Do you know what day July 31st is? I mean apart from being July 31st. Its J.K. Rowling’s Birthday! By some odd coincidence, it’s also Harry Potter’s Birthday! Go figure. (I’m assuming it’s Robert Galbraith’s birthday also? Just a guess.)
There are so many homages globally to Harry Potter and and these show no sign of stopping. I don’t need to go to every single one although I deeply love the OG series. What it means to me isn’t about visiting every site and buying all the merchandise even though I would kind of like to try Butterbeer and would be lying if I said I didn’t try making my own alcoholic version at home. I’m sure I’ll try it properly someday but in the meantime, I’m very satisfied with my random visit to Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. I don’t need to give you the details on the role of the Station in the books, right? I mean, even the most basic knowledge of the series includes that?
King’s Cross Station actually exists and has been around since 1852, but the “platform” was installed after the wild success of the Harry Potter Books. The current location was installed in 2012 after it was temporarily in another spot because of insane renovations at the Station. It actually isn’t more that half of a cart stuck protruding from a wall, meant to mimic the the method by which you access the fictional platform (i.e. you run through the magical wall) to get to the Hogwarts Express, the train that takes you to the best and most sought after educational institution (in my opinion) – Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. The cart also balances half of a birdcage with a stuffed owl (RIP Hedwig) and suitcases.
You can take a photo at the wall (which I did obviously). We went on a totally random, uneventful afternoon and still had to wait about 15 minutes. You get to choose your House and the’ll provide you with the scarf. Ignore any thoughts of how many necks he scarf had been around before you. You hold on to the cart, the photographer will tell you to jump, and the very helpful attendant will flip your scarf up in the air from out of the frame so it looks like you’re levitating. I handed my brother my phone and told him “you just keep taking pics, okay?” I did the same for him and we both look super magical and pumped to have received our letters from Hogwarts.
There’s a gift shop right next to the ‘platform’ so you can go pay for your picture and purchase all the other cool HP memorabilia and stuff they have. My Deathly Hallows keychain is still going strong.
The spot itself is still insanely popular although there’s no Hedwig in the cage anymore :(. In September 2017, thousands turned out on the day that, according to the books, Harry and (spoiler alert) his family arrive to send off his son, Albus Severus to Hogwarts. Even Warwick Davis, who starred as Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the films, turned out to celebrate the day.
One of the best things about the Platform is that it’s a practically organic way to connect with the fandom and to add a little bit of magic to your London commute. Case in point: I visited the “Platform” again in June 2018 on a random Tuesday at 2:00 p.m, and the line was insane as you can see from the picture below. I also ended up chatting with a total stranger about the importance of the Platform in the story.
Ahhh. Harry Potter and the time-transcending power to make random friends (My suggestion for the 8th book’s title. I choose to ignore Cursed Child even though I bought it three times (the kindle version so that I could read on the plane until I could get to a proper bookstore to buy the hard copy for myself and a friend).