Like most of the people born in the early 1990s, a particular book series grasped my imagination in a way that no book series has ever done before. And I honestly don’t think a book series ever will again.
Of course I’m talking about the magical series written by J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter.
When I was about seven years old, I hated to read. I couldn’t stand it. I don’t think I ever read a book for fun before my mom forced me to read Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone in the third grade. She read the first few chapters with me and then before she knew it I was refusing to wait for her and reading it all on my own (it was because of her that I mispronounced Hermione’s name until the first movie came out. She told me it was pronounced Her-moin.). Needless to say, when I turned 11 and never got my Hogwarts letter, I was rather distraught.
After that I became enamored with reading and was consuming any book that I came across. Genre didn’t matter back then as long as it was a story I could enjoy. In grade school I was the kid who would rush through any assignment in class just so I could have a few extra precious minutes to read my book.
I read a lot of different books, but of course nothing came close to the Harry Potter series. I’ve read each of the books at least five times.
When the final book came out, of course I bought it at midnight. My dad and I went out to get it and when we got home I was about to start reading, but paused. My mom was still awake and asked why I hadn’t started. With a heavy heart I looked at her and said, “This is the last time I’ll ever read a Harry Potter book and not know what happens next.” That realization was like a boulder dropping in my stomach.
I finished the book within 18 hours of it being released.
When I got older I decided that I wanted to write myself. Hell, I had read enough to know how to create a story and how to string together a sentence, right? Now I’m a mass communications major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in creative writing. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for the “Harry Potter” series, I wouldn’t be sitting here at my desk and typing away on my computer to create this piece. And you wouldn’t be reading it. Thanks for reading it, by the way. In a small way you’re making my dreams come true.
I also got to live another dream thanks to this series—I got to visit Hogwarts.
I recently had the chance to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando for the second time. It was still as magical as the first time. When you enter you pass through the village of Hogsmeade which is full of all the shops you’d hope to see; Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks, Ollivander’s, and more. There’s people selling Butterbeer (which is quite good), replica wands and a giant replica Hogwart’s Express. When you go in the bathrooms around Hogsmeade you can hear Moaning Myrtle yelling at you.
The first time I ever rounded the corner at the top of Hogsmeade, I was glad that I had my sunglasses on so my friends couldn’t see my reaction. My first glimpse of the Hogwarts castle had my eyes watering up. The only word to describe it, cliché as it may be, was “magical.” It brought back all the memories, all the nostalgia and all the wonderment that this series had given me over the years. For the first time it was right here, in the real world and not just in my imagination or on the pages of a book.
Inside the castle is a 3D ride that will blow your mind. But that’s not even the coolest part. While you wait in line for the ride you get to pass through the castle, complete with moving and talking paintings on every wall. You pass through Dumbledore’s office with the pensieve, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom where a hologram of Harry, Ron and Hermione make it snow and long hallways with many portraits, statues and signs that fans can pick out from the pages of the books. There were even minor details within paintings that I didn’t notice until my fourth time through the ride (but I won’t spill the beans on those. You can discover them for yourself).
This summer a new section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open. The new section will contain Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, The Leaky Cauldron, Gringotts, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and other shops. It will also contain the Hogwarts Express which muggles will be able to ride between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back and experience the new parks in a few years. To any Harry Potter fan, this place is a must visit. It was emotional, exciting and overall just an incredibly fun experience to go there with my friends and then to go back a year later with my family.
I can’t thank my mom enough for forcing me to read that first book all those years ago. Alan Rickman, the actor who played Severus Snape, said something that I couldn’t possibly agree with more. He said “When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, ‘After all this time?’ And I will say, ‘Always.’”