A bit of magic — of the variety created by J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” franchise — is returning for the holidays to a Sandy shopping center.
The pop-up shop Christmas in the Wizarding World, with merchandise based on Rowling’s characters and settings, opened this week at The Shops at South Town, 10450 S. State St., Sandy.
Local actors — chosen by audition and approved by Warner Bros. — run the shops, portraying clerks at the wand merchant Ollivander’s and other landmarks. The installation aims to re-create the atmosphere of Rowling’s Diagon Alley.
Oliver Phelps, the actor who portrayed prankster George Weasley — not to be confused with his twin brother, Fred, played by Oliver’s twin, James — in the “Harry Potter” films, will appear Wednesday, Nov. 7. Phelps is scheduled to take questions at a Q&A session, and visitors can enter to win a meet-and-greet with the actor.
At its debut last year, the village was sometimes thronged with shoppers. The popularity of the “Harry Potter” universe in Utah was more than Warner Bros. expected, said Heather Nash, South Town’s marketing manager.
This year, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and GES Events, the companies that created and present the store, are stepping up with more merchandise, rotated rapidly, she said. Warner Bros. holds the licenses for Rowling’s creations.
And the village is opening earlier than it did last year, Nash said, to drum up enthusiasm for the newest movie in the series, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which opens nationwide on Nov. 16. The shop will feature plenty of “Fantastic Beasts” merchandise to accompany the “Harry Potter” gear, she said.
“Christmas in the Wizarding World” will be open at The Shops at South Town until Jan. 21. The shopping center’s hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.