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19 Amazing Details from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Over the course of seven books and eight movies, the Harry Potter series has transported readers into a magical world. Universal Studios has sought to make at least part of that world into reality with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida (and soon in Los Angeles as well). The first park, within the Islands of Adventure, opened to the public on June 18, 2010, and allows park guests to walk throughout the shops of Hogsmeade and into the Hogwarts castle. Four years later, a second immersive park opened: Diagon Alley, which is connected to Hogsmeade via the iconic Hogwarts Express. Both parks have been massive feats of creative and engineering innovation, built to replicate the Harry Potter universe in the movies to a staggering level of detail—and they're filled with Easter eggs for fans to discover.

1. Many Wizarding World staff members are from the UK.

The park hired a large number of its team members directly from Britain in order to make the experience as authentic as possible. Additionally, every member of the staff was made to take an exam, testing their knowledge of the books and the movies to make sure their interactions with the guests would be as seamless as possible.

2. The executive chef at Universal Orlando spent three years creating the park's menu.

J.K. Rowling’s writing directly inspired every dish served at the Leaky Cauldron in “London” and The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. The author herself even had the final say on the Butterbeer recipe served in the parks. Though in the books the beverage seems to be slightly alcoholic, it’s a frothy, kid-friendly drink in Orlando.

3. Arthur Weasley’s car makes a cameo appearance.

Waiting in line for the Dragon Challenge roller coaster, just as you cross the bridge and enter the castle, you can get a glimpse of Arthur Weasley's flying Ford Anglia, which Ron and Harry crashed into the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

4. There are interactive sites hidden throughout Diagon Alley where visitors can do magic with their wands.

One of the new features in the Diagon Alley expansion was the addition of wands that interact with the park, allowing visitors to cast spells if they say the right words while standing in the right spot. A map that comes with wands from Ollivanders will display the spell locations if held under the black light in Knockturn Alley—but the creators of the park also included some secret sites, unmarked on the map, where the right waving of a wand can create some special effects.

5. A Crumple-Horned Snorkack can be seen in the Magical Menagerie store.

On the second story of the Magical Menagerie, you can catch a glimpse of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, Luna Lovegood’s oft-mentioned favorite magical creature. Rowling later said that Luna became a famous naturalist who discovered many creatures—but "she never did find a Crumple-Horned Snorkack and had, finally, to accept that her father might have made that one up." The colorful, purple representation is as close as muggles and wizards will ever get to seeing what a Snorkack looks like.

6. The sign for The Leaky Cauldron actually leaks.

In the books and movies, this London pub serves as a gateway between the muggle and the magical world. At Wizarding World, there's a small touch of that magic visible from the street: the Leaky Cauldron sign is perpetually leaking.

7. There are house elves all over both parks.

If you look into the rafters of The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, you can see the shadows of house elves dancing, presumably on break from preparing and clearing the food. In Diagon Alley, there’s a House-Elf Placement Agency storefront, and a statue of a house elf holding a lantern up on one of the buildings. Kreacher, the Black family’s servant, makes an appearance from behind the curtain of 12 Grimmauld Place every couple of minutes.

8. Harry and Hermione might sound a little different on one ride.

Although Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts features appearances from original actors such as Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rupert Grint, neither Emma Watson nor Daniel Radcliffe reprised their roles as Hermione and Harry for the immersive, three-dimensional ride that chronicles their escape from the wizarding bank that took place in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

9. Moaning Myrtle can be heard wailing from the bathrooms in Hogsmeade.

In the books and films, Moaning Myrtle usually restricted herself to the girls' bathroom—but in Hogsmeade, patrons of both the men's and women’s bathrooms can hear the ghost whining and crying.

10. Visitors can catch a glimpse of Voldemort in front of Malfoy Manor on the Hogwarts Express going to Diagon Alley.

A shadowed figure in long robes can be seen just quickly as the train passes Malfoy Manor, the home of Harry’s school nemesis and where Harry and Hermione were taken after their capture in Deathly Hallows.

11. Diagon Alley contains a subtle tribute to the Jaws ride.

In order to build the Wizarding World expansion, Universal Studios did away with the boat ride that brought riders face to face with Steven Spielberg's shark. As a tribute, a record is visible in the windows of the shop on Charing Cross Road, right next to The Leaky Cauldron: The Quint Trio, with a song called "Here’s to Swimmin’ with Bow Legged Women" (a quote straight from Jaws). There’s also a set of shark teeth in Mullpepper’s Apothecary.

