everybody who already does.
Andrew: It was fun hanging out with Kat and Caleb. We had some time to catch up, from MuggleNet, while I was down there in Diagon Alley.
Eric: Oh, during the thing? Nice.
Andrew: Yes. The only MuggleNet people I’ve seen in a while, so we hung out a few times. It was good.
Eric: I wish I had made it to San Diego, too. I have to do that one of these years.
Andrew: Well, maybe next year or the year after for whatever Fantastic Beasts stuff that they do there.
Eric: That’s the truth. That is true.
Andrew: All right. Well, thanks everybody for listening. As always, you can go to MuggleCast.com. And follow us on our social media. We’re still active on the MuggleCast social media.
[Show music begins]
Eric: Yeah. Not too shabby. Not shabby at all.
Andrew: Not too shabby. So thank you everybody for listening. I’m Andrew Sims.
Eric: I’m Eric Scull.
Micah: And I’m Micah Tannenbaum.
Andrew: [laughs] And we’ll see everybody next time for Episode 274. Goodbye.
Eric: Happy anniversary of MuggleCast.
[Show music continues]