In 2020, everyone's stuck at home pretty much all the time. So one dad, Dylan, decided to bring the magic to his daughter Ella by building her a secret replica of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley behind her wardrobe.
He worked on it for months and waited until Ella found it on her own. Imagine being the world's biggest Harry Potter fan and then randomly finding a perfectly to-scale version of Diagon Alley behind your closet. I think it's safe to say Dylan gets major dad points for this one.
Dylan told Bored Panda that this was a very involved project. "I used mainly wood and MDF," said the London-based dad, "but also I found wallpaper, for example, with books printed on it which really helped make it look good but take less time."
He made sure that it was in good shape for Ella's birthday at the end of September. He said, "I wanted to do something special for Ella after homeschooling while I was working too and staying in so much.
"Inspiration happened one lunchtime standing int he room wondering what to do with it and it occurred to me that even though it was not much use as a room, it felt like a mini street as we live in an old Victorian terrace house."
So, he started shopping and got help from people like his mom, who painted store signs, and his friend Rob, who helped him actually cut out the storefronts.
It was truly a team effort. "The street surface is Lino, which is soft and warm to walk on. I also live in a street of many kind people, so I was given old photo frames which I used for shop windows," Dylan said.
The hardest part of this was keeping it all completely secret from Ella until it was time for the big reveal. On the day, he decided they should play hide and seek when she got home from school.
"After a few goes, she decided to hide in the wardrobe which had a curtain behind it," Dylan said. "She didn't find it straight away, but she also knew I had made something for her so her first words were, 'I can see something in here,' then silence as she walked in and then, 'Can we keep this here forever?!'"
Ella and Dylan went through the whole alley together, and Ella explored all the little details, including the little gifts left for her in Ollivander's wand shop.
Dylan said, "We played for the rest of the weekend, for example, making ice cream in the ice cream shop with a machine I found. I also dressed up as Hagrid which was hilarious for us both as my accent was terrible, but we went back through the wardrobe to the muggle world as Ella and Hagrid and took cushions from her living room for her reading nook above her bookshop on Diagon Alley."
Ella absolutely loves Harry Potter, but she's only seen the first movie so far, and Dylan is currently reading the first book with her. Since she's still little, Dylan and Ella's mom want her to watch some of the other ones when she gets a little older.
But luckily, she'll have a wonderful little world to escape to when she does! Dylan said that building the alley was a lot of hard work but it was totally worth it. He couldn't believe how much attention he got online when he decided to document it.
He said, "If a day is hard, then do something to make the next one better. Thank you to authors like J.K. Rowling and filmmakers, as your stories and films are really helping people at the moment. They certainly have helped us during the first lockdown."