‘The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter’ Review

On the evening of Tuesday, April 5, Larry Kurzweil – President of Universal Studios Hollywood – stood on a temporary stage in the shadow of Hogwarts castle to introduce the third iteration of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the world. An evening filled with movie stars and fireworks and a concert conducted by one of history’s greatest composers began with a speech that felt like it would be more at home at an investor call. “Tonight,” he beamed, “Universal Studios welcomes one of the most powerful brands of our generation, and the preeminent cultural cornerstone of contemporary literature and movies.” He was then followed by Tom Williams, CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, who talked about, “the power of the Harry Potter brand,” and Warner Bros.’ CEO Kevin Tsujihara boasting about the way, “[Harry Potter] has grown into an incredibly important property for Warner Bros.” On a night meant to celebrate the extraordinary creative achievement that is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal brought out the men more interested in the trucks of money this thing is about to make.

Ever since the very first Wizarding World opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2010, I’ve been dying to see it. Like so many others, the Harry Potter series captured my imagination and the tantalizing prospect of being able to visit some of its iconic locations in real life was almost unbearable. I never did make it out to Orlando’s version, and certainly not Japan’s, but with Universal Studios Hollywood only a half-hour drive (traffic permitting) away, I finally got to visit Hogwarts and the neighboring village of Hogsmeade. It is, in a word, breathtaking. The word ‘magical’ is thrown around a lot (particularly by that other theme park down the freeway), but even painfully cliché as it is, it’s hard to think of a better word to describe what Universal has done here. They’ve taken the imaginary and made it real, made it tangible. And not just as a ride that you enjoy for 5 minutes before jetting off to your next adventure, but as a living breathing place filled with life and implied history. The experience of entering Hogsmeade is uncanny; it’s at once an experience of discovery and rediscovery. It’s somewhere new and unexplored, yet also familiar. Aside from any of the rides, just the experience of living in that world is powerful.

It’s so powerful, in fact, that it might even be dangerous… but we’ll get to that. By now, no doubt, you’re really wishing I’d just cut to the chase and talk about the damn attractions already, so let’s get to it!

NOTE: Despite April 7 being the official opening day, Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been in ‘Technical Rehearsals’ (soft openings) since February. I will be acknowledging some of the changes made during this time when it was technically still incomplete, which may not be entirely fair, but I think it’ll make for interesting discussion. Do with that what you will.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

Attractions

In a lot of ways, Wizarding World of Harry Potter is on the bleeding edge of a movement to redefine what we consider attractions, but for now, we’ll define attractions the same way the park map does: rides and shows. The crown jewel of theme park experiences is, of course, the ride, and Wizarding World has two. Let’s jump right in and start with the big one…

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

At this point, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is pushing six years old, and yet, seeing it for the first time now, it remains no less astounding. This is a game changer. It’s the best new E-ticket (top tier) attraction I’ve seen in at least two decades, and the competition isn’t even close.

Located inside Hogwarts castle, guests tour the chambers and corridors of the famous school before boarding benches enchanted with a flying charm by Hermione Granger herself to go see a Quidditch match with Ron and Harry. Of course, in theme park tradition, the plan goes awry and you find yourself face to face with all manner of nasty creatures while the trio* has to save your sorry Muggle ass from the lot of it.

The ride itself is maybe the best realization of the modern model of E-ticket design which relies on combining traditional dark ride immersion with thrill ride excitement. For whatever reason, going into the ride I expected something more along the lines of Universal’s newer Transformers: The Ride – a ride based heavily around screens and projected media with physical sets and effects being confined to the transition spaces between the film elements. Imagine my surprise, then, when Forbidden Journey turned out to be an actual, proper dark ride with the film elements making up less than one-third of the show scenes. There’s no skimping on the detail in these scenes either. The attraction’s closest peer is Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure, and when you put these two head-to-head, Forbidden Journey comes out on top. Don’t get me wrong, Indy is spectacular, especially for an attraction that has nearly reached the legal drinking age, but to this day there are moments in the ride where you can clearly see the budget running thin. Not so in Forbidden Journey. Every scene is rich with detail from the impressive large-scale sets and props like a full sized Whomping Willow and an elaborate recreation of the Chamber of Secrets to more subtle, granular details like the swaying wing of a dragon glimpsed in the background as you’re passing through a covered bridge.

