The Wonder of Harry Potter Land

It’s summer in Florida; people said not to go. But due to various scheduling restrictions, we had no choice. We had to go to Orlando at the end of July and do Disney and Universal with the mob of everyone else. I think we did it right overall, but the highlight of the trip, hands down, was Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios Orlando.

“Why?” My brother asked, astounded (and possibly disgusted since he hasn’t read any of the books and only saw the movies under familial pressure). “You’ve traveled around and seen real castles and real towns and real beauty, but you act as if nothing compares to Harry Potter Land.”

He was right: nothing compares. I can tell you that Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve been to and still go googly-eyed looking at the Hogwarts Castle in Hogsmeade. They are two completely different things. One is borne out of history and survival. The other is borne out of the imagination.

What JK Rowling put into print, what conjured up images inside my head as I read the books, what wonder I felt in seeing some of that come to life in the movies and then be able to walk through it myself in Harry Potter Land…It was like a dream becoming reality. The detail was so rich, I felt immersed in it. Much more so than even Disney World or Disney Land, where I often have a similar googly-eyed reaction (but not as strong).

Maybe I take for granted the “real” beauty I’ve seen while traveling and growing up, but there is something so magical that touches my heart and mind when I can touch and feel and be inside a world that previously only existed in my mind. In books and in movies, I’m transported into a world that might be influenced by real history but is also an escape from it.

Harry Potter was the boy who lived. The most horrible things happened to him. Horrible things happened to other characters. There was loss and hatred and evil. But the most amazing magic that the series gave us was the hope and the love that allow us to carry on and fight for what’s right and live to the best of our abilities.

Yes, I learn from history and I’m amazed by beautiful historical artifacts that prove all these same things, and are probably more powerful because they are real. But going to Harry Potter Land was a testament to just how powerful the imagination is. How imagination is also key to our survival and our understanding of the world. For someone like me, it’s an inspiration and a wonder that has no comparison.

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