What’s Next for HP Fans?

Hogwarts Castle at Wizarding World

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!

Chocolate Frogs in the window at Honeydukes

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.)

The Stairs Above Three Broomsticks Restaurant

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?

Hogsmeade Village at Night

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Catie Rhodes
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 09:52:47

    “My childhood has ended.” Only someone under 30 can say it with so much conviction. LOL

    My husband and I really, really enjoyed the Harry Potter books (we’re 45 and 38, respectively). We just never got terribly into the movies. I don’t know what the deal was. The books, though, were truly magical to us.

    Your post was really neat. I got to see immersion in Harry Potter world through the eyes of a child. Thanks!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 18, 2011 @ 11:54:32

      Thanks for stopping by, Catie! I preferred the books to the movies, although I’m always intrigued by how the book becomes translated into a visual medium. My favorite books are the first four, since I preferred the innocence of childhood vs. awareness of the world’s complexities.

      Wizarding World, under the control of JK Rowling, is fascinating. I wonder what she’ll create next. 🙂

  2. Debora Dale
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 15:34:21

    Okay. You got me. Tears and all. What a wonderfully heartfelt tribute to the Potter series and to your daughter’s childhood.

    I feel as you do – sad that’s it’s over but eager to see what’s next. My daughter grew up with Harry, too. If she had turned to me and said, “My childhood is over”, I would have lost it and embarrassed her with sobs. lol.

    What a wonderful experience this was for our children. The hope, the adventure. The fantasy. My daughter has devoured each book several times. And now that the stories will be released in digital format, I just might buy a NOOK loaded with all seven as a Sweet 16 present. Or… take her to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter so we can watch the magic fill her eyes once more.

    Thank you for this post. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 19, 2011 @ 21:15:27

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deb.

      I have a feeling our daughters would have a lot to talk about, with their shared love of HP and having writer-moms. I love Wizarding World as much as she does, but it left me wanting even more. More experiences, less shops. I’m curious about what Pottermore will bring, too.

  3. Jeannie Moon
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 22:21:23

    The one who most loved Harry, was my son. He was in second grade, barely reading (he was very late), but was desperate to get his hands on the book because his friends were telling him about it. Knowing it was too hard, and not wanting him to get frustrated, I had him read along with the book on tape to get the vocabulary down. Once the first book was done, there was no holding him back.

    To this day, he is the most voracious reader of my three children. I can thank Harry Potter for that.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 19, 2011 @ 22:26:59

      What a wonderful gift reading is for everyone, but especially for children! They have so little control in their lives, but reading allows them to experience the gamut of emotions, characters, and settings–all in the security of their own homes.

      Thanks for sharing, Jeannie.

  4. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 01:54:17

    When Harry Potter first came out, I had no interest in reading it because I thought it’s a kid’s book. But a girl (early twenties), that I worked with, had been talking about it with such enthusiasm I had to check it out. Well needless to say I was sucked in, told my daughter and she became a fan too.

    It’s sad when any series that we’ve come attached to ends but like you said we can always reread them and become part of it’s world

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 22, 2011 @ 07:23:37

      Thanks for stopping by, Donna!

      Yes, JK Rowling has a way of getting us to fall in love with her characters, similar to the way we get attached to characters in a tv series we’ve enjoyed for years.

  5. Julie Glover
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 11:12:00

    I also knew quite a few people who were concerned about the witchcraft aspect of Harry Potter. To me, Rowling wove a tale with intriguing fantasy that was ultimately about good vs. evil, friends and foes, and kids learning to fight for something bigger than themselves. I read the books when my children were little and then watched them read as well. It’s an excellent series, and I thought the movies were done well – given that they had to leave parts out in the interest of time. Thanks, Jolyse!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 13:42:51

      Hi Julie,

      I just returned from my second viewing of HP7 this morning. As far as I’m concerned, there are so many religious parallels and wonderful messages to take away from the story.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  6. Jeyna Grace
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 13:08:39

    I resorted to fan fictions! Cause i cant afford to visit universal studios myself. Nice post btw!

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