The ride system itself is ingenious. Even knowing the broad strokes of the system utilized, it took me a few times through to figure out how all of the technology worked. For the most part, the attraction makes it all feel seamless, and when all the effects are working properly you don’t think about how it works, you’re just swept up in this adventure. There is one specific effect – a fog screen that has remained inconsistent even up through the opening day – that when broken offers riders an unobstructed view of the ride mechanics, but other than that, the illusion is pretty much perfect.

From what I understand, outside of a few small enhancements, the attraction is largely identical to the one in Florida, but the one major difference is also the ride’s biggest weakness: 3D. The 3D conversion of the original 2D ride film is one of the worst I’ve seen in many years. Remember how movies like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender got last minute, 3D rush jobs after Avatar made all the money in the world? Yeah, this is that bad. The film elements are borderline unwatchable thanks to the crummy conversion, but the true sin of converting this attraction to 3D has nothing to do with the quality (or lack thereof) of the 3D film elements. No, the real tragedy here is that you’re meant to view the incredible, elaborate sets that make up the majority of the attraction with thick glasses covering your eyes and obscuring your peripheral vision. This issue has admittedly been alleviated to some extent by the wider frames featured on the custom-made Quidditch goggles that have replaced the standard Dolby glasses in use during the technical rehearsals, but it’s still far from ideal. The obvious solution, then, is to simply remove the glasses and enjoy the show scenes without them, but even that has drawbacks as the entire attraction has been overlit to compensate for the dimming of the 3D glasses. With one fell swoop of misguided “plussing,” Universal has imposed a major handicap on their new marquee attraction, which is an incredible shame because every other aspect of the ride is outstanding.

Beyond the technical, what makes the ride work so well is actually something that Universal wisely omitted: a plot. Normally calling something plotless would be a diss, but when we’re dealing with theme park attractions, it’s kind of a different story. The notion of theme park rides needing to have a story is a relatively new thing and it comes, I suspect, from an insecure desire from creatives to prove that what they’re doing has significance. Instead, what it has led to is a lot of attractions that spend endless amounts of time on pre-shows trying desperately to communicate absurdly elaborate set-ups through portentous dialogue that ultimately has little to no bearing on the actual experience of the ride itself. Disney, in particular, has brutalized the word ‘story;’ when a press release boasts about the ‘story’ of your car-driving kiddie ride, the word has been stripped of all meaning. But it’s not just Disney who is guilty. Universal’s own Transformers: The Ride has an almost comical example of this where they spend the entire pre-show trying to establish the names of all the indistinguishable robots and driving home the point that it would be the worst thing in the world if Megatron got ahold of the All Spark, then in the actual ride, none of the Transformers actually matter aside from the three whose names you already know and the whole thing ends when you shove the All Spark into Megatron’s chest.

It wasn’t always this way, though. The genius of the early WED Enterprises attractions is that they transported you immediately into a different world without a drop of exposition. You cross the threshold at Space Mountain and suddenly you’re in space. You go down a waterfall in Pirates of the Caribbean and you’re immediately taken back to the height of piracy in the Spanish Main. That’s it. You don’t need laborious explanations, you just get it. In fact, there’s no plot at all in these rides, because, as WED’s Marc Davis noted, “We don’t really have a story, with a beginning, an end or a plot. It’s more a series of experiences building up to a climax.”

Theme park attractions are not a storytelling medium, they are an experiential medium. Sure, there are stories you can glean from the best attractions, but they are stories told in visuals and moments, never explicitly spelled out, and never coalescing into anything resembling an actual plot. What Universal does with Forbidden Journey ends up being much closer to Jurassic Park: The Ride than Transformers in that its pre-show elements introduce the audience to the world of the attraction, but don’t feel compelled to set up any kind of plot. You’re not meant to be saving the world, you’re just going to see a Quidditch match.

