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How J.K. Rowling Responded The First Time She Tried The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter’s Famous Butterbeer

Harry, Ron and Hermione visit the Three Broomsticks for some Butterbeer.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It’s hard to believe that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has existed in Orlando, Florida for over a decade now. Some of the OG people who were around when the theming was coming together still work in the parks today, and one of them, Chef Steven Jayson, recently opened up about what the pitch was like when butterbeer was being created for the first time, and how J.K. Rowling responded the first time she tried butterbeer.  

The first time the Harry Potter creator tried butterbeer she was actually in Scotland. A slew of people involved with creating the magic for Universal Orlanda flew overseas, including merchandise people and The President of Creative, Mark Woodbury, all to present various aspects of the parks to the author. When it came to food and beverage, though, of course the big iconic moment was when Rowling got to taste butterbeer for the very first time. Per Chef Jayson: 

When we got to the beverages, of course the main conversation was around, you know, creating some iconic beverages that were written about in her books. … So when we put it together we said we wanted it to be for every age so it wouldn’t be an alcoholic drink and we wanted to do something that was kind of a little mystical… and then create those flavors of what maybe someone might think about, ‘What does butterbeer taste like?’ We put that all together and we presented that to her. She took a sip and she said, ‘This is quite lovely. I’m not sure really what I thought it would taste like when I wrote about it, but I think this would be it.’ That was pretty much getting all her blessings.

I find it really interesting that the popular author spent so many books writing about that particular concoction but had never extrapolated it out further than saying she though it'd be “a little bit like less sickly butterscotch.” But it’s nice to hear that after the effort that went in to creating the iconic product, she had a positive reaction. She’s not the only Harry Potter personality to seemingly enjoy the drink, either, as Tom Felton has admitted to sinking “a few” butterbeers in his day.

Butterbeer on a hot day at Universal Orlando.

(Image credit: Jessica Rawden)

Steven Jayson went on to tell us that Rowling was also “extremely pleased” with one other iconic beverage they’d concocted: The Three Broomsticks' Pumpkin Juice. The team had given her “two variations,” one of which Rowling picked and is still what is served at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As for all of the other butterbeer additions to the parks, Chef Steven Jayson also spoke to us about how those were made over time, also stating they specifically try to only have “stuff [Rowling] wrote about” really available in the parks to keep up the immersive experience. (Note: You can get butterbeer in a few other places, including the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour in London and the special butterbeer experience in New York.)

That’s the [butterbeer] I made and then I flew it to Scotland and I presented it to JK Rowling. After we had her, I guess you could say, confidence, then we were able to go ahead in Central Florida. Being so hot from the middle of May — and it’ll probably stay pretty hot until the last part of October – a frozen version was a great idea to come up with to satisfy the people who just want that really icy beverage and still give them the flavors. We did absolutely nothing to change the flavor profile, we just figured out how to make it frozen. The hot came along later on. We did butterbeer flavored fudge and we did butterbeer icecream. I think we do a butterbeer potted cream; that’s pretty much where we cut it.

So essentially the team found a way to satisfy butterbeer fans who might have all sorts of cravings. Given the occasional ups and downs of the weather in Florida, these additional products may have strayed from the butterbeer in the books somewhat, but I’m certainly not complaining. I know a lot of people love, love hot butterbeer when it’s offered and I will literally never turn down butterbeer ice cream from Florian Fortescue’s. Really, the products have been a win-win, both to create atmosphere in the Universal Orlando parks and also to satisfy our taste buds. And, of course, to take foamy mustache selfies too. 

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.