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Exclusive: Sneak Peek at New

Posted by: Melissa
February 28, 2004, 10:09 AM

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be shown a sneak preview of the redesign of that's debuting in about a month - it's darker and cooler and dispenses with most of the notion that these are kids' movies deserving a kids' site. Here's what you can expect:

The Marauder's Map, which on the site is detailed and patterned as if it came out of a Tolkien anthology, serves, naturally, as the navigational tool for the entire site. It folds out like an accordion, pops up like a pop-up book, leading around a very detailed map of Hogwarts (and the different elements of the site). This may not be exactly how the map looks in the movie, as different elements are needed for a web site, but it's based on it.

The different areas of the site are different rooms in Diagon Alley/Hogwarts: a spooky piece of background art of each empty room is the backdrop on each section.

One of the pages leads you to the interior of the Leaky Cauldron and what looks like the table where Harry and the Weasleys eat the night before returning to Hogwarts. The lantern-lit area isn't complete yet - I was told there'd be spooky and magical happenings on the walls before the page goes live. (This was my favorite page, of course!)

In the Divination classroom, a crystal ball sits smack in the center of the page and holds the promise of portents when the page goes live. Also in that picture (and in the movie) is a large, almost toppling, pyramid of teacups. At leat 10 feet high.

On the Care of Magical Creatures Page is an added game involving learning how to open the "Monster Book of Monsters," which is very furry and has gums and teeth for a clasp. The book will act as it does in the book, when you try to open it.

On each of these pages is a new set of menu options; at least six per section.

On the main page is a very striking shot of the Trio (looking much older than they should be allowed to have grown by now, in this editor's opinion!) Behind them is a backdrop of swirling, menacing dementors.

Everything has a glowing, soft-but-spooky, haunted-house feel to it. The logo, like in the trailers, no longer has the blue tint; it's cold silver. Everything feels older and darker, as it should.

We'll let you know more when it's closer to the debut date!

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