My only complaint with the flavor text of the pre-show is the way that it does go out of its way to drive home the notion that you, the guest are a Muggle. This is such a weird detail and one I can only assume comes from Jo Rowling’s understandable desire to be protective of the universe she created. From her perspective, magical ability should be somewhat uncommon, but it flies in the face of what is literally the entire appeal of visiting the world of Harry Potter. You read those books and watch those movies dreaming of what it would be like to get an invitation to study witchcraft and wizardry at Hogwarts, but then, when you finally get there, turns out you’re really just a Muggle after all. Joke’s on you! What’s more is that in an attempt to be protective of her world, Rowling violates her own International Statute of Secrecy by allowing hundreds of thousands of Muggles to visit Hogwarts. It’s a silly, unnecessary detail that mars an otherwise exceptional experience.

Flight of the Hippogriff

As for the second of Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s two rides, there’s not as much to say. Flight of the Hippogriff is your standard fare family coaster, designed to provide an alternative for kids who don’t measure up to Forbidden Journey’s relatively high 48-inch height requirement. With only one lift hill, the total ride time is only about 45 seconds, but as far as kids’ coasters go, it’s reasonably fun. It’s set in front of Hagrid’s cabin and the pretense is that Hagrid is teaching you how to fly on wicker “training” hippogriffs. What’s strange is that this attraction, which was originally a cost-saving re-skin of an existing Islands of Adventure ride (Flying Unicorn), is now the third of its kind. A ride that was not even designed for Wizarding World has somehow become one of its canonical fixtures. In the end it’s fine, its low profile keeps the naked steel track from being too disruptive of the setting, and it provides a new type of attraction that diversifies Universal Studios Hollywood’s lineup. That said, it seems somewhat lazy that this is the third recycled iteration of this recycled attraction when it’s totally within Universal’s ability to come up with a more inventive secondary ride for Hogsmeade. At least they haven’t cloned Dragon Challenge.

Ollivanders

It’s kind of telling that Hogsmeade’s second best attraction is a sort of glorified sales pitch for $50 wands. This attraction is a somewhat unique in the theme park space, and illustrates the ways in which the whole Wizarding World concept is redefining what counts as an attraction. The way it works is that a small group of people (20 or so) is brought into a room where an Ollivanders wand keeper chooses a single participant from the crowd to be paired with a wand. It mirrors the Ollivanders scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with the chosen participant testing a succession of wands before finding the perfect fit. The first few wands given misfire, setting off some fun practical effects gags (with enough variation that I’ve seen the show four or five different times now and seen a new effect every time) before a gust of wind and a shining light signals that the young witch or wizard has found their match and everyone is ushered into the gift shop to buy a wand of their own.

As blatantly commercial as the whole thing is, it’s undeniably fun. As I mentioned, I’ve been in this attraction a number of times now as both a spectator and a participant, and it’s an attraction I consider to be something of a ‘must-see’ in the land. It puts you in the middle of an iconic moment from Harry Potter’s story, and there’s something incredibly compelling about that. Wand pairing is so deeply engrained in the Harry Potter experience that you kind of forget that it’s a sales pitch even though that is absolutely what it is.

WIzarding World of Harry Potter Review

Live Entertainment: Frog Choir & Triwizard Spirit Rally

To be perfectly blunt, the live entertainment in Hogsmeade stinks. It’s a shame, really, because I love live entertainment in theme parks, and Wizarding World offers what should be a perfect opportunity to do something great. Instead, they have a pair of shows performed on a small stage across the way from Hogwarts castle, and neither of them are any good. The first of the two shows is ‘Frog Choir’ which features a choir of four Hogwarts students (one from each house) and, you guessed it, frogs. It’s playing with the iconography of the Hogwarts choir introduced in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film, but it’s really, really bad. You basically have four college kids singing and beatboxing terrible fake Wizarding World pop songs while their puppet frogs croak with electronic wubs. The concept of a Hogwarts choir as live entertainment is a good one, but the execution is embarrassingly bad. Nobody should ever be submitted to the torture of an acapella rendition of “Do the Hippogriff.”

By comparison, ‘Triwizard Spirit Rally’ is better, but it’s still not any good. Here you have a recreation of the way the competing schools are introduced in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A quartet of blondes dance around in Beuxbatons gowns while the Durmstrang boys do some over-choreographed sparring with quarterstaves. It’s not embarrassing in the way the frog choir is, but it’s also just sort of boring.

