New York (AFP)
Wearing Hogwarts robes and witch hats, hundreds of Potterheads sipped butter ale and posed for photos in Hagrid’s giant shoes as New York’s long-awaited Harry Potter store, the world’s largest , opened on Thursday.
Fans of the wizard boy lined up for hours in the pouring rain to be among the first to enter the three-story Lower Manhattan store which houses the world’s largest collection of Potter merchandise.
“It’s really magical,” said Margaret Suarez, whose boyfriend arrived at 6:00 am (11:00 GMT) to hold a seat in line four hours before the opening.
Suarez, 30, quickly glanced up at a wand belonging to witch Bellatrix Lestrange to go with the patronus charming keepsakes and funko pop figures that were already in her shopping bag.
“In my heart, I am a wizard,” Suarez told AFP. “I really want to have a wand and customize it so I can live out my best fantasy,” the New Yorker added.
Ruben Juarez, 27, and his wife traveled from Dallas, Texas for the grand opening of the 21,000 square foot (1,950 square meter) store near the Flatiron Building.
“We are delighted to be here. I love everything Harry Potter,” said Juarez, wearing the scarlet and gold scarf of the House of Gryffindor.
Large crowds gathered outside the store throughout the morning, with even a few police called in to ensure order was maintained, as the Potterheads waited for their timed entry ticket.
Inside, fans of the Wizarding World of JK Rowling took selfies in front of a red phone booth like the one that transports witches and wizards to the Ministry of Magic, and bought some sparkling candy.
They tried on knitted Quidditch sweaters, leafed through copies of history’s best-selling book series, and sampled the wizards favorite drink at the Butterbeer bar.
“Butter beer is like cream soda but with a kick. It doesn’t sound like anything, honestly,” said Emilee Rodriguez, 21.
The flagship store was slated to open last summer but has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For 19-year-old Alexandra Ewing, the wait for her first visit to a Potter store was worth it.
“I’m having the best time of my life. I’m holding back my tears all the time, I love it,” she told AFP.
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