The Rita Report: Harry Potter Week at The Wall

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is taking over this week at The Wall, with five days of Potter-themed events and magical culinary specials. In honor of this temporary merge between the wizarding universe and our own muggle world, renowned witch journalist Rita Skeeter came on loan from The Daily Prophet to give Universe readers an inside look.

 Daily Prophetic Note: Return to The Universe this Halloween for a link to see BYU’s news transported into the wizarding world.

Ben Grange, events coordinator at The Wall, poses next to Cosmo the Cougar who wears the Hogwarts Sorting Hat.
Ben Grange, events coordinator at The Wall, poses next to Cosmo the Cougar, who wears the Hogwarts Sorting Hat. (Sarah Burchett)

Greetings, muggle readers! It is such a gratifying experience to know that one’s work is appreciated across the spans of magical ability. When I was approached by my editor, Barnabas Cuffe, and asked to take part in this partnership, I admit I was taken aback. Could a muggle institute of higher education like BYU truly capture the magic and wonder that is, what you call, “The Harry Potter Universe”? My curiosity was piqued, so I agreed.

I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Ben Grange, events coordinator at The Wall. Grange was fresh-faced and eager as he shared his love for all things Harry Potter (and honestly, who couldn’t love The Boy Who Lived?). “I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd,” Grange said. “When I started working here, I really wanted to do a Harry Potter-themed event at The Wall.”

That opportunity came this July in the form of a celebration for Harry Potter’s birthday. No confirmed accounts of the famous wizard attending the event have been given, but we can be sure he appreciated the sentiment. A busy Auror like himself can’t be expected to attend every event in his honor, though it seems like everyone else in the area did.

“The event in July was actually the biggest event that we’ve ever thrown at The Wall,” Grange said, his eyes glistening with the memory. “We’ve had more people come in on that day than any other day in the history of The Wall.”

Chef Gary Bradshaw shows off his original recipe for Polyjuice Potion at The Wall.
Chef Gary Bradshaw shows off his original recipe for Polyjuice Potion at The Wall. (Sarah Burchett)

That success spurred a movement that became a week-long celebration of Harry Potter and the wizarding world. Each day of the week will have a special event paired perfectly with an original menu item from the Potter universe. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Monday: Harry Potter FHE

Starting at 7 p.m., visitors to The Wall can enjoy a Harry Potter-themed Family Home Evening. Video clips of every Potter-themed skit from sketch comedy group Studio C will play throughout the evening. Signature House Drinks themed for each of the four houses of Hogwarts will be on sale for $3. Unlike other menu items, these drinks will be on sale the entire week.

The concept of Family Home Evening is a foreign one to the wizarding world. It doesn’t take much imagination to see why. Can you picture a family night at the Weasley residence, for instance? Our favorite family of redheads would no doubt scarcely get a word in edgewise amidst explosions and questionable smells coming from experimental use of products from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.

The only thing this reporter can conceive calming such a ruckus would be the presence of these House Drinks. The bold colors and flavors could captivate even the rowdiest of Weasleys. Chef Gary Bradshaw, head chef at The Wall, chose a deep-red strawberry drink to represent the bravery of Gryffindor. “I don’t know any Gryffindors personally, but the colors are nice, strong colors to match the houses,” Bradshaw said.

Signature House Drinks representing Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Gryffindor are available all week at The Wall.
Signature House Drinks representing Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Gryffindor are available all week at The Wall. (Sarah Burchett)

Slytherin takes the scene with a bright-green lime drink, followed by a captivatingly blue raspberry-flavored drink for Ravenclaw. Always last, but certainly not least, is a cheery yellow drink for Hufflepuff. The mango-peach combination outshines all the rest for this reporter, possibly the only time Hufflepuff has outshone anyone in anything.

Tuesday: Harry Potter Trivia Contest

In what might prove to be the most exciting muggle competition since the original Olympic Games, 40 contestants will gather Tuesday at 7 p.m. to answer 80 questions based on the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The contestants will be divided into four teams, each team representing a house of Hogwarts. Teams will gain points for each correct answer until, at the end of the night, the winning team will be awarded the House Cup. Winners will also receive prizes provided by The Wall and the BYU Store, including tickets to Friday night’s wizard rock concert.

When asked which house he believes will be victorious, Grange was hesitant to say. He did confirm Provo’s Harry Potter Book Club had booked the entire Gryffindor team for themselves, giving them a distinct advantage. For those afraid Slytherin might have contrived a plan to steal the answers in advance, Grange said, “The questions are password protected. Even Alohomora would not open up my password.”

A molded chocolate frog perches on top of vanilla ice cream, ready to hop into customer's mouths at any moment.
A molded chocolate frog perches on top of vanilla ice cream. (Sarah Burchett)

One wonders what charms Grange used to make his computer Alohomora-proof and what wizard he used to do it. Could there be a secret society of world-class wizards at BYU? Or did he simply find a squib with a nifty family heirloom?

The special for this evening will be Chocolate Frog Sundaes. This will be the only night such a classic favorite will be available in the muggle world. Each chocolate frog is formed using dark chocolate morsels, cream and butter, made into a ganache. The frog is then served over ice cream and chocolate syrup with a bit of white chocolate syrup drizzled on top for shine. These chocolate frogs do not jump around until you bite their heads off, which is refreshing.

Wednesday: Harry Potter Dance Show

While we’re on the topic of frogs hopping to and fro, another type of hopping will be happening at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The BYU Hip Hop Club will take The Wall by storm and perform and original dance routine for an upcoming music video. “Anyone who wants to be in that music video should be up in front dancing and jamming,” Grange said.

