The desire of youth is perhaps one of the most common themes of adulthood. And the desire of adulthood is perhaps the most common theme of youth. Clearly we are a fickle species, ever obsessing about time, and constantly desiring to be that which we cannot.
Few things unlock these desires like that of a great story. Be it through the turning of pages, or the viewing of images, we can lose ourselves in our desires. Age is no longer a reality, but a whimsical side note on the journeys of our mind.
But sadly, the story ends, and there stands reality waiting to greet us once again.
It is likely that no story has resonated with more people than the bewitching tale of Harry Potter. How we longed for our letter to Hogwarts at age 11. Great is our wish to be able to unfold the Marauder’s Map and to proudly declare that we solemnly swear we are up to no good. We have flicked and swished, much to the dismay that nothing ever happened. For many of us, our second childhood was spent growing up with Harry. But alas, all good things had to come to an end.
Or do they?
Well, my fellow Potter compatriot, that dream is real. And not only is it real, it is done real well.
As most Potter fanatics know, Universal Studio’s recently released not one, but two Harry Potter based “theme parks”. Now, I use the term “theme park” very loosely. Officially named The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the good folks at Universal Studios have built a nirvana for all Potter junkies.
I’ll try to hold off on the information that is more common, But in a nutshell there are two areas: Hogsmead and Diagon Alley. And to travel between the two, you even get to ride on the Hogwart’s Express.
Now, what you can’t find out easily online is the amount of detail that was put into recreating this dream for so many Potter fans. You must pass through a wall to access Diagon Alley. And the entrance is so well hidden, that it requires someone to show the way. The shops are straight out of the pages of our seven favorite books. Yes, there is an Ollivanders. Yes, you can purchase a wand that when used correctly allows for some magical happenings.
To travel from Diagon Alley to Hogsmead/Hogwarts, you have to pass through a hidden passage onto Platform 9 ¾. You can eat at the Three Broomsticks, have an ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s parlor. Sure, there are rides and adventures built around the Goblet of Fire and the Tri-Wizard Tournament, but in reality, all of those things are just the background.
While there, Potter fans of all ages are free to get their geek on. Patrons of every age are dressed in robes, ditching their muggle attire for a few glorious moments in the sun. No longer are you looked at as a weirdo for being 30+ years old and re-reading your copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone for the 13th time. You are accepted, welcome and celebrated.
Now, as with all “theme parks”, there comes a cost. You will need to purchase a special dual ticket to get into both areas. And the food, wands, and other needed items tend to cost quite a few Galleons. But really, can you put a price on living a childhood dream?
It is not my intention to come off as “selling” these places for Universal Studios. Perhaps my bigger goal, other than to try and lay my excitement over being able to visit such a place, is to pass word on to my fellow Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs of the level of detail that was brought into play. This, perhaps, was the biggest relief for me. I scoffed at many of the films for leaving pivotal plot points out, only to hastily throw them back in later. Didn’t they realize how important Dobby was? How could they overlook the importance of the Burrow!?! For something that could easily have become more attraction than recreation, Universal did it right. Yes, there are gimmicky parts to it; that is to be expected. But for the true Potter maniac, there is so much that is RIGHT. There is so much that is true. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling a bit of déjà vu.
Don’t hide your inner Potter. Don’t let the bills and adulthood rob you from the childhood you’ve always dreamed of. Turn through those pages and let your mind run wild. There are millions of us. We are a mighty, strong, and a proud nation.
And our Camelot awaits.