A doting dad spent months making a life-size Harry Potter film set in his house.
Dylan Saxby redesigned the entire Diagon Alley at his home in Windsor for his daughter’s birthday.
He unveiled his creation for six-year-old Ella in September.
As part of their Christmas present, the father went a step further and built a Gryffindor common room and toy store as part of the two-story replica.
Dylan was inspired to build the life-size movie sets last year when the pandemic forced the family to cancel a special trip to Disneyland. Berkshire Live reports.
He said, “It was April when I got the idea, so there was a lockdown and it looked like it was going to be quite a while and I was pretty sure it would be later in the year I wanted to do something because Ella and I had to cancel a vacation to Disneyland.
“She missed school and didn’t see her friends, but she seemed to really like the Harry Potter movie – she only saw the first one.”
Ella’s parents have decided not to show her the rest of the films until she is old enough to watch them. So she can grow up with the franchise instead of looking at them all at once.
Mr. Saxby is currently gradually expanding his house. When he was in a strange room that he didn’t know what to do with, the idea occurred to him.
“I just stood in the room and thought,” What should I put here? “- It was a useless room. I was just standing there staring at the wall when I suddenly thought,” Well, it looks like a little street, doesn’t it? “Diagon Alley just jumped into my head.
“I got the back of an envelope and sketched it out, and I realized that maybe it could fit. I thought about it for about a month – got loads of boxes and figured out Ella’s size and whether each store would save space. When I realized it would fit, I just thought, “Oh, I have to do it, but I don’t know how.”
The street is currently home to all of the film’s main stores, including the Owl Store, Olivander’s Magic Wand Store, and most recently the Weasley Toy Store.
The newest shop has become Ella’s favorite.
“There are toys, jokes and candy. It has now surpassed all the other parts,” jokes Mr. Saxby.
However, the father couldn’t do this little thing on his own – when it came to the detailed storefronts, he got help from a friend who builds sets for big films like Star Wars.
He said, “One of the highlights was going to Pinewood Studios – I was very lucky because it was between the locks – to pick up the storefronts. I took Ella too, but she didn’t really know what was going on, but I wanted her to see the studios. “
Mr Saxby lives alone so the Lockdown Project was not only a great gift for his daughter, but also helped him connect with a larger community.
“It definitely helped. Part of the reason is that it was constructive to make Ella fun that would take a long time.
He also notes that the sense of community comes from building her Instagram account @ellasecretstreet.
“It’s just a little less of a lonely experience and a little more shared,” he said.
“It was just so much fun – talking to the producers in the build-up and then actually talking to them, that was a lot of fun.”
Ella was even contacted by Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy in the films. The actor invited her to join his Hogwarts home by saying “Welcome to Slytherin Ella” on Instagram. Ella assured him that she was indeed in Gryffindor, but she loved to listen to him play the guitar and still sing.
The father and daughter duo rose to fame online after sharing the street on social media and even appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show and Newsround.