Like millions of devoted Harry Potter fans, my 20-year-old daughter and I attended a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 this past weekend. We had pre-purchased tickets (six weeks in advance, her idea) to our local theatre’s 3-D premiere, and arrived two-and-a-half hours early (her idea, too) to get prime seats. As the sold-out showing began, a hushed silence fell over the audience. Over the next 125 minutes, every pair of 3-D glasses was glued to the big screen, rarely interrupted by the occasional sniffle. (Okay, I admit it. I cried twice.) The closing credits rolled and my daughter turned to me with a somber look and said, “My childhood has ended.”
I learned upon reading the news the following morning that my child’s sentiment has been echoed by young adults across the muggle world. Like my daughter, they literally grew up with the characters in JK Rowling‘s fantasy series about an orphaned boy making his way in a complex, magical world.
On the heels of that sobering statement, she smiled and thanked me for accompanying her to a midnight movie (I get up at six.) and for encouraging her to read that first Harry Potter book all those years ago. I almost cried a third time. To think, I’d almost forgotten how our love affair with HP had begun. But she hadn’t.
Back in 2000, I was warned by other parents the book I was so interested in buying for my child delved into witchcraft. Not one to be swayed easily, I bought two copies so I could read a chapter ahead and have her skip any parts I didn’t approve. (That never happened; I cannot imagine what those parents were thinking.) She didn’t like the book at first, and complained it was boring. I kept encouraging her to read one more chapter, telling her it would take off soon. She was a voracious realistic fiction and non-fiction reader. I felt she just needed a little nudge. By Chapter 5, I no longer needed to nudge. She had fallen in love with the story, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Eleven years, seven books, eight movies, one HP-themed bedroom, and numerous HP-related games, action figures, and video games later–in a blink of an eye, really–and we were leaving the theatre. All I could think was: What were HP fans like us to do, now that the last page had been written, read, and translated into a motion picture? And then it hit, we can relive the experience by rereading the books, by watching the movies, checking out Pottermore and, perhaps my favorite idea, by revisiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
In anticipation of this year’s July 15th bittersweet moment, my husband and I had ventured to Universal Studios’ new theme park with our daughter for her birthday the previous summer. We stayed on-property and had early access to the theme park, yet still endured long, hot waits in line for everything–yes, even the stores had lines. But to us the waits were worth it, to be immersed so fully into the fictional world of Harry Potter. (My husband isn’t a fan per se, but he did enjoy a Hogsmeade beer or two.)
Entering the Wizarding World, we were met by a friendly conductor of Hogswart Express who made small-talk as we had our photos taken with him. The village of Hogsmeade was incredible, with many little details we hoped to experience, from the potted mandrake to Moaning Myrtle’s voice in the witches room to the animated portraits in Hogwarts castle.
We ate a traditional British meal in Three Broomsticks, shopped in Honeydukes for chocolate frogs and at Dervish and Banges for Griffindor shirts and Remembralls. Our daughter had a wand choose her at Ollivander’s, we took the Forbidden Journey (Eek, spiders!) and twice survived the Dragon’s Challenge.
At the end of our little getaway, the most precious part for my husband and me was looking into our daughter’s eyes and seeing our little girl again–if only for a moment. She admitted to having fantasized about attending Hogwarts as a child and that this theme park was the closest she could imagine to that fantasy being realized.
I have a feeling we’ll be back again.
Are you or is someone in your life a Harry Potter fan? Do you have any thoughts on the phenomenal success of these books, or on the future of Harry Potter through JK Rowling’s ventures, such as Pottermore or Wizarding World at Universal?