New Harry Potter theme park offers magical visit for muggles

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By Ben Palmer

Gryffindor Scarf — $18. Elder Wand — $30. Butterbeer with Souvenir Mug — $12. A day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Priceless (but actually around $100).
All in all, I spent about five hours of my Christmas Day at the Harry Potter Park at the Universal Studios Islands of Adveture in Orlando, Florida, and my mom spent at least $300. The amount we have spent as a family on Harry Potter books, clothes, games, movie tickets, and DVDs skyrockets past the proportionally tiny amount spent at the park.
My point? Harry Potter is a money making giant! In the tradition of Disney, the magical series has covered all aspects of life, the tip of the iceberg being only the books and films.
Farther down the iceberg, I find the newest edition to the lucrative franchise, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
My life up until my visit to the park went as so: read the books, cry upon not receiving my Hogwarts letter on my 11th birthday, hope that J.K. Rowling got the age of admission wrong, give up hope of Hogwarts after my 12th birthday, and laugh in my parents’ faces when I finally walk the streets of Hogsmeade Village toward the silhouette of Hogwarts castle against the 7am Christmas morning sky.
I was finally home. For an entry fee of $60!
The films alone have grossed over $2 billion at the box office, making Harry Potter the highest grossing film series in history.
While this number may startle some, or spur others to yell “capitalist pigs!” I would like to say that there is a reason the franchise makes so much money. It is awesome!
In my Muggle bedroom, I have a couple Potter posters plastered on my walls. On my desk is my box from Olivander’s Wand Shop, in which is my prized Elder Wand. If you walk downstairs, you will find all six Harry Potter movies on DVD, all seven books on our book shelf (multiple copies of each) and a pile of stuffed animals, hiding my Scabbers the rat stuffed animal.
I threw him away once I found out he was actually Peter Pettigrew, of course.
In my kitchen, you will find a chocolate frog with a collectable famous wizard card, a chocolate wand, and a pink bag of jelly beans, labeled “Honeyduke’s.”
All these things have been bought over the years from Borders, Barnes & Noble, movie stores, poster stores, the internet, etc. I’ll say it again: Harry Potter is a money making giant!
And I do not exactly mind! These are books that intrigued me as a kid, books that made me actually like to read. I found myself completely enveloped in the magical world that Rowling wrote, and I grew up side by side with my magically-inclined friends Harry, Ron, and Hermione!
Oh, and Hermione. One of my first celebrity crushes. I guess my crush was on Emma Watson really, but for a Muggle-born, she’s quite the witch!
A far stranger phenomenon is the evolution of a Harry Potter based genre of music, called Wizard Rock. Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, and Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills are just a few of the most popular bands in the genre that began to appear in 2002
If listeners are familiar with the world of Harry Potter the music is a hilariously catchy shout-out to the magic of the franchise. I myself have only heard tracks off of the album Voldemort Can’t Stop the Rock! by Massachusetts based Harry and the Potters. I loved what I heard.
Dare I even mention the growing popularity of Muggle Quiddich? I dare. The sport based on the popular broomstick, ball, and hoop game played throughout the series has sprouted into the IQA (International Quiddich Association) and over 200 schools around the world now offer Quiddich as a club sport,
So far Harry Potter claims my favorite books, movies, stuffed animals (now retired), amusement parks, candies, music genres, sports, and celeb crushes.
Before someone shouts “Bloody capitalist pigs!” I’d like to introduce one other contender in the money-making ring:
Charity. And not the kind that goes “accio, good will!” (non Muggles are aware that “accio” is the summoning charm.)
No, Rowling has taken the magic of her written world and brought it to the real world, in the form of a charity called The Children’s High Level Group. Rowling donated to it a portion of revenue from her bestselling collection of short stories, The Tales of Beetle the Bard.
But the creator of the franchise isn’t the only charitable partaker in the magical world. Harry Potter fans, under the guidance of the Harry Potter Alliance, have started The Deathly Hallows Campaign. The campaign utilizes pieces of the Harry Potter world, horcruxes, that are supposedly some of the darkest magical objects in the series.
For Harry to destroy the seven horcruxes means the destruction of Lord Voldemort. For Harry Potter fans to destroy seven real world horcruxes — like starvation and abuse — means a better world, thanks to our friends Harry, Ron, and Hermione. And J.K. Rowling.
This campaign takes place in the time between the releases of parts one and two of The Deathly Hallows, the final film in the series.
The time between the two films is approximately nine months, meaning there is about one horcrux “destroyed” each month, leading up to the release of the final film.
In regards to the final film, I was extremely miserable at the end of the first part. I screamed almost as loud as Voldemort as he held the coveted Elder Wand at the film’s close, looming over the defaced crypt of beloved Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
As a friend of mine remarked (the same friend with whom I had a wand duel during lunch), “Nine months? That’s enough time to have a baby!”
Indeed, it felt like the pain of childbirth (unknown but well imagined to my friend and I) when we began the long and slow wait for the final film of our favorite franchise, Harry Potter.
There is no denying it, I’m a Harry Potter nerd through and through. I don’t rep a gang, I rep Gryffindor. I fight for the rights of House Elves everywhere. I jam out to songs about Hippogriffs. I keep my wand clean and in its case. But above all else, I say “Avada Kedavra” to haters everywhere!

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