I am told that the live entertainment Universal created for Diagon Alley in Orlando is a huge improvement, so I’m bummed out that they didn’t use the lessons they learned to rework the live entertainment for Hogsmeade in Hollywood. Hopefully that’s not off the table, as I’d love to see quality live entertainment in Hogsmeade, and even think there would be a lot of possibility in seasonal shows considering how important both Hallowe’en and Christmas are to the Harry Potter stories.

On the other hand, one element of Wizarding World that I’m led to believe has improved in Hollywood is the food, and boy is there a lot of it in Hogsmeade.

 

*Actually, it’s really just Harry and Hermione. Ron doesn’t do much to help. That jerk.

 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

Photo by Andy Castro, Dateline Disneyland

Food

From the very first book, the unique and bizarre foods enjoyed by witches and wizards has been a significant part of Jo Rowling’s Wizarding World, so appropriately there is no shortage of places to buy food and drink in Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m going to blaze through this section pretty quickly because I’m not a food critic and I’m not nearly pretentious enough to pretend to be, but for the sake of being thorough I want to at least touch on this aspect of the land. Hogsmeade features a restaurant, a bar, a snack stand, two drink carts, and a candy shop, and in almost every one of them, you will find some variation of…

Butterbeer

“Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.”

If you have not been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I’m not sure what I can do to prepare you for how big of a deal butterbeer is in this land. Butterbeer is everywhere. There are few directions in which one can throw a rock without hitting an establishment that sells butterbeer, and if we add in people with butterbeers in their hands, that rock throwing becomes nearly impossible. The drink itself is like cream soda with a mild butterscotch flavor and is topped with an almost aggressively sweet foam. If you’re drinking the regular, cold butterbeer, the trick is to let it sit for a minute or so before drinking to let the foam begin to disperse into the drink so that you’re not confronted with the stark contrast of the toe-curlingly sweet foam and the less aggressive liquid (the frozen butterbeer kind of solves this problem for you since you’re starting at the bottom by drinking it with a straw).

There are (currently) five different kinds of butterbeer, and each one varies in how lethally sweet it is. On the low end of the spectrum, we have the cold butterbeer, served in Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head, and the butterbeer carts on either end of the land. Next up is frozen butterbeer, sold at the two butterbeer carts, followed then by butterbeer potted cream, a custard-like dessert with a caramel topping served in Three Broomsticks. Finally, there’s butterbeer fudge available in Honeydukes sweet shop, and its sweetness is so intense that I suspect it may actually take years off of your life, though science has yet to back up this claim.

Now for those of you who can count, you’re probably realizing that I missed one. That would be the canonically correct hot butterbeer, of which I have yet to partake. It was not available all through the technical rehearsals, and was meant to be unveiled as part of the opening day festivities, but when opening day came, there was still no hot butterbeer, and I am not likely to recover from this heartbreak. Whenever it is actually available, though, it will be served in Hog’s Head.

Three Broomsticks Fine Easting Establishment

The only true restaurant in Hogsmeade also happens to be the best restaurant in Universal Studios Hollywood by a pretty wide margin. They serve a solid variety of English pub food, and everything I have sampled there so far has been good, whether or not we’re grading on the theme park food curve. Aside from entrees like shepherd’s pie, lemon and herb roasted chicken, and barbecue short ribs, they also serve iced pumpkin juice (which I might actually prefer to butterbeer), a variety of desserts (including the aforementioned butterbeer potted cream), and breakfast foods in the morning.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

Hog’s Head Pub

Adjacent to Three Broomsticks with a connected dining room, is Hog’s Head, a bar serving butterbeer (which is non-alcoholic), imported beers, the trio of specialty beers (Hog’s Head Brew, Dragon Scale, and Wizard’s Brew), various mixed drinks, and firewhisky. My one hyper-geeky complaint here is that Hog’s Head was written as kind of a dive, off the beaten path from the rest of Hogsmeade. Having it share a dining room with the village’s most popular pub is a little bit disappointing, even if it makes sense logistically.

