[dropcap]N[/dropcap]obody expected much from J.K. Rowling’s tale of an orphaned boy with eyesight issues and a famous lightning bolt scar, especially J.K. herself. Rowling, on the hunt for an agent, was pummeled by a constant barrage of rejections. Alas, those who expressed doubt when it came to Rowling and her Boy Who Lived were soon forced to eat their words when the Harry Potter series rocketed to the top of every literary list imaginable (sales and otherwise) and stayed there for a very, very long while.
A Humble Beginning
The first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone in the UK), gave way to six more magical books, each one increasingly thicker and more complex than its predecessor. Late-night book release parties became a regular and celebrated occurrence for people of all ages, as they brought devotees (now known as Potterheads) together to gush about theories and dress up as their favorite characters.
…they brought devotees (now known as Potterheads) together to gush about theories and dress up as their favorite characters.
Book release parties began to co-mingle with midnight movie screenings, which proved to be just as festive of an event for fans, as Harry’s tale journeyed into the cinematic world. With the anticipation of annual (or thereabout) movie releases added into the social calendar of fans, the end of a so-called era thankfully seemed far, far away.
The End of An Era?
From start to finish, the eight Harry Potter films (don’t forget, this franchise practically invented the “split the last book into two movies” strategy) spanned an entire decade, and the release of the last film in 2011 was met with a mix of melancholy and excitement from fans. The cessation of book releases was a similar affair, however the second Deathly Hallows film marked a true end for the series in its purest form. With Rowling’s source material seemingly complete and all eight films released, the Harry Potter phenomenon seemed to be coming to a close.
All was well, as the last line of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows echoes.
Sure, the phenomenon may have quieted down, but Harry and his Hogwarts friends certainly didn’t disappear for good. Rather, the beloved stories and characters so cunningly crafted by Rowling made the leap from page and screen to more diverse destinations.
A Very Potter Musical, which debuted on Youtube in 2009 before the film series actually ended, is just one fantastical (and viral) example of fans ensuring that the magic conjured up by the series lives on.
Created and performed on the campus of the University of Michigan, A Very Potter Musical unites the beloved story of the boy wizard with pop culture references and a sing-a-long worthy soundtrack. The off-the-wall humor continued with three more installments, and the fourth even attracted actress Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the films, to reprise her role as Luna in the musical.
The internet has various means of keeping Harry Potter relevant (hello, Pottermore), and the film industry still has its metaphorical toe in the pool with the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy (let’s not get into that, alright?), but the opportunity to actually experience the Wizarding World in “real life” is exclusive to Universal Studios resorts.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened first in Orlando in 2010 and in Hollywood in 2016, is as close to walking in the footsteps of your favorite witch, wizard, or creature as you’ll ever get. Total immersion invites both die-hard fans and casual watchers into down-to-the-detail accurate shops like Ollivander’s, where your wand might just choose you, and haunts like the Leaky Cauldron, and not to mention Hogwarts Castle itself where adventure surely awaits.
The Magic Is Still Alive and Well
While Potterheads may not have any more midnight movie screenings or Barnes and Noble book release parties to dress up for, there’s no shortage of magic to be had nowadays. Whether you’re consuming creative fan-made content online, traveling to Diagon Alley to see Harry’s world in the flesh (don’t forget to try the butterbeer!), or delving into the new and beautiful illustrated editions of the books, you’re still connecting to the same story that us fans know and love so much.
…there’s no shortage of magic to be had nowadays. Whether you’re consuming creative fan-made content online, traveling to Diagon Alley to see Harry’s world in the flesh (don’t forget to try the butterbeer!), or delving into the new and beautiful illustrated editions of the books…
Getting tickets to Harry Potter and The Cursed Child when it finally opens on Broadway here in the U.S.? I can’t make any promises about that one, folks.