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AT LAST! HARRY'S HERE: WITCHING HOUR; Pottermania's midnight spell.

Byline: STEVE ATKINSON

THE world went Harry Potter crazy last night as thousands clamoured to buy the latest book.

Crowds queued to buy JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the stroke of midnight.

It had already broken internet sales records, with more than a million orders received by online retailer Amazon worldwide, including more than 350,000 in the UK.

WH Smith re-created the entrance to Platform Nine-and-three-quarters at King's Cross Station in London.

Fans could push a luggage trolley through the wall to re-enact the way Harry boards the Hogwarts Express to school. More than 100 WH Smith stores planned midnight openings with sleepovers, fancy dress and professional falconers with owls.

Waterstone's opened more than 100 branches at midnight. Its store in Piccadilly, London, converted an entire floor to Potter's World with Gryffindor's Common Room and Hagrid's Cabin.

Guildford library in Surrey claimed it was the only one issuing copies at midnight. Staff in Hogwarts costumes lent copies to 80 eight to 16-year-olds who won a draw.

Across the world it was launched simultaneously at midnight UK time.

In New York an over-zealous shopkeeper put it on the shelves too early. A copy signed by JK Rowling was delivered to the city's public library by armoured car.

In Sydney, Australia, one shop laid on a Harry Potter train for nearly 1,000 fans - boarding at platform nine-and-three-quarters for a fancy dress breakfast.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 21, 2003
Words:243
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