Magic Neep Cart

I bring this one up only because it’s listed on the park map, but it’s hardly worth mentioning. It’s a small snack cart that sells fresh fruit, bottled pumpkin juice and gilly water, and cans of Corona and Bud Light, just like Jo Rowling envisioned. I will take this opportunity, though, to advise you not to buy gilly water. It’s just plain ol’ bottled water, sold at a higher price than bottled water anywhere else in the park simply because it has a Wizarding World of Harry Potter label. Unless that label gets you all hot and bothered, don’t be duped by this scam.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

The Land Itself

As much as any of the attractions, the appeal of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is getting to live in this world, even for just a moment, and on that level, Hogsmeade delivers in spades. From the moment you pass under the archway to enter the land, you are completely immersed in the world of Harry Potter, and in every direction you look, there’s a wealth of detail to be found. Store windows with interesting, kinetic displays, back alleys and side streets to be explored, owls looking down at you from the rafters of the Owl Post, and details etched into the stone you walk on that imply a history to this world that extends far beyond the two years it took to build the place. That richness and depth of detail and implied history is what sets it apart from Disney’s Cars Land, which is aiming for this same target, but winds up missing the mark. While Cars Land is grander in scale with bigger mountains and bigger stores and bigger streets, it loses that attention to granular detail. The first impression is breathtaking, but as you begin to explore the land, you find that it has little more to offer than window displays with tubes of Clorox wipes that have had their labels replaced. There’s no implied history in Cars Land, there’s no sense that people (or automobiles) actually live here, and it ultimately feels kind of phony. In Hogsmeade, every shop has a distinct character and there are things to explore and interact with that help make the land come to life.

An ingenious part of that comes in the form of the interactive wands. One of my gripes with the flavor text of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was that it denies you the essential desire of being a wizard, but this is an issue that is rectified in the land itself. Through an incredibly clever use of technology, you can use your wand at various spots throughout the village to cast spells and interact with the environment. Some of the effects are more elaborate than others, but in every case, it’s paying off brilliantly on the main reason you would want to visit a Harry Potter land in the first place.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

As you start approaching Hogwarts castle, however, things start to fall apart. The narrow streets and tall buildings of Hogsmeade fall away and more of the outside world begins to creep in. Just past Hogwarts looms an office building. To your right is the infrastructure for the WaterWorld show and behind you is the giant purple show building of The Simpsons Ride. I’m not one of those people that’s anal retentive about having complete and total immersion in a theme park setting because I understand that such a thing is basically impossible, and while the sightlines are noticeably worse once you leave Hogsmeade proper, I realize that most of this was unavoidable due to the way Wizarding World is wedged into this teeny-tiny park, and that the problem will begin to erase itself as the freshly planted trees grow up and create barriers between the Hogwarts grounds and the surrounding infrastructure.

What I’m less forgiving about are the places where Universal didn’t even try to hide stuff. Right behind the stage where the live entertainment shows are performed is the backside of the show building for Shrek 4-D. During technical rehearsals, this was left as an unthemed white wall looming above the trees, but after complaints online began to surface, the wall was painted with a mural of trees in an attempt to better blend in with its surrounding.

And sure, it’s better than it was, but it’s still very obviously a giant wall that’s not supposed to be there with very little done to hide the fact that it is. But even this I can forgive because it’s a temporary problem. Shrek 4-D is an abomination, and now that Potter has moved in, I can’t imagine Shrek surviving long enough to see the end of the decade. What I can’t forgive, though, is the way that on the third time building this silly thing, Universal is still leaving large sections of the Forbidden Journey show building unthemed in full view of guests. On the side of the building facing the extended queue for the ride, the enormous beige show building sticks awkwardly out of the back of Hogwarts castle, and more egregiously, in front of the castle, the mountainous rockwork abruptly stops, giving way to more beige walls.

Again, much like the Shrek problem, Universal has since taken steps to fix these problems, and the fixes so far have been satisfactory, but this shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter out in Orlando was done on a somewhat limited budget, so these kinds of blatant gaps in theming were understandable, if not excusable, but now they’re on the third version of this, with a much higher budget, knowing that this thing is a proven money maker, and they can’t be bothered to adjust the design to address these problems. Ultimately, this is just nitpicking and very few people will actively notice these issues and even fewer will care, but Hogsmeade really raises the bar for Universal, so cutting corners in this dumb, lazy fashion really stands out as a big problem.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

Is It Worth It?

