Thursday 10th Nov 2016
What happened when Pottermore went on a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them-themed plane ride to the Big Apple?
In Fantastic Beasts, we will see Newt Scamander arrive in New York after a short-lived spell at Hogwarts and travelling the world. In honour of Newt’s great journey to the iconic city, Warner Bros., Virgin Atlantic and Magic FM launched a very special competition where some rather excited winners were invited on an all-expenses paid three-day trip to the exact place where the upcoming film is set. And, being the nosy parkers that we are, Pottermore tagged along too.
Now, it’s not often that you are presented with your own wand and an ‘I Want To Be a Wizard’ T-shirt upon arriving at an airport, but this is by no means an ordinary trip. The atmosphere on this journey, hosted by Virgin Atlantic, is more magical than 500 Dumbledores combined, and not just because of the free champagne.
In the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, there’s mass hysteria as Magic FM winners are being selected to fly out to New York. There’s a demo of the Fantastic Beasts virtual reality experience, a new innovative creation from Google Daydream. You can read more about that here.
Simply pop on a headset and some headphones, and the experience takes you into a richly detailed 360-degree realisation of Newt Scamander’s shed, which users can explore as if it were real. Suffice to say, the sight of people spinning around while pointing their ‘wands’ at things will never, ever get old.
Meanwhile, on the flight itself, we see yellow and black scarfs on our seats. Of course, any devout Hufflepuff will know this is no ordinary scarf, but one boasting the colours of the famed Hogwarts house, which Newt Scamander just so happened to be a member of. And, in keeping with the film being set in the 1920s, these scarves are a vintage version of the Hufflepuff classic.
At this point, we’re completely convinced that we’re fully fledged proper wizards, and this isn’t helped by the fact that people on the plane are actually casting spells. Wait, what?
Not to worry, there isn’t actually a massive wizard duel happening as we fly over the Atlantic, but a casual wand-training session going on in the middle of the plane for the attendees.
The sessions are led by wand-trainer extraordinaire Sarah, who worked as a movement coach on Fantastic Beasts. Being a pro, Sarah doesn’t take our session lightly.
‘The wand is part of you,’ she tells us ominously, as she takes us through some classic spells, such as Lumos, Protego and Stupefy. And, as newly trained wizards, we can confirm: it’s not as easy as it looks in the films!
‘David Yates is like a documentary film-maker,’ Sarah tells us after our session, explaining the intense detail that goes into the wand routines. ‘Even if they’re only in the background of a shot, all the actors are trained.’
The love and dedication that seems to have gone into Fantastic Beasts is plain (get it, ‘planes’?) to see as we soar over Brooklyn - about to embark on a three-day adventure of our own.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out 18 November.