12. While in line for The Forbidden Journey, you can hear a teacher lecturing Neville from the other side of the Potions classroom door.

The line for The Forbidden Journey, which guides guests through the Hogwarts grounds and castle, is almost as magical as the ride itself. Along with moving paintings and iconic pieces like the Mirror of Erised, the creative team included a few less-obvious touches for fans to enjoy—like the voice instructing Neville Longbottom how to properly cast a spell.

13. There’s an actual London-style phone in the King’s Cross section of the park.

Just like in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, if you dial 62442 (MAGIC) you’ll be connected to the Ministry of Magic (although it seems that the engineers behind the park haven’t figured out a way to actually bring you there yet).

14. You can hear a bird chirping from inside the Vanishing Cabinet At Borgin and Burkes.

Draco Malfoy used a bird to test whether or not he could sneak Death Eaters into Hogwarts using the Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement. Visitors who head down Knockturn Alley and into Borgin and Burkes can hear a faint chirping from inside the magical piece of furniture.

15. The Hogwarts Express was built to look well worn.

Both J.K. Rowling and the film series’ production team were consulted throughout the design process to make every part of the parks as detailed as possible. The Hogwarts Express, which carriers park visitors from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley, was built in Switzerland—a nation famous for meticulously perfect mechanics—and was artificially aged to make it look as though it had made the journey from Hogwarts to London thousands of times.

16. The London Symphony Orchestra recorded new musical arrangements for Escape to Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express.

The same musicians that recorded the soundtrack for the films were used to play the new arrangements for the park attractions, which were recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

17. J.K. Rowling wrote the titles of every song Celestina Warbeck sings in the park.

A stage in Diagon Alley hosts puppet reenactments of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and performances from the biggest pop star of the wizarding world, Celestina Warbeck. Every song she performs is an original written from one of the titles J.K. Rowling mentioned in the series. According to the author, Celestina recorded the anthem of the Puddlemere United Quidditch team, “Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here” to raise funds for St. Mungo’s Hospital. Molly Weasley listens to the singer on the radio every Christmas, and a few lyrics of “A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love” were even mentioned in the books.

18. The entrance to Diagon Alley is through an unmarked wall next to a record store—just like in the books.

Normally, a theme park that wants to attract millions of guests would create an entrance that’s open and obvious. But the creators of these parks wanted the Wizarding World experience to be as authentic as possible—even if that meant an entrance to Diagon Alley that’s meant to be invisible to muggle eyes.

19. The perfume advertisement in King's Cross Station is not quite the same as the ad that appears in the opening sequence for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

In the sixth movie, Professor Dumbledore makes his dramatic appearance in front of a banner that reads “Tonight make a little magic with your man.” The slogan on the billboard in Orlando is a little pithier and less suggestive.

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16 Tips From Famous Authors for Writing Better Poetry
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The elusive art of poetry isn’t so hard to master if you know how to set the stage. In honor of World Poetry Day, here are a few handy rituals from some of history’s greatest poets.


Samuel Johnson once said of himself: "[I am a] hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for 20 years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning.” The end result was that he reportedly drank 25 cups in a single sitting.


A photo of W.H. Auden
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Tea isn’t strong enough for everyone. W.H. Auden took more aggressive stimulants: amphetamines. Auden took a dose of Benzedrine every single morning, though his affinity for the chemicals is likely to blame for his heart failure at age 66.


A photo of Dame Edith Sitwell
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Dame Edith Sitwell was known for delivering dramatics, the most notable of which might be her practice of lying in an open coffin to prep for writing.


A photo of Agatha Christie
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... is best eaten in the tub. Agatha Christie would chow down on the fruit while taking a bath and dreaming up ideas. If fresh apples aren’t your thing, Friedrich Schiller had an alternative use: letting them rot under the lid of your writing desk. Whenever he needed a hit of inspiration, Schiller would lift the lid and let the putrid stench lead him to brilliance.


An illustration of Amy Lowell
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Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Lowell famously chain-smoked cigars, which she claimed were preferable to cigarettes because they lasted longer and therefore allowed her to keep her focus on writing.


A photo of James Whitcomb Riley
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James Whitcomb Riley—known as the “Hoosier Poet”—would rent a hotel room and strip down to do his writing. Counterintuitively, this was actually a means of self-preservation, as the nakedness kept Riley from going to the bar.


Edmond Rostand
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While Riley fought to keep himself out of the world in order to write, Edmond Rostand fought to keep the world out of his writing space. He became so frustrated by interruptions that he ended up sitting naked in the bathtub to work.


