Don't let anyone tell you that the world of Harry Potter is "fantasy." They're not looking hard enough.
Potter's alternate universe of witches and wizards may be a dream to some, but for a select group of dedicated fans, it's a reality -- and one that isn't too difficult to achieve. While you may not be opening an account at Gringotts or hiring your own house elf anytime soon, the line between reality and fiction is already blurring, opening the door for run-of-the-mill muggles to live out a wizarding life. Here are a few examples of how the magical world of Harry Potter is making a crossover into the real world:
Wearing the Perfect Sweater Vest
If you're going to live Harry Potter, you have to dress Harry Potter. Thanks to the folks over at Whimsical Alley, achieving the Potter look is as simple as checking your vest size. The Los Angeles-based store caters to all Potter-related needs, from wands to robes to ties to scarves, each with a variety of colors to meet your house team needs.
Real, Brewed Butterbeer
J.K. Rowling never fully describes what comprises her mildly intoxicating wizard drink, but that hasn't stopped fans from whipping up their own batches based on empirical evidence. Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter serves up a non-alcoholic version, a mixture of brown sugar, water, butter, chider vinegar, cream, rum extract and cream soda, but it takes little searching (through the magic…of the Internet!) to find brews requiring a base of actual beer. Whichever one you choose, just don't have too much before you sit down for Deathly Hallows Part 2 -- wouldn't want to miss any of the action due to a bathroom break.
Adopting Pet Owls
No wonder Hogwarts was established in the UK: in America., it's illegal to own a pet owl!
But for those ready to make the move over seas and adopt one of these elegant, winged creatures, beware -- the post-Harry Potter world has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of owls purchased as pets, as well as an increase in their abandonment. If you're waiting for them to get your mail, you may not be taking care of your new found bird friend.
Sporting the Dark Mark
No one said you had to be good all the time. For fans of the series who wish Voldemort could step up and turn the boy who lived into the boy who died comes a sure fire way to scare every member of your family: the signature Death Eater tattoo. Anyone with a keen eye and artistic skills is capable of bringing the Potter films' terrifying cloud formation into inky reality and since it's permanent, it's one of the purest testaments to the franchise a fan can make. Just don't expect your mother to approve.
Enrolling in Wizarding Schools
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is the real world Albus Dumbledore. Besides rocking a sick beard, he also runs one of the biggest wizarding schools in the U.S., The Grey School, to which anyone with an Internet connection can enroll. No, you don't get to take a locomotive to an undisclosed countryside location, but you can get a major in Beastmastery.
For more on the practicality of wizarding school, here's Oberon:
Quidditch World Cup
The idea of a bunch of college students running around a field with brooms between their legs may seems silly, but really, how were actual legit sports invented? I bet basketball looked pretty insane the first time a few forward-thinkers tried that it out.
Schools from across the country devised practical rules for the Harry Potter staple and formed competing leagues that eventually converge in New York City for -- what else? -- the Quidditch World Cup. Imagine a cross between lacrosse, handball and riding a toy horse and you have an idea of the functional Quidditch is played. Meaning, it's not for the weak.
The Real Harry Potter
You may not see too many of them now, but after Potter fans grow up, get married and start having kids, you can bet your invisibility cloak the number of Harrys, Rons and Hermiones in schools across the globe are going to rapidly increase. But before you go naming your future kid after your favorite Potter character, realize the ramifications. Mr. Harry Potter (seen above and profiled in The Daily Mail) pre-dates Rowling's novels by a solid eight years -- but that didn't stop his classmates from making every possible "size of your wand" joke imaginable. Apparently, sharing a name with the most famous boy wizard on the planet isn't as fun as it sounds.