Features

Magical transportation that goes beyond the broom

While no mode of transportation in Harry Potter is exactly humdrum (we’d all like a Firebolt for Christmas, please) some are definitely weirder than others.

The guest entrance to the Ministry of Magic
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Forget your typical modes of magical movement: broomsticks, Apparition, Portkeys and Floo powder – we remember the times Harry and pals got places by the quirkiest of quirky means.

Toilet network

Fancy flushing yourself down the loo to work every morning? Nope, didn’t think so. But when the Ministry of Magic was under threat, the (much more normal) phone boxes that employees used to arrive at the seat of British wizarding power were out of bounds. So it was down the public lavatory, feet first.

Feeling exceptionally foolish, Harry clambered into the toilet. He knew at once that he had done the right thing; though he appeared to be standing in water, his shoes, feet and robes remained quite dry. He reached up, pulled the chain, and next moment had zoomed down a short chute, emerging out of a fireplace into the Ministry of Magic.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Knight Bus

When Harry found himself in the unfortunate position of having blown up his aunt, he had nowhere to turn. Luckily he was spooked by the sight of Sirius Black in his animal form into accidentally hailing the Knight Bus, a ‘violently purple’ vehicle containing bedsteads for passengers to sleep on and the ability to jump a hundred miles in one go.

… a triple-decker, violently purple bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold lettering over the windscreen spelled The Knight Bus.
For a split second, Harry wondered if he had been knocked silly by his fall. Then a conductor in a purple uniform leapt out of the bus and began to speak loudly to the night.
‘Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go.’

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Thestral

These winged horses, invisible to anyone who hasn’t witnessed death, don’t sound like the cuddliest of creatures to ride. Harry, who successfully rode Buckbeak the Hippogriff (another winged creature, half-horse, half-giant eagle) was already at an advantage, but for his pals who hadn’t stared mortality in the face, mounting a Thestral was a little scarier:

‘How’re we supposed to get on?’ said Ron faintly. ‘When we can’t see the things?’
‘Oh, it’s easy,’ said Luna, sliding obligingly from her Thestral and marching over to him, Hermione and Ginny. ‘Come here …’
‘This is mad,’ Ron murmured, moving his free hand gingerly up and down his horse’s neck. ‘Mad ... if I could just see it –’

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry on a Thestral flying over London from The Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Centaur

After stumbling upon a hooded figure drinking unicorn blood in the Forbidden Forest, Harry needed an especially quick exit. He found it in the form of Firenze, a centaur who committed a cardinal sin in the eyes of his friend Bane by allowing Harry to ride on his back.

‘Firenze!’ Bane thundered. ‘What are you doing? You have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?’

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Flying Ford Anglia

Muggle enthusiast Arthur Weasley was very proud of his blue Ford Anglia. His wife Molly might never have known about its, er, special features, had Harry and Ron not found themselves inexplicably unable to access platform nine and three-quarters. The duo decided to act on impulse and borrow Arthur’s flying car, rather than wait and ask him for an alternative ride to Hogwarts. Shame for Arthur that it ended up in the Whomping Willow, but at least the boys got there in time for the start-of-term feast.

‘We can fly the car to Hogwarts!’
‘But I thought –’
‘We’re stuck, right? And we’ve got to get to school, haven’t we? And even underage wizards are allowed to use magic if it’s a real emergency, section nineteen or something of the Restriction of Thingy ...’
Harry’s feeling of panic turned suddenly to excitement.
‘Can you fly it?’
‘No problem,’ said Ron, wheeling his trolley around to face the exit.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Ford Anglia flying over the clouds
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Fawkes the Phoenix

Not many people, or even wizards, are able to say they’ve travelled by phoenix. Dumbledore’s pet Fawkes not only saved Harry and Ginny’s lives in the Chamber of Secrets; he also managed to fly both injured students, plus Ron and a seriously befuddled Professor Lockhart, up and out of the underground lair of the Basilisk.

… Harry reached out and took hold of Fawkes’s strangely hot tail feathers.
An extraordinary lightness seemed to spread through his whole body, and next second, with a whoosh, they were flying upwards through the pipe.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Dragon

Most people wouldn’t consider riding a dragon under any circumstances other than mortal peril. But finding themselves cornered by a crowd of goblins in Gringotts, Harry decided to free a particularly angry fire-breather guarding the vaults. Luckily the dragon was so thick-skinned he didn’t notice him, Ron and Hermione clinging to his scales as he flew away.

There was no means of steering; the dragon could not see where it was going, and Harry knew that if it turned sharply or rolled in mid-air they would find it impossible to cling on to its broad back. Nevertheless, as they climbed higher and higher, London unfurling below them like a grey and green map, Harry’s overwhelming feeling was of gratitude for an escape that had seemed impossible.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The dragon in Gringotts.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.