New Harry Potter website debuts

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On the night of July 24, people around the country dressed as wizards, witches and house elves, celebrating the last time they would experience anything new in the world of  Harry Potter, at the premiere of “The Deathly Hallows pt. 2” Although it was the last movie, Harry Potter is not over.

A month before “The Deathly Hallows'” premiere, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, announced Pottermore, an online way to experience the books, to be released in October. Along with Pottermore, she announced that once it opened, Harry Potter e-books would be available for the first time. She made the announcement via YouTube, and explained what Pottermore would be.

“Pottermore will be the place where fans of any age can share, participate in and rediscover the stories,” Rowling said in the announcement. “I’ll be joining in too, because I’ll be sharing additional information I’ve been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter.”

The Pottermore home page has a chart combining the seven books, with a dot for each chapter in each book. Users must go through every chapter before being able to move to the next, ensuring everybody gets the full experience. Throughout the first few chapters, users can receive a wand, be sorted into their house and practice making potions in Snape’s class.

Although Pottermore is scheduled to open sometime this month, 1 million fans across the world were granted early access to help smooth out the kinks.  Natasha Butler, a junior from Gilbert, Ariz., majoring in illustration, has had access for almost a week. Although she said she loves the books, she originally was not sure she would enjoy it, assuming it would be a Harry Potter version of Facebook.

“I was worried it was going to be some sort of online, social Harry Potter thing,” Butler said. “What I wanted out of it was more information, more writing from her. When I found out it would be a combination with extra tidbits about characters, and the history of things in the magical world, then I became super excited.”

Since beginning her experience on Pottermore, Butler said her favorite part so far has been Professor McGonagall’s backstory, the first part of which includes her childhood and time spent at Hogwarts. She has also received a virtual wand, which is 10 inches, pine with unicorn core, and been sorted into the Ravenclaw house. Users take quizzes to decide the wand and house for which they are best suited.

“[The quizzes] were different than I thought they were going to be,” Butler said. “Some of the questions were really abstract. I really liked how it was different than all the kind of dumb sorting quizzes you can find on the Internet. I was glad there weren’t questions where it was obvious which answer would put you into which house.”

Other pieces of new information from the first book include Mr. Ollivander’s notes on wandmaking, Petunia Dursley’s childhood and courtship with Vernon and the history of Platform 9 3/4. There are also sections titled “J.K. Rowling’s thoughts” in which she tells how she feels on certain sections of the plot.

The one downside users have experienced with the beta website is the servers not working because of too much traffic, a problem which is supposed to be fixed before the official site opens.  Kim Gardner, 20, is a psychology major who has experienced this problem often.

“There are so many people on that it’s constantly saying you can’t get onto it,” Gardner said. “I haven’t been able to get on very often. I’m excited for when they upgrade their servers so more people can get on at once.”

Other than the problems with the servers, there are almost no complaints with Pottermore. Kailee Brown, a junior from Kaysville, studying family life, considers herself to be a huge Harry Potter fan, and has already made her way through the sequence of the first book. Although she has also had trouble with the servers, she said the site is worth it. She was most impressed, she said, with Rowling’s thoughts and character development that was never before available to the public.

“I like seeing how much thought was behind all these stories,” Brown said. “It’s kind of like a little thank you to the readers.”

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