Sandy gets first in the nation Harry Potter Christmas experienceDec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen
Crowds line up to go through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas display at the Shops at South Towne. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)
Shoppers to Sandy’s South Towne Expo Center are in for a treat this Christmas with the introduction of a new Harry Potter experience featuring Christmas in the wizarding world.
“The whole experience is fun to see and a great contribution to the center for the holiday season,” said Heather Nash, who runs the marketing department for the center.
Crowds lined up Nov. 9 and the following weekend for up to two hours to walk through a set designed to look like a small portion of Diagon Alley that included Ollivander’s Wand Shop and officially licensed Warner Bros. products such as robes, tree ornaments, chocolates, wands and clothing for each of the Hogwarts houses.
Some attendees weren’t surprised by the lines after going through Harry Potter theme park attractions and were glad for the experience so close to home.
“It looks really cute. I think they’re gonna get a good turnout with this,” said Latecia Miller, who saw the event on social media and thought it sounded interesting, “It brings lots of little kids here.”
Manning the line and each shop are employees specifically dressed and in character to match the people who would be naturally seen working in Diagon Alley, rather than specific characters, an experience that thrilled Warner Bros. and the center because it allowed them to show off local Utah talent.
“I think they’ve done a great job with the structure, the buildings and windows, the animation,” said Nash. Anyone who is less familiar with Harry Potter can look down into the set from the top floor, but it’s also a great experience for everyone who is into Harry Potter.
Krista Duarte had around 10 people share the event to her social media pages because of her love for the world of Harry Potter.
“I’m excited, I love it. I was excited when I heard it was coming,” said Duarte, who was excited that the detail was so similar to the theme parks.
While there, she was able to add to her Harry Potter Christmas tree covered in Hallmark ornaments, Funko Pop toys and Sorting Hat topper and floating candles that her husband made. The couple has plans to visit London in 2018 to become fully immersed in the Harry Potter experience.
Duarte said she has loved the world of J.K Rowling since the first book was released in the United States because of the positive message in the books.
“I think it just brings hope when it feels like there is none,” said Duarte.
The Shops at South Towne have been working with event management company GES, who also work with Warner Bros. to create touring experiences based on popular movies and television shows. This is the first time a Harry Potter experience has been brought to the U.S. and into a retail setting with trademarked products.
The Shops at South Towne were chosen in part because of accessibility and in part because of the family environment of the community. Also, one of the local theaters was number one in box office sales for the first Harry Potter movie and sold well for each successive film.
“We also know that this is a huge attraction for our community — the retail that’s sold in that experience, a lot of it was exclusive to this location, it can’t be found any place else,” said Nash, who believes Warner Bros. and GES is proud to be part of the Utah market.
Joanna and Jesse Wayman love dressing up and going to new things with their son, Dorian, and Jesse was especially excited to visit the wand shop.
“Harry Potter is a really uplifting book series and movie series, so it’s perfect for the holidays,” said Joanna. “Sit on Santa’s lap or visit Ollivander’s, what do you wanna do?”
“It’s been very successful this year and it will be something that we have next year,” said Nash. “Makes it a great experience for everyone who is into Harry Potter.
The Christmas in the Wizarding World will be on display until the end of January 2018.