Universal Wands

It's often said that when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010, it changed the course of theme parks forever. In short, Hogsmeade changed the game. Overnight, the standard for theme park expansions changed from standalone E-Tickets to immersive, cinematic, "Living Lands" – worlds plucked from the screen, giving guests the chance to inhabit the places they'd seen in their favorite films: to eat where characters ate; shop where they shopped; live how they lived.

Seeing multi-hour waits to buy Butterbeer and House Robes, it's no surprise that Disney and Universal doubled-down, creating an entire economy of "in-universe" snacks and "world-building" souvenirs... But reigning over them all in the Wand; the simple faux wood sticks that power the Wizarding World and exist somewhere between a collectable, an interactive, and a statement of personality. Sure the Wizarding World has E-Ticket rides... but no visit is complete without a stop at Ollivander's – "Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 B.C.", thank you very much – where a hidden gem of an attraction invites a group of gathered Muggles into a wandkeeper's showroom for a real time demonstration of magic...

Okay, okay, the Ollivander's wand experience that guests eagerly queue for is really just an elaborate, optional pre-show to a gift shop... but for those selected to stand in Harry's footprints and be chosen by a Wand among a swirling score and ethereal light, this theatrical showroom sure is a Bucket List experience... So how do you get chosen to be the selected demonstrator of a Wand's pairing abilities? We've got some tips... and some information on how much it'll cost you if you're chosen.

1. Optional: Be a kid

Image: Universal

Sure, this isn't easy advice to follow. But for obvious reasons, Ollivander's wand shop proprietors often do select children to have the "magical" experience of picking a wand. The sentimental among us would suggest that that's because of the childlike wonder that young people exhibit, and their uncanny ability to really believe that the wand they're handed is magic; the narrative purists would insist that it's because you're supposed to get your wand when you're a kid; and the cynical might suppose it's because an adult is more likely to follow through with the purchase if it's the fulfillment of their child's fantasy. 

You don't have to be a kid to be selected for the experience, but obviously, it doesn't hurt. The moment when a child successfully pairs with a wand is a moment that can make the whole room misty-eyed. A run-of-the-mill adult doesn't always have the same warm and happy feeling – and indeed, might leave parents in the room flabbergasted and frustrated that their precious child was passed over in favor of some grown-up nerd. But the good news for those of us who are post-teens, it's not the only way to be chosen.

2. Be into it

Image: Universal

Though it may go without saying, your best chance to be chosen for the experience as an adult is to be into it! That is, enter the experience in house robes or Hogwarts ephemera. Again, it may sound cynical to say that spending money on Wizarding World merch gives you your best to chance to spend more money on Wizarding World merch... but for obvious reasons, the shopkeepers want to choose people of any age who look like they could be moved by the experience. "Proving" you're a Potter devotee without saying a word will certainly help the shopkeeper know that you're someone who would take the experience seriously and provide the good "show" that they want for all guests.

But just being "into it" isn't enough. There's a few simple but key things to keep in mind on the next page... 


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