If there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's that Harry Potter fans have a
crazily obsessed pretty devoted base. Although I've seen my fair share of cute Harry Potter clothes, costumes, and home decor, nothing prepared me for this walkable replica created by Joel Pace and some of his neighbors in Austin, TX. They started the project when his wife, Amanda, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.
"She had several surgeries and complications," Joel told POPSUGAR. "When Halloween approached, she mentioned that we probably wouldn't be decorating. That's when I built the blue flying car . . . and then just kept building and experimenting (mostly with cardboard). It rained on Halloween last year and destroyed pretty much everything. We still had a great time, and it was very healing for all of us."
"It rained on Halloween last year and destroyed pretty much everything. We still had a great time, and it was very healing for all of us."
Rather than abandon the project as a one-time thing, Joel and Amanda took it up a notch for the 2018 Halloween season. But this time, they opted for foam instead of cardboard. And yes, it took a long f*cking time to make it.
"I mainly built the train and structures on weekends," Joel said. "The train took the longest — about six weeks — because it's large. And, surprisingly, there are no plans for how to build it. I'm glad I started early!'
As for the rest of the fictional town? It boiled down to a lot of drawing and even more trips to The Home Depot. "I would sit down and sketch out a plan for the building on paper or using my iPad and a drawing app," Joel said. "I'd look at the pictures of Universal or from the London stage and try to make a small interpretation of the building. Then I'd go to Home Depot and literally walk around looking for things I could use to fit the parts I needed."
Believe it or not, as the project grew larger, creating each building got easier. But the hardest part for Joel to figure out? The windows!
"With each structure I completed, it got progressively easier as I got more comfortable building with the foam. So, by the end, I could slap a building together in about six hours, not including paint."
All we can say is wow. Scroll through to get a look at this superimpressive Diagon Alley, and try not to buy a plane ticket to Austin in the process.