Harry Potter Interactive Wands: Any Muggle’s Dream

harry potter Store front

With the expansion of the Wizard World of Harry Potter in full force worldwide, it is no surprise that Universal Studios stepped up its game once again for the opening of Diagon Alley: Orlando.

Potter fanatics can now be involved in the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with… you guessed it: interactive wands. These wands allow guests to influence the environment by “casting spells” to produce effects in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

When Hogsmeade first opened its gates in 2010, the original wands sold were replicas – despite the fact they looked magical there were no special effects that went along with them; all one had was their imagination. However, when Diagon Alley opened in July 2014, Universal Studios introduced the new interactive wands. These new wands are quite similar in style to the older generation, but these new gen models are slightly thicker since they have to accommodate holding a half-sphere bead at their tip. This sensor is backed with a reflective substance that allows the wand to be picked up, or “seen” by infrared receptors at each spell-casting location. (Calm down muggles, you really didn’t think it was magic did you?) Of course, there is always a price difference: as of currently, the interactive wands go for $44.95, while the originals are ticketed at $34.95 (plus tax of course).

The current stylings of interactive wands available are the traditional “unclaimed” wands as well as Harry’s, Hermione’s, and Dumbledore’s (AKA: The Elder Wand). These “unclaimed” wands are not associated with any character in the Harry Potter books or films; however, the Hawthorn wand looks nearly identical to the one Draco Malfoy sport in the films. These “unclaimed” wands are based upon the woods and characteristics of the Celtic tree calendar.

J.K. Rowling had once stated that although her choice of wood for Harry’s wand was solely based on its properties, she later “came across a description of how the Celts had assigned trees to different parts of the year and discovered that, entirely by coincidence, I had assigned Harry the ‘correct’ wood for his day of birth. I therefore decided to give Ron and Hermione Celtic wand woods, too… I liked having a hidden connection between Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s wands that only I knew about.”

harry potter Celtic Tree Calendar

Based on that knowledge, Universal has created a selection of thirteen wands based on the Celtic tree calendar. Any of one of the cast members at Ollivander’s (both in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade) will aid you in selecting a wand for yourself. They may suggest using your birthday or a momentous life event in helping in the selection of your wand, but ultimately the decision is up to you. (On the other hand, perhaps, the wand really does choose the wizard.) Usually, the witch or wizard helping with the display case will allow you to hold or “test out” various wands before purchasing.

The wands however used in the Ollivander wand show are usually based on the birth date of the person chosen to participate, as this question is always asked in every show.

Ollivander's Wand Shop at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.

Interactive wands are sold in both Ollivander’s stores (although the purchases are actually made in Dervish and Banges) and also at Wands by Gregorovitch in the Carkitt Market. While the three interactive character wands can be found in the main Universal Orlando gift shops in the front of each theme park, and at Universal CityWalk if you would like to have your wand before entering the park. If someone from your party is selected to participate in the Ollivander show, the wand he/she will be offered to purchase will be the interactive wand – however, you can always just spring for the first generation wand or none at all.

harry potter Wand Comparision

Inside your interactive wand box will be a two-sided map displaying where spell-casting stations can be found. The map lists each location by a number and provides the name of the spell and the wand movement right there on the map. Spell locations are marked by gold medallions set into the pavement – these are indicators of where a witch or wizard (you muggles as well) should stand in order to cast their spells for the best possible effects. Each marker gives all the necessary information: the direction the caster should face, the incantation (what you need to say), and the motion(s) of the wand. These markers are in both parks of the Wizarding World. It appears that new witches and wizards tend to ignore the helpful advice the map gives, but by doing so, one is sure to miss the hard to locate casting stations and even more magical opportunities.

But wait! There’s more! Several spell locations are not marked on the map; keep an eye out for these additional magical moments. If you see the characteristic four red dots of light, you can bet they are from the interactive encounter’s sensors, and that means a spell can be cast there. Unmarked spell locations typically respond to a triangle movement.  Don’t worry – these are of the “easiest” spell-casting locations, if muggles can cast spells here, then it shouldn’t be a problem for the experienced witch or wizard.

Want to know where the “hidden” spell locations are? Okay, okay, you talked me into it. Two are hidden in the Slug and Jiggers Apothecary faux storefront along Diagon Alley. The third is in the right-hand window of Scribbulus Writing Implements in Horizont Alley.

harry potter Black Light Knockturn

The Knockturn Alley portion of the map has the interactive elements and spells written in “invisible ink.” In order to see these images, the map must be placed under a black light. The “hidden” images are only visible in Knockturn Alley (unless you’re one of those people who carry around portable black lights), which is filled with black lights making them a fun find. However, don’t go around asking those goody-two-shoes witches and wizards for advice on where to find the magical encounters in Knockturn Alley, you’ll just end up with a lecture on dark wizards and magical history.

Need a few tips for the first time spell-caster? Well, look no further! Here are the two major elements that need to occur when casting a spell:

1) Be sure that you’re casting in the right location. Point your wand at the four dots of red light, to be sure that the camera catches your movement!

2) Keep your movement small, because the camera’s area of reception is limited (it really is just an over glorified Kinect). The best way to cast a spell is actually not to move your arm, but rather use only your write. (I know, it ruins the dramatic flair, but hey… which is cooler: artistic ability or excellent spell-casting?).

The verbal component of spell-casting is completely unnecessary, since the camera doesn’t pick up sound only motion. However, saying the spell is all part of the experience. But for you die-hard Potterfans out there (like myself), a simple wave of your interactive wand you can claim you can perform non-verbal spells!

A warning to the tale: some interactions and experiences are trickier to master than others. Some perform every time even when your motion is less than perfect (easy for those muggles to charm). While others require a fair bit of precision to work (most of these seem to appear in Hogsmeade as opposed to Diagon Alley – fair to say, only upper year students are allowed to visit Hogsmeade, no need for first and second years to be there).

Spells not working? Are you getting frustrated and are ready to snap your wand over your knee (I advise against doing this—after all, you paid good money for that!) No need to worry at most locations there is a friendly expert spell-caster. These cast members are trained in helping guests perfect their casting technique in order to get the perfect response. (Okay, for the effects are an All-or-None response. They fire or they don’t.)

harry potter anti-jinx

Do you swear you’re performing the spell correctly and the effect is still not going off? If for some reason an encounter is on the fritz, a sign will usually be place in the location stating that, that particular spot is under an “anti-jinx” and no spells will work on it. If you see this sign on display or a cast member tells you that the effect has been “jinxed” don’t argue, just simply move on.

Overall, the interactive wand experiences in both Wizarding parks are an incredible amount of fun for guests of any age (and blood status – muggles, I am talking to you). Guests earn a great deal of satisfaction from making each effect work, however, like all things: there is a learning curve. Grab your wand and map, and no matter what do not let the muggles get you down.

Here is a link to the Celtic Tree Calendar, just in case you are curious as to what yours would be: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/moonphasemagic/ss/Celtic-Tree-Months.htm

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