Here at Your WDW Store, we understand that, as improbable as it may sound, there is more to the world and its popular stories than the many wonderful movies of Walt Disney Productions. One relatively recent story in particular, whose first book was first released in 1997, has taken the world by storm. One book series, above all others in the two decades since has entrenched itself as an enduring work of literature. You have probably already guessed what it is: JK Rowling’s seven-book series about the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter.
A Fantasy for the Ages
In case you don’t already know, Harry Potter is the tale of an orphaned English boy who lives with his abusive aunt and uncle. He’s always known he was different, but only on his eleventh birthday does he discover that his late parents were famous wizards, and so is he. Harry is immediately enrolled in Hogwarts, a boarding school where he will learn how to control his magical abilities. There, he makes friends for the first time in his life and grows from a child to a teen to a young man.
However, mysteries abound and villains lurk seemingly everywhere he goes. It all has something to do with how he, as a baby, miraculously survived an attack by Voldemort, the powerful wizard who killed his parents. Voldemort himself seemingly perished in the attack. However, as the series progresses and the Dark Lord’s supporters emerge to terrorize Harry and his friends, our heroes start to realize that Voldemort may still be around. While the series starts off whimsically enough, the tone gradually matures and darkens until Harry finds himself caught in a war he might not survive.
Love, Death, and Activism
Legions of readers have fallen in love with Rowling’s characters. Two generations of children have matured with Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and their many allies and enemies in and out of Hogwarts. They watch as the characters become friends, fight monsters, solve mysteries, fall in love, and save and support each other time and again. Their portrayals in the live-action film series, spanning eight smash-hit movies, are just as enthralling. It helps that an all-star cast of British acting legends and skilled newcomers brings their complex personalities to life.
What really makes them matter to us are not the magical misadventures they go through but the personal conflicts and challenges they endure. Harry and his friends deal with far more than giant snakes and evil wizards. They have to confront the deaths of loved ones, prejudice, corruption, political apathy, and the inaction of people in power against a surge of extremism.
Even during a horrific time when evil is resurgent and the refuge of their school is no longer enough to keep them safe, they’re still expected to deal with exams, teen crushes, bullying, and other typical aspects of teen life. Even though it’s a fantasy series, kids can still find ways to relate to their struggles.
Measuring the Impact
Plenty of quantitative data exists that can prove the largely unparalleled popularity of Harry Potter. All seven novels comprise the best-selling book series of all time, having sold half a billion copies. They have been translated into eighty languages and can be found on the shelves of countless homes, schools, and libraries around the world. Starting with Book 4, each successive installment took its predecessor’s record for the fastest book sales in history. The film franchise — eight adapting the series plus two in an ongoing prequel pentalogy — have collectively grossed almost $10 billion.
On the other hand, the books’ cultural legacy is immeasurable. The popularity of the books has been linked to a greater interest in reading, greater tolerance and opposition to authoritarianism in millennials, and even the backlash to Donald Trump’s divisive presidential campaign. The “Potterhead” fandom, which encompasses people of all demographics and maintains a close relationship with the author, changed how we understand the concept of such communities. The word “Muggle” is in the Oxford English Dictionary, and a 100-foot-tall Lord Voldemort appeared in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. The influence of Harry Potter is inescapable.
Visiting the Wizarding World
Of course, the worldbuilding cannot be dismissed when talking about what makes Harry Potter so appealing. Many readers of all ages find themselves absorbed in a dazzling world of broomstick sports, mail-delivering owls, and fantastic beasts. Warner Bros., the studio that brought this setting to the big screen, understood this and decided to take that to the next level. In a collaboration with Universal Parks and under the careful supervision of Rowling, they realized a new themed land that immerses visitors in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
These areas allow you to traverse the quaint town of Hogsmeade and the bustling shops of Diagon Alley. You can join Harry Potter and his schoolmates on brand-new, immersive adventures through Hogwarts and beyond. You can go on your own magical escapades with rides like Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff. You can also relax, drink some butterbeer, and just take in the gorgeous scenery, which may be the best theming in any amusement park on earth. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an astonishing tribute that gloriously realizes the book and movie series so many of us love.
Harry Potter Merchandise
While the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an incredible place to visit, you don’t have to go there to shop for merchandise. Here at Your WDW Store, we go beyond the Disney parks and offer excellent souvenirs from the Wizarding World and other parts of Universal’s parks. With us, you can get wands, novelty candies, pins, clothes, notebooks, figurines, and all kinds of other items exclusive to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We’ll help you find the perfect gift for any fan of the Boy Who Lived.