D. H. Lawrence
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While we’re on a nudity kick, D. H. Lawrence liked to climb mulberry trees in the buff because it tickled his imagination.


A photo of Maya Angelou
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Maya Angelou holed up in hotel rooms like Riley, but stayed clothed (as far as we know). The author would rent a room in her hometown by the month as a dedicated place to do her writing. Angelou had all the decorations removed and requested that housekeeping refrain from cleaning, for fear that a valuable scrap of paper might get discarded.


Sometimes environmental stimulants are as good as liquid ones: Hart Crane was known to take leave during parties to tap away at his typewriter with records spinning nearby. Later on he’d return with pages, saying, “‘Read that. Isn’t that the grrreatest poem ever written!’”


A photo of George Sand, a.k.a. Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin
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The verdict is out about whether it helped George Sand’s (a.k.a. Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin) writing, but her lover, fellow author Alfred de Musset, found it exciting when Sand would waste no time between lovemaking and writing. That’s probably for the best, since Sand often wrote between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.


Edgar Allan Poe
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Edgar Allan Poe wrote works “Annabel Lee” and “Ulalume” with his beloved cat—named Catarina—sitting on his shoulder. While she wasn’t black, Catarina is also believed to be the inspiration for the 1843 story, “The Black Cat.”


William Wordsworth
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William Wordsworth famously loved to set out on foot at all hours of the day to clear his mind, and even went on a walking tour of France in 1790.


A photo of Gertrude Stein
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If the comfort of home is just not confining enough, get in your car and stay parked. Gertrude Stein used to do it, writing on scraps of paper in the automotive quiet.


An illustration of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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It’s not one to try at home: Samuel Taylor Coleridge wasn’t shy about his use of opium and even said that Kubla Khan was inspired by an opium dream. Coleridge was interrupted while writing the poem and ended up forgetting the lines he needed to complete the structure as originally intended. It wasn’t published until some 20 years later, and only then because Lord Byron encouraged it.


A photo of T.S. Eliot
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It might serve you well to escape within yourself, just as T.S. Eliot did after the success of The Waste Land. Eliot started renting rooms in London’s Charing Cross Road and became “Captain Eliot” or “The Captain.” If that’s not enough, incorporate makeup into the mix. Captain Eliot was also fond of wearing green face powder and lipstick to look like a cadaver.

Why a Major Error in 'A Wrinkle in Time' Was Never Corrected

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time was published in 1962, and thanks to the recent release of a big-budget Disney adaptation, the book is just as popular as ever. The book has earned its status as a modern classic, but according to the Daily Beast, there's something hiding in the text of every copy that is rarely seen in titles that have enjoyed such a long print run. The book features an error that's been reprinted millions of times, and unless you read Greek, you would likely never notice it.

The mistake falls on page 59 of the new Square Fish edition that was published to tie in with the new film. On that page you'll find a quote from Mrs Who, one of the three mystical beings that guide the protagonist Meg and her companions across the universe. Because verbalizing in her own words takes a lot of energy, Mrs Who communicates strictly by quoting great writers and thinkers from history. In this case, she's quoting the playwright Euripides in his original ancient Greek. She follows it with the English translation, "Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything," but Greek speakers will notice that the two quotes don't match up. The original line in Greek includes words that don't make sense together or don't exist at all.

How was such a glaring error able to go unnoticed in a major work for so long? The answer is that it didn't: L'Engle was made aware of it by a friend of Greek heritage in the 1990s. According to L'Engle's granddaughter, the writer could trace the typo back to the Dictionary of Foreign Phrases and Classical Quotations, the book she pulled all of Mrs Who's quotes from. While transcribing the Euripides quote by hand she must have omitted a letter by accident. The quote was further removed from the original when the typesetter chose the Greek characters from her manuscript.

Even after hearing about the mistake, L'Engle didn't make fixing it her top priority. Instead she invested her energy into tackling other copyediting issues for the 1993 reprint, like removing all the periods from Mrs Who's, Mrs Which's, and Mrs Whatsit's names. When L'Engle died in 2007, the mangled quote was still standard in new copies of A Wrinkle in Time.

To date, only one English-language edition of the book contains the corrected quotation: the 1994 audiobook narrated by L'Engle herself. But the publishers of A Wrinkle in Time at Macmillan are apparently aware of the error, so the next printing may finally be the one that gets it right.

[h/t Daily Beast]


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