Behind-the-scenes at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

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Apr 15, 2020

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

News, Products, Props-Sets, Theme Park, Warner Bros., WIzarding World of Harry Potter Orlando

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes may be temporarily closed due to the dragon pox outbreak that has shuttered all of the shops in Diagon Alley (except Gringotts—goblins are immune, or so they believe), but thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can use this time to glean a bit of behind-the-scenes info about the toys, and plan your next trip when they re-open.

MerchSenior buyer on the Universal Orlando Resorts’ merchandise team, Maria Kazaros, spoke to the Universal Orlando Blog about her experience bringing Fred and George’s jokes and pranks to life as novelty products for Muggles and magical folk alike to buy.

How do you translate the hilarious and fun ideas from Fred and George’s collective imagination into tangible products?  Ms Kazaros told the blog:

“We spent many months watching the movies, reading the books, brainstorming, doing work sessions. And we brought in some of the fans to see what they liked. Those fans care and they know what they want, so that helped us all in figuring out what the merchandise in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would be.”

Alas, these products have to work just as well in the Muggle world, without benefit of magic to make those no heat, wet-start fireworks light.

“It’s challenging to take something non-magical, like a pen, and make it magical,” Maria says. “Or something that is magical, like The Monster Book of Monsters, and make it something real for people to interact with. One thing that I do is I rely on my product partners who are experts in the industry and know how toys can go from nothing to something. I ask a lot of questions or just come to them and say, ‘I want to make this, can I?’ And then we’ll sort of reengineer it and I get to create my vision, so to speak.”

Stairs_ScopeFrom Extendable Ears to Skiving Snackboxes, and Pygmy Puffs to Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, familiar products from the films cover the shelves. Looking for Decoy Detonators? How about U-No-Poo Pills? You’ll find them both, along with Puking Pastilles and love potions.

“The Marauder’s Map was a fun one to figure out,” Maria says. “You hit it with the wand and the footprints go around, just like in the movies.”

Where does she get her inspiration for new products?

“I still watch the movies over and over because there’s so much that you can still catch from them that you haven’t seen,” Maria says.“When you think of that scene in the movie, everything is moving. Dolores Umbridge on the unicycle moves in their store and moves in ours. So that’s one we actually created and brought to life from the movies.”

I’d love to have her job! As an Editor for Leaky, it seems crazy to say this, but I haven’t yet  been able to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s been my number one priority, along with the Studio Tour in London,  since it first opened, for when finances permit (and when this heartbreaking dragon pox pandemic ends). Next summer LeakyCon will be in Orlando, so perhaps I will get my chance then, if I win the Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw. For our readers who have visited, what are your favourite Weasley novelties? What is so funny about the ceiling? I really want to know! Tell us your experiences—you can bask in the good memories even if you can’t go visit right now.

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The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.