I hate talking about money. I find discussion of box office receipts insipid and boring and when someone starts rattling off a list of numbers, my eyes roll back in my head. Unfortunately, though, with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we kind of need to have the money talk considering just how dang expensive it is. Universal recently raised their ticket prices to a tiered system where tickets cost between $95 and $115 depending on the day, putting them almost on par with Disney’s single-day ticket prices in the range of $95-$119. Now, setting aside the larger issue that I don’t think any theme park is worth $100 per person per day, it’s kind of insane that Universal Studios Hollywood – a park with nine rides – is pricing themselves at the same level as Disneyland – a park with thirty-one. Wizarding World is great, and one can easily argue that with it, Universal has proven they can match or even exceed Disney creatively, but the fact remains that Universal Studios Hollywood is still a half-day park that’s now priced at the same level as a park so dense that most people can barely even hit all the highlights in a single day.

And that’s just the price to get in the door. The other aspect of Wizarding World that I’m really wrestling with is the brilliant and almost insidious way it makes buying stuff an essential part of the experience. I’ve alluded to this a number of times throughout the review, but this is what I’m talking about when I say that Wizarding World is changing the definition of what counts as an attraction. The genius of Wizarding World is that buying a butterbeer and buying a wand is just as important a part of the experience as riding the rides. Maybe even more so. With Harry Potter, Universal has hit oil. In virtually every way, the experience of being in Hogsmeade is something you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Nowhere else can you be paired with a wand then use that wand to cast spells. It’s the only place where you can mail a letter with a Hogsmeade postmark, buy chocolate frogs, exploding bonbons, peppermint toads, and Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans. Disney has tried to copy Universal’s success by introducing their own specialty drinks and food items, but where Disney fails is in taking ordinary things like frozen apple juice and cupcakes, slapping cute names on them, and selling them at premium prices. Butterbeer and pumpkin juice don’t exist in the real world, but you can buy them at Universal Studios, and there’s a level of excitement that comes with purchasing them. They’ve made spending money as attractive as the actual attractions.

On the one hand, as a filthy pinko liberal, this kind of skeeves me out. It’s unbridled consumerism of the highest order where a major corporation has used the most clever techniques imaginable to make you grin like an idiot as you’re handing them stacks upon stacks of cash. On the other hand, I’m also the idiot who showed up on opening day with an interactive wand ($47.95), wearing a full set of Hogwarts robes ($199.90), and consumed a few dozen dollars worth of food and butterbeer and pumpkin juice and I loved every goddamn minute of it.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Review

Look at this putz.

At a certain point on opening day, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had a posted wait time of only 45 minutes while the lines to get into the shops in Hogsmeade were an hour deep or more each. Granted, Forbidden Journey is a staggeringly efficient ride that can chew through almost 3,000 people per hour when running at peak efficiency, but even so, that difference is stunning. This is what I meant at the beginning of the review when I said what Universal accomplishes here is potentially dangerous. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an incredible achievement unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I would recommend it to anybody who has the means to see it in a heart beat. That being said, it’s also a finely tuned machine that gleefully parts you from your money, offering little more than empty spectacle in return. I know Universal is a business and they’re in the business of making money. From the perspective of the three people who took the stage at the premiere, Wizarding World of Harry Potter is perhaps the single greatest accomplishment in the history of human kind. I also love movies, adore them, even, and realize that they too are a highly lucrative business, but while movies are making millions and billions of dollars, they can also inform and inspire. They can challenge you with a perspective you’ve never had before and make you see the world a little bit differently.

Jo Rowling’s Harry Potter books and films do this as well. They’re highly entertaining spectacles, but they also have important, meaningful things to say about the world and the people living in it. They deal with racism, loneliness, anger, love, death, the joys of growing up, and the pains of getting older. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on the other hand, is a spectacularly ornate simulacrum that entertains and astounds, but leaves you with nothing to take home aside from some $11 chocolate frogs and a belly full of butterbeer.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an amazing dream come to life, one that I look forward to revisiting again and again, but it’s a dream that comes with a hefty price tag, and that’s not something to be taken lightly. As exciting and enjoyable as the Wizarding World is, I as much as anyone else must remember that it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

David Daut

David Daut

Though his taste has been described as ‘broken’, David maintains that the Fast & Furious series is the greatest cultural achievement of the modern era.