Fans had the chance to immerse themselves -- albeit briefly -- in J.K. Rowling's world during the 3D portion of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (The simultaneous IMAX release of Half-Blood Prince promises additional 3D footage.) And as of April 30, fans have been able to explore Hogwarts courtesy of the Harry Potter Exhibition, a road show of props and costumes in full-blown movie-set displays.
But any true Seeker knows that a trip to England is a must. That's where you can find the places that inspired the visually rich settings of the Harry Potter books and movies. In fact, a quick Google search will bring up more than a dozen tour companies ready to take your money for a day's drive around London and Oxford.
For those needing a fix as they await the release of the Half-Blood Prince -- and lacking the cash to hop across the pond, or to Chicago -- we've put together a look at five Potter sites likely to be seen in the upcoming movie.
Duke Humfrey's (click for full image)
Cameras aren't allowed inside the library, so a shot upward from the sculpture of Earl of Pembroke out front is about the best most Muggles can hope to take of the second-floor Duke Humfrey's, the oldest reading room in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Don't worry, though, you can get inside with a paid tour of the medieval library, where books were long chained to the shelves.
In the Half-Blood Prince book, Harry spends a lot of time in the library with Hermione, who is avoiding Ron. The new trailer has a library scene with the duo that ends with Hermione smacking Harry over the head with paper like a bad puppy. Also of note, it's in this installment of the Potter saga that "the Hogwarts library [fails] Hermione for the first time in living memory" -- the only thing she can find about Horcruxes, even in the Restricted Section, is a single mention in Magick Moste Evile that describes them as "the wickedest of magical inventions."
Madam Pomfrey's Infirmary
Divinity School (click for full image)
No doubt the Infirmary will appear in the Half-Blood Prince given the number of trips to the hospital wing Harry and his friends make due to accidents and other mishaps. Ron ends up there on his birthday after Slughorn accidentally poisons him with mead -- notably, just moments after curing his accidental consumption of Romilda Vane's love-potion-soaked Chocolate Cauldrons. Days later, Harry joins Ron in the hospital with a cracked skull when an overzealous Quidditch teammate accidentally fires a Bludger at his head. However, both their injuries pale in comparison to Katie Bell, whose accidental contact with a cursed necklace requires medical attention beyond the walls of Hogwarts, landing her in St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
However, it's unlikely we'll see the final Infirmary scenes of the Half-Blood Prince -- with everyone gathered around Bill Weasley -- in the movie, based on rumors about scenes being saved for the first Deathly Hallows movie.
The most recognizable element of Madam Pomfrey's Infirmary is the ornate ceiling, which is found in the Divinity School -- also located in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library and directly below Duke Humfrey's. (The Divinity School may also look familiar for another reason -- it appears in the Goblet of Fire as the area where Professor McGonagall teaches the students to dance, calling on Ron to help her demonstrate.)
Hogwarts Great Hall
Christ Church Dining Hall (click for full image)
Red Cloak Portrait (click for full image)
The spectacular Great Hall is part of every Harry Potter movie -- and why wouldn't it be after the expense of having to build it? If only J.K. Rowling had invented three Hogwarts houses instead of four, they might have been able to film exclusively in the Christ Church Dining Hall that inspired it.
But four long tables are required for all those sorting scenes...so a wider version of the hall was created for the movie set. And while there was little doubt the hall would materialize in the Half-Blood Prince, it's already made its first appearance in the official movie stills.
As an added bonus, a visit to the Christ Church Dining Hall gives you the chance to see the painting rumored to have inspired the agile occupants of Hogwarts' portraits. What about the gentleman in the red robe is so special? His eyes appear to follow you as you walk around the hall.
Staircase Outside the Great Hall
Christ Church Staircase (click for full image)
At least they didn't have to re-create the staircase outside of the Great Hall. In the Sorcerer's Stone, the first years march up these stairs to meet Professor McGonagall, who explains the sorting ceremony they are about to undergo. This staircase is also where Harry meets the young Tom Riddle for the first time in the Chamber of Secrets.
And we're hopeful the movie will keep the staircase's first appearance in the Half-Blood Prince -- when the deliciously snide Snape escorts Harry to the Great Hall, after his run-in with Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express delays his arrival to school.
Leadenhall Market (click for full image)
A back-to-school shopping trip in Diagon Alley serves as a touchstone throughout the Harry Potter series. Not surprisingly, the Half-Blood Prince has a number of scenes set in this wizarding corner of London. Before starting his sixth year, Harry travels to Diagon Alley with the Weasleys, Hagrid, and Hermione, making a stop at Madam Malkin's to purchase school robes. And it's from there that Harry shadows Draco Malfoy during his mysterious trip to Borgin and Burkes -- a trip that obsesses Harry throughout the Half-Blood Prince.
What may come as a surprise to fans, though, is the fact that Diagon Alley has ties to a historic shopping area in London, albeit for Muggles. Built atop a market area that dates back to the 14th century, Leadenhall Market has been a covered shopping area since the late 1880s. In the first Harry Potter movie, a corner shop in Leadenhall served as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron -- behind which Diagon Alley can be accessed by tapping the correct brick in the wall.
Photos by Karen Gustafson
More Articles on reelz.com
Enemies in Public: Top 10 Gangster Movies — Size up Johnny Depp's competition when it comes to rocking out with a Tommy gun.
Breaking Dawn: Will the Movie Beat the Book? — What the movie adaptation needs to change in order to succeed.
10 Hottest Chicks from the Summer Flicks — Yes, Megan Fox made the list. See the other 9.
The Boys of Summer: 2009 Movie All-Stars — Because nothing goes better with the summer than movies and baseball.
Top 10 Bacon Movie Moments — We honor our favorite breakfast meat with a rundown of its greatest movie moments.