While hip hop is a form of dancing far from the proper waltz Professor Minerva McGonagall insists on teaching her students before each Yule Ball, it promises to be what muggles call “good, clean fun.” That fun will be spurred by a Patronus Charm Drink available for purchase.

The Patronus Charm Drink is a blackberry Italian soda with a bit of a twist. Since they are unable to use actual charms, Bradshaw and his team have solicited the help of “misty stix” stirring rods with a capsule on the end for dry ice. The rods cause each drink to bubble and smoke as if it is a real enchanted potion. While I personally prefer drinks at the Leaky Cauldron, this is a most suitable muggle alternative!

Thursday: Harry Potter Magic Show

It’s true that we just can’t get enough of celebrities. Like the members of Dumbledore’s Army, they keep us coming back for more. Making a return appearance to The Wall is famed Provo magician Theron Milo Christensen and his act “The Magic of Milo.” Christensen performed for Harry Potter’s birthday celebration in July and returns with a collection of Harry Potter-themed magic tricks and illusions. Two shows will be open to the public at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. for a $5 entrance fee.

The Wall's muggle friendly twist on Polyjuice Potion, without hair or actual transformative effects.
The Wall’s muggle-friendly twist on Polyjuice Potion, without hair or actual transformative effects. (Sarah Burchett)

Rumors circulate that Milo, though not a graduate of Hogwarts, may have attended the Salem Witches’ Institute here in America. If so, why the secrecy? Why spend life as a muggle entertainer when you could be a contemporary of wizard greats like Harry Potter himself? Could it be that the magician actually enjoys entertaining muggle audiences? The only clear fact is that they enjoy being entertained by him.

The Wall hopes the audience also enjoys partaking of Polyjuice Potion. “It’s green and very tasty,” Grange claimed. After trying the muggle version for myself, I have to admit that I prefer it to the wizard alternative. The creamy, rich drink has a hint of lime and is simultaneously sweet and tangy. “There’s no human hair in it, so you don’t have to worry about that,” Bradshaw promised.

Friday: Wizard Rock Concert and Dance Party

“We have another unique thing being done that’s probably never been done on BYU campus ever,” Grange said. “We have a wizard rock band playing on Friday night for Halloween.” Percy and the Prefects will be making their debut performance on campus at The Wall. For $5, audience members will experience band members personifying Percy Weasley, Cedric Diggory, Albus Dumbledore and Tom Riddle, performing songs about Harry Potter characters and the wizarding world.

Skeptical? While not the Weird Sisters, Percy and the Prefects promise the audience great music and fun time. “If you love Harry Potter and you understand Harry Potter references, you’re going to enjoy listening to us play music, ” said Grange (who revealed in a Skeeter exclusive he is a member of the band).

Check out a sample of the band’s music here. 

Percy and the Prefects will play an hour-and-a-half set starting at 8 p.m., followed by a DJ remixing various Harry Potter theme music from the major motion pictures. Tickets for the concert and dance party are available in advance at the Info Desk of the Wilkinson Student Center.

Butterbeer in all its sweet, foaming glory.
Butterbeer in all its sweet, foaming glory. (Sarah Burchett)

Rounding out the week of palatable culinary masterpieces is everyone’s favorite drink, Butterbeer. Bradshaw’s personal recipe is top secret and for good reason! Delicious doesn’t begin to describe the sweet and creamy drink served in a chilled glass. It is as if every other special of the week leads up to this drink. I personally went a bit weak in the knees after my first sip.

So many people attended the event in July that the venue sold out of Butterbeer, a favorite among wizards of all ages. In fact, it sold out twice, an incident that will not be repeated this week. Bradshaw is preparing enormous amounts of the drink this very moment, and Grange promised, “There will be Butterbeer!”

This particular recipe could give The Three Broomsticks a run for their money. You don’t want to miss it! (Disclaimer: Bradshaw’s BYU Butterbeer contains no alcohol. Sugar content undisclosed.)

The Wall will be decorated to the hilt, courtesy of BYUSA (is this the equivalent of Prefects for Cougar muggles?) with sorting hats, cauldrons, lanterns, wands, candles and golden coins. With a few tips from yours truly, I anticipate the entire venue will transport visitors to the wizard world.

The BYU Games Center will host Bertie Bott's Bowling for $1 on Halloween night.
The BYU Games Center will host Bertie Bott’s Bowling for $1 on Halloween night.

The combination of entertainment and magical menu items are sure to impress and draw large crowds of visitors. The Wall can support 460 people at maximum capacity, so plan accordingly. “Buy your tickets early for the Friday show, and be here early for everything else because we are going to be full,” Grange said.

In conjunction with the goings on at The Wall, the BYU Bookstore will host an exhibit on magical brooms over time. The replicas are impeccable but inoperable. Do not plan on flying high over Brigham Square on a Nimbus 2000 built for two. The BYU Game Center will also host Bertie Bott’s Bowling for $1 on Halloween night from 7 to 11 p.m.

All in all, I anticipate Harry Potter Week at The Wall to be a magical event. I take with me as I return to the wizarding world a newfound appreciation for the creativity and taste of Potter’s muggle admirers. Who knew so many outside the world of magic would love The Chosen One as much as we do? My rabid readers wait with bated breath to see what juicy news I’ll bring from this exchange. My headline?

A Week at The Wall is Pure Potter Perfection

– Rita Skeeter

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