AUSTIN, Texas — Pack your pumpkin juice and cauldron cakes, "Harry Potter" fans! Austin's own "Diagon Alley" will be set up this spooky season, with a few pandemic precautions in place.
The family behind the "Diagon Alley Austin Halloween House" said this year's display will look a lot like last year's, with a few new additions. The family is not doing the walk-through immersive version of the display this season due to the pandemic, but you will be able to see everything safely from your car as you drive by or you can get out and view the display from the street.
This year's display will include the family's version of the Hogwarts castle, including floating pumpkins, the great hall, the astronomy tower, a marble staircase tower and a new bell tower. On most weekends, the new "Hogwarts castle window" will "come to life with different moving scenes," including a roaring fire in the Gryffindor common room.
The display is located near the cross streets of Slaughter and Bungalow lanes, across from the park in the Circle C Ranch Vintage Place neighborhood. The family said it will keep the Halloween decorations up through mid-November. The lights will be turned off at 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 p.m. on weekends. The family asks that visitors dim their headlights if they plan to pull up directly in front of the house.
Visitors are also asked to enjoy the display from the street and not come onto the property. If you choose to park and walk up for photos, you're asked to maintain social distancing. Masks are also required if you choose to get up close.
"Keep in mind that Joel’s wife is a two-time cancer survivor. If you appreciate his effort and work, please do him this one favor," the family said on Facebook. "This year, we are allowing people to come up to a certain point on our driveway to get a better look at the Hogwarts Castle Window on the weekends. If you are on the driveway at all, you need to wear a mask or you will be asked to return to the street to view. There are no exceptions. The view from the street is still fantastic!"
After the Halloween season ends, the family will transition the display to a "Christmas at Hogwarts/Yule Ball" theme. The floating pumpkins will be replaced with floating stars and crystal icicles, and there will be a light show starting at dusk. The show will start every half hour until 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 p.m. on weekends.
While viewing the display is free, the family is spreading the magic by collecting donations for local organizations. The family said they do not keep any portion of donations made for materials or expenses related to the project and all money collected will be split between Foster Angels of Central Texas, Variety Texas and the ZACH Theatre.
Donations may be made using Venmo (@DiagonAlleyATX) or through a GoFundMe campaign that will be set up soon.
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