I can’t tell you how many of my friends tagged me on Facebook with the news that on November 25, 2017, the Spring Street of Newton, NJ was going to transform into Diagon Alley for the day. Of course, I convinced my sister Danessa to go since her house is only an hour drive.
Newton’s official website, adversited:
- The Leaky Cauldron
- Cosplay Contest
- Quidditch Lessons
- Horcrux Hunt
- Potion Making
- Owls Delivering Discounts
Filled with excitement, off to Diagon Alley we went!
Parking wasn’t an issue. We parked on the street and it took a total of 30 seconds to find a spot. Kudos for that!
Walking to Spring Street was a breeze and it was amazing being surrounded by fellow Potterheads. Every house was presented, and even some familiar faces were in attendance.
- City Revenue. Looking around at the closed store fronts on Spring Street, it’s obvious the city needs the commerce.
- Fun With Fellow Potter Fans. Nothing is more exciting than being surrounded by people that love the fandom like you do.
- Themed Locations. I love that they turned the local business into places from the story. For example, one of the restaurants was renamed “The Leaky Cauldron”, and another was “The Great Hall”, and so on.
- Photo Ops. Character impersonators were spread all over Spring Street for awesome photo opportunities.
- The Hogwarts Choir. They were standing in front of the firehouse singing Christmas Carols.
- Scavenger Hunt. Or Horcrux Hunt. People had to fins the horcrux hidden in the windows displays of the store fronts.
- Cosplay. One of the things that puts a huge smile on my face are cosplayers. And I love seeing them all dressed up.
- Lines. I was in line for Butterbeer for THREE hours. Scroll below for the full line experience and review on the drink.
- Street Vendors. There were maybe a handful of tables set up on the streets. And that’s about it. No one was really selling food or drinks. And those that were, sold out FAST. We heard that all the restaurants were so low on food, they were borrowing ingredients from each other.
- No Merchandise. Asides from some pillows I spotted, no one really had Harry Potter merchandise for sale. And in fact the “Ollivanders” sold out of wands.
- Themed Locations. As much as I loved the idea of themed locations, not all the stores/restaurants took on the theme to the level it could have. For example, Platform 9 3/4 was set up at an antique store. While they did have someone dressed up as the Hogwarts Express conductor, and there was train on the back of the store, they didn’t have anything pertaining to the story inside. No brick wall to pretend to walk through. No trunks. Nothing.
- No Ron, Hermoine, Hagrid, and Snape. Yes, they did have characters for photo ops. However, where were the main characters? Did we miss them?
- Underestimated the Fandom. It was obvious they were not ready for the masses that showed up. I heard someone say they expected a few hundred people to show up. Last I heard they had 20,000 people show up.
I don’t think the powers that be at Newton understood how massive the Potter fandom is. It’s not based on a specific demographic. It includes people from all walks of life and ages.
This event went viral. I think every Harry Potter page I follow, reshared it. When things go viral is hard to really prepare for what to expect. Plus it’s was a free event, and we had a really nice 50°F day.
For being the towns first event of this kind, I enjoyed it. I just think, things could have been a lot better. Certainly needs a lot of improvements.
And for “fun” I kept track of our time on line for the Butterbeer. Oh that line was so unnecessarily long!
This was at the two hour mark. At this point, I kept questioning myself, “Dear Lord why?”
Almost there… NOPE! Another hour beyond this point.
I have to give credit to Barrel House, they did a great job taking on the Leaky Cauldron theme. They were playing Potter Movies, had a special themed menu, and had super cute decorations. Even the entire staff were dressed up.
TA-DA! After three hours and $8.00 USD later, we got our hands at a couple of the infamous Butterbeers!
I won’t deny it, I thought about leaving the line a few times. But we had already committed so it became an accomplishment more than actually wanting to have the drink.
Was it worth it? It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t worth the wait. It was cream soda with Butterscotch. Nothing like the one you find at Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida.
Asides from all the Cons, I did like the event. It brought revenue to a town that obviously needed it and it put them on the map to Potter fans from all over.
Really hoping they do it again, next year!