Day at Hogwarts

Melodie Daniels, left, and Kristi Payne staff a booth for the My World Discovery Museum at the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck to raise awareness about their upcoming fundraiser A Day at Hogwarts.

CHUBBUCK — For one day, area children will get to attend classes at Hogwarts Castle, face evil Dementors, learn spells and get fitted for their own wands.

Essentially, they’ll be living a day in the life of the world of Harry Potter, the boy wizard hero of the series of novels by J.K. Rowling. Funds raised from A Day at Hogwarts, scheduled for Jan. 24 and Jan. 25, will go toward construction of the future My World Discovery Museum, which is planned to be built in Chubbuck.

Melodie Daniels, founder of the museum, and Kristi Payne, who is a board member, raised awareness about their fundraiser to bring fantasy to life during the Holiday Market & Vendor Fair, which was hosted Friday and Saturday at Pine Ridge Mall.

The Bannock County Veteran’s Memorial Building, located at 300 N. Johnson Ave. in Pocatello, will be transformed into the magical castle, where Harry Potter and his friends are schooled in wizardry.

This will be the second year of the event, and organizers are still seeking volunteers to help run it. Basic tickets are $21 for children to participate in the Hogwarts experience. Guests typically stay for up to two and a half hours.

“We sold out last year, so we went to a bigger building and more tickets, trying to accommodate more,” Payne said, adding children came from as far away as Rexburg and Logan, Utah.

Upon arriving at the castle, Payne explained children will be assigned their houses from the magical Sorting Hat. They’ll be fitted for their own magic wand from 49 different options used by characters in the series. Children will be tasked with casting “spells” at various stops throughout the castle.

Daniels explained each spell stop or magic class doubles as an educational STEM activity, with chemistry lessons offered in potions class and lessons in botany taught in herbology, for example. Her husband, Jared Daniels, is an engineer and will devise many of the magical STEM lessons.

Children will also get to wage battle against a Dementor — a dark creature from the novel that consumes human happiness. Payne explained the creature will be operated by pulleys.

Participants will get to sample butter beer, which is a nonalcoholic drink that’s popular in Hogwarts and is similar to a butterscotch and caramel cream soda. Payne created her own butter beer recipe.

“My husband was just at Harry Potter World in Orlando, and he said our (butter beer) is just as good or better than theirs,” Daniels said.

Butter beer will be served during a Harry Potter trivia night for adults. The event, called Hogwarts After Dark, costs $50 for teams of six and is scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Veterans Memorial Building.

Local veterans with AMVETS of Pocatello will serve breakfast during a Character Breakfast scheduled for 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 25 at the Veterans Memorial Building. People dressed as characters from Harry Potter will be in attendance. A VIP ticket that includes both admission to the breakfast and A Day at Hogwarts costs $40.

Participants may also buy a Christmas gift bag add on, filled with Harry Potter memorabilia and containing a child’s acceptance letter to Hogwarts.

Daniels said her organization is working to get land for the museum and estimates the project will cost between $4 million and $7 million. She said it should take about five years to reach the goal and open a museum. They’ve been applying for grants, in addition to fundraising.

In the meantime, however, the organization offers traveling exhibits, which are driven in a trailer to lunches in parks, STEM nights, area schools and community events. Daniels said current exhibits include a wind tunnel to teach children about airflow, a giant building set with various nuts and bolts and snap circuits. The group has a new exhibit on the way that will feature giant building blocks.