20 years ago. Well, I’m sure we’re all feeling a bit old right now aren’t we? Especially reading all the ‘I wasn’t even born then!’ comments. STOP IT. Twenty years ago I was.. err, younger than I am now. Let’s just say that. The world was my oyster. I was a naive teenager with not much going for him, happy to curl up at home alone with a few geeky magazines and video games. Fast forward to 2017 and not much has changed other than the fact I do actually have friends and a family, but I’m still not willing to give up the geeky side of me.
On paper Harry Potter sounds right down my street, yet in all honesty when it first came out I just didn’t care. I fell for those comments that said it was a children’s tale and gave it a miss. While I was happy to embrace the world of sci-fi with Star Trek or escape to fantasy realms with Lord of the Rings, Potter was always something some of my friends were into but I just didn’t really try. I may have tried a couple of the movies but they didn’t really grab me, and I wasn’t a particuarly enthusiastic reader at that point in my life either, so the whole phenomenon passed me by. Or so I thought.
The truth is that Harry Potter never went away. Not only did those original fans keep it alive via books, movies, video games and endless merchandise opportunties but Warner Bros. saw fit to expand it beyond script and screen and allow people to actually immerse themselves in the world JK Rowling had created by visiting the Studio Tour in London and the Wizarding World in Orlando, Florida. These are where I truly started to fall in love with the Potterverse, and who wouldn’t? The stunning efforts put into recreating the movie locations in Orlando, the exciting rides and the ongoing development makes Islands of Adventure a must-see if you’re in Florida for a holiday. And the London Studio tour seems to add more and more exhibits and areas so fans go back time and again. I haven’t been back since it first opened so there’s so much I’d love to see, and I look forward to going back one day.
Being heavily involved in conventions for the past 14 years has also helped develop my love of all things Potter as the cast are all so fantastic. To see not only the enthusiasm they have for the series but the love and respect they have for each other and the fans means Harry Potter remains one of the most successful franchises to come out of this country. We have embraced it completely and why not? Whether it’s expanding the universe with Pottermore, tours around London, or even the Cursed Child play there’s so much love and hunger for more from JK Rowling’s works that there are no signs of it slowing down. It’s a remarkable achievement to create something that lasts and can inspire and entertain multiple generations. Some things are timeless like Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter can proudly sit beside these as something that children and adults alike will hold dear to their heart.
So while I may have been late to the party, the party is still in full swing. Not only do I look forward to many more trips to Orlando, no doubt more Funko purchases and wand purchases and whatever else, but also eventually introducing my daughter to it as soon as she understands. There’s nothing quite like introducing someone new to something you love and watching them fall completely in love with it too. Here’s to the next twenty years of Harry Potter and beyond.